The Sugar Quill
Author: BabyRuth  Story: And Then There Were Twelve  Chapter: Chapter 3 - Potter's Folly
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And Then There Were Twelve

And Then There Were Twelve

 

Chapter 3 – Potter’s Folly

 

            The house Harry and Ginny Potter called home was more than just a house, but it didn’t start out that way.  In fact, it was little more than a pile of rubble and old timber when Harry first came across it.  He and Ginny had been married for two years, their first child, James, was still in nappies, and Ginny was expecting their second child when Harry, with strict instructions from Ginny, went house hunting with Ron in tow.  They had come across the ruins while tramping from one cottage to the next.  Harry had seen the potential immediately and against Ron’s advice had bought the house before Ginny even saw it.  Ron had immediately dubbed the place “Potter’s Folly” and the name stuck.  After a spectacular row, a major renovation helped along with the liberal use of magic, and eighteen years of marriage, the Potters couldn’t imagine living any place else.

 

The façade of the manor house was of stone, with large glittering diamond-pane windows.  Three facing gables soared three stories high and numerous chimneys sprouted from the roofline.  Inside the house was a well-laid-out floor plan and spacious rooms, with all kinds of nooks, crannies, and one or two secret passages that fueled the children’s imaginations.  The grounds were extensive, with sweeping lawns, ponds, and old-growth English oaks perfect for tree climbing.  A full-size Quidditch pitch had been built beyond the back garden and had played host to numerous games between Potters and Weasleys.

 

            After Flooing from the Ministry of Magic, Harry stepped out of the fireplace in the front parlor of Potter’s Folly.  The house seemed unnaturally quiet for a Sunday afternoon.  Wondering vaguely where his children were, he was more anxious to find Ginny and explain why he had a four-year-old Scottish lass clinging to him like Devil’s Snare.  He made his way through parlor, hallway, and back toward the great room in the rear of the house. 

 

            The windows were open, letting in the fresh spring breeze.  Harry could hear children’s voices and glanced outside, noting his nine-year-old David climbing a tree with seven-year-old Rose.  Judging from the hrieks of laughter higher up in the large oak, Ian had already made it to the tree fort.  He was ten and tremendously eager to get into Hogwarts next year. Little Hannah was riding a toy broom just a foot off the ground, being supervised by Dobby, the Potters’ salaried house-elf. 

 

Looking around the large comfortable room, Harry spotted Ginny dozing in a squashy arm chair.  Her still-vibrant red hair was loose around her shoulders.  A partially-completed knitting project lay abandoned in her lap, and her arms were cradled around her softly bulging tummy.  Harry was glad to note she hadn’t forgotten to put her feet up this time, even though she was wearing his favourite wool socks. 

 

Stepping quietly up to her, he nudged her shoulder with an elbow.

 

“Ginny,” he said quietly.

 

“Hmmm?” she mumbled.  Harry grinned.  She never did like being awakened.

 

“Ginny, wake up honey.  I need you,” he said.

 

“Go away, Potter.  I’m not in the mood,” she grumbled.  Harry mentally smacked himself for the poor choice of words.

 

“Come on, Gin.  I’m in a bit of a spot here,” he pleaded.  His shoulders were aching and he felt like his elbows would never straighten out again.  Bridget was a slight little girl but felt like she weighed several stone after holding her for several hours.

 

Ginny blinked, yawned, and stretched.  “What was so wrong with letting me sleep a little longer, Harry?  Dobby has the kids outside and it was quiet in here for once,” she complained.  Then her gaze fell on Harry and Bridget.

 

“Harry, that’s not one of ours, is it?  Last time I looked no one had blonde hair.”

 

Harry looked down and noted Bridget was still in her troubled sleep.  Softly he explained what happened earlier that day.

 

“We were called to investigate a rampaging mountain troll on the Orkney Islands,” he started.

 

“What was a mountain troll…” interrupted Ginny.

 

“Still being investigated.  Anyway, the troll had demolished a cottage, killing a man and a woman.  I found this little girl, Bridget, in a trunk in her parents’ bedroom.  She hasn’t let go of me yet, not to go to a woman on my team, nor to Parvati at the Department of Orphaned Magical Children.  She just cries and strangles me.  I don’t know what to do with her,” he said.

 

“Put her down here on my lap,” Ginny directed, clearing away her knitting.

 

“I don’t know, Gin.  She about strangled me before,” Harry demurred, looking down at the toddler’s tear-ravaged face.

 

“It’ll be all right, Harry.  Soothe her awake so she’s not startled.  You know, like you do when one of the brood has a nightmare.”

 

Harry gently jiggled Bridget up and down and crooned nonsense rhymes under his breath, smoothing her hair back from her damp face.  Her eyelids fluttered open revealing her bright blue eyes.

 

“Da, Da,” she whimpered, tears spilling down her pale cheeks.

 

“Ssh, it’s all right, Bridget.  It’s all right now,” murmured Harry.

 

Harry lowered Bridget to Ginny.  “No, no, no!” she wailed.  Ginny gently disentangled her arms from Harry’s windpipe.

 

“There’s a good girl, Miss Bridget.  There’s a baby girl, now,” she crooned, and began a sing-song verse:

 

Come, cuddle close in Daddy’s coat
Beside the fire so bright;
And hear about the fairy folk
That wander in the night.

For when the stars are shining clear
And all the world is still,
They float across the silver moon
From hill to cloudy hill.

Their caps of red, their cloaks of green,
Are hung with silver bells;
And when they’re shaken with the wind
Their merry ringing swells.

And riding on the crimson moth
With black spots on her wings,
They guide them down the purple sky
With golden bridle rings.

They love to visit girls and boys
To see how sweet they sleep,
To stand beside their cozy cots
And at their faces peep.

 

For in the whole of fairyland
They have no finer sight
Than little children sleeping sound
With faces rosy bright.

On tip-toe crowding round their heads
When bright the moonlight beams,
They whisper little tender words
That fill their minds with dreams;
And when they see a sunny smile
With lightest finger tips
They lay a hundred sweet sweet sighs
Upon the ruddy lips.

And then the little spotted moths
Spread out their crimson wings,
And bear away the fairy crowd
With shaking bridle rings.

Come, bairnies, hide in Daddy’s coat
Beside the fire so bright;
Perhaps the little fairy folk
Will visit you tonight!

 

By the time Ginny had finished the verse, Bridget had willingly let go of Harry’s neck and was cuddled in Ginny’s lap, blue eyes fixed upon Ginny and sucking her thumb, letting out occasional chuffing hiccups.

 

“What do you want to do, Harry?” Ginny asked, stroking Bridget’s hair.

 

“I don’t think we have much choice, really.  It looks like she’s at least comfortable with us; I’d hate to cause her more distress by leaving her with someone she doesn’t know.  Parvati suggested we foster her for a while.  I have the papers here in my pocket.”

 

“What about the other children?  What if she doesn’t get along with them?” Ginny asked.

 

“In that case we’d really have no choice but to take her back to the DOMC.  I’m hoping that Hannah will help her adjust, they’re close in age.”

 

Ginny grinned.  “Hannah never met an animal she couldn’t tame and never met a stranger she didn’t like.  Go bring her in and we’ll see if this will work.”  Leaving Ginny softly murmuring to Bridget, Harry went out to the back garden.

 

“Daddy!” cried Hannah, spotting him from her broom.  She jumped all of a foot off the broom to the grass and ran flat out toward Harry, who scooped her up and swung her around.  Her giggles and squeals rousted the others out of the tree, and they all converged on Harry, with shouts of “Me too! Me too!” from Rosie.  Davey and Ian bombarded him with “What did you bring me?” questions until, laughing, Harry yelled uncle.

 

“All right, that’s enough!” he laughed.  “I did bring you something, but I need to tell you about it first, OK?  Come, sit,” Harry directed, sitting cross-legged on the grass, Hannah in his lap.  Harry kissed her red head, remembering Bridget’s dead parents.  He looked at his four youngest, three with Ginny’s red hair and Ian with his own black, and hoped he was doing the right thing.

 

“You know I had to go into work today, right?”  The children nodded.

 

“Well, something bad happened.  A big mountain troll went berserk and demolished a tiny cottage.  It killed a witch and a wizard, who had a little girl named Bridget.  She’s just four years old, younger than Hannah here.  I brought her home with me.”  Harry paused for the questions.

 

“Why did you bring her home, Dad?  Doesn’t she have family someplace?” asked Ian.

 

“We don’t think so, son.  She’s very upset and didn’t want to go to anyone else.  She’s inside with your mum now.”

 

“Is she going to stay forever?” asked Rosie.

 

“No, as soon as we find a permanent home for her she’ll be adopted.”

 

“Where’s she going to sleep?” asked Hannah.

 

“Well, that depends.  What I’d like you all to do is keep playing while I take Hannah inside to meet Bridget.  If Bridget sees we have another little girl her age to play with and be her friend maybe she’ll feel better.”

 

“Does she feel bad?” asked Davey.

 

“Think about how you would feel if Mum and I died and you didn’t know what was happening.  All you know is something bad happened and now Mummy and Daddy aren’t going to take care of you anymore.  You’re taken into a place where you don’t know anybody and you don’t know where you are.”

 

“That’s sad, Daddy,” said tender-hearted Hannah.

 

“I want each of you to be nice to Bridget, all right?  She’s company for now.  Don’t tease her or pick on her or play tricks on her.  She’ll be very sad for a long time.  Invite her to play but don’t get mad if she won’t at first.  There’s an awful lot of us, let her get used the family a little at a time.  Think you can do that for me?”  Each child agreed.

 

“OK, go back and play while I let Hannah meet Bridget.  Then I’ll call you all in for tea in a little bit.”  Ian, Davey, and Rosie went back to the tree fort. 

 

“Let’s go, Hannah.  Just be your sweet self,” advised Harry.

 

Back inside the manor, Ginny was reading a story book to Bridget about a princess and a frog.  It was one of Hannah’s favorites so she climbed right up to the other side of Ginny’s lap and made herself comfortable against her mother’s soft breast.  Bridget just looked at the other little girl with wide eyes.  Harry stood by to see what would happen.  If Bridget couldn’t adjust to one child, she’d definitely have problems with four, not to mention all ten.

 

Bridget stared at Hannah.  Ginny kept reading until she reached the end of the story.

 

Hannah introduced herself.  “I’m Hannah.”

 

Bridget just looked at her.  After a long pause, she whispered, “I’m Bridget.”  Harry caught Ginny’s eye and smiled.

 

“I’ve got a Princess Starfire doll.  Want to see?” Hannah asked.

 

Bridget just leaned closer into Ginny and shook her head.

 

“I’ve got a toy broomstick.  Wanna ride?”

 

Bridget just shook her head again.  Ginny smoothed both little girls’ hair and just let them work it out themselves.

 

“My Daddy’s got a snowy owl.  She’s ever so nice.  Want to see?”

 

Bridget showed a bit more interest but finally shook her head.

 

Hannah frowned at Bridget, thinking hard.  Harry imagined he could see the wheels turning in her little mind.

 

“I’ve got a black kitten named Midnight.  He sleeps on my bed and everything.  Wanna go find him?”

 

That got Bridget’s full attention.  She looked up at Ginny, who was smiling encouragingly, then at Harry who was doing the same.  Then she looked at Hannah and said, “All right.”  With that both girls scrambled down off Ginny’s lap.  Hannah reached out and took Bridget by the hand, and pulled her out of the room.

 

“I got Midnight for my birthday.  He’s just a baby kitty.  He’s all black but he has this white spot on his chest…” Hannah’s voice faded as the girls went down the hallway to the stairs.

 

“Oh, Harry.  That poor little thing,” Ginny said.  She rubbed the small bulge of her tummy thoughtfully.  “She can stay in Hannah and Rosie’s room.  I’ll get Dobby to set up a spare bed.  Let’s fill out those papers so you can take them back tomorrow.”  And with that, Harry and Ginny Potter became foster parents to Bridget Donohue McFadden.

 

 

A/N:  I take no credit for the nursery rhyme Ginny sang to Bridget.  It’s from this web site, but it didn’t list the author:  http://smart-central.com.  Next chapter reveals what Ron and Hermione are up to now.

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