I’ve finally decided to try a chaptered story. Initially, I was very hesitant,
as I’m awful at really following through with anything, but I have pushed past
that. I thought, “What the heck? You only live once,” so, this once, I’m doing
it. Many thanks to Dave Matthews, who has provided me with so much inspiration
that I don’t think I’d have picked up this
dignified hobby if it
weren’t for him and his incredible music. Appropriately, I have named this
piece after one of my favorites of his. See title.
Also, X’s and O’s to Hells for tweaking what needed to be tweaked, and to my dear beta Helen, my undying love for being so patient with me and my dumb mistakes / wordiness. Bless you!
With that aside, I thank you, reader, for sparing these minutes to read:
Take these chances
Place them in a box until
a quieter time
Lights down, you up and die
Dave Matthews Band,
The Week Ends, the Week Begin
“Well, I’m off then.”
“Oh, all right, dear. Hermione, come give us a hug –”
“Take extra special care of yourself this year, study hard
and play hard –”
“Send us those owls as often as you can, you know we look forward
to them, but make sure their talons aren’t too sharp, I have scars –”
“Don’t eat too many sweets, floss twice a day and don’t
neglect your molars –”
“Remember what we’ve always told you, you have a smart brain
and a kind heart –”
“Thanks, I – I’ll have as good a year as I can.” Hermione’s
eyes dropped to her hands so her father wouldn’t see the lie in her eyes, a
skill he had cultivated thanks to his rascal of a brother. She couldn’t bear
to admit to her parents that this year would be like no other she’d had at
Hogwarts – or away from Hogwarts, rather – and she’d be anything but safe and
protected. Guilt was fastening Hermione’s stomach into a tight knot for being
dishonest with two of the people whom she should most care about, as well as the
two whom she had most taken for granted in the past six years.
Making sure to maintain their regal posture, Charles and
Anita Granger each took turns engulfing their daughter in a brief hug, so as to
not distress Hermione’s groomed hair and pressed clothing.
And as Hermione threw her arms around her mother once more,
she wondered how many more times she would have done this – hugged her parents
– had she been a simple Muggle and had never heard of wizardry and witchcraft.
The air grew thick, not with nostalgia, but with uncertainty, and Hermione
instantly knew that her parents were just as unsure of how to address their
daughter as she was of them. Anita licked her thumb and wiped away an
imaginary smudge of dust off her daughter’s cheek and Charles played with the
tip of his mustache.
A harking meow at Hermione’s feet interrupted the tense
moment and called Hermione’s attention back to the need for punctuality.
Appearing ungracious to Mr. and Mrs. Weasleys’ hospitality was the last thing
she wanted. “I can’t stay much longer. The Weasleys are expecting me, and I
don’t want them to worry.” The topic of the Weasleys, who obviously understood
Hermione better than her own parents did, might have been a touchy subject, but
Charles and Anita’s faces hardly flickered. Hermione’s heart sank a little.
Mr. Granger had ambled to the window, where he rested his
hands on the pane. “When did you say they would be here?”
“Oh, they won’t be coming. I can Apparate now,” said
Hermione. Crookshanks leapt into Hermione’s arms, purring serenely. At the
sight of her parents’ thoroughly clueless stares, Hermione smiled despite
herself. “I described it to you in a letter, remember? I passed the test to
acquire my license.”
Comprehension dawned on Mrs. Granger’s face almost
immediately as she exclaimed, “Right! Right. Can’t you just vanish into thin
air and end up somewhere else? Like that?” She snapped her fingers on
the last word for emphasis.
“Well, that’s mighty useful, isn’t it?” chimed Mr. Granger,
obviously impressed by such an expedient mode of transportation. “Wouldn’t
mind learning that sort of thing myself. Too bad I haven’t an ounce of magic
in my blood.”
Hermione rocked a lazy Crookshanks, who was slung over her
shoulder, back and forth, ignoring the tickle of his purring. “Yes, it’s quite
simple, after some practice. But I really mustn’t stay much longer –”
Mrs. Granger flashed Hermione a proud yet dry smile.
“You’re completely right, we’ve drawn this out rather long,” she agreed. “Have
a good rest of the summer, and write to us whenever you can.” One last hug.
Crookshanks squawked and wriggled out from between the two.
“We think about you all the time,” added Mr. Granger,
waiting for Hermione to pull away from Mrs. Granger before shaking her hand.
“Make us proud. Just don’t go get yourself turned into a toad or blown up, all
right? Make good choices.”
Laughing meekly, Hermione squeezed his hand. If you only
had an inkling of what I’ll be doing this year, she thought, evading her father’s
evaluating gaze again. Crookshanks, looking violated, was waiting patiently by
the trunk. Scooping her cat into her arms again and grasping the handle of the
trunk, she gave her parents one last nod and turned around to face the kitchen
A vivid image of the Burrow surfaced in her mind and, taking
a deep breath, Hermione stepped forward and disappeared with a pop.
Crookshanks sprang from Hermione’s arms before she had even
realised she had arrived on the Weasleys’ front doorstep. He bounded eagerly
around the side of the house into, unquestionably, the backyard to hunt gnomes.
She knocked three times.
Then three more.
Nothing, except the muffled sound of thumping bass and
She tried the doorknob, which of course only rattled but did
not stir the door, so this time she pounded rather fervently with a heavy fist
while she contemplated a Plan B –
The door flew open, leaving Hermione with her fist
positioned awkwardly in mid-knock, facing a stern-looking Mr. Weasley.
“How many O.W.L.s did Ron receive last year?” he demanded
with a critical gaze.
A light blush warmed Hermione cheeks as she answered simply,
“Seven, like Harry. He failed… History of Magic and Divination.”
“Very good. Now your turn. Just to be safe,” said Mr.
Weasley, his firm expression lifting.
“Let’s see… oh! What are my parents’ professions?” Since
her parents were on her mind anyway.
“Destints, aren’t they? Who fix teeth?”
“Dentists, yes,” Hermione chuckled, passing through the
doorway as Mr. Weasley showed her in. “Oh, it smells lovely in here.”
“Yes, Molly’s making lunch. So, welcome back. I’m very
glad you made it safe and sound. You Apparated, didn’t you?”
Levitating her trunk behind her, Hermione followed Mr.
Weasley into the kitchen, where Mrs. Weasley was engaged at the counter,
stirring a steaming cauldron as vegetables hovered over the cutting board at
the ready. Charlie and Fred were singing loudly (and horribly off-tune) to the
Wireless while rummaging through cupboards for plates and silverware. George
was deep in conversation at the fireplace with a head, which Hermione couldn’t
see nor hear through all the noise. No one else had spared her a glance yet.
“Harry and Ron have only just got here. They’re unpacking
upstairs. Here –” Hermione’s trunk went flying up the stairs at the command
of Mr. Weasley’s wand, thumping into the railing several times along the way.
“Ginny set up a bed for you in her room. Make yourself at home. And, if I
estimate correctly, we’ll be eating in ten minutes.”
Hermione followed in her trunk’s wake, grinning despite
herself as Fred strained to hit an especially ghastly note. But before
Hermione had reached the head of the stairs, Ginny had crashed into her – quite
intentionally – and threw her arms around her.
“It’s about time you showed up! The house is an absolute
mess, now that the boys are here. If today is bad, I can’t imagine how hectic
the day of the wedding will be.”
“So I’ve noticed. It took a few minutes before anyone
noticed me,” said Hermione with a smirk. “Is Fleur here?”
“Thankfully, non,” Ginny muttered, bumping her
bedroom door open with her hip. “She and Bill are in France for the next week, until the wedding. Then, they’ll be arriving back here with the entire
Delacour clan.” Ginny’s eyebrows rose at the last few words, her voice
slightly mocking. “I’m happy for them, sure, but ever since … Bill’s
accident,” Ginny faltered as the colour drained from her cheeks at the memory,
“Fleur’s been so melodramatic and just plain sappy around him. Mum, too.”
“Has he recovered?”
“Completely. Though the cellar is full of raw meat, and Mum
keeps having to run down to re-cast Cooling Charms to keep it fresh. It’s
Casting a quick glance sideways at Ron’s closed bedroom
door, Hermione heaved her waiting trunk into Ginny’s room. Furniture had been
rearranged since last summer and a fair number of handmade pillows had been
added to the vibrant collection on Ginny’s bed.
“I mean, planning for the wedding is exciting, but running
through the details every day seems overkill, you know? Anyway, it’s been an
uneventful summer so far, really. With just Charlie around, and sometimes Fred
and George when they’re not working, I’ve kept myself busy with flying and these,
mostly,” Ginny explained, picking up an unfinished pillow from her bedside
table and fondly tracing with her fingers an embroidered depiction of half the
Burrow. She held it up to display to Hermione. “I’ve forgotten Fred and
George’s bedroom window though. I think I’ll just have Mum charm it on when
In the hallway, Ron’s door slammed and two pairs of feet
trod loudly past Ginny’s bedroom. She sighed wistfully and plunged backward
onto the pile of pillows.
“Have you talked to him yet?” said Hermione, nudging her
trunk against the wall with the tip of her shoe.
Ginny’s eyes remained downcast. “Haven’t even seen him
yet,” she muttered. “I don’t think I want to. I won’t know whether to jump
him or smack him,” she added with a resentful laugh.
Allowing a brooding pause, Hermione sat at the foot of
Ginny’s bed and folded her hands on her lap. Finally, she reached her hand
over the pillows and rested it on Ginny’s forearm. “You know, he only wants
what’s best for you.”
“Well maybe it’s not what’s best for me! Or for him,
for that matter,” Ginny snapped. Her eyes migrated to the window, which, from
their level, framed only flawless blue sky and a thin line of landscape.
“He doesn’t want you hurt, Ginny. A public relationship
with him could put your life at stake. What if you were taken captive? As
bait! He’s not alone in wanting to keep you safe.” Hermione clasped her hand
over Ginny’s, straining to catch her eye. Unfortunately, any protest against
Ginny, who was stubborn by nature, was virtually a lost cause.
“I’m not a toddler, Hermione!” said Ginny feverishly,
sitting up to face her friend. “You all assume I’m still some silly first year
too stupid to fend for myself and – and –” She hiccupped and blinked back
rising tears. “Anyone could have been tricked by Tom Riddle, Hermione,
if they had been in my place! I’m not that girl anymore – I never really was –
that was just a mistake and I’m not a damsel in distress!” Panting
heavily, Ginny fell into Hermione’s arms. Hermione ignored the fresh smudge of
snot on her shirt and rubbed her friend’s back consolingly.
“We don’t think that way of you, Ginny,” said Hermione in a
near whisper. “We just want what’s best for you. We’re scared for everyone,
honestly, especially Harry.” Ginny’s hold on Hermione tightened at his name.
“It would just be really hard on him if something were to happen to you. And
on your family. And me.”
Ginny didn’t respond but she emitted several long, ragged
Pressing her lips together, Hermione tried to picture Ron’s
fallen face when he’d overheard that his little sister had disappeared into the
Chamber of Secrets. And Harry’s… and his resolution to retrieve her… Hermione
had been there when Malfoy Sr. had duped Ginny into taking the book. Of
course, anybody could have fallen fool to that deception. In hindsight, would
Hermione have done so? Maybe not, but her view was now skewed by knowledge of
the Dark magic Voldemort had employed to create his trap – that what Ginny had
regarded as a confidant, a strange, obsessive, abusive one, was part of the
glue that was holding Voldemort together. So perhaps, considering the density
of the idea, Ginny had not been a fool at all, but fashioned into a hapless
victim. And it took a lot of inner strength to come so far from where she
fallen as a first year.
“Children! Come and eat!” called Mrs. Weasley. A
shaken Ginny stood and offered her hand to help Hermione up as well. “I wish
she’d stop calling us children. I guess years of shouting it have made it a
habit.” She pulled her hair up into a hasty knot with a hair-band left around
her wrist. “And thanks for … that. I haven’t cried about him in years,” she
admitted as Hermione opened the door for her.
“Race you there,” Ginny added, shrieking as Hermione
unexpectedly darted past her. Ginny followed close behind.
The kitchen was now empty, as the girls sprinted past the
now-spotless counter and to the back door, from which they could hear
laughter. Sure enough, everyone had already taken their seats and were waiting
for the two girls (with the exception of Ron, who had already begun ladling
generous helpings of soup into his bowl and had earned a few cross remarks from
his mother). Hermione and Ginny sat in adjacent chairs, sandwiched in between
Mr. Weasley and Fred. Across from Ginny sat Ron, who offered Hermione a modest
“I’m terribly sorry about the late meal. You must be
famished, dear,” said Mrs. Weasley, and soon Hermione’s bowl was brimming with
vegetable soup. Hermione politely expressed her thanks and glanced sideways at
Ginny, who was swatting off Fred’s prodding finger. Across the table George
was discussing with Harry the Ministry’s mass-purchase of Weasleys’ Wizard
Wheezes’ latest top-secret invention: contact lenses which Confunded those who
stared at one wearing them, initially inspired by both the lethal stare of the
Gorgons and the Muggle alternative to eyeglasses. Ron had already dribbled broth
down his front.
“Pass the rolls, please?” said Ginny. Harry looked up at
her from his bowl and ogled her stupidly for a moment before she repeated her
request. In her head, Hermione praised Ginny’s ability to remain cool and
collected – most of the time. Ignoring Harry’s blanching face, Ginny accepted
the basket and passed it on to Hermione while shooting her a mildly triumphant
look, which read, His mind is bound to change.
“Dad, watch the butter,” chided Charlie.
Mr. Weasley, who had indeed coated his bread with a generous
helping, waved off his son’s comment. “Never you mind, Charlie,” he responded
and took a bite of cholesterol.
“Arthur, do be careful,” chimed in Mrs. Weasley, who was
just taking a seat herself. “Not all heart complications are easily treated –
even by the best potions there are out there.”
Shaking his head and laughing dismissively, Arthur argued
that life was too brief not to pamper oneself. “And anyway, there are much
more important issues at hand than Arthur Weasley’s nutrition intake. The
Board of Governors met yesterday to discuss the future of Hogwarts.” Several
pairs of eyes rose from their food to stare expectantly at Mr. Weasley.
“What’s the verdict?” Ginny asked.
Mr. Weasley shook his head. “Haven’t a clue yet. It’s not
open to the public at all, not even other Ministry employees. Scrimgeour, I
believe, is the only one with access to the transcript of the meeting. I
believe they’re convening again on Monday.”
“How horrible, if Hogwarts closed,” Hermione murmured. “I
hope they’re being mindful of all the students and staff –”
“You mean, the ones that are even willing to return,”
interjected Ron, raising an upturned palm and shrugging his shoulders. “After
the attack, I can’t imagine many parents are eager to even let their kids
“And now that Dumbledore’s gone –” Hermione stopped
mid-sentence, for the sake of those at the table whose emotions were still raw
(including herself). Harry’s eyes were fixed on his lap.
Mrs. Weasley came to the rescue. “As long as Hogwarts
remains open, there will be Weasleys there,” she assured everyone, though she
directed a questioning look toward her husband. Harry, Hermione, and Ron
glanced at one another with wide eyes. When should we break the news – or
shouldn’t we? The exchange went unnoticed by the rest of the Weasleys,
with the exception of Ginny, who gently bumped Hermione’s foot with her own.
Talk turned to lighter topics, such as Ginny’s O.W.L. marks
and Harry and Ron’s time spent in Surrey. They did not go into great detail,
for, they assured the family, “the Dursleys acted rather dull and were quite
terrified of them”. At one moment during the conversation, Harry looked
pointedly at Hermione when telling of some “long discussions about nothing in
particular” at a local café in Little Whinging. What he communicated she
understood clearly; she gave a curt nod. They’d talk over their plans later.
Hermione offered to clear the table so that the boys could
organise a game of backyard Quidditch and Mrs. Weasley, aided by a carping
Ginny, could weed the garden. To Hermione’s surprise, Harry stuck around to
“I’d forgotten you were arriving here today also. So, er…
decent summer, so far?” Harry was horrible at small talk.
“Yeah, it’s been fine,” Hermione replied with a light
smirk. “And I presume yours has been more enjoyable than past ones, with Ron
as a guest.”
“Huge improvement,” Harry affirmed. “We basically
terrorised my cousin Dudley – don’t worry, we didn’t use magic – well, not much
– and talked. It was nice having someone to keep me company and distract
me from… stuff.” He smiled, though grimly, and hoisted the large serving bowl
completely drained of soup.
“So you discussed plans?” Hermione pressed on, eager for
specifics on the vague (and coded) ideas Harry had mentioned in his letters.
“I thought we could talk through everything tomorrow.”
“This can’t be delayed, Harry. It isn’t a homework
assignment; we can’t procrastinate –”
Harry held up a hand to interrupt her. “Trust me, Hermione,
I understand that. But let me at least enjoy one normal day, all right? We
don’t have very many of these left.”
Silenced by the striking truth of his rationalisation,
Hermione nodded and abandoned the topic for the time being. The pair finished
their job quietly and pensively.
Outside, the Quidditch game was in full swing; the boys had
even coaxed Mr. Weasley up into the air, though he was constantly excusing his
follies with “My, it’s been a while since I’ve flown!” Explaining that he was
too tired to play, Harry settled under the shade of a large maple tree and
gestured for Hermione to join him. “That’s not all we talked about, though.”
Hermione raised a questioning brow.
“Don’t you think you and Ron are overdue to talk things
Immediately, Hermione’s stomach did a somersault and the
temperature jumped several degrees. “Things? Whatsortofthings?
“Take a deep breath, Hermione,” Harry laughed, patting her
knee reassuringly. “You know what I’m getting at. It’s funny, Ron reacted the
same way you did when I first brought up this subject –”
“What did Ron say?” Hermione demanded.
“You’ll have to ask him yourself.”
With a resentful huff, Hermione crossed her arms and scanned
the sky, swarming with brooms, for Ron. He was hovering near a tall, dead tree
whose trunk forked into only two bare branches, serving as a makeshift goal
post. His expression was indiscernible from the ground, but Hermione rightly assumed
he was absorbed in the game.
“I can’t bother myself with him now. There are more
important matters at hand.”
“Ha! I don’t think you realise that, if things go according
to plan, I am stuck with just the two of you for the next – well, God knows how
long. I am not dealing with any more of the theatrics I put up with last
year.” Seventy feet away, Ron roared some un-gentlemanlike words at Fred and
George, who had charmed Ron’s shirt to fly off and envelop his head, allowing
their team to score unfairly. Ginny was now up in the air as well and
high-fiving her brothers (and teammates) for their tactic.
“Don’t worry, there won’t be another Lavender Brown around,”
Hermione muttered, but Harry didn’t hear. His eyes were visibly glued on
Ginny, now bickering with Ron over the fairness of Fred and George’s antics.
Mr. Weasley wobbled over to the goal post tree and scolded them and shook a
finger at Ginny, who then sped off, red-faced, to lap the yard and blow off
“You’ve got something on your shirt.” Harry indicated a
dark spot near Hermione’s shoulder – produced earlier by Ginny’s running nose.
Cringing, Hermione murmured a quick scouring charm and rid her shirt of the
stain and a few stray hairs. “Thanks, I completely forgot about that.”
Conversation quieted after that. Today seemed to be the
wrong occasion to discuss many of the issues deemed urgent at this point – it
could be put on hold, while the sky was still perfect and the lunch still warm
in their bellies, until tomorrow. Hermione directed her gaze to a couple of
quarrelling birds over the tree tops of the small patch of woods, but with her
peripheral vision noted Harry’s intent gaze on one player in particular.
Hermione wondered whether she should apply the same
directness he had used with her – it would serve him right if she did – but she
decided, on balance, it would not be very tactful. He was obviously still
smitten with Ginny. Ginny had been right – they had both drawn the short straw
in this case.
As she had said to Hermione, Ginny was anything but stupid.
Therefore, she knew perfectly well that Harry was gaping at her and had been
ever since she had kicked off from the grass. Be cool… don’t get excited… Ginny
felt the burning urge to do loop-the-loops across the yard, but she exercised
admirable self-control and pretended she hadn’t an inkling she was being gawked
“Dad, STOP braking!” Ron shouted in frustration, as Mr.
Weasley putted along unsurely on his broom. “As long as you hold on, you’re
not going to fall off.”
“I’ve – I’ve just forgotten how afraid – my, we’re far up
from the ground…”
“We’re down by one-sixty,” Ron snapped, circling his dad,
who was eyeing the ground uneasily. “I say we shuffle players! The teams are
uneven. I’m the only one on this team who even knows how to play!”
Ten feet away, Charlie crossed his arms in defence. “Hey,
George rolled his broom with laughter. “Yeah right, little
brother. We wouldn’t give up this arse-kicking team for the world. Besides,
we’ve already made up a team name.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?”
The twins responded simultaneously: “Why, the Small Brother
Predictably, Ron hurled some choice words at Fred and George
that made Hermione frown down below and Mr Weasley say, “Now, really, Ron,
there’s no call for that kind of language –”
“Yeah well, I’m sick of being treated like – like – I’m
grown up now, okay?” And so, gripping his broomstick tightly, Ron muttered a
few more poor-sported comments under his breath and dived earthward,
deliberately bumping Ginny’s shoulder en route. Despite Charlie’s protests,
Ron’s feet met the ground and he stormed off into the house.
“Does this mean the game’s cancelled?” queried Mr. Weasley,
still eyeballing the grass. “I have a slight headache.”
“Thanks to Ron’s unbelievable temper, I believe so, Dad,”
snarled Ginny, glaring at her brother’s withdrawing form. “Well, I’m in need
of a shower, so, see you all later.” Whipping her long hair out of her face,
Ginny descended and landed not far from the maple tree under which Harry and
Hermione were sitting. She spared only a brief glance at Harry and even dared
to smile vaguely at him before dropping her broom and stalking off to the back
In truth, Ginny had just showered that morning. She only
wanted an excuse to finally acknowledge Harry and perhaps lure him into chasing
after her… She was allowed to fantasize, after all.
Her mother was at the kitchen table, perusing the Daily
Prophet with a mug of sweet-smelling tea. She had already turned several
pages while Ginny stood idly in the doorway, examining the mystery that was
Molly Weasley, Super-Mum, before she detected her daughter’s presence.
“Oh! Ginny. Is the game over so soon?”
Ginny snorted disdainfully. “Basically. Leave it to Ron to
ruin it for everyone.”
“Ah, so that’s who stormed up the stairs. I didn’t catch
who it was, all I could discern was a blur of red hair.”
“Yeah, that hint alone doesn’t help much around here, does
it?” Sitting down by her mother, Ginny scanned the headlines of the paper with
little deliberation, so that hardly any of the words she saw were absorbed.
Apparently, the Veela-like charm she had exercised with Harry had been
exhausted, as, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the back door was still
“Is it difficult?”
Ginny raised her eyes to her mother’s at the sudden
“Seeing him. Is it hard on you?” Mrs. Weasley continued,
her eyes boring into her daughter’s as if searching for a deeper emotion than
the stern one her daughter had plastered on her face.
For a split second, Ginny’s face fell, but she quickly
regained her composure. “Mum, I don’t know what –”
“Ginny, don’t be silly. I can see right through that front
of yours. Now tell me the truth.”
Once again, Super-Mum implements her amazing power of
omniscience. “Don’t be ridiculous, you know exactly what I’m feeling,”
Ginny remarked tartly.
Mrs. Weasley pursed her lips at her daughter’s unpleasant
tone. “Ginevra Weasley, don’t speak to me in that tone. I’m not the enemy
here. Dear, I know you have other friends to talk to now, but why don’t you
confide in me anymore, the way you used to?”
The last accusation was regrettably valid, but Ginny had
reasoned in her head that, since her mum always seemed to know everything
without Ginny ever having to tell her, what was the point of wasting her
breath? It was a dangerous topic, and Ginny didn’t want to brew this pending
spat any further, so she caved in to her mother’s assertion. “I don’t
understand why he’s made this decision, especially when I can tell – well, I
think I can – that he wants to be with me. That’s all.”
As if she were praying, Mrs. Weasley folded her hands under
her chin and hummed thoughtfully. “I see what you’re saying. And you’re
right, it isn’t fair that you two are forced to separate – but there are
terrible people out there, like You-Know-Who, of course, who want to not only
destroy Harry, but also the one thing that Harry has which he does not have
– love. To Harry, you define love. Or, at least, one of the closest
encounters he has had with such a feeling. All this growing evil,” Mrs.
Weasley paused, turned to the front page of the Daily Prophet and indicated an
article titled, ‘Muggle family of seven found dead – Death Eater activity
suspected’, “wants to rid Harry of this advantage. And to lose you?” Mrs.
Weasley took swift hold of Ginny’s sweaty hands. “I can’t bear to think of
Blushing at her mum’s embarrassing motherly tendencies,
Ginny was thankful when the back door swung open. Her hopes high, she spun in
her seat – but it was her father, pale and still clutching his broom.
“I’ve finally dismounted,” he declared, taking a few
unsteady steps to the kitchen table where Ginny offered him her seat. He
accepted and put the broom down onto the tabletop. Mrs. Weasley consequently
snatched it from the table and propped it against the counter, wrinkling her
nose as if the bristles were swarming with fleas.
“Have fun, Dad?” Ginny asked, her eyes sparkling with
amusement. She leaned both hands on his shoulders and peering over the top of
his balding head so his face appeared upside-down.
“I can’t say I was that ready to stay aloft for so long,” he
explained dizzily. “It’s been some time since I’ve been in the air. My fear
of heights hasn’t relented, I’m afraid,” he added to his wife. “How Muggles
manage to survive rides by the hour in those airy-planes, I can’t
Mrs. Weasley slid her cup and saucer into Mr. Weasley’s
hands. “You finish this. I have some more gardening to tend to. Ginny, care
to help me …?”
Racking her brain for a quick excuse, Ginny blurted the same
one she had concocted earlier. “I came in meaning to take a shower. I’m
awfully sticky.” The lie worked. Her mother raised her brows but gave her
assent. Ginny sprinted up the stairs.
While I’m here, I might as well. I don’t have
anything better to do. True to her word, Ginny retreated to the warmth of
the shower, exchanging her memory of the heartbreaking present for that of
better days, long and lazy springtime ones, spent by the lake.