Property in Harry Potter and all relating story elements remains with JKR.
Author's Note: This is where I say all the things I should have said in Chapter 1 but forgot to because I was too excited about posting! Firstly, I need to inform readers that this story is at least 'PG-13', with some fairly dark scenes that may push it in the general direction of 'R'. Voldemort's casting of Cruciatus on Snape will not be the last use of the curse in this story. This is a story about love and it is therefore also a story about pain, as I believe the two are more often than not intrinsically tied.
Secondly, I need to thank Kelleypen for her very helpful pre-beta of Chapter 1 and Julu for her invaluable and expert help with the Percy scene in the same chapter. As for this chapter, thank you so much to St Margarets for help with Ginny's portrayal, and, as always, thanks to my amazing beta, without whom I wouldn't be able to do any of this.
Finally, thank you SO much for all the reviews. You have no idea how delighted I have been by them. I should have sent a thank you PM to everybody who reviewed. If I missed anyone, I apologise sincerely.
The Ties That Bind
by J Forias
2. The Familiarus Charm
Ginny was staring out the window of the Hogwarts Express, watching the drizzle run down the window. She had decided that hanging out with Harry was only going to make things worse. On the only occasions that she’d bumped into Harry since the break-up there’d been a horrible flash of awkward pain in his eyes that Ginny really couldn’t stomach.
It was so damnedly unfair. Not only was he breaking up with her, but she had to deal with his pain, as well as her own. She sat up straight.
She had to avoid him for his sake.
Then she let out a long sigh. Ginny couldn’t even blame Harry, like she wanted to.
She clenched her fist. He had a bleeding excuse, an excuse that actually made reasonable, rational sense, which was so ridiculously irritating… damn him!
So here she was staring out a window, sending out “go away” vibes that had seen off most of her Hogwarts friends, except Luna, of course. Ginny didn’t know whether this was because Luna was worse at picking up subtleties like mood, or just because she was the most loyal of her friends. Either way, and though Ginny would never admit it, she was pleased for the company. Luna didn’t ask for anything. There was no pressure for conversation, just Luna offering her the presence of a friend in the room.
And the presence was non-judgemental; it left Ginny free to stew in her anger. Sure, she had been noble when talking to Harry, but being noble full-time took more energy than she had. She couldn’t do it… she wasn’t Harry!
Having to save the world was his excuse. It was infuriatingly reasonable.
It meant she felt guilty for being angry.
It meant she had to do everything she could to minimize the hurt for him.
She wanted to do that… she did. She didn’t want to hurt him, but she really wished that things could be different.
She wished it so much.
And now she wasn’t even angry anymore, just sad, which was worse somehow.
“Nearly there,” Luna announced, speaking for the first time in almost an hour.
“Yeah,” Ginny agreed. The scenery had changed from open fields to the drudgery of house backyards shooting past the window, fast at first and then slowing down, as the Express neared its point of arrival.
Luna got up and pulled down her case from above her. Ginny followed suit.
“Come on,” she said, as the train slowed down to a crawl and hordes of anxious looking parents appeared out the window. They had reached the station. The authorities had apparently let worried parents meet their children on the platform.
Ginny led Luna out of the carriage as the train jolted to halt. They hurried to the exit, missing most of the throng, and jumped down onto the platform.
Ginny only had a moment’s notice before being engulfed in her mother’s hug.
“Hi Mum…” she said, trying not to smile. When released, she turned to her dad. “Hi Dad.”
“Nice to have you back, Ginny,” her dad said, eyes smiling. “And nice to see you again, Luna.”
“Yes, hello, Luna…” Mum greeted distractedly, her eyes scanning the crowd.
“My dad’s over there,” Luna said. “Have a good summer, Ginny.”
“Just make sure to answer my letters,” Ginny replied. “I think I’ll need your sanity!”
“I will,” Luna said sincerely. “I promise.”
Luna wandered off serenely. Her father - a tall, well-figured man with haphazard hair – grabbed her up in a bear hug when he saw her. The sound of Luna’s giggles drifted across the station.
“Ah, there they are!” Mum shouted, and she hurried off, returning soon with Harry, Ron and Hermione in tow.
Ginny avoided Harry’s eye as her dad greeted him. “Your Aunt and Uncle are waiting outside the station, Harry.”
“Thank you, Mr Weasley.”
Ginny then watched as her dad took Hermione aside, her ears straining to pick up the conversation.
“I’ve informed the Dursleys of your intentions. They seem most reluctant, but they’ve been persuaded to let you have a tent in their garden.”
“Thank you,” Hermione replied. “And Ron will meet me tomorrow?”
Dad hesitated. “Yes, that’s the plan… He has to pick up some stuff and there’s the, er… little matter of telling Molly…”
“I quite understand.”
“What are you two talking about?” Ginny’s mum asked suspiciously, having finished assuring herself that Harry was alright.
“Nothing, dear,” Dad replied.
“Arthur, I know your guilty expression like the back of my hand…”
Ginny’s parents kept bickering while everyone made their way through the barrier to the rest of the station, dodging hectic Muggles in suits, until the group stopped just outside King’s Cross. Ginny kept her eyes on the back of Harry’s bowed head, her heart beating fast.
“You know you’re going to tell me sooner or later,” her mum was saying, “so you might as well tell me now…”
Suddenly, acting completely on impulse, Ginny moved to stand beside Harry, and sought his hand out with hers. Harry started and turned to stare at her. Ginny, however, had her gaze fixed resolutely in the opposite direction.
“Take care, Harry,” Ginny whispered. She gave his hand a squeeze and then let go. Still refusing to look at him she made to walk away.
She turned, reluctantly, and looked at him. The expression of loss on his face made her want to wretch. Then it flickered out and Harry was smiling at her.
“Take care, too,” he said.
She nodded and turned back to her parents. To her shock, her father was staring straight at her, the strangest expression on his face.
“Arthur, you’re not paying attention to me!”
“Not now, Molly,” Dad snapped.
Mum’s jaw dropped, as she turned to stare at her husband. Then she followed his eyes to Ginny and her brow furrowed.
“What?” Ginny asked aggressively.
“Er… nothing…” her mum answered. “Well, we’d better be going.” She turned around; glancing between Harry and the Dursleys who had materialised behind him. “Look after yourself, Harry. We’ll get you out of there as soon as we can. I promise.”
Hermione ran over and hugged Ginny quickly. “See you soon,” she blurted. Then she straightened herself up and strode purposefully over to the Dursleys.
“Where’s she going?” Mum asked distractedly.
“She’s staying with Harry,” Dad said. “Moral support.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” Mum answered. “Come on, everyone. We’ve got to get to Diagon Alley so we can Floo back.”
Ginny glanced back over her shoulder as Harry and Hermione got into the Dursleys’ car. She noticed Ron at her shoulder, watching too.
“Come on, sis,” Ron said, as the car drove away. “We don’t want to get left behind.”
The rat crouched still, watching the house. There was something in the air, shimmering around the haphazard building. It stank of magic and of something else… love, possibly. Something clingy and terribly human.
The rat distrusted that kind of thing. Love was weakness. It was the enemy of the simple rules that the rat knew: find the strongest, serve the strongest… live. The third was the most important. Keep living, at all costs. It was perhaps the rat’s greatest talent: survival.
But love… love got in the way of survival. Love whispered in the ear, telling of more powerful things than life or death. It seduced, but its words were lies. It was a creation of humans, a foolish masquerade, hiding the realities that the rat knew well. Life as a rat was so much simpler…
Drizzle gathered on the rat’s fur and it shivered despite the relative summer warmth. It had an assignment. Its master wanted an analysis of the defences around the Burrow. A similar task had been carried out the year before when Voldemort considered an attack, but the possibility of a swift arrival by Dumbledore and the rest of the Order had made it too high a risk. However, the rat detected something new. It seemed to be a new spell, one he didn’t recognise.
The rat scampered past the lake and towards the building, closer and closer to an unseen barrier that it could sense but not see. It slowed as it reached the barrier, magical vibrations registering all the way through its tiny body. Tentatively, it advanced the final few yards.
Within a moment, the rat was caught up in memories. He saw himself found in a garden by a small red-headed boy with an intense expression. He saw himself being fed, being taken care of. He saw another boy, who started off small and grew tall, taking care of him, too. And all the time, he felt something… it was almost belonging…
But not quite.
With a jolt the rat was thrown backwards. It landed on its back and swiftly righted itself, squeaking loudly. That spell was new. Its master would want to know about it.
And with that thought the rat quickly scampered away.
“The Burrow!” Ginny shouted, stepping into the emerald green flames.
As had happened a hundred times before, she was sucked into the fireplace and spun around and around as she rushed through the magical conduit. The roaring in her ears built and then, all of a sudden, it stopped and everything went quiet.
An image flashed before her eyes: a scene from her eleventh Birthday party, her family gathered around her as she enthusiastically blew out the candles on a cake. Then the scene disappeared and she found herself tumbling out of the Burrow fireplace.
Ron was stood to the side, next to his trunk. His brow was furrowed. Ginny joined him.
“Did something strange happen on the journey?” Ginny asked.
Ron nodded, as Mum emerged. “It stopped for a moment and I… er… saw something. A memory I think.”
“Oh dear, we forgot to tell you,” Mum apologised. “It’s a new defensive charm. Professor Dumbledore put it up.”
Dad appeared next, carrying Ginny’s trunk. A small amount of soot had settled on his right cheek. Mum spotted it almost immediately and set to work with a handkerchief.
“Arthur, dear, we forgot to tell them about the Familiarus charm.”
Dad glanced at his two youngest children. “Oh yes, it’s only been up for a month.”
“How does it work?” Ron asked.
“It’s… ah… a spell of belonging,” Dad explained. “Those who are tied to our family and to this house are able to get in, but those who are not, cannot.”
“What do you mean ‘tied’?”
“Well, it’s quite exacting. Ties of love, really, like familial bonds. Obviously family members should be able to get in…”
“And Dumbledore assured us that Harry would as well,” Mum revealed, beaming.
“What about Fleur?” Ginny inquired.
“Well, there was some doubt when we first set it up…” Ginny’s mum began.
Dad’s eyes sparkled. “Not on Fleur’s side, it’s worth mentioning. She told us all that she was tied to Bill and that that was quite enough. Then she put her head up high and strode right through.”
“Yes, well… Fleur has certainly proved herself committed…” It looked like it had been a difficult thing for Mum to admit. “Right, well, Ron… can you take those two trunks up. Everybody else will be arriving soon and I don’t want them to see this place looking like a tip.”
“Ginny, can we have a word with you? In the kitchen?”
Ginny exchanged a curious look with Ron. “Er… sure…”
Ginny’s parents led the way into the kitchen while Ron took his wand out, grinned, and then began levitating the trunk up the stairs.
“Sit down, Ginny,” Mum ordered. She remained standing.
“We know about Harry,” Dad said quietly.
Ginny raised an eyebrow. “Yes, I expect you do. Quite a few people in the wizarding world do, too.”
“That’s not we meant,” Mum snapped. “We know you are… you know… a couple.”
Ginny took a moment to compose herself. “How?”
“Professor Dumbledore came to see us about a month ago,” Dad explained. “He informed us of your relationship. He believed it to be serious.”
Ginny’s mouth fell open. “How was it any business of his?”
“Ginny! Have some respect!”
“Calm down, Molly,” Dad soothed, then turned to Ginny. “Albus Dumbledore invested a great deal of time in looking after Harry. This is exactly the kind of information he needed to know. He thought it significantly increased the likelihood of an attack on the Burrow, particularly if anything were to happen to him.”
“You think Voldemort cares about Harry’s love life?”
Both Ginny’s parents winced. Dad composed himself quickly, however, and answered with a simple, “yes”.
Ginny sighed. “Well, it doesn’t matter now. We broke up.”
“You did?” Mum gasped.
However, Dad only nodded sadly. “Let me guess. He wanted to protect you?”
Ginny bowed her head in acknowledgement.
“I’m so sorry, Ginny,” Dad said. “I so didn’t want you to have to deal with this kind of thing.”
“Oh, Ginny…” Mum breathed, and then she got down and hugged Ginny.
“It’s just not fair,” Ginny said quietly.
“No, it’s not.”
Ginny was quite for several moments. “Does this mean you’ll take the spell down?”
Dad shook his head. “We are still targets and I won’t take down any means of protecting my family.”
“And You-Know-Who might realise that Harry still has feelings for you,” Mum added, still with an arm around Ginny. “Do you know that when Professor Dumbledore first told me I was overjoyed? But then the implications sunk in…”
“I wish things weren’t so complicated,” Dad said sadly.
Ginny sighed. “But they are.”
“You return at last, Wormtail.”
The rat had barely entered the church. It marvelled at its master’s ability to sense him. Then, with a short moment of concentration, it became a man again.
Pettigrew fell to his knees. “My Lord, I am your humble servant.”
Voldemort was sat in the middle of altar. “Yes, you are. Now, did you detect any additional protection?”
“Yes, my Lord. It was a spell…” Pettigrew went on to describe what he had felt, before finishing: “I didn’t recognise it, my lord.”
“The Familiarus charm, Wormtail. It’s not common and can only be performed by a wizard of great power.” Voldemort sighed. “Yes, I expected something like this. Dumbledore haunts me even in death.”
Silence hung in the chapel for long moments. Finally it grew oppressive and Pettigrew gathered the courage to speak.
“Does this mean we cannot attack?”
Voldemort turned his gaze towards Wormtail. “Quite the contrary. The charm works on memories and the emotions attached to them. All we need to gain access is to obtain suitable memories.”
“How… how do you plan to do that, my Lord?” Pettigrew asked nervously.
Voldemort smiled malevolently.
“Why, my humble servant, that will be your job…”
Dinner at the Weasleys tended to be a bit of a raucous affair. Bill always looked forward to it very much. He remembered visiting Fleur’s parents and feeling horribly constrained by the rigid, formalised mealtime, with perfectly executed little jokes that Bill rarely understood. And yet Fleur seemed to manage to be perfectly relaxed in such an environment, whereas right now, she looked very uncomfortable. Home was such a strange concept.
Bowls of hot food were being passed around in a complicated system of exchanges that seemed to epitomise chaos but proved to be surprisingly effective. Everything was done with a great deal of enthusiasm and a kind of understated joy. People revelled in old jokes and old bones of contentions and it seemed that even in the midst of argument, they were trying very hard not to burst into wide grins.
Bill sought out Fleur’s hand and held it tightly.
“Dey av no manners,” Fleur complained in a whisper.
Bill smiled. “No… we just have our own manners.”
His eyes fell on his little sister. She was the exception. While she responded when spoken to and tried to match smiles with everyone, it was abundantly clear that she was not happy. Her expression was downcast and she was eating uncharacteristically slowly. After a moment or two, she noticed his attention and met his gaze. They locked eyes for a moment or two before Ginny smiled slightly and then looked away.
“Wat iz de matter with Ginny?”
Bill sighed. “Love, I imagine.”
He had been informed of the reason for the added protection around the Burrow. He had even been allowed to help Dumbledore put it up, due to his experiences with magical barriers.
“Dere iz no love at that age,” Fleur insisted. “Puppy love, iz dat not wat you Engleesh say?”
“I’m not sure,” Bill replied. Without thinking, he handed a bowl of broccoli across to George (who was chatting animatedly to Charlie) and then continued. “Ginny was always in rather a hurry to grow up. She always used to have the passion of a person twice her size.”
“Dey should not grow up too soon,” Fleur said wisely.
“Sometimes they don’t have any choice.” Bill lowered his voice. “She was fighting beside me, you know, when this –” he motioned to his scars, “– when this was done to me. My little sister.”
Fleur didn’t answer for a while. “She does av old eyes,” she said finally.
Across the table, Ginny got up and put her plate down. “I’m tired,” she announced. “I’m getting an early night.”
Everyone wished her goodnight and Bill watched her disappear up the stairs.
“Breaks my heart to see her like that,” George said, turning away from Charlie. “So quiet, so listless… so un-Ginny-like.”
Fred was opposite George and seemed to have heard. He leaned over and joined in the conversation. “I miss that fiery, angry little sister of ours.”
“Well, Fred,” George replied. “I expect we’ll see the old, familiar Ginny before long.”
Fred checked his watch. “Oh yes. I give it another fifteen seconds.”
“What have you two done?" Bill inquired in a dangerous sort of voice.
“Have you put the shield charms around you know where?” George asked, ignoring Bill.
Fred winced. “Yeah… she does make a habit of shooting below the belt when she’s angry.”
“What have you two done?” Bill asked again loudly. His parents looked up at the sound of his voice and looked warily between the twins and Bill.
Suddenly a large clump could be heard from upstairs.
“Chomping mattress spell,” George revealed smugly.
A howl of rage reverberated from above.
“She’ll have thrown herself down on her bed, all full of teenage angst…” Fred began.
Several louder clumps echoed around the walls.
“The mattress will have attacked her.”
A final sickening crunch rang out, followed by the unmistakeable sounds of springs exploding.
“And, as if by magic, a sulky, lovelorn teenager will be turned into Ginny Weasley, in all her sisterly viciousness.”
Someone was coming down the stairs at a fearsome peace.
“Now, see here!” Mum shouted, but it was too late. Ginny entered the room, wand drawn and hexes flying. Her hair was a flaming mess and tears of fury were running down her face. George and Fred took one look at her and then dived away in unison, making a run for the door.
“You horrible brutes!” Ginny screamed, chasing after them. “I’m going to hex you into girls, you ugly pair of clowns!”
“Yes, Ginny, calm down…” Bill’s father chimed in half-heartedly, but to no avail. Ginny ran out the door after the twins.
Beside Bill, Fleur made a little snort of uncontained disgust.
“Dey av no manners watsoever…”
There was something lonely about the night, Percy thought, as he stood at his window, staring out at it. In the daytime, the sky was a masquerade. It mocked the eye, painting a picture of a contained universe, with a blue lid upon reality. Then the night would fall and the human soul would be laid open to infinity: stars beyond stars, reality so large that it could not be conceived.
Everything could be perfect in the daytime. Percy had a mission, a sense of purpose. He had a belief system, a cause for which he stood firm. But with the night came the doubting of his certainties. Muggles had once believed in a safe little construct in which the sun and the universe revolved around them. It had been the night that had killed that certainty, too.
And when he found no comfort in his abstract ideals, Percy found himself longing for human contact. Penelope was balm to his wounds in times like that, but Percy knew that he couldn’t continue to rely on her alone. She could not always be there. She wasn’t here now. Dratted late shift, again.
No, a man had to face his own problems, not foist them on others. Percy would have to deal with whatever it was that had to be dealt with. He suspected it had something to do with family.
That was when he saw him. The boy emerged from the shadows below and out onto the pavement outside the apartment building. He had red hair and looked about seven, although he seemed tall for that age. And he looked strikingly familiar.
“Ron?” Percy breathed. His mind froze up and his heart jumped halfway up his throat. The boy was waving and smiling up at him. Percy closed his eyes and opened them again, rubbing his temples desperately, but the apparition did not disappear. Still doubting his eyes, he grabbed his wand from the desk and then Apparated out to the pavement.
The pavement was empty; there was no one in sight, but Percy saw a rat scurry away around the corner. Percy chased after it, running into an alleyway between two buildings. The rat was in the centre of the alleyway, watching him.
Percy moved closer. He bent down; his head spinning. “Scabbers?”
He only had a moment to wonder why Scabbers had a silver paw, before what had been Scabbers was shooting upwards from the ground, its form writhing into that of a man. Percy blinked and found himself looking down at a short, rat-like man, who was holding a wand against Percy’s throat.
The man smiled weakly.