Cheery Good Morning
Harry and Ginny walked carefully from the Apparition point through the
still, dark woods. Since Ginny had lost one shoe at
Hogwarts, she found it easiest to remove the other shoe and both socks
and walk barefoot, although it was awkward to do since the
forest floor was littered with sticks and twigs and gnarled roots of
trees. A couple of birds
were idly reminding each other to not stray into the other's area, and
buzz of an insect or two could be heard. Soon Ginny could see a
ramshackle cottage ahead that appeared to need considerable repair.
noticed how cautious Harry had become when approaching the cottage. It
looked as if it had been abandoned many years ago. After a moment of
observation, he appeared to be
satisfied with what he saw, but still carried his wand at ready.
was sitting on the doorstep. "Harry, is that Crookshanks? We wondered
what happened to him when
Hermione joined you and Ron."
"Let me check." Harry muttered a spell while pointing his wand at the
cat. "Yeah, that's him. We always check him after he's been outside.
Hermione worked out a spell to do it. Ask her to teach it to you when
you get a chance."
The cat recognized Ginny and began to happily circle her ankles and rub
his face on her bare toes after
they stepped into the cottage. Harry closed the door and hung the
in a corner of the
kitchen area. The inside of the cottage was
better kept up than its outside suggested. She saw a sitting room area
to the right, with two seats big enough for two people each. There were
two small side tables and a small coffee table holding a few books. The
bookshelves to either
side of a door at the back of the room were loaded with books. A glance
at the titles showed Hermione's influence. To Ginny's left was
a kitchen area with a large table, separated from the sitting area by a
large couch. She saw no sign of Ron and Hermione.
Harry began preparing a breakfast of eggs, toast, and sausages. Ginny
down at the kitchen table with a big sigh and a happy grin. Crookshanks
into her lap and bumped his head against one of her hands. As she
absently began to scratch his head, the cat began a raucous purr. Harry
"Coffee or tea? Real coffee, mind you."
"Tea this time, lots of it. When I was flying here I promised myself
I'd have some the earliest I could."
The door to a bedroom opened and Ron walked out, yawning hugely. He was
wearing the bottoms of a pair of orange pyjamas that featured the
Chudley Cannons. "G'morning, Harry. Ginny." He pulled up a chair, sat
down, propped his elbows on the table, covered his face with his large
hands, and sighed a huge sigh. "Coffee ready yet, Harry?" Ron croaked.
Then Ron's eyes popped wide open. "Bloody hell
, Ginny! What are you
"And a cheery good morning to you, too, Ronnikins
Ginny replied brightly.
"Ginny!" A delighted cry came from the bedroom. Hermione ran out and
the two young women happily hugged each other. Ginny saw
where the top half of Ron's pyjamas had gone. On Hermione the Chudley
Cannons orange top extended to mid-thigh, and the sleeves had been
rolled up to accomodate her shorter arms. In her private opinion, the
color didn't flatter either Ron or Hermione, but at least it didn't
clash outright with Hermione's hair and skin tones. The orange looked
much better with her brown
hair than it did with Ron's red hair. Hermione looked
really cute in her half.
Ginny caught Harry's eye and tilted her head slightly, indicating Ron
and Hermione, and raised one eyebrow questioningly. With a small smile
Harry nodded slightly, silently imparting the information that Ron and
had been together a while. Ginny looked at Harry and silently mouthed,
"About time." Harry nodded and grinned.
"Ginny." Ron glared at her. "Why. Are. You. Here?"
"Don't look at me like that, Ron, or I'll hex you within an inch of
your life, see if I don't," Ginny said pleasantly, while tapping her
wand in the palm of her other hand suggestively.
"Harry," Ron now glared at him. "Did you kidnap Ginny from Hogwarts or
"No," Harry replied, "but a gang of Slytherins nearly did. Tell them,
"Not yet," Ginny grinned wickedly. "I'm having too much fun with
What Harry said had finally sunk in. Ron grabbed his coffee and took
too large a swallow. After coughing and choking out, "too hot," Ron
managed to say, "Tell us, Gin. What happened?" Ron still cast a glare
at both Ginny and Harry and even Hermione, who was so obviously
with Ginny's arrival.
* * *
"I don't think you should stay here, Ginny," said Ron anxiously.
"Hogwarts has to be safer... um... if you stay inside."
"No, Ron. The Slytherins that tried to catch me stay inside
too. It's too easy to be alone in a hall somewhere and then get caught."
"It must be safer at The Burrow then."
"You've not heard, have you?" Ginny looked at them. "Somebody tried to
attack The Burrow. Fortunately no one was at home at the time. Mum and
Dad were at an Order meeting. They didn't break the wards on
the house, but they did get into the outbuildings. They made quite a
especially of Dad's Muggle artifacts."
Ron's face paled. "Are Mum and Dad okay? Where are they now?"
"They are staying somewhere
else, for now. I checked with Fred and George, but they didn't
want to tell me where Mum and Dad were. Security, you know. They reckon
safer than at The Burrow anyway."
Ron looked worredly at Ginny again. "Hey, let's put it to a vote," Ron
said desperately. "How many say
Ginny should go stay with Mum and Dad?" Only Ron's hand went up. Ron
at Harry. "What changed your mind, Harry?" Ron demanded.
"If it's not safe anywhere
anymore then I want Ginny here with me. At least I'll
have a chance to protect her myself. And protect you and Hermione,
too." Harry stared Ron in the eye, a smile no longer on his face.
all in it together. We all
protect each other."
Ron grumbled, "How many kisses did it take for Ginny to change your
mind?" and took another swallow of coffee.
Ron spewed coffee all over his lap. "You counted
them? I was joking!"
"You were? It wasn't obvious." Harry turned and gave Ginny a grin and a
kiss on her cheek.
"It's just not safe here," Ron said, attempting to ignore the intimate
"I wish there was some way to shield you, both of you girls," Ron said,
looking anxiously from Ginny to Hermione. "I wish I could put
impervious armour on you both."
"Something like that nice orange suit of armour you're sharing with
Hermione?" Ginny said sweetly. Harry burst out laughing.
Ron stood up,
now glaring at everyone, and started for the door. "I'm going for a
walk," he growled.
"You might want to change your armour, first," Ginny replied, pointing
at Ron's pyjama bottoms. "It's still a bit cool outside, and you have
wet coffee stains too."
Ron swung back toward the bedroom. With a few waves of her wand,
a grinning Hermione pulled together an egg and sausage sandwich and
wrapped it in
a napkin. She handed it to Ron with a sympathetic smile when he emerged
in jeans, shirt, jumper
and trainers. "You might get hungry, Ron." He mumbled his thanks and
started out the door.
Harry called to him, "Ron, I beefed up the wards at the northwest
corner yesterday. Can't come back from the river that way any more."
Ron grunted as he stalked out of the house, not bothering to close the
"He'll come around, Ginny," Hermione said quietly. "He really does know
that it's not safe anywhere now." The door clicked shut with a wave of
After they had eaten breakfast, Ginny started to wash the breakfast
dishes as she would at The Burrow, without using magic. Then she looked
with longing at her wand and moaned in frustration. "I can't do magic
here. I'm still under age."
Hermione said, "Ginny, we put up special wards like some they have at
Hogwarts. When you're inside
them, you can do any sort of magic and the Ministry of Magic won't
detect it. You
can even practice Apparating inside the wards." Then Ginny grinned in
delight, reached for her wand, and happily began cleaning the dishes
the way she had wanted to ever since she received her wand at
* * *
"I need to tell Mum and Dad what happened." Ginny looked at the others.
"Do you all know that our watches can communicate with each other's and
with Fred's and George's watches?"
"I thought it might be the case, but Fred and George didn't say
anything about their watches or yours. They
did warn us that they were experimental. I did send them a message when
I was flying to meet you." Harry looked at Ginny
speculatively. "We should compare what we know about all our watches."
After some discussion, they realized that the watches were all the
same, except for appearance and who they were tuned to. Only one person
could use a watch. For example, Ron and Harry could not trade watches
and have the magical features work. Besides the locator and direction
finder feature, they could use the locations shown to Apparate to each
other. The other feature was sending and receiving text messages. They
send messages to one or more individuals in the group. In this
Ginny sent a message to both Fred and George that she was with Ron,
Hermione, and Harry. She informed them briefly of the attempted
kidnapping as well, and asked them to tell their parents and Professor
McGonagall that she was
safe with the others, but to keep her location secret.
* * *
"It's about time that I learn what you all have been doing." Ginny's
eyes were flashing a familiar impatient intensity that that made the
three acutely aware of how near Ginny's hand was to her wand. "No more
secrets, right? I know you've been avoiding certain subjects today when
talked. I'm not
I'm not going off to hide with Mum and Dad.
not going back to Hogwarts either. I'm with you now. You
have to tell me what's ahead for us
Ginny looked at each one in turn
until she got a reaction. Hermione voiced assent at once. Harry closed
his eyes briefly, while letting his thoughts settle into shape, and
then looking at her and nodding decisively he said, "Okay." Then he
clearly but silently mouthed the words "I love you" to her. Hermione
and Ron did not see this, but Ginny felt that she had cleared her
Then she looked Ron long and hard in the eye, and raised her eyebrows.
, Ron. All four
of us. Understand?" Ron looked
clearly uncomfortable for both being a final holdout and also wanting
to protect his baby sister. "Ron, none of us have been safe for a long
time now, right?" Ron reluctantly nodded agreement with that. "Doesn't
it make sense that the more we know, the more we have a chance to get
around the obstacles, and the more we can avoid situations that could
hurt or kill us?"
"Yeah, but what if you get captured?" Ron was very unhappy with the
train of thought he had so often imagined, and also had avoided
about when he could manage it. "What if it happens to any of us?" he
said, looking fretfully at Hermione. "They can make us spill all we
know, before they kill us."
"Ron, how is that any different than it has been for a long while
now?" Ginny's eyes were flashing again.
"Uh, well, only in the amount you know, really."
Harry interrupted. "Ron, Ginny already knows about our biggest secret,
"Horcruxes?" Ginny said questioningly.
"No, she doesn't. Didn't
did you mention their name?" Ron said
"She knows I killed something
in Riddle's diary," Harry replied. "She might not know that the diary
was a Horcrux, or even what a Horcrux is
but all it would take is for Voldemort to know what Ginny knows about
it already. Then he would know the other Horcruxes should be checked.
It wouldn't take long to realize that someone had killed off his
Horcruxes. He might even guess that we were the ones who did it."
"I agree," Hermione interjected. "There's no longer any reason to hide
from Ginny what we all
Horcruxes. We also should tell her the rest,
too. I think she could help."
Ron sat, looking at his feet as if they had the answer to his inner
turmoil. Finally he looked up, and daring to look Ginny in the eyes
again, he said with great reluctance, "Okay, then. Let's tell her. Tell
"Okay. Fair enough." Ginny was still not smiling. She looked at each of
them again. "What the hell
are Horcruxes, and why do we... we
care about them?"