Progress Notes: 01/10/07
Chapter 3 is in Beta: Revision 2.
Chapter 4 is about 20-25%.
12/20/06 - I appologize for the last update being over 2 years ago. The loss of my daughter, my divorce, moving, and changing jobs managed to kill any desire to write that I had at the time, all but forgetting about it being here on PS.Net. Strangely enough, I have taken up the mantle once more to finish this story, thanks to a review notification email I recieved recently.
Harry didn't sleep well that night, waking up repeatedly and checking the time with his Pocket Reader. By the time that 8:00 am had come around, Harry was dressed and ready to go with his trunk waiting beside the couch in the sitting room, and he was feeling exhausted. Harry stripped his room bare earlier that morning without the knowledge of his aunt Petunia. As he sat on his bed one last time, he remembered the letters from Gringotts that he had folded up and put in his pocket, especially the last page with the reply to his request for an extra withdrawal from his Hogwarts account. As he tapped his feet in self-doubt and impatience about what he was about to do, the thought of how the Weasleys were going to arrive began to worry Harry.
Petunia checked the front window again as she saw the time on the clock read 8:29.
"Harry, I think they might be running late. I don't see anyone out front for you, and it's just about 8:30 now; unless they mean to…?" Petunia's face began to pale as her voice faded to quietness.
Harry came down the stairs, leaving an envelope on his pristine bed with his room open. Harry pulled the ceramic Reader tablet from his pocket and rubbed his fingers over it as he hit the bottom landing of the stairs. The method of Ginny's imminent arrival had him curious. Ron was going to be there too, he reminded himself. His fingers stopped over a strange rough spot on the tablet that should not have been there and he dropped his head as if he were looking at the tablet. As he rubbed his fingers over it again, the spot faded and two circles appeared as Ron and Ginny popped into existence beside his aunt, scaring the daylights out of her.
"Sorry, Harry, dad held us up slightly. He got a little distracted by a mixing machine. Have all of your things ready?" Ginny spoke up as she saw Harry standing by the edge of the couch. Ron was trying hard not to laugh at the shocked and silent form of Petunia Dursley mere inches away from him with her mouth gaping open like a fish.
Harry stood up and grabbed his trunk handle with both hands to hide the fact that he couldn't actually see the Portkey they had used. He dragged it to Ginny's side as Ron took Hedwig's cage off the trunk. "All ready to go, but I have one last thing to take care of." He turned his head to where his aunt was last standing and set down his trunk.
"Aunt Petunia, I left something for you in my room, but don't mistake my small amount of concern for gratitude or guilt." Harry's tone professed his disappointment in his relatives.
Dudley came rushing out of Harry's old room to the top of the stairs where he had been spying on everyone, waving his hand wildly with a collection of bills.
"Mum! Mum! Look at what Harry left in his room. There must be two hundred pounds here! What sort of an idiot would…?" Dudley stopped mid-sentence when he realized that Harry was still present and faced his direction with distaste.
Harry took up the end of his trunk in both hands again and nodded his readiness, his face devoid of any expression. Ginny looped her arms around the elbows of Ron and Harry. Ginny gave a suspicious look at Ron, and received a questioning shrug in return. Without waiting for prompting, she activated the Portkey home. With an odd rushing sound in their ears and a stomach-wrenching jerk from somewhere behind their navels, the three landed in Ginny's bedroom.
"Did we land in the right house? This doesn't look like our living room." Ron asked in mock confusion at their surroundings.
With an earsplitting "eek", Ginny jerked her arms free and started to push Harry to the door as Ron high-tailed it out of the room ahead of them laughing merrily. Harry didn't quite understand why Ginny was herding him backwards until his feet tangled up in a piece of clothing on the floor and he fell backwards. His face flushed crimson as his fingers worked at untangling the satin wrapped around one shoe and he figured out just what was impeding his movement and where they had landed. Ginny had obviously not expected to be transported into the middle of her dirty clothes pile with Harry tied up in her lingerie.
With a lot of fussing and curses under her breath, Ginny extracted Harry from her underclothes and rushed him out the door.
Harry snaked his hand into his coat pocket as he made his way down the hall. Ginny opened her door and pushed his trunk into the hallway behind him before closing it again. Harry took hold of his trunk and hauled it up to Ron's room with a tight grip on the Reader tile in his other hand. Harry slipped his sacred tile into the pocket of his jacket before letting himself in the bedroom door to unload his trunk, cool off a little, and possibly catch a few more hours of sleep. His imagination was trying to run away about playing with Ginny's silky clothing. With a shrug, Harry decided to leave his trunk packed the way it was and dropped it into the corner beside Ron's dresser, where he could hear Hedwig whistling in her sleep. At least Ron had remembered to bring in Hedwig's cage before he disappeared in his state of amusement.
Harry gave Hedwig a comforting rub and muttered under his breath, "Think I could just hide out in here for another week? I know there are plenty of broom closets to hide in at Hogwarts." Hedwig hooted and shook her head with indignation.
"Well then, here goes nothing, girl. Let's see if I can pull off this charade long enough to make it back to Hogwarts," he said before he turned and left the room.
Harry made his way to the stairs and started down, one hand on the moving map in his pocket. Before he made it to the bottom landing, his hearing picked up Ginny's siren of a voice from outside berating her father for not paying attention when he had made the Portkey and for the embarrassment of having Harry tripped up in all of her clothes.
Fred and George chorused in sequence as they walked past the foot of the stairs, interrupting their whisperings about secret plans for their new shop in Hogsmeade and the expansion of their store in Diagon Alley.
With a chuckle, Harry came away from the stairs and headed towards the kitchen and Molly Weasley's voice complaining about Harry's birthday cake taking a few minutes too long to cook. He stepped into the kitchen and gave Molly the reassurance that a few extra minutes wouldn't matter too much before she attacked him with a suffocating hug.
"Oh Harry, it's so good to see you again. Are you hungry? I've got some lunch in the making and you look like you could use some good home-cooking." Molly released her grip on Harry and dove into fussing with jars and vegetables and her stove.
As Harry withdrew from Molly's arms, he turned to look at the kitchen door where he heard shoes scraping the dirt just outside mixed with muttering. Ginny opened the door and stopped as she saw Harry looking at her with a suppressed grin on his lips.
"Sorry about the…uh… Portkey, Harry. Dad wasn't paying as much attention as he should have when he made it. By the way, you look very nice today. Your clothes actually look like they fit, and they're new too."
Ginny spun him around admiring the black slacks and deep forest green shirt that he had on with a casual suit jacket. She gave him a quick hug and wished him a happy birthday before racing up the stairs to her room and slamming the door. Harry could feel the heat in her cheeks and then noticed that he was also a little hot under the collar.
"Thank you..." Harry whispered after she'd gone. Molly looked over her shoulder with a knowing grin on her face as she worked her magic with the lunch she was preparing.
As he walked out of the kitchen back towards the living room, Harry dropped his hand back into his pocket to feel the moving map on his tile just in time to avoid the hurricane of Ron and the twins racing in the kitchen door with their brooms, enthusiastically chatting about Quidditch. Ron instantly caught sight of Harry in the living room and asked him about joining them in a game of two on two. He turned them down with feigned regret, saying he had not finished any of his summer work because there were major issues with the Dursleys. Ron gave him a curious look, remembering the events just before they had arrived at The Burrow earlier, but said nothing. Ron teased him and said that even he had finished his work so that Hermione wouldn't be angry.
With an absent thought, Harry took off his coat, draped it over the back of a chair and faced the tapping of Molly's foot as Ron and the twins raced out the back door.
"I really wasn't up to playing today. I haven't been sleeping well lately, and I wanted to give them a believable excuse."
"Was it because of him again?" The concern in Molly's voice was thick.
"No. Just count it as nervousness and excitement about never having to go back to the Dursleys' ever again."
Harry could almost imagine the smile on Molly's face as she turned around to her cooking. He went back upstairs to dig out the books he had borrowed from his aunt, books that he had seen Ginny reading in the past.
Harry found the copy of Blackthorne where he had placed it and closed the lid of his trunk before stretching out on the extra bed in Ron's room set aside for him. His eyes drifted shut as the novel played on.
Hours later, Harry rolled out the bed with a thump as he hit the floor, dropping the tile from his hand. He stood up groggily, marking his page with his finger as he felt his way to the door, his mind not quite fully awake.
As he passed Ginny's door to head downstairs, he could hear her throwing clothes around and talking to herself, asking, "Where is it? I was just getting to the good part." Harry stopped and leaned against the wall a few feet from her door when it popped open and Ginny went rushing down the stairs towards the kitchen.
"Mum, have you seen my book? I can't seem to find it, and I'll never hear the end of it if any of them find it."
Harry surmised she was referring to her brothers and just stood there with a subdued smile.
Molly asked her if she had checked a few places, and Ginny replied in the negative and left the kitchen to go back to her room. The appearance of a disheveled and sleepy-looking Harry interrupted her thoughts of her missing romance novel as he leaned against her doorframe.
'…and well-dressed, masculine, sexy…Calm down girl, I'm over him', Ginny thought as her voice failed to issue a greeting. 'Not.'
She stopped dead in front of him when she spied the object in his hands. A book. The same book she was reading… for the fifth time in three weeks.
"Umm, Harry can I have my book back please?" She reached out to take it from him, but he pulled the book away as soon as her fingers brush against the cover.
"I didn't find your book. This one is mine. I borrowed it from my aunt. It is a most enjoyable read, too. Do you think Ron might like it?"
Ginny let out a strangled cough and realized that Harry was teasing her. Her face turned a wonderful shade of red before she rushed through the door of her bedroom.
Harry didn't have time to ponder what transpired between him and Ginny before Ron and the twins came marching out of the kitchen and headed for the stairs.
Fred reached for one of Harry's shoulders while George reached for the other, taking the book out of his hand.
"I see you found Ginny's book. I didn't think anyone would actually look for her book, especially not where we hid it the in the loo. Oh well."
George opened the door, and noticing Ginny's perturbed expression, he swiftly tossed the book past her and directed Harry down the stairs to the kitchen with urgency.
"Mum says you've had enough sleep today…"
"… and now it's time to party like…," the twins said, completing each other's sentence.
"I did not say anything of the sort!" Mrs. Weasley voiced quite loudly from her place beside the table as she set out dishes of food. "You must've been worn out. You slept most of the afternoon. It's almost four o'clock, Harry."
Mrs. Weasley finished setting the meal out and took down a stack of plates from the cupboard when she noticed him leaning in the doorway as if he were still half-asleep. She didn't know he was doing it to keep his bearings.
"You can take off your sunglasses, too. It's not that bright in here. I'll draw the curtains and we can turn on the lights since Arthur got those Muggle bulb-light things working in the house."
"I'd rather not, Mrs. Weasley. I've been having headaches since the end of last year, and part of the summer, and my sunglasses seem to help with them. They cut down the brightness and all, and that's partially why I fell asleep this morning."
Mrs. Weasley's sour look of motherly suspicion started the gears turning in Ron's head. "I don't remember you saying anything about getting headaches in school, unless you meant Potions."
"Madam Pomfrey gave me a couple of concoctions for them. She said they were from all the stress of Voldemort's attack on Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and Hermione put a charm on my regular glasses to help with them," Harry said, interrupting him. He reached out with his hand, luckily caught the back of a chair to pull it out, and turned his head, apparently looking at Ginny as she walked into the kitchen. "Well then, I can smell that cake hiding around here somewhere."
Oddly enough, Harry thought, I can smell it.
"Double chocolate, cherry, and…" Harry exaggerated sniffing the air. "…Ron, you really need to change your socks."
Ron and the twins ganged up on Harry, dragging him into a chair in mock protest as Molly retrieved the hidden birthday cake.
Ginny wore a lopsided smile as she looked from Harry to her brothers and then at her mother. Something was up and Harry was apparently doing his best to hide it from everyone, but he hadn't fooled her yet.
The Weasleys dismissed Harry's questionable explanation and proceeded to make Harry's birthday party a memorable one for him. Hermione managed to arrive just before things got into full swing. Ginny had read about party games in her Muggle Studies books and asked Hermione's help in setting them up and learning to play them. Somehow, the twins had managed to prank every one of them. Ron ended up bruised after the piñata tried to beat him with a stick, stuck in the rear with a tack when the Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey picture suddenly turned into him, and, well, twisted after playing twister.
Hermione spun the little arm and called out, "Right hand, yellow. Harry, it's your turn, go ahead."
He had been trying to get out of playing this since Ginny had brought it up. I am in SUCH deep trouble. Miraculously, he had made the first two turns without problems. He vaguely remembered the color patterns from when Dudley had tried to play the game last summer for his birthday party and threw a tantrum because he was too big and heavy to bend and reach the spots. Harry hadn't really been paying much attention at the time because of his depression over losing Sirius. Harry reached his arm to where he thought the yellow dots were.
"Harry!" Ginny exclaimed in surprise as his hand brushed her leg.
"Umm, s…sorry," Harry stuttered and withdrew his hand, earning snickers from Fred and George.
'This was a VERY bad idea.'
"That's not the yellow dot," Ginny corrected him. "The yellow ones are to your right. No, wait, weren't they on the left a minute ago?"
"FRED! GEORGE!" The twins fell down laughing on the mixed up pile of everyone playing the game as their mother walked in and saw the colors randomly switching locations.
After extricating themselves from the tangle of limbs, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Harry sat down on the couch for a good laugh at the twins' antics and some rest as Molly dragged the twins outside by their ears and set them to work de-gnoming the garden.
"I know my birthday was three weeks ago, but this has been the best birthday party ever. Thank you, everyone," Harry said as he heard Molly walk through the kitchen door.
'I just wish I could have actually SEEN more of it.'
Harry managed to survive the weekend without making too many mistakes and having to tell stories to cover them, though everyone had realized that the stories were just that. Harry's expression would turn sour when he thought no one was looking, and he was starting to feel worse. He could hear it when any of the Weasleys were present, and tell who it was and where they were just by the way they sounded when they walked by. As soon as he heard the steps on the floor, his face would be calm and collected or he'd have a subdued smile, but his expressions still had the hint of being forced.
The Weasleys had decided early Monday morning not to broach the subject of what was upsetting Harry, that he would do it in his own time when he was ready. They had seen his reactions to familial concern the prior summer when Sirius had disappeared through the veil in the Department of Mysteries. He had also reacted strongly after the Ministry declared his godfather dead and the Wizengamot consecutively cleared Sirius of his prior charges and fugitive status.
Harry had spent most of Monday afternoon laying out on the bench in the garden with Hedwig when Ron and Hermione came to fetch him back into the Burrow. Harry put up a token resistance when Ginny came out and took Hedwig from him so that Ron and Hermione could place a blindfold around his face.
"Can't I just keep my eyes closed?" Harry asked as he shut his eyes tight and took off his sunglasses for his friends to tie the black cloth around his head.
"Sorry, Harry. You know the Weasley family rules. We saved the best gift for last and it has to have a blindfold. Especially since it took us this long to get a reply from Dum..." Ron said before Ginny elbowed him. He and Hermione pushed Harry in the kitchen door of the Burrow as Ginny snorted in sarcasm, following closely behind them.
"Family rule, my bum." Ginny let her comment hang as she set his sunglasses down on the kitchen table as they passed by.
Harry marched exaggeratedly through kitchen and living room like a soldier from an old war movie with Hermione and Ron directing him as if he was going to face a firing squad. They helped him up the stairs and stopped on the second floor where the rest of the Weasleys had gathered in a jumbled mix of whispers.
'What are we doing up here?' Harry ran through possibilities in his head. 'Ginny's room is up one floor, then the loo and the twins on the fourth, with Ron's room at the top.'
Harry could pick out the whispers of "hope he likes it" and felt the tapping of Mrs. Weasley's foot on the floorboards as they turned him left instead of right -- to Percy's old room.
Arthur Weasley spoke up as they opened the door for Harry and let him step in first. "Dumbledore said that since this is your last year at Hogwarts and you won't be going back to those relatives of yours, you're more than welcome to stay here. We fixed up Percy's old room for you to have, if you'd like."
Harry took an extra step into the room to hide his face from the family before he took off the blindfold. He kept his eyes shut, though, once he had removed the blindfold. This time it was to hold back the tears. The Weasleys had given him the gift of a place to call home, and it saddened him to know that he couldn't see the effort behind it.
"So how do you like it mate?" Ron inquired impatiently.
"It's...it's..." Harry tried not to sniffle, but a sound still escaped as he opened his eyes and only saw blackness.
"I know," Hermione pitched in, "Chudley Cannons orange on the walls made me want to start bawling too. I think a nice shade of green would suit you so much better." With a quick swish of her wand, the walls changed to a rich pine green.
Ron protested loudly to his girlfriend about the merits of the world's greatest Quidditch team while everyone else clutched at each other for support while they shook in silent mirth.
"We'll give you some time to get used to the idea and you can tell us your answer later, but we'd love to have you stay," Mrs. Weasley spoke up as she ushered her children down the stairs.
Harry was about to turn around but paused as he heard a foot drag at the top of the stairs and stop. He heard Ginny's shoes, with a worn flat spot on the sole from skipping when she was exited, happy, hyperactive…
'…or just about whenever she's in a good mood and makes me smile.'
Ginny didn't say anything, just stood and watched him run his fingers along the bed as if he was trying to take it all in. She finally gave in and went downstairs to join the rest of the family when she figured out that Harry knew she was there; he just wasn't going to turn around and acknowledge her.
Harry waited until he could hear the door to kitchen close, and the hushed conversation beyond continued. He decided he'd take a small chance and turned to leave the room, trailing his hand on the wall to the top of the stairs.
Harry took a deep breath to steady himself and called down to the kitchen. "Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. I… I greatly appreciate it. I think I'll get my stuff and move it into the room."
Harry turned and walked into Ron's room just as everyone poured out of the kitchen into the living room. He could hear Mr. Weasley's 'I told you so' to his wife as he gave a half-hearted smile to no one. Harry felt for Hedwig's cage and managed to stack it on his school trunk as Ron stepped in the doorway and asked if he wanted any help with his stuff. He turned down the offer, directing the comment over his shoulder so he wouldn't have to face his friend without his glasses on. Harry only had to wait a minute to move the trunk as Ron bounded down the stairs and became caught up in George's plans for siphoning Weasley Wizard Wheezes into Hogwarts.
'Thank Merlin for small distractions.' Harry thought to himself as he rummaged through his trunk, taking his time to feel his way around the room and put his belongings where he thought they would go. He wouldn't need everything at Hogwarts this year, and it certainly lightened the load he would have to take with him in a week.
Hours later, as the sky turned from dusk to the dark of night, Harry had finished arranging his possessions in a placement he thought he would remember by touch. Whenever someone would stop by to offer assistance, Harry would stop and turn away from the door, politely refusing the offers. After all his belongings had been sorted and put away, he realized the Pocket Reader tile was missing, and he began searching in earnest for it as he could very well be lost without it.
Harry stopped shortly as he heard one of the doors down the hall open and shut, followed by bare feet shuffling into his doorway. He waited a few seconds before crawling around on the floor again, feeling through the items he had scattered during his hasty search for the tile. Ginny watched him hunt through items strewn everywhere as if his life depended on it. She finally decided to close the door just as he banged his head on the end of his trunk.
Harry stopped momentarily as he heard Hermione's voice from the bottom of the stairs ask about Harry forgetting his sunglasses in the kitchen, and then Ron mentioned Harry's comment about getting headaches and charms on his glasses.
"Harry, what's going on?" Ginny said, regaining Harry's attention. When she didn't receive a reply, she tried again. "Everyone can see something is bothering you. Why won't you tell us so we can help? Ginny sounded tired and confused.
"It's nothing, Gin. I just…I just forgot where I put my glasses and I guess I didn't see my trunk." Harry made no effort to get off the floor but continued to act as if he was searching under his bed for his glasses.
Harry never called her Gin unless there was something seriously wrong that he was trying to hide or they were having one of their late-night conversations alone in the common room where he managed to stare at her for hours. He certainly wasn't staring at her this time.
"Harry, even I know you can see your trunk when you're nose-to-lid with that thing, and your glasses are downstairs. Can't you see how keeping your deep, dark secrets is hurting us when we know there's something wrong and you act as if everything's fine? I know it's not, and I want to know why."
Harry stood up, keeping his face to the floor and his back towards Ginny. He could hear Hermione's exclamation to Ron asking why he would lie about his glasses, followed by heavy footsteps on the stairs.
"I can't," he replied, his voice meek.
"What do you mean 'you can't,' Harry? You can't what?" Ginny's voice was rising in anger. "You can't see what you're doing to us by keeping these secrets? Can't you see the pain you're causing us by not telling anyone? Do you think that not telling us the truth will keep us from being hurt? Mum almost broke down in tears when you wouldn't even turn around and look at us after she and dad decided to give you the room. What is wrong with you, Harry?" She was practically yelling him when she finished.
Harry's ears picked up the closeness of Ron and Hermione's footfalls on the landing outside his door.
"No, Ginny, I didn't see it, because I can't." Harry's voice quivered with suppressed tears and anger.
Ginny's voice conveyed the hurt she felt. "What's with this 'I can't,' Harry? Do you honestly feel you have to ignore your friends, my family, just to feel like you can accomplish whatever it is that's so important to you?"
Harry raised his head just as the knob turned and his door swung open, but the words refused to stay silent.
"No, Ginny, I mean that I can't see. Anything. I don't know if I'm going to walk into a wall or fall down the stairs. I can't look at a clock and tell you what time it is. I couldn't catch a Snitch if it was the size of a Quaffle and held in front of me because I wouldn't know if it's there. I can't see! Do you understand? I'm blind." Harry's voice rose to the point he wanted to scream it at her, and he shook on the verge of crying. He lifted his face and directed it towards where Ginny stood, showing her the faded color of his eyes and the slightly visible scars at the corners. A tear slid down one of his cheeks and he hastily wiped it away.
Ginny let out a squeak, clasping a hand over her open mouth in shock. Hermione bit her fingernail as she realized what she had just said, and Ron merely stopped in surprise at what Harry had just revealed. They had certainly hoped for an explanation for his secretive behavior, but they had gotten far more than they wanted.
An uncomfortable silence hung in the air between them, with Ron finally breaking the reverie.
"What do you mean blind, Harry?" Ron's question sounded distant and afraid. The painfully obvious answer had somehow eluded him.
Harry told him detail after painful detail about how his uncle had gotten drunk and beaten him before putting him face first through the coffee table. Then he went on to describe the subsequent hospital stay, followed by the two months' worth of lessons.
"Now do you understand?"
Ginny had run back to her room in tears before he finished recounting the events from two months prior. Hermione just stood in silence, shaking. Ron merely held out his hand with Harry's sunglasses in it and realized that Harry couldn't see to take them. He gingerly stepped around Hermione and took hold of Harry's hand, placing the glasses into his grip.
"I'm sorry, Harry." Nothing else would form coherently in Ron's brain.
Downstairs in the kitchen, Arthur Weasley sat alone at the table with a cup of tea in one hand. In his other, he flipped over the Pocket Reader that he had found on the floor under the bed he had moved from Ron's room to Percy's room earlier that morning. He vaguely remembered helping to make one like it years earlier for the son of a friend.
Arthur looked towards the door to the living room as he heard his daughter's muffled cry and the sound of her door shutting. He guessed Ron and Hermione had probably found out too, since they had come in and found Harry's sunglasses beside him on the table not more than five minutes prior.
He slipped the Reader tile into his pocket, setting his tea down, as he turned to leave the kitchen. When Arthur reached the bottom of the stairs, he looked up and saw Hermione clutching herself and Ron looking slightly pale.
"Off to bed with you both," Mr. Weasley directed, interrupting their moment of paralysis and sending them dragging back to their respective rooms, both looking back at Harry with worry. "Harry, why don't you come downstairs and have some tea? I have some things I'd like to talk to you about."
Mr. Weasley didn't move until Harry made up his mind to join him, following behind Harry as the boy instinctively reached out and took hold of the railing on the staircase.
As they came off the stairs, Mr. Weasley gently let his hand gently rest on Harry's shoulder, guiding him towards the kitchen. When Arthur pulled his hand away, Harry stopped moving and turned his head, listening to the footsteps and the sound of a chair sliding on the floor.
"There's a chair just to your left, Harry. You can sit down if you want." Mr. Weasley picked up his tea and took a sip. "The tea's fresh. Would you like some?"
Harry's chin rested limp against his chest. "I suppose you heard then?"
"If you're referring to whatever you said that sent Ginevra to her room crying, no. I wish you had told us earlier that you had lost your sight. I only figured it out this morning." Mr. Weasley answered him between sips of tea and summoning the teapot and a mug for Harry.
"How?" Harry swept his hand out as he heard the teapot drain into the mug that clunked to the table in front of him.
Mr. Weasley shifted in his chair, withdrew the Pocket Reader, and slid it against Harry's free hand. It made a soft clink on the table as he released it. "I found this in Ronald's room on the floor. It took me a few minutes to figure out what it was, but when I did, I realized why you were covering it up. I don't know how it happened, and I'm not asking you to explain either, Harry. What I would like you to realize is that this is not something that will go away, and you will need help whether you like it or not. I also want you to realize that you are part of this family too now, and we're more than willing to give you any help you need heedless of the consequences."
Harry sat in his chair with his head hanging. He didn't say anything as Mr. Weasley stood up and walked towards the living room.
Arthur turned in the doorway and spoke up again, "Dumbledore sent Molly and I a letter today, too. He had some keys delivered into his possession by a Ministry courier the day before your birthday. He said they were yours and they'd be waiting for you at Gringotts."
He paused before adding, "And if you make my daughter cry again, I might have to hurt you." Mr. Weasley's tone was lighthearted in his jest.
"I get the feeling that you'd be second in line, right after she unleashes her Bat-Bogey Hex on me." That earned a chuckle from Arthur.
Arthur waited another minute, watching the apprehensive look on Harry's face before turning back to the living room.
"Mr. Weasley, wait. If you'd stay a few minutes more, I'd like to tell you everything that happened." Harry had no father figure in his life with Sirius gone, but it felt right for him to talk with Mr. Weasley.
Arthur came back into the kitchen and sat down, patiently listening to Harry's recollection of the events at the Dursleys' and his lessons after, including parts of his correspondence with Gringotts and what had transpired between him and his aunt just before he came.
"Harry, that was… is… most unfortunate. Now I must insist that you stay with us once the year is over. I also think it best if I explained the situation to everyone else, as I have no doubt that Ron and Hermione understand the seriousness of it and wish to remain in your confidence by not sharing it."
Harry gave his thanks, fidgeting with his teacup as Mr. Weasley stood once more.
"I'll see you in the morning Harry." With a pat on Harry's shoulder, Mr. Weasley disappeared out of the kitchen and headed to his bedroom, leaving Harry to reflect on what was yet to come at Hogwarts before he found his way to his own room.
Mr. Weasley pulled his family into a meeting the next morning before Harry had awakened, earning him a jumble of muttered complaints about sleeping in and the lack of food on the table. However, everyone's level of alertness rapidly changed as he informed them of what was causing Harry's discomfort and aloofness lately. Harry had just made his way downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast as Mr. Weasley Apparated to the Ministry for work, and everything went downhill from there.
Harry withdrew from everyone further as they all tried to help in their own way. He knew that Mr. Weasley had informed them all of his lack of sight, but he didn't realize that they would try to do tasks for him that he would rather have had left alone. Molly would dish his meals and hold open the doors for him, or fetch minor items she thought that he needed but he hadn't asked for. Ron helped clean the mess off the floor in Harry's room and managed to rearrange his shelves so that nothing was where he remembered it to be. The twins even went so far as to try to spoon-feed his dinner to him one evening, and it pushed him too far.
"Why the bloody hell can't you leave me alone?! I know Mr. Weasley told you all, and I didn't object to it as I should have. I managed to do quite well without Petunia or Dudley treating me like a helpless little child every waking moment, so why do you insist on it? None of you knows what I'm going through, so quit acting like you know the best way to help me. Just stop it. I've managed so far by myself and I'm sure I'll continue just fine without the constant hovering from everyone."
The group fell silent as Harry pushed away from the table abruptly. He stood up from his chair so suddenly that he fell over backwards, knocking his plate to the floor as he toppled over his chair. As he shook the food off himself and pushed the chair out of the way, a small hand wrapped around his wrist and pulled him to his feet despite his struggling to free his trapped wrist. As Harry pulled at his arm to turn and leave the kitchen, Ginny tightened her grip and spun him around. Her open palm struck him hard across the cheek, leaving a fiery, red outline on his jaw.
"When will you stop acting like a child and realize that there are people in this house that care about you and love you? Maybe it's time you realize that we want to help shoulder the burden sometimes. We're not talking about the fate of the wizarding world here, Harry. We're talking about you! Just you! If you'd stop with your high and mighty 'Boy-Who-Lived' routine, you might actually realize that you aren't alone, and that you could use a little help every now and then, and we don't bloody care that you think bad things will happen to us because of it." Ginny let go of his wrist long enough to bend over and pick something off the floor. "And you could at least say 'thank you' for dinner."
Without warning, she dumped the remainder of Harry's turkey and gravy on his head and stormed out of the kitchen.
Ginny's blunt wake-up call to Harry had pretty much drawn dinner to a hushed conclusion as everyone cleared their place at the table and silently excused themselves. Harry dropped his head to his chest and slowly took off his sunglasses, tossing them away onto the table. When Ginny grabbed him, he had expected her to try and hex the common sense back into him.
'Trust her to take the more direct approach, though.'
Harry finally picked up his chair and sat down again once everyone had left the kitchen. He slid his chair forward and propped his forehead against his hand, shaking his head in pent-up frustration. Harry could hear Mrs. Weasley admonishing Ginny for her rude behavior and escorting Ginny back to the kitchen for an apology. As the door to the kitchen pushed open, Harry apologized instead.
"You're right, Ginny. I guess… I guess that I'm just not used to being a position where I need help, whether I want it or not. It doesn't have anything to do with Voldemort, just my stubbornness to see the truth."
Harry lifted his head and reached out to the table to feel for his glasses when Ginny slapped him hard across his other cheek.
"I'm sorry too, Harry. Sorry it took you so long to figure it out." Harry opened his mouth for a reply in his defense when Ginny leaned in and kissed him, intending for his cheek. Ginny stood up sharply and pressed her fingers to her lips as she turned and walked quickly passed a stunned Molly Weasley.
Harry was going to tell Mrs. Weasley not to worry about Ginny slapping him, when he realized that Ginny had kissed him, not entirely chastely either, and his voice cracked.
"Did you just…?" Ron managed to get half his question out before Hermione put her hand over his mouth and pulled him back down onto the couch with a knowing grin as Ginny went upstairs with a crimson flush in her cheeks. Ron and Hermione had been leaning over the back of the couch watching the scene unfold through the doorway.
With many stern warnings and some prodding by Ginny and Hermione, Harry managed to not relapse into his brooding or have another outburst until Friday morning, when everyone's Hogwarts letters arrived, including Ginny's O.W.L. scores.
Molly read over everyone's list in turn and decided that afternoon to take everyone into Diagon Alley to go shopping. When she looked at Harry's letter, she could not figure out why it was blank.
"It's not blank, Mrs. Weasley," Harry explained. "The bumps on the page are Braille. It's a way of writing so that I can read it." He didn't allude to the fact that it was not just his school supply list included, but also a letter from McGonagall and Dumbledore asking for an interview with him for the position of prefect. That they had even considered making him prefect was enough to make him wonder, since he was aware they knew of his plight.
Shortly after the opening of their letters, Hermione and Ron started another of their famous arguments over their school badges -- his for Head Boy, and hers for Head Girl.
After lunch was through, Harry and Ginny were getting ready to Floo to the Leaky Cauldron with Mrs. Weasley when they realized that the sound of arguing was suspiciously absent.
"I'll bet they're kissing and making up," Ginny said with sarcasm.
Molly looked at her daughter with speculation and yelled at the top of her lungs for Ron to get his adolescent behind to the living room. Ron wasted no time rushing down the stairs from his room and stopping in front of his mother. She licked her fingers and straightened his hair and shirt collar to make him look 'presentable in public,' wiping a smudge of lip-gloss off his bottom lip as she said it.
Ginny giggled into her hand as she caught Hermione sneaking out of Ron's room shortly after, pulling her hair back with a clip and straightening her sweater.
"Told you so, Harry," she whispered.
"I know. I could actually hear some of it."
Ginny made gagging noise at him before taking a handful of Floo powder and tossing it into the flames. As an afterthought, she took Harry in her other hand and dragged him into the fireplace with her.
As uncomfortable and awkward as Floo travel was to Harry, he didn't particularly mind the bumps and twists as much when he came stumbling out of the fireplace and landed on Ginny. Harry grinned sheepishly at the figure laid out under him and looked around to see if anyone had noticed. As it dawned on him that he wouldn't know if someone stared or not, the grin faded from his face and he stood up, pulling Ginny with him.
Mrs. Weasley stepped out of the fireplace just as Harry managed to pull Ginny to her feet. Mrs. Weasley gave Harry a cursory brush to remove the soot and returned his sunglasses from where they had fallen to the floor before leading the four teenagers out the back door to the entrance of Diagon Alley.
Hermione pulled Ron behind everyone else as the group stepped out of the Leaky Cauldron's back door.
"Think they realize it, Ron?"
"Even I realize what's going on, Hermione. If they didn't, they'd have to be…" Ron cringed as Hermione glared at him. "Sorry, bad saying. But you get the point."
Hermione nodded her reluctant agreement as Mrs. Weasley handed out the book lists to the teenagers and asked them to meet her at Florean Fortescue's at three o'clock, which would give them just over two hours to get their shopping and window-browsing done.
"Ginny, Ron, you're allowed ten Galleons over the cost of your school supplies, understood?" Mrs. Weasley stopped the group before they parted ways. "By the way Harry, Arthur wanted me to remind you that Gringotts is holding a package for you. Now, I have some shopping to do for the Burrow, and I will see you all later. Behave yourselves."
Harry ran his hand through his hair, ruffling it up unintentionally as he remembered Mr. Weasley telling him the night before about Dumbledore leaving the vault keys for him. Before his friends could raise any questions, he told them just to accompany him into the bank and they could find out when he did. Harry had an accurate idea as to what the keys that awaited him were.
As they went up the steps of Gringotts, Hermione mentally tabulated the cost of their supplies after Ron had voiced the complaint of not having enough to get decent stocks of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans or Honeydukes' chocolate and get his intended list of Zonko's jokes. Hermione looked sideways at Ron with incredulity until he swiftly covered his tracks by saying the chocolate was for her.
Ginny guided Harry to the main accountant's desk with the other two at their side. As they all waited in the queue, Hermione counted out a small collection of Muggle bills from her purse to be converted, and Ron dug around in his pockets furiously looking for the family vault key, muttering about severe trouble if he lost it. Harry told them not to worry about it and to put everything away as Ginny held up the Weasleys' key in triumph.
"You've never been to my vault before, so don't worry about your school stuff. Put your money away Hermione. Ron, put away the key."
Ginny pulled Harry a step forward as the goblin peered over his ledger at the teenagers standing before him. "Yes? What do you want?"
"I'm Harry Potter. A set of vault keys are waiting for me. I'd like to get them and see the vaults, also."
The goblin stood up and walked away from his desk, leaving everyone with baffled looks. When he returned a minute later, a second, very lavishly dressed goblin followed him.
Hermione, Ron, and Ginny looked uncertain at the grin the second goblin revealed. The goblin pulled a small book from within his vest and opened it. The pages started flipping rapidly before stopping on the last page with writing in it. He read over the words and looked down at Harry suspiciously.
"I'm the accounts manager. I have been expecting you. Wait here. Your keys will be brought accordingly and then you'll be escorted to your vaults. I see here that you are acquainted with some of my staff. I'll have Griphook see to you." The goblin lifted his head and yelled quite loudly for Griphook, his voice echoing in the nearly silent bank.
Griphook shuffled up with urgency and took his orders from the accounts manager. "Mr. Potter, Mr. and Miss Weasley, Miss Granger, please follow me." He moved surprisingly fast with his waddling shuffle, guiding them back to the vault cart loading area. The goblin held up his hand for them to remain where they were beside a row of private tables along one wall and disappeared into a side room, coming back with a small wooden chest under one arm and parchment rolled up in his opposite hand.
"Sign here, please." Griphook shook the parchment, unrolling it in his grip.
Hermione took the parchment from Griphook and read over it thoroughly before placing it on the table for Harry to sign. "It's an official declaration that the keys held in trust were given to you." Hermione took a quill from the inkwell on the table corner and placed it into Harry's hand, guiding his hand to the parchment for him to sign.
Griphook opened the box and held it out after Harry signed it. With practiced ease, Griphook rolled the parchment up and dropped the document into an incredibly small pouch on his belt, seeming to shrink the document as it disappeared within. Ron took the keys from the box in Griphook's hand and flipped them over in his palm.
"Well, they look like all the rest of the keys I've ever seen. Looks like the vaults are a good distance apart, though. One is number 106, the second is 748, and the last one is number 2877."
"My school vault is number 749," Harry said as he dug his first key out of his pocket and held out his other hand for Ron to put the three keys in.
Griphook crowded them onto a larger cart than normal and told them to sit down before releasing the brake lever on the cart. With a few short hair-raising turns and a gut-wrenching drop, Griphook pulled hard on the brake and stepped off the cart with his hand out, asking for the key to vault number 106. Harry had not even stepped off the cart when Griphook announced which vault they arrived at.
"Investment funds of James and Lilly Potter. Current tally is…" Griphook read off a parchment that seemed to scroll numbers, keeping track of the investments James had made. Ron jumped off the cart in a hurry as the door swung open, his eyes gleaming with the bullion that was stacked alongside the coins. Ron picked up a small, heavy bar and eyed the stamp declaring it "100 Galleons". Hermione and Ginny had to drag him back to the cart as Harry told the goblin to close it up. He wouldn't be touching any of the funds within.
With more roller-coaster hairpin turns and drops, Griphook once again jerked the brake on the cart, causing everyone to lurch forward out of their seats. Ron and Hermione were shuddering and trying to keep their breakfast down as the goblin climbed out and waddled to the vault door. Griphook announced their arrival to the Potter Family vault, waiting for the second key from Harry.
Harry stood up from the cart and stepped over to his school vault instead, his fingers deftly running over the tile in his pocket for guidance. He stopped Griphook from opening his family vault and handed him the key to his school fund instead.
"School trust fund of Harry J. Potter, plus interest…" Griphook opened the vault and stood aside as Harry gently kicked the edge of the vault door to prevent himself from tripping and stepped inside on the narrow path through the thousands of Galleons piled into the relatively small vault.
"Ron, Hermione, Gin, come here," Harry called over his shoulders at his friends waiting in the cart.
"Take a hundred or so, and fill up a small pouch for me with the same."
"Harry, you know we can't take your money, mate. It wouldn't be right. Besides, mum gave us the key to our vault. She might get a little suspicious if we come back with more stuff than we could afford."
"Listen to me. It's not charity, or handout, or anything else you want to call it. It's partly your birthday present, and Christmas gift rolled into one. I never really got anything good before, so I'm letting you get it yourself this time. Don't waste it all in the same place, either."
Ron stepped past Harry, muttering words of amazement at Harry's money. He reached out a hand and caught Ron by the shoulder, pulling him back. "You know Hermione won't take any, so get some for her also. Her birthday's coming up too, and you remember what happened the last time you forgot," Harry whispered to his friend as Hermione came to the vault door and started to object quite vocally.
Harry held up his hand to silence her. "Hermione, shush. It's my money, and I don't really need all of it. If you really don't want any, even as a gift, I won't force you to take it."
Hermione merely stood to the side shaking her head at Ron, the realization dawning on him that he had forgotten about Hermione's birthday…again. Ginny let out a squeak of delight as she carefully counted out Galleons, thanking Harry repeatedly as thoughts of a particular set of dress robes at Madam Malkin's danced in her mind. Harry asked everyone to give the amount to Griphook so that he could mark the withdrawal off the tally sheet on the vault door.
Harry reached out to a stack of coins by the door, quickly counted out 15 Galleons in one hand, and gave them to Griphook as he closed the vault behind everyone.
"For your trouble and your assistance with everything."
Griphook took the gold and bowed low, giving his gratitude before ushering everyone to sit down for ride to the final vault.
To say the last ride was calm would be like Malfoy calling Hagrid a gnome. Harry stumbled off the cart to the floor with his stomach heaving. Ron and Hermione both dove for the nearest waste receptacle, and Ginny grinned evilly as if it was the world's best amusement ride. The cart had taken them down 23 floors into the Gringotts vault. Ginny could see the last floor, roughly another 15 or 20 levels below.
Harry held up the vault key to number 2877 before Griphook could ask, and the goblin, in turn, waited for everyone to regain their composure before opening the Potter's storage vault.
Harry could hear the sound of everyone's hearts pounding as they held their breath. Griphook opened the door and stood to the side. He knew the history of Harry Potter's family. It was legend. He merely shuffled back to the cart without comment.
Harry couldn't really distinguish much on his Pocket Reader, since many of the items were stacked on each other.
"What is it? What's here?"
Ginny half turned and grabbed his hand, leading him into the vault.
Hermione gave the narrative as she looked around. "There are a few very large trunks and boxes stacked, and two shelves of books, a pair of boxes with the Jolly Roger on the sides, and some furniture. Some of it looks, well, burnt or damaged. There are two trunks here with the Gryffindor crest on them. One has flowers carved all over the top, very poorly too. It has the initials JP engraved on the latch. Your father's I guess, but with flowers? And…"
"… There's this," Ron finished the sentence as he placed a large book in Harry's hands. He opened the cover and felt the pages, covered in photos. The album was full with them, cover to cover.
"Thank you," Harry said, hanging his head and letting his fingers wander over a page in the middle. Then he closed it with a snap and set it onto a stack of boxes carelessly, turning and stepping through the vault door. Harry tripped on a small broomstick that had fallen out of a corner in his haste to leave. Hermione grabbed a couple books off a far shelf and slipped them inside her handbag as Ron and Ginny turned to help Harry off the ground.
Ron glared at his girlfriend as Harry shook off their outreached hands and stood up, not caring to brush the dust off his clothing. Harry dropped his hand back into his pocket to read the tile, again to make sure he didn't stumble over the ledge instead of finding the cart. He sat down miserably in the seat and waited for the trip up.
"What did you just take?" Ron whispered in Hermione's ear as she stepped out of the vault.
"Ron, he doesn't want help, or sympathy, or comfort. I don't want to listen to your sister cry at night. I'm hoping the books I took for Harry will do some good and get him to concentrate on something more productive than self-pity," Hermione replied icily as they stepped into the cart behind Ginny.
Harry tilted his head towards the bickering pair and rolled his eyes to himself.
The trip up was more somber, and slightly slower, yet Ron still managed to seek out a rubbish bin to lean over as his already empty stomach complained with loud gurgles. The group didn't wait long as Harry was becoming impatient and decided to walk out, his heart on his sleeve and his thoughts on his face.
"Let's go get our books and school supplies, Harry," Ginny spoke up as she, her brother, and Hermione rushed down the front steps of the bank to catch up. "We still have the rest of the day."
Harry grumbled his assent and kept his thumb running over the Pocket Reader as Ron and Ginny guided him through the wandering people towards Flourish and Blotts. As they stepped in the door, Ron picked up a pair of cauldrons for them to carry their books. Ginny took one of the cauldrons from him and glanced at Hermione's face, rapidly directing Harry away from Ron and Hermione down a side aisle.
Ginny and Harry didn't say much as they wandered down aisle after aisle, picking out various books and re-shelving them after Ginny read the titles and first few pages to Harry. He took the Pocket Reader out and held it to the spine of a few books, not really paying attention to Ginny as she sorted through a stack of books, asking him what was on his school list for the second or third time.
Harry was pulling out a book of what he thought was eastern philosophy, trying to get to a smaller book that he had just listened to the title of, when a commotion outside the store caught his attention. He could hear excited directions from just outside the wall through the shop windows above the bookshelves.
"I really wish they would put these books in some order. Ginny, grab this for me. Something's going on outside." Harry pulled both books out a little on the shelf and started pushing his way through the crowded bookstore. Ginny stood up and saw his hand pulling away from where the large hardbound book was sticking out as he pushed his way through the throngs of students and parents browsing the endless piles of texts.
Ginny look at the title, 'The Tao of Tai-Chi,' and dropped it into the cauldron with a look of severe doubt before following after Harry, seeing Hermione and Ron rush out the door after him.
"What is 'The Toe of Tay-Chee'?" Ginny asked, sounding out the words of the title as she tried to read the description while weaving between the aisles.
She didn't even notice the book that he had intended for her to grab, 'Surviving on Simple Spells: Magic for the Handicapped'.
As Ginny pressed her way through the gathering crush of people at the door to Flourish and Blotts, she could see people hurrying in the same direction down Diagon Alley; some were running. Ginny dropped to the floor and crawled between people to get a better view when she saw the growing shadows over houses and buildings further away, getting closer. The Dark Mark hung over a shop at the far end Diagon Alley and pulsed with each passing second. She looked frantically back and forth out the window of the shop trying to find Harry.
*** Part 3
Harry, Ron, and Hermione were running up the street together towards the ensuing commotion, dodging from one side alley to another, when the Death Eaters came into view. The Dark wizards were fanning out, kicking in doors and casting spells randomly at running wizards and witches. Ron turned back from his crouched position behind a crate and looked at Hermione and Harry. "What do we do guys? They're coming and it looks like they're serious this time, not like the smaller raids before. There's a dozen or more, at least."
Harry crept forward on his hands and feet, sticking his head out a little and tilting it. He could make out the voices of a few and identified them in his head, but it was the sound of a child's muffled crying that drew his attention. Harry stood up, ran to the far side of the street, and stopped just before reaching the safety of a gap in the buildings. Hermione tried to grab his jacket as he took off, but her hand closed on empty air.
Harry rushed down the walkway between the two shops and tripped against a haphazard pile of boxes and packing straw, revealing a pair of kids huddled together underneath.
"Come with me, I'll get you out of here," Harry said as he reached out his arms to nothingness. The children huddled closer before scrambling into his arms, recognizing the Hogwarts crest on his robes.
With two small kids under his arms and his wand clutched in one hand, Harry had no clue how he was going to do it. His mind raced as he tried to think which shops he was between and couldn't remember. He just knew it would be safer to get the children back with Ron and Hermione than to try to fend off anyone alone, so he turned and raced back to where he thought he had left his friends.
As Harry cleared the building with the boy and girl under each arm, the ground at his feet erupted with spells hurled at him. Harry had almost made it halfway across the street when his foot landed in a small crater rather than on a cobblestone street. Harry went down hard on one side as his body twisted from the fall and he threw the kids a little farther to safety.
"Get to my friends!" Harry yelled to the siblings as they scrambled to their feet and ran to where Ron and Hermione were beckoning to them. Harry rolled off his side and got to his knees, feeling around for his wand as he heard the crunching of boots circling around him.
"Bloody hell, this isn't good Hermione. We can't handle that many Death Eaters, and Harry's in deep trouble. We've got to do something quick!" Ron's voice cracked in fear.
"Ron, you're a genius! Too many wizards, not enough time! " Hermione dug into her handbag as Ron asked if she had gone mental again. She told him that was the title of a book from Harry's vault as she dug it out and rifled through the pages.
"This should do it! Miniscule Meteors: Clearing Crowds in a Hurry." Hermione read the page mumbling to herself. She grabbed a handful of pebbles from the cobblestone street, glancing up at the circle of Death Eaters surrounding Harry. With a cursory glance at the book again, she dropped it and stood up in the mouth of the side alley as a Death Eater dragged Harry to his feet.
Lucius Malfoy wrapped his hand in Harry's collar and pulled Harry to his feet, spouting garbage about how grand it was to see the Boy Who Lived groveling at his feet.
Hermione circled the tip of her wand over the pebbles in her open hand, reciting "Macros Meteorus." The rocks took on a faint red tint as the spell took hold.
"Harry! Get down!" she yelled as she threw the pebbles away from her in a sideways arc, spreading them out.
As the Death Eaters' attentions focused on his friend in the alleyway, Harry kicked out at Lucius. He caught Malfoy in the groin, causing him to let go in pain. As Lucius' grip released, Harry dove forward, just to the side of the doubled-over Dark wizard. A high-pitch whistling accompanied by intense heat went by the back of Harry's head before he touched the ground.
To Ron, it appeared as if a meteor shower had come from Hermione's hand, with three dozen or more Quaffle-sized fireballs spreading out at high velocities from her sweeping arm. The Death Eaters flew sideways into the building walls simultaneously as the pebble-meteors hit them, leaving a large number of unconscious Dark wizards with smoking robes. The meteorites that had managed to fly more than ten yards without hitting anything reverted to their original state and continued as small, harmless pieces of rock. Only a few storefronts suffered from impacts before the spell expired, leaving holes where the rocks went through the walls.
Hermione and Ron ran out of hiding with exclamations of victory, the book in Hermione's hand. As Hermione helped her friend off the ground, Ron looked past her shoulder and saw Lucius Malfoy, mask off in one hand, trying to stand. There were crisscrossing scorch marks across the back of his black robes where the meteorites barely missed him, and his other hand was held between his legs.
Various ministry personnel, mixed with Aurors, began Apparating into Diagon Alley to survey the scene and take the Death Eaters into custody. Before anyone had reached Malfoy, Ron let loose with a right cross and Lucius dropped to the ground unconscious.
Ron picked up Harry's wand as he returned to his friends' side as they headed back towards Flourish and Blotts amidst the clusters of people darting around to see what was left of their livelihoods.
"What in Merlin's name was that? That was incredible! It sounded like Fillibuster's Fireworks, only much bigger. Come to think of it, they usually don't give off heat or cause the ground to shake when they explode, or…whatever they did." Harry said as he started to dust himself off, taking back his wand.
"Miniscule Meteors. Thank your father's books. It was in one I grabbed out of your vault. Here." Hermione handed over the book in her hand and then the one in her bag.
"I guess…" Harry was unsure of what to say, when Ron interrupted.
"You really ought to try hitting a Malfoy some time, Hermione. God, that felt good," Ron quipped to his girlfriend, shaking his hand in minor discomfort.
"I have," Hermione replied, as she turned looked at him, and then turned back to Harry.
Ron did a fair imitation of a guppy as Ginny broke into a fit of giggles.
Ginny had managed to get out of Flourish and Blotts and track them down in time to hear Ron and join in the laughter when Hermione pointed out the unconscious wizard to her.