Ginny Weasley took the steps two at a time up to her brother's room. She knocked once, and then opened the door without waiting for a response. She was blinded briefly by the intensity of the room's colour, but recovered her sight quickly enough to see Ron quickly putting away some parchment.
"Reading a letter, Ron?"
"Yeah, from Hermione," he replied, going pink in the cheeks.
"What's it say?" asked Ginny, throwing herself next to Ron on the bed.
"Well, um, she invited me to go on holiday with her."
"It's not like that!" Ron hissed, going even pinker in the face, "She asked Dumbledore if Harry could go too. But you know how Dumbledore feels about where he goes in the summer."
"That's great Ron! You're so lucky. I wish my friends would ask me to go on holiday."
"Long as it's not Dean Thomas," Ron muttered.
"Oh! That's a great idea Ron! While you're away with Hermione, I could ask Dean to come to the Burrow and he could stay in your room!"
"Ginny, that's not what I meant --" Ron sputtered.
But Ginny was already out the door, laughing as she ran down the stairs. Ron jumped to his feet and chased her to the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley was already preparing lunch when her two youngest children came crashing into the kitchen yelling about something.
"No running in the house," said Mrs. Weasley irritably. She didn't like being interrupted when she cooked.
"Hermione asked Ron to go on holiday!" Ginny sang delightedly.
"Ginny," Ron groaned. He had planned on asking his father after dinner.
"I don't know Ron; it's so dangerous to travel these days."
"But Mum, Hermione's parents are Muggles; she said we'd be using an air crane or something."
"Plane," muttered Ginny quietly. She hadn't taken Muggle Studies for nothing.
"Yes well, we don't have the money to have you go on holiday." Mrs. Weasley replied, somewhat subdued.
"Hermione said some relatives in America invited her and her parents to come stay with them; they're paying for it all."
Ron was getting more and more excited as he went on.
"Hermione says it will be very warm, and we can go to beaches and do all kinds of Muggle things."
Mrs. Weasley continued chopping carrots.
"Oh, come on, Mum. Let Ron have a bit of fun this summer," supplied Ginny.
Ron looked at Ginny gratefully. Then turned back to Mrs. Weasley, hope clearly written all over his face.
"Well, I'd have to talk to Hermione's parents and your father. But I don't see why not," sighed Mrs. Weasley.
"Thanks Mum!" Ron looked ecstatic.
Ron had reason to be plenty happy. Usually only their older brothers got to do special things on break, Ginny mused.
"Wish something lucky would happen to me this summer," Ginny sighed as she watched Ron retreat up to his room. Mrs. Weasley winked at her daughter.
"Just wait and see, dear."
Harry Potter was bored. He had been sitting in his cousin's second bedroom all day. Being bored was not good. Being bored gave Harry time to think, and he certainly did not wish to do that. He had been able to keep busy the first couple of weeks of holiday doing essays for his various classes. Once those were done, Harry had reread all of his school books. Now, there was nothing left to do. Harry mulled over the thought of boxing with Dudley. He had been getting bigger lately, and Harry thought he might be able to take the elephant-like boy now. He could go on a walk, but Harry really didn't want to see anyone. He could write a letter to Sirius…..
Harry visibly winced. It still hadn't really sunk in that he would never see his godfather again. Never again would Harry see him smile, laugh, or help the Weasley twins scheme up something. He would never see another argument between Mrs. Weasley and Sirius. He would never be able to ask Sirius for advice. Even after looking into the mirror Sirius gave him, Harry half expected to receive a letter from some unusual bird, with Sirius's name on the envelope.
Harry had not even realized he was crying. He furiously swiped at his eyes. He was so sick of crying, of being sad.
"But it isn't fair!" Harry whispered fervently.
He couldn't understand why he couldn't protect the people he loved. Just as Sirius had really become like a father to him, he was taken away, and Harry knew it was at the very least, partially his fault. What was next, the Weasleys? Harry paled considerably at this thought. He wouldn't even think of it. Suddenly, Pig swooped in through Harry's open window, a letter clutched in his beak. Harry grinned slightly. At least Ron's letter would prove to be an interesting distraction.
You'll never guess where I will be tomorrow morning! On a planeto California! Hermione invited me to go with her to visit relatives there. Hermione asked Dumbledore if you could also go, but he said no. I'm really sorry you can't go, mate. In fact I really thought about not going at all when I heard you couldn't go as well. But Hermione said you wouldn't want me to not have fun on holiday on account of you. We will be back a couple of weeks before term starts. Have a spiffing holiday! Sorry again.
Harry sighed as he finished Ron's short letter. He was truly happy for Ron, but he was also angry about not being able to go.
"Trust Dumbledore to botch up my summer again," Harry muttered.
But Harry had had enough. Summer was supposed to be full of relaxation and fun. At least, that's what Sirius would say.
"No, don't think about that, Potter," Harry said as he shook his head vigorously. Reaching for some parchment, he began to write a letter.
"You're so lucky, Ron!" Ginny moaned enviously.
"Yeah, I am aren't I?" Ron grinned. He threw another pair of socks into the Muggle suitcase Mr. Weasley had Transfigured for him.
"What am I supposed to do all summer while you're off snogging Hermione?"
"It's not like that!" hissed a very maroon Ron.
Ginny just grinned cheekily.
"Well, you could always spend your time with Fred or someone." Ron offered.
"Ron, Fred and George are too busy with their new joke shop. The rest of our brothers also have careers -- in case you haven't noticed."
"Why don't you go talk to Mum? I really need to get this finished. The Grangers will be here any moment," Ron said as he tore his closet apart, looking for more Muggle clothes.
Ginny sighed and trudged downstairs, feeling very put-out. Her mum was franticly casting Cleaning Charms everywhere, one narrowly missing Ginny's left elbow.
"Mum! Calm down! The house is cleaner than it ever has been!"
"Are you sure, dear? Mrs. Weasley said nervously, wringing her hands. "I just don't want the Grangers to get a bad impression."
"They won't Mum, I promise." Ginny said, guiding her to the kitchen to calm her down with a spot of tea.
Mrs. Weasley stared into the contents of the steaming mug Ginny placed before her. "I'm worried, Ginny. Do you think Ron will be all right?" Ginny's mother often confided in her only daughter, telling Ginny things that Ron and the others would never hear.
"Yes, Mum. We've been through this. Ron will be perfectly all right."
There was knocking at the front door. Ginny was momentarily surprised; she hadn't heard anyone knock on the door in a very long time.
"Yes well, that will be the Grangers. Ginny, be a dear and greet them while I make some more tea and biscuits."
Ginny practically ran to the door. It would be good to see her good friend again, if only for a moment or two.
"Ginny, hi," said Hermione Granger brightly. Behind her were her parents. Both were looking nervous, but happy all the same.
"You're looking good, Hermione," Ginny said. She meant it too, her teeth were even whiter than usual and her hair was looking less bushy.
Suddenly Ginny remembered Hermione's parents. "Oh, I'm sorry! It's good to see you both again, Mr. and Mrs. Granger."
"It's always good to see friends of Hermione's," replied Mr. Granger.
Mrs. Weasley had not needed to worry about making a good impression. Mr. and Mrs. Granger were quite taken with the Burrow and kept a steady supply of questions going until Ron arrived.
Ginny could tell he had done his best to clean up and look presentable. "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Granger, thanks for letting me come along with you on your trip," Ron said nervously.
"It's really no problem," laughed Mr. Granger.
"Really Mrs. Weasley, your children are very polite," complimented Mrs. Granger.
"Well, thank you," replied the very proud Mrs. Weasley. Mr. Granger pulled out an obviously important gold pocket-watch and announced it was time to leave.
Mrs. Weasley and Ginny stood outside next to the Grangers car saying their goodbyes.
"I'll write you every day!" called Ron.
"Like I haven't heard that one before, Ronald Weasley," said Ginny but she smiled anyway.
"I'll see you soon Ginny." Hermione pulled her into a quick hug. Mrs. Weasley hugged Ron, nearly suffocating him, and it looked like their mum was going to cry as well.
"Mum, really, it's only a couple months," Ron grumbled.
"Just be careful!" Mrs. Weasley yelled as the Grangers' car backed down the lane and drove out of sight.
"Sir is looking tired," said Dobby the House-Elf.
"Yes, well, could you just bring me some hot cocoa then Dobby, please?" smiled Albus Dumbledore as Dobby hurried to the kitchens.
Albus had just finished reading a report from Remus Lupin on his latest mission, when a large snowy owl swooped in is window. Albus thought he knew that owl, it was Hedwig.
Dear Professor Dumbledore,
It has come to my attention that once again leaving the Dursleys' for the summer is out of the question. Well, this summer I'm going to do what I please. After our talk last semester I'm surprised you won't let me go with Ron and Hermione. Why does it matter if I'm at the Dursley's? If Voldemort meets up with me this summer it'll either be me or him. Anyway, I'll wait to leave until you send a reply. But, I will leave regardless of what your response is. Try not to worry.
Dumbledore chuckled silently. This letter was so like Harry. But what more could he do? He had told Harry the prophecy. Albus knew he could no longer tell Harry where to go. He was a little worried about his comment on Voldemort, but Albus was sure Harry would be all right. After all, Harry's power should developing start this summer. But first he would need to speak with Harry. Ten minutes later that same snowy owl left the castle, another letter attached to its leg.
"Why don't you go start on some of your summer homework?"
"Mum, I'm bored, but not that bored," replied Ginny as she collapsed onto an overstuffed armchair.
"Well, I'm going to work in the garden… and sit up straight," commanded Mrs. Weasley.
Ginny just rolled her eyes and slid further down the chair. Ginny wondered what everyone else was doing at the moment. Neville was probably tending to his plants or looking for something he lost. Luna was most likely with her dad looking for Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. Hermione and Ron were almost certainly on some sandy beach in America….
But what was Harry doing? Ginny couldn't bear the thought of him locked up with that Muggle family mourning for Sirius. The news that Ron and Hermione had gone to America probably topped off his week. Maybe she could cheer him up with a letter. But Ginny doubted she could write anything that would cheer up Harry Potter.
"Well, I doubt he would want to hear from me anyway," mumbled Ginny. "I might as well get some Quidditch practice in."
Harry paid the taxi driver with money he had swiped from Dudley's room that morning. He really ought to feel bad about stealing; the fare was really quite high. But Harry couldn't be bothered with that while his talk with Dumbledore was just behind a dirty wooden door. Taking a deep breath Harry stepped inside the grubby pub and found the table in which Dumbledore was sitting.
"Hello, Professor," smiled Harry, "I swear that Muggle over-charged me."
Harry had spent many hours thinking of the talk they had had at the end of his 5th year. He had realized it was wrong to continue being angry at his Professor. "What exactly did you want to meet me here for?"
"You've never been one to dance around the subject." Dumbledore's cheery expression turned gravely serious. "I know this is something that you probably do not wish to talk about but we must discuss Sirius's will."
Harry's face suddenly darkened. "I'd rather not thank you." He began to stand up.
"Harry, sit down! You will pay attention. I know it is very difficult to think of Sirius, but please just listen. Now, Sirius was never one to complicate matters so he has left everything he owned to you. Largely, these things were his house, his Gringotts account, and his motorbike."
"Everything?" mumbled Harry in a daze.
"Yes, Harry. You just need to sign these papers here."
Harry vaguely realized he was done signing papers when he saw Dumbledore was just about to leave.
"His family's fortune, how much was it?"
"I believe it was some million galleons, Harry."
"Could you do me a favor, Professor? Could you please divide the money equally between the Weasleys, Remus Lupin, and the Order? I don't need it. Also, make sure the Weasleys have to accept, after all isn't there some kind of legal thing you can do? You know, since its Sirius's will and all."
Dumbledore smiled and nodded. "That was a very kind thing of you to do, Harry."
And without another word Albus Dumbledore swept out of the grubby pub.