“I still think she was hiding something,” I told Harry as we both arrived on the dusty lane, not far from The Burrow. “She was acting too strange just before we left.”
“Yes, she’s hiding things, but I don’t blame her,” he responded. “Can you imagine losing everyone in your life? Her parents are both dead, all of her friends… I don’t even know if she has any other family, or if she really is alone now.”
“My parents must know something, it’s not like there were many secrets in the Order. Maybe we can ask them,” I suggested and Harry stopped us before kissing me, his tongue dancing with mine. I stopped us from continuing our embrace, since we were standing in the middle of the lane, out where anyone could see us.
“As much as I’m enjoying that, I think we should wait until we’re alone later.” Harry got a very knowing look on his face, and he seemed excited about the prospect.
“Fine, Miss Weasley, we’ll wait for later, but you’d better make good on that promise,” he teased and I waggled my eyebrows before taking off, running a few steps ahead of him. He quickly caught up. I took his hand and we passed through the charms protecting my family’s home and walked up to the front door.
Upon entering the house, we found everyone was there; I shook my head at the full house. Bill and Fleur were here, theoretically for supper, as were Ron and Hermione, who were now living in Grimmauld Place with Harry and me. Charlie and George were living here with Mum and Dad, although I expected them both to be returning to their lives shortly — well, at least Charlie. George was still rather lost. Ron and Hermione had been running the shop in his absence. There were times when the house was overflowing, and then there were times it would seem empty. Today was a full day.
It wasn’t like Harry and I were planning on keeping information to ourselves, but it would be impossible to withhold anything now. My family was entirely too nosey. All of their heads turned toward us, expectantly, and then the questions began.
“How was it?’
“Did you bring home any samples?”
“Are you drunk?”
“Did you mess it up?”
“Do they really do it without any magic?”
“Stop, stop,” Harry pleaded, waving his hands in front of his face while laughing. “We’ll tell you about it, but can we at least get in the door?” Mum came forward and put her hands on either side of his face.
“Of course you can, dear, come in, supper will be ready in just a little while,” she told him and then turned to me. “Ginny dear, did you really wear that blouse out in public?”
“Hi to you, too, Mum,” I groused. I looked down at my halter top and wondered what was wrong with it. “Yes, this is the top I’ve been wearing all day, what’s wrong with it?”
“No one needs to know your chest is freckled as well,” she stated in her almost disgusted way. I looked down; I suppose it was a little low-cut, but I liked it. More importantly, Harry liked how I looked wearing it. I nodded a little, deciding getting into an argument with Mum about my clothes wouldn’t help anyway. Besides, I was seventeen -- an adult -- and old enough to pick out my own clothing.
“So, Harry, is everything really done like Muggles do?” Dad asked, his face alight with excitement. Dad’s obsession with all things Muggle was odd and, if I was honest, a tad embarrassing. Harry took my hand and pulled me over to sit next to him and began recounting our day, going over the entire process of beer making without it being boring or technical. Harry really did have a gift for explaining things and sharing information. It was nearly time to sit down to eat when we’d finished the discussion.
“What I don’t understand, Mr. Potter, is: why didn’t you bring any of your wares home to sample?” Charlie complained.
“You know, I didn’t even think about it, Charlie. I promise, the next time we’re at the brewery, we’ll bring you some,” Harry promised and my brother looked pleased.
“How was Perri?” Mum called out from the kitchen. I was surprised to hear her referred to as Perri, since I figured my parents would have called her Seph, like Sirius and Remus had.
“Good, I guess,” I called back, “a little strange right at the end of our time together. She sort of shooed us out of her office, rather abruptly.” Mum came to stand in the doorway between the kitchen and the lounge.
“She’s been through a lot, poor girl. Come on, you lot, supper is ready.” We all stood and proceeded into the kitchen, squeezing all of us around the table. I was happy to see George downstairs today, sharing in the meal with the family, rather than eating alone in his room or outside by the pond.
Conversation died out as we passed the dishes around, filling our plates and then beginning to eat.
“So, did Perri tell you anything interesting about your parents?” Mum asked Harry and he smiled broadly as he started to answer her.
“She did, telling me about how Dad and Sirius had got the idea for the brewery and then getting the rest of them involved. She had lots of pictures as well. Did you know my mum carried her camera everywhere?”
“I seem to remember her with it,” Dad answered.
“I’m so glad she’s able to share that with you,” Mum added. “Perri will be a wealth of knowledge.”
“Mum, why do you call her Perri, not Seph?” I asked.
“Ah, well… she was introduced to the Order as Perri Gwynn. I didn’t even realize she was one of the MacPhearson girls until several years later,” she explained.
“MacPhearson girls?” Harry queried. “You mean she had sisters?”
“Has,” Mum corrected, “although I don’t know if she is in contact with them. Her disappearance took its toll on her family.”
“She mentioned that she ‘disappeared’, or at least Seph Mac Phearson did,” I commented, “but she didn’t go into details. What happened?”
“There was some legal issue—” Mum started.
“Molly, I don’t think we should be talking about this,” Dad interrupted. “It’s her story, and we don’t know all of it.”
“Arthur, they’re working with her,” Mum countered.
“All the more reason to let her share the story,” Dad retorted. Mum huffed and the rest of us were silent, following the conversation between the ends of the table, our heads turning as if we were watching a Quidditch match, the Quaffle going back and forth between goals. “What Minerva told us was in confidence. I don’t think we should break it, even now.” I rarely saw my dad stern, at least not with Mum. Right now he looked much like he did when he was reprimanding us.
“Fine,” Mum relented. “We can at least tell them about the family. I’m still friendly with Pandora and Archibald.” Dad nodded his response while pushing his peas onto his knife.
“Pandora and Archibald?” I asked, the names didn’t sound familiar at all.
“Dora and Archie Sunjay,” Mum explained. “Friends of ours from school. Dora’s the third of the MacPhearson girls. Both she and her husband were in Ravenclaw, but we had several NEWT classes together. Is Archie back to work, dear?”
“Head of the Muggle Relations Department,” Dad confirmed. “Bit of an odd move from Magical Law Enforcement over to MR, but Kingsley needed someone whose attitude was above reproach. Archie is certainly that.”
“True, true,” Mum agreed with him. I wanted to ask about Perri and her sisters, but conversation just kept moving around it, and I never got a quiet moment. Honestly, I’m as interested in Quidditch as everyone else, but do we really need to go over the Chudley Cannons record again, Ron?
After coffee and pie, I hung around in the kitchen to help Mum clean up, and it gave me the perfect opportunity to ask about Seph.
“Mum, really, what can you tell me about Seph or her family?”
“Go get Harry, I’ll put the kettle on,” she said quietly and I went and found my boyfriend sitting under the large tree in the back garden, just staring at the clouds.
“Knut for your thoughts?” I asked as I reached for his hand to pull him up.
“Don’t need a Knut, but I would like a kiss,” he suggested, and who was I to deny him such a thing? “Just thinking about everything we learned today. What sort of legal matter could Seph have got herself into which would lead to her disappearing?”
“I don’t know, but I suspect it’s something bad. Come on, Mum has some things to share with us about the MacPhearson girls and Seph.” We walked back into the house where Mum had already set out the tea pot and the cups and saucers. We sat back down, Harry and me across from her.
“The first thing you need to know about the MacPhearson family is that they are as old and as pure-blood as they come. They’re not haughty about it, like the Malfoys, but Robert certainly believed that those with ’untainted blood’ should be given preference. The MacPhearsons had seven daughters, Persephone was the youngest of them, and if I may say so myself, the most spoiled of all of them,” Mum explained.
“The woman we met today didn’t seem at all spoiled,” I countered, “instead, she seemed downright humble.”
“I said she was spoiled, but she lost that while she was in school. I would venture a guess that your dad and godfather had a great deal to do with that,” Mum continued as she looked at Harry. “Persephone didn’t know any better before she got to Hogwarts anyway, not the way those girls were raised. From the day they were born ,their heads were filled with duty and honour and little else,” she said, a little disgusted. I looked at Harry, who mirrored my puzzled look.
“Duty and honour aren’t bad things, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry pointed out.
“No, they’re not, but when it’s all you’re given and all that is pounded into your head from birth, it can make you…” she paused. “The MacPhearsons raised their daughters to be proper young women, who would be exceptional wives for their arranged husbands. As children, they were taught the skills a gentlewoman would need — knitting, sewing, floral arranging, stitchery, table-settings. They didn’t learn household spells, mind you, those were left for the house-elves. Instead, they were prepared for married life. Dora has told me about her summers in Switzerland and learning about wine and speaking French and Italian with ease. But there was always something off about how she described it, like she didn’t want to be there or something. Your Auntie Muriel had wanted me to grow up this way, but my mum wanted nothing to do with it.”
“Thank you for not raising me that way,” I announced.
“Ginny, sweetheart, the world had already changed too much for you to have ever been raised as a gentlewoman,” Mum said quietly, sadly.
“It almost sounds like they were some sort of royalty or something,” Harry interjected.
“Well, in a way they were,” Mum answered. “The family was not only respected for the length of their family line, but also the positions they held. Robert MacPhearson was the liaison to the ICW for Britain and was internationally respected. Her mother, Elizabeth, inherited the Engelsley chain of Apothecary shops, and Perri was to follow in her mother’s footsteps, along with her sister, Paget.”
“I can’t think of any Apothecary shops, Mrs. Weasley. Where were they located?” Harry asked.
“All over, but they were destroyed by Death Eaters, beginning in ‘77. Paget lost her husband, Harlan, in the attack on the shop on Diagon Alley. She was a little older than your father and I, and in Slytherin House. I remember Dora telling us how lost she was after her husband had been killed. She died less than two years later, probably of a broken spirit,” Mum explained.
“Why? She was young, she could have remarried,” I suggested.
“No, the MacPhearson girls wouldn’t have ever remarried. A second marriage wasn’t something which could be arranged.” I looked at Mum, puzzled.
“Why couldn’t she just find herself a husband?”
“Ginny, dear, pure-blood girls like Paget and her sisters were taught to believe that arranged marriages were the only way to be assured of having a good marriage. They didn’t date while they were at school, any of them. On occasion, Dora would go to a function with a friend, but there wasn’t a romantic overtone to the event. They were to be for their husband alone, body, heart, soul and mind. For families that adhered to the old ways, girls were commodities which were used to assure the stature of the family. Without a husband, they considered themselves nothing,” Mum explained and I was outraged.
“We aren’t commodities!” Mum reached across the table and took my right hand while Harry had my left twined with his.
“Of course not, sweetheart,” Harry said as he kissed my cheek. “I’d never see you as something to be used like that, nor will I think that way about our future daughters.” I calmed down at his words.
“Thank you,” I whispered before I kissed him.
“Yes, well, you two make sure those daughters are well off in the future,” Mum said with a pat on my hand.
“Yes, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry quickly responded. I couldn’t stifle the yawn which crept up from the pit of my stomach and overtook me. I looked out the window and noticed the sun had set and the sky was an inky purple. “It appears someone is ready to go to sleep?” Harry asked and I nodded.
“Go on then,” she said as she stood and used her wand to direct the dishes to the sink. “Are we still on to go to the beauty parlour tomorrow?”
“Yes, Mum, it’s about time you did something different with your hair,” I teased and she simply huffed and shook her head.
“Why don’t you all plan to come over on Wednesday for dinner at our place? We’ll have been at the Magical brewery that day, and I’m sure we’ll have more stories to share,” Harry suggested and Mum nodded as she opened her mouth to speak. “No, you can’t bring anything. Hermione, Ginny and I are more than capable of making dinner.”
“Ron doesn’t cook?” We both started laughing at the question.
“He burns nearly everything,” I explained. “It’s just better if he stays out of the kitchen altogether.” Mum nodded knowingly and we passed through the lounge, saying good-night to Dad and Charlie, who were playing wizard’s chess. George had retreated back to Bill’s old room. He’d moved his things into the space, unable to be in the room he’d shared with Fred.
“Fine, fine, then. Sleep well, you two,” Mum called as we walked out the door and toward the lane to Apparate to Grimmauld Place.
“Harry, you’re not really planning on going to bed yet?” I asked.
“Bed, yes. Sleep, no.” He wrapped his arms around my waist and mine wrapped around his neck. One moment we were on the lane, the next we were in our bedroom.