Life at Privet Drive was as miserable as ever. It wasn't because his
uncle and aunt had been treating him like a poorly trained dog, which
was the same as they had since he was a toddler. Instead it was the
impending sense of doom that had been hanging over him since Professor
McGonagall's threat had been levied against him three days ago.
True to her word, an owl arrived that evening, just as Harry was starting on his homework.
Unable to ignorethe
large brown tawny that was used for official school deliveries –
especially when it hopped onto his Potions essay, scattering inky
footprints over his diagram of the effects of an improperly brewed wart
removal potion – Harry said, "All right, I'll take the ruddy letter."
With a labored sigh, he took the scroll from the owl's outstretched
foot and unrolled it before the impatient bird gave him a baleful hoot
and flew out his window.
Mr. Harry Potter,
wishing to harp on about the circumstances in which you are receiving
this letter, I think it would be best to get to the point. You are to
be taken to The Burrow every morning at nine o'clock by Portkey, where
you will be assigned a task by Mr. or Mrs. Weasley. Miss Weasley will
be on hand to assist you in ways that have yet to be determined. I have
it on good authority that both of you will be kept busy throughout the
summer and that the list of tasks compiled by Mrs. Weasley is quite
You are to act civilly
around Miss Weasley and will communicate to her with respect and
kindness at all times. On Saturday evenings, she will be studying with
you at your aunt and uncle'shouse. You should have plenty of time to complete your homework assignments during this time.
keep in mind that if you do not fulfill your obligations this summer,
or if it is reported that you have been less than pleasant with Miss
Weasley, I will be forced to suspend you from classes in the fall.
Hoping you are well, Albus Dumbledore Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
first, Harry didn't seem to think that the punishment would be too
unbearable. But when he read the part about being 'civil' with Ginny,
he nearly tore the parchment in half. How could he be expected to even be around her, let alone act like she was some kind of friend?
succumbing to his rage, he viciously crumpled the paper into a tight
ball and threw it against the wall, hardly noticing as it bounced off
the small dresser and dutifully smacked him in the face. His foul mood
only amplified by the now mussed Potions essay, Harry flung himself
onto his bed and managed a small smile at the thought of hexing Ginny's
hair to fall out, leaving her bright white head bald and smooth.
was miserable. The journey home from King's Cross by Floo was
uneventful, as she had now done it four years in a row. Ron didn't even
trip over himself saying goodbye to Hermione. Fred and George had yet
to tease her for hexing Harry and they weren't going to Grimmauld
Place. No, the problem was what was waiting for her when she had taken
all her things to her room.
Her mother had Apparated there and as soon as Ginny had closed the door, had given her what amounted to an in-person Howler.
Molly Weasley," she had started. It was never good for Ginny when her
mother used her full name. Resolving to let her mother get it over
with, she sat heavily onto her bed and gazed blankly at the towering
inferno before her.
"I am sorely disappointed in your
behavior." Her mum was brandishing two opened letters in her hand,
waving them madly as she ranted. "First I receive an owl that tells me
you've gone missing at the Ministry, chasing after Death Eaters," she
said wielding the letter in her right hand. "Death Eaters, I tell you.
"Then, another owl comes, the same day,
telling me you've not only been in a duel with a student, but that
you've landed yourself in hospital." The parchment and envelope in her
mum's left hand was now flitting around in front of her as she used
them to punctuate her speech. "But it doesn't end there, does it? No,
it doesn't... because the student you've been dueling with is, Merlin
help me, Harry Potter!"
Ginny folded her hands on her
skirt and waited, knowing that the worst of it was over and that any
minute now, she was going to come over to the bed and sweep her up in a
big hug. Her mother continued to stare at her, arms propped on her
hips. "Why, Ginny? Why couldn't you have just left him be?"
Suddenly confused, Ginny dropped her stony exterior and looked askance at her mum. "What do you mean?"
mother sat on the bed next to her, but did not open her arms as Ginny
had expected. "He's lost so much, Ginny," she said with a sad
expression. "The one person who's been a father to him since he was an
infant was taken from him the day before and you did nothing but rub
his nose in it."
Unbidden, tears sprang in Ginny's eyes. She
hadn't cried since her first year and it was terribly difficult for her
to accept them now. Her throat burned with pent up emotion as she
fought them down, desperately trying to keep her composure. "I..." she
started, but had to stop when her voice cracked. Finally regaining
control, she continued, "I guess I didn't think he'd be that bad off."
Her words fell flat and sounded cheap and stupid, even to her ears.
let's hope that whatever Dumbledore has planned for you this summer
will help you to think a little more often about other people's
feelings, young lady." With that, her mother stood and crossed the
room, arms still folded across her chest. "Don't bother to come down
for dinner," were the last words she spoke as she closed the door on
her way out.
It took a full minute before unbearable sadness
burst through her dam of control. Tears leaked through her tightly
closed lids and she fell onto her bed, sobbing into her pillow until
she fell into a fitful sleep.
The next morning,
Ginny heard the unmistakable sound of Professor McGonagall's voice
floating up from the kitchen. Still feeling miserable about her
situation, Ginny didn't want to risk facing her still brooding mother
and her school Head of House.
Instead, she waited, pulling her
covers over her head and tried to manage to suffocate herself with her
own foul morning breath. It certainly seemed preferable to being at
odds with her mother for the summer. She conjured up a vision of Harry
being pummeled by Draco Malfoy and his goons, Crabbe and Goyle.
At last, she heard the distinctive pop
of the Floo grate and McGonagall's thick Scottish accent ceased.
Pushing the bedclothes off her face, she had to squint to block out the
bright sunshine streaming through her windows. With a scowl at the
cheery rays, she pulled on her dressing gown and made her way to the
When she arrived downstairs, her stomach growling
madly from missing dinner the previous evening, she tried to slip into
a chair at the table unnoticed, but Ron was there and brainlessly
shouted a happy greeting through a mouth full of eggs.
"Morn'in Gin'if," he mumbled thickly.
offered a weak wave and started to pull food onto her plate with her
fork, intent on eating and leaving for her room as soon as possible.
Unwillingly however, her eyes caught her mother's stare and she shrunk
back in her chair at the calculated smugness she saw there. Knowing
that a punishment whose consequences far outstripped the crime she had
committed was now whirling around in her mother's brain, she doubled
the speed with which she ate, rivaling Ron's usual gusto.
as she had scraped off the last crumbs on her plate, her mother's hand
rested on her shoulder and the other produced a folded letter, which
she held in front of Ginny's face. "Read this, then we'll talk about
what it says in the living room."
Her brother shot them both
an odd look but kept his mouth closed for once. Ginny held the
parchment with some trepidation, certain that the key to a summer of
misery lay within its folds. Her mother Banishedthe dirty
dishes and set them washing while Ginny continued to stare at the
letter, vainly hoping that it would read itself and save her the
Finally mustering her courage, she gave Ron a look of annoyance, split the seal with a finger and opened the letter.
Miss Ginevra Weasley,
to your willful and belligerent attack on Mr. Potter, Professor
Dumbledore has authorized me to plan and administer your punishment
prior to your return to Hogwarts in the fall. Failure to fulfill each
of the obligations listed below will result in your suspension from
school and possible dismissal from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Mr. Potter will be
assigned to perform several tasks involving manual labor on the
property surrounding your home throughout the summer. As part of your
punishment, you will be required to assist Harry in his tasks by
ensuring the following:
must have adequate drinking water available. If there is ever a
time that potable water is not present, you will be required to serve
one day's detention with Professor Snape on the Saturday and/or Sunday
following the day that such infraction(s) have occurred.
will ensure that all his medical needs are taken care of. The
Improper Use of Magic Office has agreed to cease monitoring all common
medical charms at The Burrow for the duration of the summer. You would
do well to brush up on them before he arrives tomorrow morning.
midday and at the end of each day, you are to prepare a meal for
him. These meals must provide him with as much food as he can
eat, to be determined by Mr. Pott