[Disclaimer: "It's mine! All mine!" And then I
wake up… and acknowledge that it's J. K. Rowling's; love her mind!]
could feel in her bones that she was late for something. She rolled out
of bed and glanced out the window. A distinct lack of Ron's snoring
reminded her that she was missing something. Then it hit her: it
was September first. The smell of sausages was squeezing its way into
her room, letting her know that at least Mum was up as well. The sun
was climbing high, and she just knew she would miss the train. Sighing
angrily, she opened and slammed drawers and doors in hopes that
somebody would realize their mistake in not waking her up in time. Just
as she jerked her arms through some robes, she remembered: Hogwarts was
still closed, and she wasn't going back anytime soon. Memories of the
recent Leaving Feast came flooding back. She pushed the thoughts out of
her head, afraid of what she might end up remembering. Ginny finished
dressing more sedately and started toward the kitchen where she knew
her mum would be waiting. She hadn't even reached the steps when she
heard heavy footfalls behind her.
"Morning Gin," a male voice called gently. "Alright?"
really, Ron. I'm not having a very good morning." He was right behind
her now, trying to get beside her on the stairs. Out of the corner of
her eye, Ginny saw him nod shortly, and begin to reach for her
shoulder. She stopped and turned around.
"What's wrong?" he questioned.
"Look at what I'm wearing."
"Yes, I see. I'm glad you're wearing clothing," he said with a playful smirk.
noticed," she retorted as she rolled her eyes. "It's because I thought
I was off to Hogwarts, but there's no Hogwarts to go to right now."
mouth formed an 'O' and he gently moved her out of his way. "It'll be
alright, Ginny. Let's go get something to eat."
just doesn't understand,' she thought. She traipsed down the stairs,
hoping to alert the family members downstairs that she wasn't in a nice
mood. The whole family, except for Ron, who was behind her, was
probably seated in the kitchen. Hermione was staying at the Burrow for
a while (Ginny suspected it was a furtive attempt to be with Ron, and
not just to spend time with the whole family, as she had insisted).
Bill was on holiday from Egypt for a week now that the war was over,
and Charlie had taken two days away from the Dragon Reinforcement
Corps. Even Percy had promised to be at the Burrow for breakfast with
his wife, Penelope. Everything would have been great apart from
everyone falling silent as soon as Ginny appeared on the landing. It
seemed very suspicious; they may have been talking about her. Ignoring
her misgivings, she helped herself to some of those lovely-smelling
sausages. She had been present for several minutes before she noticed
everyone, staring cautiously at her.
"Is there something on my face? Have I sprouted wings or something?"
quickly occupied themselves with other things. Only Molly continued to
gaze at her. She opened and shut her mouth a few times—as if she were
going to say something—then she looked away too. Ginny let out a
frustrated noise and shoved back her chair.
for a walk," she announced, donning a slight frown. Charlie and Bill
leapt from their chairs and Arthur opened his mouth to protest. Ron
couldn't do much but try to swallow an enormous bite he had just taken.
"Just in the garden," she amended, throwing out her hands. As everyone
slowly returned to normal, she fled out the door.
breeze was light and the trees were throwing off early morning shade.
Ginny picked absent-mindedly at her old black work robes. They were
worn-in and frayed just the way she liked them. 'These are probably
some of the very few that don't have potion stains on them,' she
thought, as she traced the faded little lion and the crimson insignia.
She was a Gryffindor; supposedly trustworthy, loyal, and brave. How
come no one trusted her anymore? Or let her come and go as she pleased?
It was as though they had come to the conclusion that if she could be
possessed once and later be nearly killed by Death Eaters, she couldn't
be left alone. Why, just two days ago she had attempted to go into the
village to get some things from the market and Charlie had insisted he
accompany her. It just didn't make sense. That spell during the battle
hadn't hurt her too much, just knocked her unconscious for a little
over two weeks, so she didn't see the need for such protection. St.
Mungo's had released her in late July, deeming her health
While she was unconscious, the world had
changed. Many supporters of the Dark Lord had left Hogwarts to be with
their parents, while others stayed and insisted they had been under
Imperious the whole time. The Ministry of Magic had lost some
officials, and for a few days everyone was afraid the wizarding world
might fall into chaos or expose itself to the Muggle world. A lot of
officials, who had openly denied Voldemort being alive many times, had
been completely out of their wits. With the Ministry in shambles,
Arthur had been asked to help in the reconstruction of departments.
sudden rustle of grass brought Ginny out of her reverie. Hermione was
stepping across the garden cautiously, as if hoping not to disturb her.
Ginny gave her a small smile and patted the ground next to her in
"You aren't bothering me, Hermione, so stop creeping about." Hermione returned the smile as she settled down.
"Ginny, you're going to hate me for asking but…" she trailed off, not wanting to stir up any more trouble.
Hermione… I'm fine. I just want everything to be normal again… at
least as normal as possible. It's not like I'm fragile china. I didn't
die or disappear. I'm of age, and I'm seriously considering moving
out." The words just tumbled out and she was a bit startled. She had
toyed the notion for some time, but had never told anybody. She hid her
head in her arms while she listened to Hermione speak quietly and
"I can see why you'd want to leave, Ginny. You're not a child, but you're still in school. Won't you miss your family?"
I mean, I'll be able to Apparate soon. The test will be easy-I've
studied every day. It's not like I'll have to Floo about like before,
and I can visit anytime I feel like it I love them, Hermione, I
really do, but I need to just be out on my own for a while. I have to
sort out everything. All these bloody emotions and memories are driving
me crazy. I would most likely move back in when Hogwarts opens up and I
have to return to school. Does that make sense?" Ginny looked warily at
Hermione, knowing very well she didn't take kindly to cursing. She
waited for an answer, but Hermione was quiet. After a thoughtful pause,
"In my experience, life in general does not make
sense. I have been devoted to books for as long as I can remember, and
looked to them for the answer to everything. I never go by my gut
feeling unless it deals with something the boys have schemed up, and my
gut usually tells me not to let them do anything without me going along
to help and I would… anyway, Ginny, you are the type of person who goes
by their heart, their gut feelings. Your feelings are usually right.
Trust yourself; if you truly think you need to be out on your own, then
by all means do it. I have always admired you, Ginny. You're brave,
strong, and a fantastic Quidditch player, but you have never cared what
people thought about you. That's what I wanted to have—belief in
myself. When I would get depressed or lose faith, you would
always tell me you believed in me. Well, I have that confidence now,
and I believe in you."
Ginny lifted her head to meet
Hermione's eyes. They were warm, brown, and strong. It had been a few
months since Ginny had seen her friend's eyes contain strength. Ginny
threw her arms around Hermione and mumbled incoherent thanks into her
shoulder. Hermione, at first, patted her awkwardly but was soon
clutching Ginny to her. Ginny could feel her shoulder become moist with
Hermione's tears, and it wasn't long before her own tears welled up.
They had all lost things that could never be replaced, and it was good
to know that some things were just waiting to be found again.
many minutes of hugging and drying of tears, both girls laughed weakly
and brushed themselves off. Ginny hadn't realized that she wasn't the
only one worried and stressed beyond normal limits. It lifted a weight
off her shoulders to know that she wasn't alone, and Hermione
understood all she was feeling. Then a wave of guilt washed over
her. She had been so selfish, snappy, and narrow-minded since she had
awakened and realized what her world had become. Yes, Voldemort was
gone and everyone was rejoicing, but the Death Eaters were corrupting
the celebration of newfound life. They had been dropping into Muggle
towns and destroying barns or cars or those lighted poles, then
disappearing before the Aurors could get there. Despite their actions
and the confusion curling inside of her, it was time that the attitude
she was displaying disappeared. Right there, in a patch of Pilaflee
flowers, she vowed that she would never again be so selfish, and she
was going to make it a point to help others heal before she helped
herself. She couldn't change the past, but she could do something about
the future. She flashed a smile at Hermione.
"Do you want to go back in? I think I owe everyone an apology."
you did take me away from my breakfast, Ginny," Hermione replied with a
smirk. "Being around you Weasleys has made my appetite enormous!" Both
girls laughed, and it was as if they had both decided to not bring up
the fact that they had just been on the ground in tears. Tough times
were past, and it was time to be happy
was silently shoving his breakfast into his mouth, contemplating a lot
of things. The first thing on his mind was Ginny. He could remember the
first time she said his name, the first time she wanted to seriously
play chess with him. Her bright little smile and talkative, happy
nature was what stood out in his mind. What had happened in all those
years? Now she was tough, strong-willed, and she liked Quidditch and
boys, and she was smart. She was also cranky. He just guessed that she
had had a hard time and needed to work out all her problems.
thoughts then trailed, as always, to Hermione. She just had to sit
beside him to make him feel content and warm inside. In fact, his
entire right side where she had been pressed against was tingling. His
mind got a little blurry just thinking about her. Had it really been
two years since they found each other out? Their blunt conversation so
long ago had been awkward yet wonderful; and quite frankly the most
liberating occurrence Ron had ever experienced. Why did such a
perfectly brilliant and fit person love him? It never ceased to
bewilder him. 'On the subject of bewilderment,' he thought, 'where on
earth did those two go?' Ginny had been up and gone in a flash and
Hermione, who had given him an apologetic look, had followed her. The
heaviest thing on his mind, however, was something darker than his
girlfriend or sister.
He hadn't seen his best friend in twenty-three days; twenty-three long, frustrating, silent days.
separation frustrated him more than Hermione ever had. He just didn't
understand why Harry had gone and left so quickly, literally overnight,
with no explanation. As Harry's best friend, he felt he deserved to
know certain things. Ron was about to put a forkful of sausage into his
mouth when he felt an elbow in his ribs. He was suddenly aware the
whole kitchen was snickering at him.
"Erm, Ron? I
wouldn't eat that if I were you," Bill said with a grin. Ron glanced
down at his fork and saw not sausage, but a rather large purple slug
that was trying its best to get down.
jumped out of his chair as he flung the slug onto the table, where it
slowly tried to flee the scene. Everyone in the kitchen erupted into
full-blown guffaws. That slug reminded him of a certain curse he had
accidentally turned on himself in second year. He looked around the
table, hoping to catch the culprits; Fred and George were
suspiciously quiet, eating contentedly.
even start. Mum will have your head if you even flick your wand in
their direction," Charlie warned. Molly had just left the kitchen to
see what else needed to be bought from Diagon Alley later. Ron glared
around the kitchen once more.
"You just wait, you gits.
You just wait." Fred and George merely snorted and continued eating.
Arthur coughed tensely. The backdoor swung open and Hermione and Ginny
crept in, looking a bit worse-for-wear. Hermione's head immediately
cocked to the side, questioning Ron's nauseated expression. Ginny, on
the other hand, was giving all her attention to the slug that was
inching its way across the table. Just as she opened her mouth to
speak, Molly appeared around the corner. Words came out of both at the
"What is that on my table?"
"Blimey, that's a big slug!"
"Molly, dear," Arthur started in to distract her. "Do we need more Floo Powder?"
Arthur, but what have my children been doing? Ron, sit down and stop
waving that fork about. Fred, George, why is there a purple slug on my
The boys protested loudly. "Mum, why do you always
think it's always us? It could very well have been Percy!" Fred
retorted. George glanced at Percy and burst out laughing. "It could
have been Bill or Charlie too, Mum."
sighed loudly and shook her head at them while she began clearing
dishes with her wand. After banishing the slug with a huff, she smiled
sweetly at the girls. "Hermione, Ginny, have a seat next to Penelope;
you girls can finish your meal in peace." The sweet smile vanished and
was replaced by a mouth set in a stern line. "Boys, and I mean all of
you, head out to the garden. It's been a long while since I had my
garden de-gnomed, and you'll get it done quicker together." Percy
smiled and opened his mouth as if he were going to excuse himself from
working. After all, he was a married man. "You're included too, Percy.
Penelope doesn't need you every second of the day. Don't worry; you
will all have plenty of time to get cleaned up before we nip over to
Ron was one of the first ones up and he
headed toward the door. He walked over to his normal starting spot,
grabbing blindly into the hole. He flung the gnome, silently cursing
his brothers. He had been able to use magic legally for over a year
now, and had never gotten the chance to properly "thank" his twin
siblings for all the years of brotherly love he'd received. That would
change later today in Diagon Alley. Oh yes, it would change. After a
short laugh to himself, his thoughts went back to Harry. He could
remember the first time Harry had come to his house and participated in
a de-gnoming. If only that git were here now, he'd throw a gnome at him
for leaving so abruptly -then hug him for coming back.
watched the rain fall steadily outside the tiny window, hoping it would
stop soon. For many days he had just lain in bed, wondering what had
happened. Had it all been a dream? He remembered throwing some clothes
into his old Hogwarts bag and grabbing his broom out of the shed. It
had been night, and pleasantly warm. The last thing he could recall
after that was hovering near a window, pressing his hand to the pane,
and then flying off into the darkness. By now, though, he knew whose
window it was, and where he was now. The only thing he didn't know was
how he had got here. By broomstick, of course, but how had he known
where to fly? He shrugged at his thoughts and rose from the
"Wotcher Harry! You're up. Want some tea?"
Tonks came out of the kitchen with red hair rather than her usual pink.
She gave him a cheeky wink and a smile. He tried to smile back, but it
"Actually, Tonks, can we talk? There are some things that have been bothering me."
smile faded. "Right, Harry. We can talk. I bet I can guess your first
question." He raised his eyebrows. "If you're wondering how you got all
the way from Ottery St. Catchpole to Ilfracombe, then I'm right."
mouth fell open a bit and he sat back down. "Yeah, actually, I'm
pretty sure I wasn't flying northwest when I left. Then again,
everything I remember from that night is fuzzy."
returned, warm as ever. "I can't believe you've been here for almost a
month and you're just now asking this. You weren't flying west. You
were flying roughly north and just happened to crash in Kingsley's
grandmum's garden. I heard him yelling at me over here through the fire
at four in the morning, saying he couldn't deal with stupid wizards at
the moment, and could I please take in this poor bloke? You nearly
killed the old witch, according to him. Kingsley said he heard her
screaming at him from the fire about a—" (here Tonks took on the voice
of an old lady) "creature destroying her flowerbeds and runner beans."
She and Harry laughed. "Even after he Apparated there and found out the
creature was you, she was horribly upset and wanted to keep him there
to pick up your mess and all sorts of rubbish because he's her grandson
and she expects him to do such things. Kingsley was about to have
kittens when he contacted me." She had to pause to catch her breath
from laughing and Harry just shook his head. He couldn't believe he had
crashed into a garden of all things. At least it wasn't something
deadly, but from the story, Kingsley's grandmother did sound a bit
dangerous. "I nipped over to her house to get you myself since you
couldn't Floo or Apparate. So there I was, stuck with you, a broom, and
a knapsack full of clothes. We had to go some of the way by Knight Bus,
with that bloody Stan yammering the whole way! You were knocked out
cold of course, and it was a ruddy hassle getting you here. But we did,
Kingsley and me, and here you are, sitting at the Pitney, going to have
tea with me."
"I'm sorry I was such a burden, Tonks. Did I
really frighten his grandmum that bad?" Tonks nodded furiously. "Oh,
blimey. I left so I wouldn't be a burden to anyone. I was just so
incredibly mixed up, it felt like I accomplished something, like I'd
finally avenged my parents and Sirius, but I kept getting this horrible
feeling and couldn't remember things from the day before. I felt like I
was losing my mind. So I left. Look what happened…" he trailed off.
"What did you say this place is called? I've heard you say it before
but I never asked what it meant."
"The Pitney; it means
'island of the stubborn one.' Dad claims he named it after Mum, because
she used to refer to this place as our island. They moved here after
they got married, since Mum wasn't welcome anywhere near the Blacks.
Mum would always say she wasn't stubborn, just cautious." Tonks' eyes
twinkled at the memory, and Harry had to laugh a bit.
really am sorry for all the trouble. I just keep making bad decisions,"
he said quietly as he folded his arms on the table. Tonks just sighed
and rubbed his elbow. She conjured two cups of tea and pushed one
across the small table toward Harry.
"You are not a
burden. Frankly, I'm glad you crashed into that old witch's garden. I
haven't had much company for the past few months—haven't actually been
home long enough to entertain. I used to have small parties and have
friends stay over. Now I've just got my kneazle, Wickam, but he's
not even here half the time. He's a smidge too smart for his own good,
that one. And we all make bad decisions, Harry. It's human nature. Now
drink up, and keep talking. I might have some answers." She took a
drink and poked Harry. He slowly picked up his head and took a sip of
his tea, coming close to spitting it out.
"What kind of tea
is this, Tonks? Blimey," he croaked as he pulled out his wand and tried
to improve the brew. He tasted it again and realized he wasn't much
better at creating tea. She scowled, and they sat in silence for
several minutes. "Tonks, I'm afraid I've made a huge mistake. I
fulfilled that bloody prophecy, and now it's like my life is at a
standstill. All that Ron, Hermione, and I have worked for is
over. I don't even know how that spell—"
Tonks cut in,
"That spell was absolutely brilliant, Harry. Hermione did a
bang-up job finding and deciphering it. And most importantly it worked."
fidgeted and swirled his tea. He had avoided talking about that
event for so long, it held too much emotion. He didn't think he was
ready to start talking about it now. "Tonks, I've got some more
questions. I hope you don't mind helping me figure out some stuff." He
kept his eyes from meeting hers. She sighed again, this time with more
"Right, Harry. You talk about what you want;
I'll listen, and give answers when I know them. Sound okay?" He nodded
a bit. "Just start whenever you feel comfortable. It's not like I have
somewhere to be," she said with a little smile. When he didn't begin
right off, she picked up her wand again and turned on the wireless so
it could play softly. After listening to a few upbeat songs, Harry
finally spoke up again.
"I haven't been in touch with
the Weasleys or anybody since I've been here, and that's been close to
a month. I left Hedwig with Ron. Is there any way I can owl them? I'd
prefer parchment to Floo; I'm not in the mood for direct conversation."
Images from the last battle flashed before his eyes, Ron gaping at him
from across the cavern, Ginny catching his eye as they both heard the
rumble outside the Great Hall, and Hermione curled up in a corner of
the cave, crying hard. He didn't want to know what they thought of him
leaving so unexpectedly.
"I can get an owl from Kingsley.
Merlin knows he has three of the ruddy things flapping about his
kitchen. It's small enough as it is without those huge wings in your
face. I'll Floo him later. Is that okay?"
Harry paused and looked out the window. The rain was lightening up a
little bit. "Erm, Tonks? Does anybody know I'm here?"
swallowed her mouthful of tea then summoned a plate of biscuits before
answering. "No, they don't. The first thing out of your mouth after you
were conscious was 'Don't tell anyone where I am.' I never go back on
my word, Harry. Therefore, no one knows where you're lying low." With a
sigh of relief, he realized his stomach was subtly letting him know it
needed to be filled. He looked suspiciously at the biscuits.
beard, Harry, the biscuits won't kill you. I didn't make them.
Honeydukes and, believe it or not, Madame Puddifoot's are life-savers
for people like me. Eat them, I promise they're good."
was far from hesitant after he heard they were from Honeydukes, but
Puddifoot's? "Madame Puddifoot's? Why would you go in there?" he
questioned through a mouthful of cinnamon and sugar.
your information, I was in there a few times while I was at Hogwarts.
And she does serve excellent tea." With that comment, Tonks rose from
the table and walked toward the windows. "It's stopped raining," she
stated. Harry glanced out the window. It looked like perfect flying
weather, and that would be a good excuse to avoid any conversations he
wasn't ready for.
"Want to go flying? Or will the Muggles see us?"
love to go flying! But we don't have to fly around here in front of
Muggles. Apparition with big objects like brooms is possible, remember?
We could even go to Queerditch Marsh or wherever you like. I would
suggest that wicked clearing behind the Burrow, but I know you don't
want to go back there just yet."
"Then let's go. I
haven't been out of the Pitney for a few days. I'll go change, and I'll
be right down," he said before stuffing a couple more biscuits into his
mouth. Tonks smiled to herself, hoping that she could follow through
with her plan. Maybe those special biscuits did come in handy every
once in a while. She cast Finite Incantatem on them and popped one into
her mouth with a smile.