The next morning, Harry,
Hermione and the Weasleys gathered around the fireplace. As it was a
Saturday, Mr Weasley would be joining them on their trip to Diagon
Alley, which would be followed by dinner at the Leaky Cauldron, where
Bill and Percy would join them.
stepped first into the fire. In a clear voice he shouted "Diagon
Alley!" and threw his Floo Powder at his feet. With a flash of green
flame, he was gone.
by one, the rest of the group proceeded into the flames. When Ginny,
with a small smile for Harry, disappeared, Mrs Weasley turned to Harry
and held out the pot of powder.
you go, dear," she said. "I know it's not your favourite way of
travelling, but just remember, nice clear voice, and you'll be fine.
Oh, and don't stop 'til you see the others."
reached into the pot, and withdrew a pinch of powder. Stepping into the
magical fire, he roared "Diagon Alley!" and threw the Floo Powder at
his feet. There was a flash of green flame, and he found himself
spinning, spinning, spinning as unfamiliar faces and fireplaces whirled
he saw a cluster of redheads staring anxiously at him, and he threw his
hands out, eager to catch something, anything that would break his
fall. He felt strong hands grab him as he stumbled to a halt, and
realised Fred and George had caught hold of him. Staggering out of the
fireplace, he looked down in dismay at his soot-covered clothes. He
straightened, and gave a smile of thanks to Hermione as she pulled a
clothes-brush from her bag, and began to work on the worst of the dirt.
"I thought I might need this, after what you told me about Floo travel," she said, "but it's really easy to do, Harry..."
trailed off as Harry looked at her. "I don't like it. I think after
ending up in Knockturn Alley last time, I've just got a block about it."
"What's that, Potter? Another thing you're afraid of?"
didn't need to turn to recognise that voice. Instead, he drew his wand
as he span on his heel, finding himself face to face with Draco Malfoy,
his least favourite person in the entire world.
this, everyone? Not only is Potter scared of the Dementors, not only
does he get a headache whenever someone mentions Lord Voldemort, now it
seems he's turning into such a little wimp that he's scared of using
the Floo network."
glowered at Malfoy, determined not to rise to the bait. His wand
tingled in his hand as curses and jinxes rose unbidden to the tip of
his tongue. Instead, he forced a grin onto his face.
time I saw you, Malfoy," he said, "you were face down in the corridor
of the Hogwarts Express. Did it cost your Dad a lot to have those
tentacles cut off your face?"
glowered. Harry, Hermione, Ron and the twins had cursed him and his
friends Crabbe and Goyle on the way back from Hogwarts months before,
and the incident was still fresh in everyone's minds.
want to watch it, Potter. Now the Dark Lord is risen once more, you
needn't think you can hide behind a few stupid hexes. But I don't want
to scare you too much," he went on. "I'll leave you to your pet
Mudblood and that disgrace of a wizarding family you see fit to hang
that, Malfoy and a crowd of other Slytherin pupils swept out of the
Leaky Cauldron, in the direction of Diagon Alley. Harry turned to face
the others, and realised that Fred and George had hold of Ron's arms,
the younger Weasley struggling to break free of their grip.
"Get off," he said, tearing one arm free. "One chance, that's all I want. Just one!"
"Ron, calm down," George said, catching his brother's arm again. "You know what Dad said. We
can't risk..." He looked up at Harry and Hermione, and grinned weakly.
Whatever he was going to say was driven out of everyone's minds by a
final flash of green flame in the fireplace, and the arrival of Mrs
Weasley in the Leaky Cauldron.
"Is everyone alright?" she asked. "Oh, never mind,
Harry. That soot will brush off in no time. Oh, thank you, Hermione,"
she said, taking the clothes brush and sweeping at Harry's clothes
efficiently. Ginny giggled as Harry was forced into stillness by Mrs
Weasley's long practised sweeping. Even Ron seemed to calm down,
grinning at the look on Harry's face. "There," she said after a few
seconds. "All gone. Now, lists." She delved into her bag, and began
pulling out the envelopes, handing them around once more.
"Did you meet one of your friends?" she asked, absently as she dug deep in an effort to find Ginny's letter.
"Oh yeah," Fred said. "Someone we know and love."
nice, dear," Mrs Weasley said, oblivious to the sarcasm in Fred's
voice. "It's always good to catch up with your friends."
like Malfoy's got a few more bodyguards this year," Ron muttered to
Harry. "All those Slytherins... Just one good curse would have made
this year so much happier..." he added wistfully.
Harry grinned, but Hermione looked scandalised.
"Ron!" she hissed, so that Mrs Weasley wouldn't hear. "You shouldn't even joke about that! People might think you're serious."
"You didn't seem to mind too much when we jinxed them a couple of months back," Ron pointed out.
well, we shouldn't have done that," Hermione said. "What if Lucius
Malfoy had complained? We could have been in so much trouble!"
don't worry!" Ron said, as they walked into the alleyway behind the
Leaky Cauldron. "It's not like anyone is going to think we've gone Dark
just 'cause we put Malfoy in a Full Body Bind."
Hermione didn't look convinced, and even when Mrs Weasley tapped the
wall with her wand, opening the many wonders of Diagon Alley to them,
she seemed far from happy.
Money pouches jingling as they left Gringotts, the group began to make plans for the day.
get into trouble, and be in the Cauldron by half past five at the
latest. Percy, Bill and your father will meet us there," Mrs Weasley
said to them. "And stay away from Knockturn Alley," she added, to Fred
Mum," they chorused, looking unusually subdued. "We'll see you later,"
Fred added, as Lee Jordan hailed them from the other side of the street.
"What are you up to today?" Mrs Weasley asked, as she turned to face the others.
I need to get Colin Creevey something for his birthday," Harry said.
"Could you help me, Ginny?" he added, determined to start fulfilling
both resolutions at once.
Ginny looked startled, Ron shocked. "Me?" Ginny asked.
"Yeah," Harry said, smiling at the look of surprise on her face. "You're in his year and all. Is that okay?"
"Yes! I mean, yes, of course," Ginny said, blushing bright red. "I'll be, er, happy to help."
Harry said. "I'm rubbish at buying presents," he added, for the benefit
of Ron, who was looking at him with a surprised expression.
"What about you two?" Mrs Weasley asked, looking at Ron and Hermione.
"Um..." Ron said, looking at Hermione as though suddenly realising they were the only two left. "I don't..."
going to get our things," Hermione said briskly. "Then we'll have some
ice cream at Florean Fortescue's, if you two want to join us," she
added to Ginny and Harry. Ginny nodded fervently, and Harry grinned.
I can buy you an ice cream to say thanks," he said to Ginny. Her eyes
went wide, and Harry coloured slightly as he imagined what Fred or
George would say about the idea of Ginny having to be thanked for
spending time with him. Another resolution, he thought with a grin: Get
those two some new material.
and Ginny walked quietly along Diagon Alley, weighed down by their
purchases. Harry had had to once more buy new robes, in addition to his
usual books and potion ingredients. He had agonised once more over the
gorgeous working model of the solar system, until Ginny had dragged him
they just had Colin's present left to buy, and Harry huffed silently
along beside Ginny, his face red with exertion and embarrassment.
"You really have no idea? He's been in your House for four years, and you don't know anything about him?"
"He's in the year below me. I don't know much about the people in the other years," Harry said, trying to justify his ignorance.
"I noticed," Ginny said, dryly. Harry coloured even deeper.
trying," he mumbled, looking down at the pavement as they stood in the
middle of the street. "I've had a lot of time to think, this summer.
About Voldemort-" Several adult wizards turned and stared at him at the
sound of the Dark Lord's name "-and Cedric, and stuff."
"Yes?" Ginny said.
I said it to Charlie and your Dad, and it still sounds conceited now.
It's... It's so hard to say right. I have to live right, because people
look at me. Does that make sense? If they see me trying to live my
life, they might realise that Voldemort-" more stares "-being back
doesn't necessarily mean we have to hide our heads under the covers.
And part of living my life is, well, having a life. I want to get to
know people like Colin, and his brother, and the other kids at our
looked up at Ginny, amazed to have opened up so much to someone he
didn't know very well. She was looking at him with a quizzical
"You know, you never stop surprising me," she said, slowly.
"What do you mean?"
Ginny looked at him, blinking suddenly. What did I say that for? she thought. Now
he's expecting some rational thought from me, when all I can think
about is how green his eyes are, how handsome he is. Aaaah!! Oh well,
here goes nothing...
anyone else in your position might agonise about their role in life.
They might decide to run away, or just hold themselves in, so that no
one much would get hurt if they were hurt. But you decide that
you can live a normal life, and make a difference at the same time,
just by being you." She blushed, as though such a long speech
"Does that make any sense at all?" Harry asked, suddenly eager to hear her reply.
think so," she replied thoughtfully. "It's like what Dad did at the
Ministry all those years. He made a difference without making a big
fuss about it. It's a little like what Percy tried to do as a prefect,
too..." she added, with a mischievous glint in her eyes. Harry grinned.
"I think that was a compliment, so thank you."
"You're welcome. And I know what to get Colin for his present, but we might have to go out into the Muggle world to get it."
you want me to hold your hand?" Harry said, laughing. He caught her
eye, and finally saw what Ron had said to him years before. Ginny was
the type of girl who had a simply irrepressible sense of humour.
to catch me first, Harry," she said, dropping her parcels on the street
and streaking off towards Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlour. Harry
groaned, and tried to pick up her things while struggling with his own.
burst into the ice cream parlour, and collapsed into a chair, gasping
for breath as she fought down the waves of laughter that threatened to
crack her ribs in two. She looked around the parlour and saw Ron and
Hermione sitting and staring at her.
From separate tables.
She got up, and walked over to them, bent almost double by the burgeoning stitch in her side.
wrong?" she asked, looking from one to the other. Hermione tutted and
looked away from Ron while he toyed listlessly with his half-eaten
sundae. Ginny grimaced, realising that her brother and friend had had
yet another argument, and a bad one from the looks of it.
"Isn't Harry still with you?" Ron asked, suddenly. Hermione looked around as she too realised that Ginny had come in alone.
"He's carrying the bags. He'll be here soon. Now, what-"
question was interrupted by Harry, slamming through the door, heavily
encumbered by two people's packages. What with Ginny's new school books
as well as his own, He was panting, and looked on the verge of
collapse. Ginny grinned wickedly as Ron jumped up from his chair to
working then," Hermione said quietly. Ginny turned and nodded simply.
She had had a long talk with Hermione before Harry's arrival at the
Burrow, and they had reached the conclusion that Ginny was best off
thinking about Harry as another Weasley as much as possible. It was
working, in a way. Harry was as conscientious as her father, as lawless
as Fred or George, as clever as Charlie, as earnest as Percy, as kind
as Bill, and as fiercely protective as Ron.
sighed. All the best bits of her family, topped off with something
unique to Harry himself. How could she help but feel crazy about him?
She giggled as Harry tried to extract his head from the bundle of
Arithmancy books he'd looped around his neck, but yearned to be the one
helping him. The conversation she'd just had with him had truly
surprised her. He'd grown so much in the time she'd known him, and
every day she seemed to care for him just a little bit more. She'd lied
to Hermione. Looking at Harry as a brother didn't help much. It just
made him a little easier to be around without embarrassing herself. And
that just made her like him more, as well.
her head, she pushed forward to help Ron extricate Harry from his
burden, joining in with her brother's laughter as she did so.
that evening was a raucous affair. Nine Weasleys in any space would
create a lot of noise. With their guests as well, and the multitude of
friends that kept coming up to them, it was well after dark before they
finished up. As Mr Weasley went off to settle the bill, Mrs Weasley
turned to her children and grinned.
and I have been talking," she announced. "Those of you going to
Hogwarts this year will be back here in a couple of weeks. You'll spend
the last night of your holidays here in the Leaky Cauldron, before
going on to Hogwarts the next day. I imagine that that's okay with
A great cheer from Fred, George and Ron greeted the news. "I knew you were up to something," Fred said, grinning at his mother. "All those late night chats with Dad. Was this what you were setting up?"
was," Mr Weasley said, as he returned to the table. "Now, listen you
six. I've booked in three rooms, so you girls can share, and you boys
can sort it out amongst yourselves, I'm sure."
was delighted by the news that the six of them would be returning to
Diagon Alley before they went back to school. He and Ron began making
plans for their day there, and Harry knew that he'd once more find
himself in front of the model solar system, dreaming of an
uninterrupted night's sleep each Wednesday. He was dimly aware of Fred
and George discussing how Lee would be staying in the Leaky Cauldron as
well, and Hermione mentioned that Padma and Parvati Patil would be
staying at one of the other hotels. Ginny suddenly looked at her
"Mum, is there something we should know?" she asked.
"Whatever do you mean, dear?" Mrs Weasley replied.
"Well, everyone we know from school seems to be staying here on August 31st," Ginny replied, her eyes narrowing.
"Hey, she's right," Fred said. "What's going on, Dad?"
"It's..." Mr Weasley began, looking helplessly at Mrs Weasley. "Oh, it's no good, Molly. We have to tell them."
Mrs Weasley nodded, biting her lip. Mr Weasley turned back to face the rest of the group.
will be taken from Diagon Alley to Platform 9 and 3/4 by Portkey this
year," he said, his expression sober and serious. "Professor Dumbledore
considers the risk of attack by You Know Who or his forces too great to
risk your being exposed in such a public place as Kings Cross station.
Plus, it would put so many Muggles at risk that it would be impossible
to cope with."
Ron looked unusually serious as he raised his hand.
happens once we're on the train, Dad? Me and Harry followed it in the
car a few years back, so what if You Know Who does that this year?"
have teachers with you on the train," Mrs Weasley said, her face pale.
"Dumbledore sent all of us parents letters assuring us that you'd be
safe on the journey. He may even be on the train himself."
not worried then," Harry said, his voice ringing clear amid the hubbub
of the Cauldron. "No-one is in danger if Professor Dumbledore is
the spirit, Harry," Mr Weasley said, relieved not to have been met by a
storm of objections. "Dumbledore would no more let anything happen to
his students then your mother or I would our own children, or you two
either," he added to Harry and Hermione.
"We should be going anyway," Mrs Weasley said. "It's been a long day for all of us."
group gathered slowly around the fireplace, the huge piles of purchases
making it difficult to keep track of who was where. Slowly, Mrs Weasley
counted them off, watching her offspring and their friends vanish into
the green flames. Once Charlie had gone through, she turned to Mr
Weasley and pulled him into an embrace.
"Oh, Arthur," she murmured into his chest. "Tell me we're doing the right thing, sending them back to school this year."
course we are, Molly," he replied, holding her tight against him.
"We've been over this. There's nowhere safer than Hogwarts. Even if I
thought they'd be safer staying with us, it's still important for them
to live their own lives. They'll be under Dumbledore's guard, and
there's no place safer in this world."
Weasley relaxed slightly, and they took the last pinches of Floo powder
from the pot. Together, they stepped into the flames and vanished.