Dear Professor McGonagall, I am writing to you because I am worried about Adam. He hasn't replied to any of my letters since the start of the holidays; in fact, all the letters return undelivered and he promised to write to me over the summer. Would it be possible for you to check on him, as I don't know where he is staying? I'm worried about where he may have been sent by the Ministry.
Ginny attached the note to Errol's leg and sent him on his way. She watched as he flew off into the night. She was now seriously worried about Adam. Nearly two weeks had gone by and she hadn't heard from him at all. One letter sent with Errol and two now sent with Hermes had all been returned undelivered. Something was wrong. He wouldn't just ignore her. That much Ginny knew for certain.
"Is that your letter?" Dad asked from his seat at the kitchen table.
"Yes, Dad," replied Ginny.
"I'm sure he's alright," Dad said comfortingly.
He gestured over towards the chair next to him, which Ginny went and sat on.
"Now, Ginny, do you think that Adam might have trouble at home? Could something have happened to him there?"
Ginny felt an enormous desire to open up to her dad and tell him everything, but it wasn't her secret to tell. Adam wouldn't want her to tell anyone.
"I'm not sure... maybe. Professor McGonagall knows where he is; she will check he's alright," replied Ginny, trying to convince herself.
"Ginny, if you know something... if you think something's wrong you need to tell me," her dad replied.
"Dad..." replied Ginny. "I'm sure he's fine. He wasn't that keen on going, but I don't think he'd be in any danger."
Ginny looked up at her dad with pleading eyes, begging him not to ask anymore questions. He sighed.
"Okay, sweetheart. Get yourself up to bed," he said as he pulled her into a hug.
Ginny trudged up the stairs towards her bedroom and began getting ready for bed. She got into her bed and attempted to fall asleep.
Her summer so far had been quiet. She had made a start on some of her homework and had been given chores around The Burrow by her mother. Her brothers were even more protective of her than before, presumably due to the events of last year. They hadn't even let her fly with them, even though she'd now had flying lessons at school. Ron had been even more annoying. She wasn't sure if it was because he expected to go back to being best friends with her again, now that his school friends weren't here, or if he was trying to make up for ignoring her last year. She hoped it was the latter.
Ginny turned over in frustration, with her mind racing at a mile a minute she was never going to get to sleep.
Ginny left Hogwarts Castle and began walking down towards the groundskeeper's hut. The hut was dark. Good, he must already be asleep. Ginny made her way to the small garden where he kept his chickens. She needed to kill the roosters. No point in giving Dumbledore an easy way to rid the castle of her Basilisk. She approached the cage that contained the rooster and opened the door. With an almost unnatural strength, she grabbed the rooster and snapped its neck.
The rooster continued to struggle in her hands as it thrashed around violently. After an irritatingly long time it finally grew still.
"Ginny! What the... what are you doing!" A voice came from behind her.
It was the half-breed groundskeeper. He was staring at her with a look of shock on his face.
"Stupefy!" Ginny Stunned him without hesitation.
Ginny looked down. Her robes were covered in feathers. If she woke up in the morning covered in feathers the girl would notice and she may well tell her friend. Ginny waved her wand over her robes, Banishing the feathers. She still had a couple more tasks to complete here, to ensure her presence went undetected.
She walked over to the rooster lying dead on the ground and pointed her wand at the corpse.
A ball of flame shot out of the end of her wand and the rooster was engulfed. She watched the flames in smug satisfaction until they had completely destroyed the rooster's body.
She walked back over to the unconscious groundskeeper.
The groundskeeper blinked his eyes and they eventually came to focus on her.
"Ginny...?" he said in a confused voice.
"Obliviate!" she said, pointing her wand directly at his face.
His face went slack and his eyes became unfocused. Wanting to be far away before he came to his senses, Ginny strode purposefully back towards the castle. Adam July 7th 1993
Adam felt a twinge of pain from his jaw as he ate his dinner. It hardly hurt anymore, apart from an occasional muscle twinge. The incident had, however, left him with a lovely green-brown bruise that seemed to have grown until it stretched right from his earlobe to his chin.
He glanced around the dining room. To his relief, there was no sign of Kyle in the room. Adam had managed to stay clear of Kyle for several days. Having hurt him, Kyle seemed content to return to verbal insults.
Over the last few days Adam had begun to feel really down; he had to put up with insults from Kyle nearly every day. The majority of the other kids were too scared to be seen with him, so he had no one to talk to, and even worse, Ginny still hadn't written to him.
Adam left the window of his room open nearly every day hoping an owl would fly in. He had even tried going down to a secluded corner of the garden, in case the owls wouldn't come to him where a Muggle could see. Still nothing had come from Ginny. Adam had two choices now; he could either sit it out and wait until the end of the summer or attempt to contact someone by Muggle means. Hermione or Colin were probably his best bets. How he could get their addresses or phone numbers, Adam hadn't quite worked out yet.
After dinner had finished, Adam joined the crowd of other kids that began making their way back to their respective rooms. Adam stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked slowly. He eventually began to fall towards the back of the group. As he approached his room he could hear laughter coming from inside. Adam cautiously opened his door. He had a bad feeling about this.
When Adam saw what they had done to his room he felt as if he had just been punched in the stomach. Kyle and his friends had opened up his trunk, pulled out all of his school things and scattered them across his bed and the floor. Adam couldn't believe he had forgotten to lock his trunk this morning.
"I told you he was a freak!" announced Kyle mockingly. Kyle pulled out a set of his Hogwarts robes and held them up. "Look at what he's got in here! Look at these freaky clothes!"
"Leave my things alone," Adam said in a quiet but angry voice.
Kyle waved the robes around and the others around him laughed.
"Why should I?" Kyle replied with a sneer. He waved the robes in front of Adams face. "We only came in to mess up your room a bit, but this is so much better!"
One of the other kids began to go through Adams trunk throwing his books out.
"Oh, freak! Is this your boyfriend?" he sneered, as he waved Lockhart's Magical Me book about. "I'm sure he's just magical!"
"LEAVE MY THINGS ALONE!" Adam shouted.
They all just laughed. Adam's Hogwarts robe had been discarded onto the floor and Adam noticed that Kyle was now spinning something idly in his fingers. Kyle had his wand. Adam cursed; how had he been so careless as to not take it with him?
"Oh, you want your special stick back, do you?" said Kyle in an unnaturally sweet voice.
Kyle held out his wand and Adam stepped forward to try and take it from him. As Adam's hand neared the wand, Kyle grabbed it away from him with a mocking laugh. The rest of the crowd that had now gathered around them now joined in laughing.
Adam saw red. He flung himself at Kyle, attempting to grab his wand back. The two boys fell to the floor in a heap. Kyle used his greater size to his advantage and managed to push Adam off him and get back to his feet. Adam stood up and turned to face Kyle, intending to charge him again. He had to get his wand back! As Adam took a step towards Kyle he felt a sudden impact on his face. The force of the impact lifted him off his feet and he fell to the floor onto his bum. He felt a trickling sensation below his nose and raised his hand to his face to feel for damage. His hand came away with blood on it. Adam stood up and faced Kyle again, who was grinning and still twirling his wand. The rest of the children in the room had surrounded them.
"Fight! Fight!" The others chanted as Adam stormed towards Kyle.
Kyle swung for Adam, catching him with a glancing blow to his already painful jaw. He felt pain shoot across the side of his face. Kyle grabbed Adam by the shoulders and pushed him backwards into the wall of his room. Adam swung to punch Kyle. He put all his anger and frustration of the past two weeks into the punch. Adam was much shorter than Kyle so his punch landed low; it hit Kyle just above the centre of his chest with a mighty crunch. The impact of the punch lifted Kyle off his feet, he flew the length of Adam's room as if fired from a catapult and struck the wardrobe. The wardrobe's doors caved in, splintered and Kyle landed in a heap in the black of the wardrobe. He wasn't moving.
The rest of the crowd in the room looked at Adam with fear on their faces. Silently and unanimously they came to a decision. They didn't want to be seen anywhere near the scene of this fight. Within a few seconds and amongst a storm of chaotic pushing and shoving they ran from the room.
Not again, Not again! Adam thought with despair. He ran down the room to where Kyle was lying. He was still breathing. Thank God! Thank God! He wasn't dead.
Adam picked up his wand from where Kyle was lying and ran back to his bed. He rapidly began shoving his things back into his trunk. He didn't waste any time. Adam was sick of this place. He was sick of the people here. He just wanted to get out of here.
Adam grabbed his trunk and dragged it down the corridor. When he reached the front door, he turned the handle. It was locked. Adam withdrew his wand from his pocket and pointed it at the lock. I don't really have much else to lose at this point, he thought.
The door clicked open. Adam dragged his trunk down the stairs into the muggy evening and began to rapidly to make his way down the street.
Adam had been walking for about an hour before he stopped to rest. He sat down on his trunk. Despair began to overtake him. It was as if everything good that had happened to him last year, going to Hogwarts and making friends were all coming undone. He was back where he started, back on the streets.
Adam sat there on the side of the road for some time, staring at nothing in particular. The blood that had been trickling from his nose had now stopped but the skin around it still felt sticky. A rumble of thunder made him jump. He felt cooling raindrops begin to hit him and he sat there revelling in the cooling sensation that the rain gave him. The rain increased in intensity and soon Adam began to shiver, he only had his t-shirt and trousers on, so he rummaged in his trunk looking for one of his warmer Hogwarts robes to put on. In his rush to leave the home Adam had just shoved everything back into his trunk and now he couldn't find his warm cloak in the darkness.
"Lumos!" said Adam. He had already done magic outside school today, so one more spell couldn't make things much worse. It wasn't as if he would be able to get back to school anyway, not at this rate.
Adam held up his wand to light the area as he began searching inside his trunk for his cloak. By now Adam was nearly soaked. Unable to see due to the poor light he picked up several different sets of his robes, held each one up and examined it with his wand. He needed to find his warm one, any of the others would do little to keep him warm. Suddenly he thought he heard a clinking noise. In his rummaging for his robes something, probably part of his potions kit, must have dropped over the side of his trunk. Adam held out his wand attempting to see what had made the noise.
BANG. Another loud noise, this time from straight in front of him, startled Adam. He stared. In front of him was a large bus, it was a purple triple-decker, and there were bright lights coming from every window. He had never seen a bus like it before. As Adam was staring, a man leapt out of the bus and approached him.
"Welcome to the Knight Bus, emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard. Just stick out your wand hand, step on board and we can take you anywhere you want to go. My name is Stan Shunpike and I will be your conductor this evening."
Adam nearly jumped for joy. He could get this bus to take him back to Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall would be there.
"Oi! Kid! You did flag us down didn't ya? Where'd you wanta go?" asked Stan as he looked closely at Adam's face.
"Yes! I did," Adam replied quickly. "Umm.... can you take me to Hogwarts?"
"Why you goin' there, kid?" Stan asked. "Ain't no one there this time of year, ‘cept that caretaker fellow."
Adam's face fell. He remembered Professor McGonagall had said she might not be at Hogwarts during the summer. If he couldn't go to Hogwarts where could he go? Ginny! Maybe he could get the bus to Ginny's house from there he could contact Professor McGonagall. Adam realised he didn't actually know where Ginny lived, but maybe the conductor would know or be able to take him near enough so he could walk the rest of the way.
"Umm," Adam said hesitantly. "I'm not sure of the actual address but can you take me to where the Weasleys live?"
"Wot's your name kid?" Stan asked, looking at him suspiciously.
"Adam Winters," Adam replied. "I'm supposed to go and visit my friend Ginny Weasley."
The explanation seemed to do the trick; Stan's face brightened.
"That'll be 13 Sickles, or for 15 you get hot chocolate and for 17 you get hot water bottle and toothbrush," said Stan and he held out his hand.
Adam rummaged in his trunk and managed to find his money bag. He counted out the coins he had left from last year. His shoulders fell, he only had 11 Sickles.
"Sorry, I've only got 11 Sickles," Adam said in a defeated tone.
Adam saw Stan look him up and down; he must have made a pretty pathetic sight. Bruised, bloody and soaking wet. That might work to my advantage, Adam thought guiltily.
"Go on, kid! Get on. I'll let ya off this once."
"Thank you!" said Adam, grinning. "Thank you!"
Stan grabbed Adam's trunk and tossed it onto the bus. Adam extinguished his wand and jumped on.
The Knight Bus was the first bus Adam had ever seen that had beds on it. Adam was currently sitting on one of the beds, holding on for dear life. The bus had moved off with a bang and Adam had nearly been thrown off the bed. Currently the bus was moving at an incredible speed through the traffic in London. Another bang rocked the bus and suddenly they were racing down country lanes.
A short time later the bus came to a screeching halt and Adam breathed a sigh of relief.
"'ere we are!" called Stan. "You're lucky we ‘ad no one else on!"
Stan came to the back of the bus, grabbed up Adams trunk and pushed it out of the bus' doorway. Adam jumped out of the bus after him.
"House is that way, kid," said Stan as he got back onto the bus, pointing down the lane. At the end of the lane Adam could see distant lights.
BANG. The Knight Bus rocketed off down the lane, away from Adam. He began to shiver again. His trip on the bus had warmed him up somewhat, but it was still raining and he hadn't managed to get his cloak out before he got on the bus. Adam lit his wand again, being careful not to hold it out. He didn't want to accidentally call the bus back. Grabbing his cloak, he wrapped it around himself and began to trudge up the lane towards Ginny's house.
A short time later Adam approached the house, soaked to the bone. The bus had dropped him off a fair distance away, at the start of a long winding lane that, eventually, had lead to Ginny's house. Ginny's house, in Adam's opinion, was one of the craziest, yet most amazing, buildings he had ever seen. It was a tall building and it appeared to have five or six floors, judging from the lights. It looked to Adam as if the building might fall over at any moment. It must be held up by magic! Adam thought.
Adam left the lane and entered the Weasleys' garden through a small gate. He stood there for a few minutes staring at the house, plucking up the courage to walk inside. What if they don't want me here? What if they send me away? Adam shook himself and a light spray of water flew up off his soaked robes. Of course Ginny would help him.
Adam walked down the path to the small wooden door and gingerly knocked upon it.
Ginny July 7th 1993
Ginny was sitting in the living room of The Burrow, she was playing chess with Ron and losing, as she usually did. Despite the rain that was beating down on the windows the living room was cosy, with a warm fire burning in the fireplace. Ginny, Ron and Mum were the only Weasleys in the living room, the twins were upstairs in their room working on one of their projects, Percy was also in his room revising his school work and Dad was out on a raid tonight.
Ginny, thankfully, hadn't had any further dreams in the past few days. Which, along with the fact that Professor McGonagall had promptly replied to her letter, had significantly improved her outlook on things. Professor McGonagall had told Ginny that she would be going to immediately investigate where Adam had been sent. Ginny was planning on asking her mum if Adam could come and stay for the rest of the summer, as soon as they found him.
"Checkmate!" exclaimed Ron.
"Another?" asked Ron.
"Yeah, go on," she replied. It wasn't as if there was much else to do.
As they were setting up the board, they heard a faint knock at the door.
"Was that the door?" Mum asked, looking up from her knitting.
The knock repeated a second time.
"I guess that answers that. I'll get it," said Mum as she made her way into the kitchen to answer the door.
Ron and Ginny began their game. A gasp from the kitchen interrupted them.
"Adam?!" Mum exclaimed from the kitchen.
Ginny shot to her feet and barrelled into the kitchen. Was there news about Adam? Was Adam here?
When Ginny reached the kitchen she saw her mum pulling Adam into the house.
"Come on in, you poor boy," said mum in a kind voice.
Ginny looked at Adam. He was completely soaked and shivering. He had his Hogwarts cloak wrapped around him to cover as much of him as he could, including part of his face.
"Ginny, please make Adam some tea," mum ordered as she guided Adam towards one of the chairs in the kitchen.
Ginny bustled around, quickly getting the tea. While waiting for the water to heat up she watched as her mum took Adam's cloak off. She gasped when she saw his face; she hadn't been able to get a clear look at it before. He had a large, ugly looking bruise covering almost the entire left side of his face. His nose seemed twisted slightly and swollen. There were trails of dried blood coming from it and winding their way down towards his chin.
Grabbing the mug of tea she had made, Ginny walked over to Adam and pressed it into his trembling hands.
"T-T-Thanks," he said. "I-I-I'm sorry for just turning up."
"Adam, don't apologise. Friends of my children are always welcome here," said Mum. Ginny's heart warmed that she was being so welcoming. "Can you tell me what happened?"
Adam seemed to freeze. Knowing he struggled to talk about his past, Ginny went and pulled up one of the other kitchen chairs next to him.
"Go on, Adam," she said with a smile.
"They sent me back to a home," he replied quietly in a dull voice.
"What happened there?" Ginny asked. She knew he'd had a bad time at many of the homes he had stayed at when he was little.
"One of the kids I knew from before was there. He threatened everyone who talked to me. He did this," Adam pointed to his face. "Tonight I caught him laughing with the others about my freaky Hogwarts things. He tried to steal my wand and when I tried to get it back he punched me in the face. I-I.." he looked down at his feet. "I got mad and sent him flying across the room. That was when I left. I couldn't take it anymore. If I'd stayed something else would have happened."
Ginny noticed that, by this point, her mum was looking thoroughly confused.
"Adam, what do you mean?" her mum asked gently. "Who was the boy that hit you? One of your friends? Couldn't you go to your parents?"
Ginny saw Adam look up and glance at her with a pleading look on his face. He wanted her to tell the story.
"Mum, Adam's an orphan. He has no family. Professor McGonagall found him last year living on the streets and brought him to Hogwarts. The Ministry were supposed to arrange for somewhere for him to stay over the summer. I think they sent him to a Muggle children's home." Ginny looked at Adam for confirmation.
"I never got any letters and I didn't know how to contact anyone," he continued, looking up at Mum. "I didn't know where else to go. Hogwarts is a long way away and I didn't know if anyone would be there."
"Oh, how could the Ministry do that! Sending you to live with Muggles!" Mum exclaimed.
"I tried to send you letters, but the owls just kept coming back, as if they couldn't find you," Ginny said apologetically.
Adam gave her a watery smile as he sipped on the tea. In the warm kitchen Adam seemed to be beginning to finally get warm.
"Will you let me try and heal up your nose for you, Adam?" Mum asked.
Adam nodded. Mum opened one of the kitchen cupboards and pulled out a book. After a few seconds of searching through it, she snapped it closed. She waved her wand over Adam's nose and whispered a spell. The crookedness of Adam's nose corrected itself immediately.
Mum also moved her wand over Adam's bruise.
"I'm sorry I can't fix your bruise," she stated. "It's an older injury, isn't it?" Adam nodded in reply. "It should clear up in a week or so," said Mum.
"T-Tha," Adam said, yawning loudly. "Sorry. Thank you Mrs. Weasley,"
"I think you need some sleep, Adam," said Mum, chuckling. "You can use Bill's room tonight and I'll talk to Professor Dumbledore in the morning."
"I'll show you upstairs!" said Ginny excitedly.
Ginny sprang up and went to help Adam with his trunk. Her mum was going to let Adam stay with them and Ginny was incredibly pleased. She had missed Adam greatly the last few weeks. The two of them walked up the stairs to the first floor.
"This is my room," Ginny said, pointing at one of the two doors on the first floor. "This is Bill's room, he's in Egypt so it's empty."
"Thanks, Ginny," said Adam. "Umm, where's the loo?"
"Third floor, there's only one door there," Ginny said with a giggle.
Adam disappeared up the stairs. Ginny moved Adam's trunk into Bill's room and then went over to close the curtains for him.
"Nice room," Adam commented when he returned and looked around the room. He flopped down on the bed, suddenly looking exhausted. "Ginny... I... I hope you don't mind me being here," he said in a tired voice.
"Oh, Adam," Ginny replied. She sat down on the bed next to him. "I'm glad you're here."
"I... I just couldn't take it anymore," Adam said with an unreadable expression on his face.
"I know," Ginny replied. "But we'll have so much fun here! You can come flying with me!"
Adam smiled at this. "Thanks." Suddenly he seemed to perk up and his expression brightened. "We said we needed to practice if we want to try out for the team!"
"Ginny! Let Adam get some sleep," her mum said as she suddenly poked her head into the room, making both of them jump.
"Okay, Mum. Sleep well, Adam," Ginny said. She gave Adam a wave and left the room, closing the door on her way out.
Once outside Bill's room, Ginny heaved a sigh of relief. Adam was safe. Now all she had to was persuade her mum to let him stay for the rest of the summer.