Ron sat in the living room with his mother, anxiously waiting for his father to return from the Order meeting. Ginny was upstairs sulking as usual, but, to be fair, Ron could understand where she was coming from. He knew Ginny was devastated that Adam had been accused of murder.
Ron knew with certainty that Adam hadn't killed Professor Dumbledore. He'd accused and generally been an awful person to Adam when he had started at Hogwarts due to, what had seemed to him at the time, compelling evidence. He had been wrong. Very wrong. Ron had been badly shaken when he found out about Adam's childhood. The world had never seemed to give him a break until he had come to Hogwarts and, once there, he had been cast out and ostracised, even by his fellow Gryffindors. The summer after that school year, Ron had come to his senses and had promised himself not to doubt his mate ever again. He wasn't going to break that promise now.
A soft pop from outside disturbed Ron and he dashed to the window and peered outside. Dad was outside in the garden, pacing up and down near the door.
"Leave him, dear," Mum said gently, coming up behind him. "He always paces when he's stressed, he just needs a few minutes."
Ron stood by the window and watched his dad for a couple of minutes.
"Is Dad back yet?" Ginny asked, suddenly appearing from the doorway.
"Yeah," Ron replied. "He's pacing outside."
Ginny mumbled something in reply, collapsed onto the sofa and proceeded to stare out of the window.
"Hello, Weasleys," Dad's voice sounded tiredly from the kitchen a few minutes later.
"Dad!" Ginny exclaimed, leaping up off the sofa and dashing into the kitchen. "What happened?"
Ron followed her and saw his dad sitting down at the kitchen table. He looked tired, very tired.
"The Order are convinced that Adam is guilty…" he said in a quiet voice.
"What?" Ron, Ginny, and his mother exclaimed simultaneously.
Dad simply held up his hand to forestall any objections.
"So when they couldn't, or wouldn't, be convinced…" he hesitated. "Minerva and I left the Order."
"Oh, Arthur," Mum exclaimed sympathetically.
"It was the right decision," Dad continued. "I just couldn't sit around the table with those people. Especially not Snape."
"Snape!?" Ron exclaimed.
"In the end, it comes down to Snape's word against Adam's, and the Order have accepted his version of events without question. Adam's been set up, but by who, I don't know."
"Thanks, Dad!" Ginny gushed, suddenly darting forward to hug him. "Thanks for believing in him."
"I did learn some other useful information before I left, though," Dad began. "Fudge, Madam Bones and Scrimgeour have all disappeared…"
"Oh, no!" Mum exclaimed.
"That's Voldemort's doing!" Ginny exclaimed suddenly. "Unless they're going to try to blame that on Adam, too."
Ron flinched, she had said his name.
"Ginny!" Mum shrieked. "When did you start saying his name?"
Ginny shuffled her feet and mumbled something about Harry Potter.
"I'm quite certain it is You-Know-Who's doing," Dad continued. "The Ministry, of course, won't admit what has happened to them."
"Does that mean we'll have a new Minister?" Ron asked.
"Yes, if and when the Wizengamot accept that Fudge is dead. Fudge has been on the rocks for some time, and with Dumbledore's death it was expected he would resign. Unfortunately, the two most likely replacements were the two people who disappeared with him."
"So who will be elected?" Mum asked.
"Well, assuming we even have a fair election what with the amount of influence You-Know-Who has over people at the Ministry…" Dad shrugged. "I couldn't even begin to guess as to…" He trailed off as the Floo activated and Bill and his girlfriend Fleur stepped through.
"Bill!" Mum exclaimed, hugging him, "And Fleur!" she said, slightly more distantly. Ron knew that mum wasn't too keen on Fleur.
"Hi," Bill responded, looking around the kitchen. "Hi, Dad," he added. "You caused quite a stir tonight."
Dad chuckled dryly. "Good, they need waking up."
"Dad, I really don't think you should have left," Bill added. "Are you certain that he is…"
"William," Dad said in a warning tone.
Ron tensed slightly, knowing that Ginny would be furious at what their brother had just said. Bill didn't know Adam that well, so it was understandable, wasn't it, that he maybe wasn't as convinced as the rest of them that he was innocent.
"Adam is innocent, Bill!" Ginny suddenly snapped in a loud voice.
"Ginny!" Bill exclaimed in surprise, as if he hadn't realised she was there. "The evidence is overwhelmingly against him," he continued weakly.
She stormed over to Bill and squared off against him, which looked quite comical considering Ginny only came up to Bill's chest height.
"I don't care what you think!" Ginny screeched, forcing him to take a step backwards. "I know he's innocent!"
She then spun around and thundered out of the kitchen, up the stairs, and Ron heard her door slamming.
"William," Dad said sharply, "you should have more trust in your sister's choice of friends."
"Arthur…" Mum added hesitantly.
Dad sighed. "You're right, Molly. We can't argue between ourselves. Bill, you need to trust my decision on this. When the Order accept that a sixteen-year-old boy couldn't kill the greatest wizard of our age, then I will return."
Bill seemed to relax and sat down at the table with Fleur on his lap.
"The Order isn't actually the reason I came tonight, I… er… we… have an announcement to make…" Bill began hesitantly. "We, that is, Fleur and I have decided to get engaged!"
There was silence for a split second before Mum leapt out of her seat exclaiming, "Oh! Oh! Congratulations!" as she charged forward and hugged Bill and Fleur.
Dad rose to his feet, beaming widely, and approached Bill, shaking his hand firmly. "Congratulations, son!" he exclaimed and then he hugged Fleur. "Welcome to the family, Fleur!"
"Thank you, Mr. Weasley," Fleur replied in accented English. "I do love your son very much."
"Nice one, Bill," Ron said, moving forward and shaking his brother's hand.
"Oh! Fleur, Bill," Mum was suddenly talking again, bombarding the couple with questions, "we must discuss the wedding! Have you thought of a date? Where were you planning on having it? Have you picked an official?"
Ron shuffled his feet awkwardly, not particularly wanting to hear about his brother's love life, or get involved in wedding planning.
"I'll…er… just go and check on Ginny," he said awkwardly, before slipping out of the room.
June 30th 1997
A week had passed since his father had left the Order and the atmosphere at The Burrow had been strained. Mum had become incredibly anxious and had refused to allow Ginny or Ron out of her sight, even to go the orchard to practice Quidditch. Dad had been at work for long hours each day and Ginny had been even more irritable than normal. The house felt decidedly empty without Adam.
"Morning, dear," Mum said brightly as he staggered blearily into the kitchen. "I'll get you some breakfast in a minute. The post and paper are already here."
Ron sat down and shuffled through the pile of post that had been placed on the table. There were several items for Dad, one for Mum and a large parcel wrapped in brown paper for Ginny. Who would be sending her things? Ron wondered. The next item in the pile was the Daily Prophet, Ron glanced at the headline.
Potter Spotted in Diagon Alley
Harry Potter was spotted just outside the Owl Post Office in Diagon Alley yesterday. This is the first time the "Boy-Who-Lived" has been seen since the funeral of Professor Albus Dumbledore. Very little is known about Potter since he returned from the dead last year. It was commonly believed that he had spent much of his childhood under the guardianship of Albus Dumbledore. This raises the question as to what this young man, who is not yet of age, has been doing since his guardian's death.
"Morning, Ron," Ginny said as she came into the kitchen, disturbing him from his reading.
"Morning," Ron said in response. "Harry's in the paper, and there's a parcel for you."
"Harry's in the paper?!" Ginny chirped excitedly. "Let me see!"
She dashed over, grabbed the paper, and stood there reading through the article.
"It doesn't tell you much," she said, tossing the paper down on the table, sounding disappointed.
"Oh, you saw the article in the paper, then?" Mum said from by the stove.
"Yeah," Ron replied with a shrug.
"Your father asked me to ask you," Mum began evasively, "have you had any contact with Harry Potter?"
"Err…" Ron began.
"No, Mum," Ginny snapped. "We have not seen Harry Potter."
"Alright, dear," Mum said looking slightly hurt. "I was only asking."
"Sorry, Mum," Ginny replied apologetically. "I'm just on edge."
"It's alright, dear," Mum said tentatively.
Ginny, meanwhile, had turned her attention to her parcel. Ron watched as she ripped it open and peered inside the torn paper. Then, suddenly, her expression broke out into a wide grin.
"What is it?" Ron asked.
"Oh…" Ginny paused, wrapping the parcel back up. "It's a present from Luna… been waiting for it for ages."
"Oh," Ron responded, as Ginny whipped the parcel off the table and scurried up the stairs with it. She returned to the table a few minutes later and took her place across from Ron. The two sat in silence for a few seconds as Mum bustled at the cooker.
"Right, you two," Mum announced, turning around with plates of eggs and sausages in her hands. "We have lots of jobs to do around the house today! So we'll get started right after breakfast."
Ron and Ginny both groaned. At least that is one thing we agree on, Ron thought with a silent chuckle.
July 7th 1997
By the second week of the holidays, things — in Ron's opinion — had improved. Ginny seemed to have brightened up in the last week and seemed to be more or less back to her old self. She still spent large amounts of time on her own, but she was now socialising with the rest of the family again. Mum had also stopped following the two of them wherever they went and they had at last been allowed to head out to the orchard to play a bit of Quidditch.
Not that it was much fun with just the two of them.
Currently, Ron was sitting in the living room, reading the Quidditch section of today's Daily Prophet. He was actually quite hopeful for the upcoming season; with the transfers they had made, he thought the Cannons actually had a chance this year.
"Hello, Weasleys!" Ron heard Dad's voice coming from the kitchen.
Ron got out of his chair and wandered into the kitchen.
"Hi, Dad," Ron said as he pushed open the door. "You're home early."
"Yep, they sent us all home early," Dad replied. "Can you go fetch Ginny, Ron? I have some news."
"Sure," Ron replied eagerly, his dad seemed fairly positive about the news. Maybe, at last, they would be able to get Adam cleared.
Ron left the kitchen and sprang up the stairs to Ginny's room. He pushed open the door. She wasn't there. Puzzled, Ron walked around the room. She should be in her room, so where was she?
Looking out the window, Ron's attention was attracted to his dad's shed and he saw that the door was wide open.
Ginny must be in Dad's shed! Ron realised with a start. What's she doing in there?
Ron descended the stairs quietly and slipped outside to the shed. If his parents caught Ginny out there, she would get into trouble.
Once he reached they shed, he stepped inside.
"Ginny…" he said faintly.
"I know you're in here, Ginny," Ron said, louder this time.
"Ron!" Ginny exclaimed, appearing behind him, as if from nowhere.
"Really?" Ron said. "You're just sneaking around out here for no reason?"
"Yes, Ron!" Ginny snapped defensively. "I'm sneaking around out here for no reason."
"Okay," Ron said, flapping his arms in frustration. "Nevermind."
"So…" Ginny replied, putting her hands on her hips and now smirking slightly, "what brings you out here?"
"Oh, Dad wants to talk to all of us," Ron answered.
"Okay," Ginny replied with a smile. "Let's head inside."
They left the shed and began walking back to the house.
"Ginny, what will you do if Adam's not back before school starts again?" Ron blurted suddenly, as they walked up to the kitchen door.
Ginny froze and turned to face him with a strange expression on her face.
"Ron…" Ginny said in a strained voice. She paused, coughed, and then continued. "W-W-When… when I go back to school, Adam will be back. I'm sure of it."
"Ginny…" Ron said faintly, "how can you…"
Ginny interrupted. "Let's just go inside, Ron."
The two of them stepped inside The Burrow and were immediately greeted by their mother.
"What were you doing outside?" she questioned. "I didn't know you'd left the house!"
"Sorry, Mum," Ginny replied. "It was my fault. I was just walking outside and Ron came to find me."
"I would have thought you'd have known better than to just wander off, young lady."
Ron was sure that Ginny mumbled something rude under her breath. He hoped Mum hadn't heard.
"Well, come along. Your father is in the living room," Mum continued, and Ron was thankful she didn't seem to have heard Ginny's expletive.
They trooped together into the living room, where Dad was currently sitting and reading the paper.
"Hi, Dad," Ginny said, collapsing on the sofa next to him and giving him a hug.
"Hi, sweetheart," Dad responded.
Ron sat down on the other side of their dad and Mum hovered in the doorway, looking anxious.
"Well," Dad said, smiling, "I have some good news. They announced that the Wizengamot are finally going to hold elections for a new Minister."
"How is that good news?" Ginny asked.
"Well," Dad continued thoughtfully, "the two candidates are Pius Thicknesse, from the Aurors, and George Chambers, Head of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. George is a good bloke, and if he gets elected, I should be able to get him to do a decent investigation and get Adam cleared."
Ginny gave a squeak of delight, but she soon asked with trepidation, "Will he get in, though?"
"I've been asking around," Dad continued, nodding enthusiastically, "and it's looking good."
"Oh, how wonderful, Arthur!" Molly exclaimed.
Ron grinned too, but he was surprised to see that Ginny still looked worried.
July 10th 1997
An ear-splitting wail coming from downstairs woke Ron from his sleep.
What the hell was that?
He shot out of bed and dashed down the staircase, nearly running into his mum and dad as he passed their bedroom on the way down from the attic. On the first floor, Ginny's door was still closed. Could she really be sleeping through this?
"It's the perimeter alarms!" Dad exclaimed, once they reached the kitchen. "Someone who isn't part of the family has just entered the property."
Dad waved his wand and the wailing ceased.
"Are we being attacked?" Ron asked.
"I…" Dad hesitated. "I don't think so. I can see four… or maybe five… people just walking down the path to the house."
"Visitors at this hour?" Mum exclaimed.
Dad could only shrug in response as he looked out of the window. "Ron, go and…" he began, but then he seemed to visibly relax. "Nevermind," he said heaving a sigh of relief. "They're Aurors. I wonder why they are calling at this hour."
Ron and his parents waited anxiously in the kitchen for the visitors to arrive; once they reached the house, the leader stepped forward and knocked officiously on the door.
"Good evening, Mr. Weasley," the man, who had a very hard face, said. "May we come in?"
"I'm sorry," Dad replied. "I don't recognise you."
"Ah," the man said in response, holding out something to Dad. "I am the new Department Head for Magical Law Enforcement. Appointed this very evening by Minister Thicknesse. Name is Yaxley."
Ron realised with disappointment that the new Minister wasn't the man who Dad had said would try to get Adam cleared. The other guy had been elected!
"Oh," Dad replied sounding slightly flustered but still not letting them into the house. "What can I do for you then, Mr. Yaxley?"
Yaxley smiled cruelly, firmly pushed Dad aside, and then stepped into the kitchen. Three of the other men followed him.
"I am here to enact a warrant for the arrest of Ginevra Molly Weasley."
Dad roared, "What!?"
Ron, meanwhile, moved his hand and clasped his wand that was in his pyjama pocket.
Dad, who had seemed to collect himself slightly, demanded in a shaky voice, "On what charges?"
"Why," Yaxley smiled again, "I have the warrant right here."
He withdrew a piece of parchment and passed it to Dad.
"You're arresting her for Treason?" he exclaimed. "This is nonsense!"
"Signed by the Minister himself," Yaxley said smugly, snatching the parchment back. "You know what the sentence for Treason is, don't you, Arthur?"
"For Merlin's sake, man!" Dad shouted, terror now evident in his voice. "She is a fifteen-year-old girl! What can she possibly have done?"
"That is not important," Yaxley replied calmly. "She is to be arrested and taken to Azkaban to await trial."
"No!" Mum cried. "You can't! Not my baby girl!"
"We, can. And we will," Yaxley said, smiling that cruel smile again.
"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Dad shouted, reaching for his wand.
Ron, too, seeing his father reaching for his wand, drew his.
As the three Weasleys reached for their wands, the Aurors moved.
A split second later, Ron realised that he was the only one of the three who had actually been able to draw his wand.
Ron glanced around the room in horror. Yaxley had his wand pointed at Dad's throat, and Mum was standing with her hands by her sides, one of the Auror's wands pointing at her forehead. The remaining two Aurors had their wands pointed at Ron.
"Drop your wand, little boy," one of them mocked gruffly.
"Do it, Ron," Dad said, despair evident in their tone. "I… I… I don't think there is anything we can do for Ginny tonight."
Ron let his wand fall from his hand and it clattered to the floor.
"Show us where she is," Yaxley demanded. "We checked on our way in: there are four people in the house, so we know she's in."
"Her room is on the first floor," Dad said with a defeated sigh.
Yaxley walked ahead of the three Weasleys as they were marched up the stairs at wand-point. As they walked, Ron could hear his mum snuffling, trying to hold back tears. Ron himself felt despair welling up inside him. What had his little sister done!
Reaching the first floor, where Ginny and Adam's rooms where, Yaxley paused. Ron winced when he saw the man looking at the scrawled sign on her door: Ginny's RoomAbsolutely no boys allowed. (Except Adam).
"Ah, here we are," Yaxley said smugly.
He pushed open the door.
All of the Weasleys present heaved a sigh of relief. The room was empty and the window was open. Ginny had run.
Yaxley stomped into the room, and waved his wand around the room, presumably searching for Ginny. He went into Ginny's wardrobe and checked under the bed. Apparently now convinced she wasn't there, Yaxley charged back out of the room towards his father.
"Where is she?" Yaxley snarled at Dad. "Did you warn her?"
"How could we?" Dad replied in a measured tone. "We have been with you since you arrived."
"Men, come with me!" Yaxley snapped to the Aurors. They stomped back down the stairs and suddenly the Weasleys were alone.
"Oh, thank goodness!" Mum cried, throwing herself at Dad.
"It's alright!" Dad whispered. "She got away… she got away. She must have heard us talking downstairs."
"She'll be okay, right?" Ron asked hesitantly.
"I don't know, son," Dad said. "I just don't know." He paused. "Molly, go and sit down. Ron, come with me. We need to make sure these people actually leave our property."
Ron followed his dad downstairs and into the kitchen. The kitchen door was wide open, but there was no sign of the men anywhere.
"Have they gone?" Ron asked.
Dad moved over to the door, as if to shut it, but as soon as he approached it, Yaxley stomped back inside and pushed Dad violently against the table.
"Well," he sneered, "looks like your daughter is smarter than we gave her credit for." He pressed his wand into Dad's chest. "Know this, Weasley," he spat, "the only reason your entire family isn't in Azkaban is that we can't pin anything on the rest of you yet, but we'll be watching."
With that, Yaxley turned, spat on the floor, and left the house.
Ron and his dad stood there in shocked silence for several minutes.
"Arthur?" Mum's voice from the doorway finally started them out of their shocked state. "Are they gone?"
"Yes," Dad replied tiredly. "They're gone."
"Dad," Ron asked in shaky voice, "were they real Aurors?"
Dad snorted. "No. Well, they didn't behave like any Aurors I've ever met."
"But the warrant?" Ron asked.
"That was real," Dad replied. "Signed by the Minister and bearing an official Ministry seal."
"What does that mean, Arthur?" Mum questioned.
"I don't know," he sighed. "I think I need to call Moody. He needs to know that the new Minister has been compromised."
At this, Mum gasped.
"Why are they after Ginny?" Ron questioned, angrily. "What has she done?"
"I don't know, son," Dad replied tiredly. "I just don't know."
"We have to find her!" Mum cried.
"No," Dad replied firmly.
"Why not?" Mum screeched.
"We can't, Molly, at least not openly. You heard what he said, they're looking for any excuse to throw the lot of us in jail." He sighed. "We can't do anything for her if we're locked up. At least they seem to be keeping some pretence of obeying the law."
"But what about Ginny?" Mum asked, still sounding distressed.
"If she has any sense, she'll keep running until she's well away from here," Dad said grimly. "We would never be able to find her if she didn't want to be found. Publicly we can't support her, but—"
"—we do everything we can in secret," Ron finished.