"Good morning, you lot, downstairs for breakfast in twenty minutes!" she said, the Sonorus Charm amplifying her voice from where she stood at the bottom of the stairwell. "Bring all bags, pillows, and personal entertainment items you're planning to take to The Burrow with you. There will be NO going back upstairs for forgotten items. I repeat, breakfast in twenty minutes!"
The reaction was immediate.
A thump to her right… Albus hitting the floor on all fours.
Three quick steps across the hall from left to right, followed by a door banging shut… Lily streaking into the bathroom across the hall and beating her brothers.
"Lily! You'd better be done in five minutes!" That was James… and Lily always took seven minutes in the bathroom.
A new sound, the steady shifting of the old floorboards… Harry on his way to their en-suite.
Her family was up.
Her charm cancelled, Ginny turned back to the kitchen and the pile of gifts she had been steadily shoving through the Floo to The Burrow for the last ten minutes. She had two more large gifts she needed to send before the children came downstairs, so she quickly threw a pinch of Floo Powder into the flames and when they were ready, she shoved the first big box in, called out its destination, held it until she felt it being taken from her hands and then repeated the action just as Lily came downstairs, her book bag bumping along behind her.
"Where do I put this, Mummy?" she asked.
"By the fire—no, hold on, back door, please," Ginny told her, correcting the mistake she was likely to make two more times that morning. None of the family was used to the idea of travelling by car to The Burrow, but until Harry could Apparate in his chair… Ginny sighed and finished putting breakfast on the table.
Surprisingly, her family made it downstairs, through breakfast and out to the van without mishap or forgotten items.
"Harry, love, will you be sitting with me up front or do you want to lounge in the back?" Ginny asked as she opened the van doors.
Harry rolled onto the wheelchair lift. "I thought I'd start the journey next to you, dear," he smiled at her. "Maybe later I'll ride in the back."
"All right, then. The rest of you get in on the other side after your father is settled," Ginny directed. Her children grumbled and opened the door on the other side of the vehicle.
James entered first. "Mum, do you want me to tie down Dad's chair?" he asked.
"I'll get that, James. You make yourself comfy and be sure to share space with your brother and sister."
"I wish there were three seats," Albus complained as he began arranging his belongings on the same seat as James. "How come Lily gets a seat to herself?"
"She called it first. Maybe you'll get the single seat next time if you come downstairs first," Ginny said, trying to be diplomatic. She shut the van doors, climbed into the driving seat and started the engine.
As the estate gates closed behind them, Harry remarked, "This is a first. I don't think we've ever gone somewhere as a family and not forgotten something."
"If we did, it's easy to go home and get it or borrow from family," Ginny said. "Thank goodness we don't have to get permission to go back for something like the children do at Hogwarts."
Harry smiled. "I agree," he said and opened the map to help her navigate.
Their morning's journey was uneventful. They stopped for lunch, and after they'd eaten, James asked to sit up front with her. While he helped her install the front passenger seat, Harry eased himself onto the middle seat with Lily. The two immediately began conversing in whispers as, with James' help, Ginny eased the van down the slip road and back onto the motorway. When she looked back an hour later, Harry had stretched out on the seat with his head in Lily's lap. Their daughter was happily reading a book while absently running her fingers through her father's hair. Harry was asleep.
Molly pulled aside the sitting room curtains and peered out the window. "They should be here by now," she fretted to Arthur.
Arthur turned a page of the Prophet. "Mollywobbles, will you please sit down? The enchantments will tell us when the van arrives. Besides, Ginny told us to expect them between half-two and half-three. It's only just half-two."
Molly let the curtain fall back into place and sat down in her chair. As she picked up her knitting, she sighed, "I just worry so, Arthur. This is the first year we've ever had anyone come home by car. What if Ginny gets lost? There's so much snow this year, it's even kept Ron and Hermione and the children from getting here when Hermione thought they would."
"No, Molly, I think Hugo wanted to go flying with Ron before they came this morning," Arthur chuckled. "Some sort of a father/son tradition, remember?"
"Yes, now I remember. Where are the children? The house is entirely too quiet," Molly remarked as she began knitting.
"Let's see, at last count, Roxanne, Molly and Lucy were all up in Bill's old room getting first-hand news about Paris and Dominique's new job. There was a lot of giggling going on behind that closed door when I went up there a while ago. I think Fleur, Audrey and Hermione are in the kitchen, Percy and Ron are in my shed discussing who knows what, and Bill, Fred, Louis, Angelina and George all took Hugo out to the pitch to give him some family Quidditch coaching. I think he's hoping to move up from the reserve team next year, and his uncles, aunt and cousin were more than happy to help him warm up the brooms. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a full-blown three-a-side Quidditch match being played at the moment."
"And Teddy and Victoire?" Molly enquired with a raised eyebrow. "I haven't seen them in a while either."
"Ice skating on the pond, of all things," Arthur chuckled. "Or at least that's what Teddy said they were going to do… I doubt they'll be doing much skating since they haven't seen each other in six months."
Molly smiled and sighed contentedly. "Good. All present and accounted for except Ginny and her brood." She glanced at the family clock; the Potter family hands were all still on "Travelling" as they had been since half-eight that morning. She went back to her knitting as Arthur took up his paper again.
A sudden, claxon-like alarm sounded forty-five minutes later, causing Molly to jump and drop several stitches. "Oh, Arthur," she gushed excitedly, "they're HERE!"
At Molly's exclamation, Hermione smiled and cast a Patronus message in the direction of the Quidditch pitch. Then, she hurried to catch up to Fleur and Audrey who had just reached the front door. The three witches joined Molly and Arthur as a dark blue van pulled to a stop in the snow in front of the garage. A moment later, the sound of six zooming brooms filled the air as girlish laughter spilled through the opening door.
"Did you send a message to Teddy and Victoire?" Audrey asked as the far van door slid open and the silhouettes of the three Potter children jumped to the ground.
Hermione murmured, "I did. I expect they'll be along shortly."
Audrey sighed. "I wish I could send Patronus Messages, but I've never been able to produce a corporeal Patronus," she said in a whiney tone. Hermione scowled, wishing the other witch would shut it, as Audrey continued, "Oh look, Ginny's driving. I didn't know she could drive."
Hermione bit her tongue to keep from making the stinging retort that was on the tip of her tongue. As much as she liked Percy and adored her nieces, Molly and Lucy, Hermione had never warmed up to his arrogant wife.
The driver's door of the van opened and Ginny's booted foot reached for the ground. At the same time, the other sliding door opened to reveal a wire cage, which folded down with a motorized whir to reveal their first glimpse of Harry's shoes on the foot rest of his wheelchair. A moment later he rolled onto the lift, which descended slowly to the snow.
Beside her, Audrey gasped and murmured, "The poor man," causing Hermione to glare at her sister-in-law.
"If Ginny hears you she's going to be hopping mad," she hissed. "There's nothing poor or fragile about that man, so stop feeling sorry for him. In addition, think about how Harry feels every time someone says something like that! Would you like it?"
"I didn't mean…"
"Oh, yes, you did, so I suggest you stop feeling sorry for Harry," Hermione said defensively.
"I get the point." Audrey sounded annoyed, so Hermione turned back to the scene b