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Taking Care of Muriel by TheGoldenKneazle
Chapter 3 : Attempts Seven and Eight
 
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Attempts Seven and Eight

Fred and George’s second visit was almost as much of an accident as the first, but much more effective in strategy. If they’d stopped to plan out the best time for ambushing their Great-Aunt, they wouldn’t have been able to pick better circumstances, and her disposition – well, she never was the most tolerant relative of theirs.

It came about somewhere around October-November time. The Ministry had been broken into by Ron, Harry and Hermione, and the rewards for their brother had increased tenfold in the last month. Now, they had both been forced to retreat to the Vulture’s Nest at Molly’s frantic insistence. Of course, when she’d hurried into their shop wringing her hands with an ashen expression etched into her face and pleading for the whole family to retreat to Muriel’s, the image of all nine of them crammed into Muriel’s crumbling Nest was what they had expected.

But Bill was at Shell Cottage with Fleur, setting up his own safe house, Charlie was in Romania, Percy was dead to them, Ron was on the run fighting properly, and Ginny was stuck at school with Umbridge and, if her cryptic messages were decoded correctly, leading the Hogwarts resistance rather well.

They’d not had the heart to deny her when she was so frantic, and had pulled an all-nighter to send out notices that business was open as usual and pack up all their stock. The Old Vulture had so much rubbish (albeit valuable rubbish) that she’d not notice if they took over one or several or most of her rooms, right?

By lunch time the next day they were trooping into the Nest levitating a huge mound of cardboard boxes bound together loosely, having tried (and failed) many times to perform an Extension Charm properly. Muriel wasn’t immediately on their case, so they whisked upstairs sharpish before she could loom from out of a shadow somewhere, quickly able to identify which room they’d been assigned as Molly had already cleared most of the junk from it but not filled it to the brim with meaningful items (such as that darnded clock reading “mortal peril” when they were doing nothing much).

After establishing the boxes into rough piles of ‘jokey’, ‘serious’ and ‘girly or rubbish’, it was a question of greeting the few inhabitants of the house. Having trooped downstairs and managed to avoid knocking anything over, it didn’t take long to locate their mum and great-aunt: a flaming row was emitting from a room that could rather loosely be described as the ‘kitchen’.

“Bitsy keeps this room perfectly well, thank you very much!”

“It’s simply not hygienic!” Mrs Weasley loudly declared, not even noticing the twins entering and beginning to rate the shade of red she was turning.

“It has suited me for many years now! Do I look diseased?” Muriel screeched back, waving her dangerous walking stick in Molly’s direction from head chair. This rather unfortunate question would have elicited a pregnant pause at the best of times, but seeing Molly opening her mouth for what would inevitably be a regrettable answer, Fred quickly stepped forwards to the middle of the room.

“Nice to see you’re settling in well, Mum!”

“Yeah, getting to work on improvements already,” George put in.

“To be honest, I dunno how long we could’ve stood the mould in this room without contracting Dragon Pox.”

“Not that it’d matter much any more – we’re already confined quite nicely.”

“Self-enforced quarantine.”

“Oh I dunno Fred, it’s more like You-Know-Who-enforced quarantine.”

“Both of you, shush!” Molly cut across, rubbing her temples already. “Muriel’s been very gracious in letting us share her home to keep us safe from You-Know-Who! Not all of our family has the same privilege!” The twins tried to minimise their incredulous expressions at this sudden change of viewpoint, but the reference to Ron kept them silent.

Well, mostly. “Nice to see this house-elf is a working one,” Fred scoffed. He was sent away five seconds later with stinging ears.

“Cor, not even five minutes settled in, and we’re already being bossed around…” Fred complained (quietly), and George sniggered.

You’re already being bossed around, more like.”

“Shut it. The Vulture’s gonna have to put up with us, isn’t she?”

“Oh yes. Owl Order and all.”

It took approximately three days before the Owl Order Service sufficiently caught Muriel’s notice. Having spent nearly all of those three days criticizing Arthur and Molly as they moved their most precious possessions from the Burrow, cleaned out several rooms, and attempted to clean the worst corners of the Nest, it was very lucky for the twins that their parents were doing so much wrong. Otherwise she’d have noticed quite a lot sooner, before they had it all set up and protected nicely with seventeen different defences against nosy great-aunts or their house-elves.

As it was, she had been sat on the faded velvet-cocooned settee after a particularly rowdy protest with Arthur about his removing potentially fatal curse-planters due to the elegant-looking jewels they were disguised with. The curtains were drawn back today, and while muttering to herself about how “nobody… dared… back in my day…” she stared mostly unseeingly out of the window.

However, when a large shadow blocked out the room’s weak sunlight before slowly lightening again, Muriel took it upon herself to call for Bitsy’s assistance and hobble outside to observe this phenomenon (with the aid of her reinforced glasses, of course). It was all too quickly apparent, standing below the towering cliff top structure of her own Nest, that this strange shadow was in fact two screech owls supporting a coffin-sized crate between them.

Had she approved such large packages to be owled back and forth? Did she know what was within that package? Was she content with such an arrangement?

No, no and no.

Twisting around to survey her Nest, it was not difficult to catch a glimpse of the wretched window from which the terrible package had emerged: a triple-size enlarged window stretching across most of the second floor, now slowly shrinking. And through that glinting, warping glass, it was plain to see the two twins joking around (if she had needed more confirmation that this occurrence was their doing, that was it).

Within moments, Bitsy had been called to support Muriel in her wobbly ascent of the stairs. Several quiet bangs could be heard emitting from their room as she listened, hawk-like, for further incriminating evidence. By the time she whacked the twins’ door in with her stick, Muriel was practically shaking with a mixture of euphoria and anger.

“I don’t suppose,” she creaked quietly, her head shoved forwards stiffly, “you could explain to me exactly what trickery is being performed in here?”

There was an imposing, pregnant silence where both Fred and George communicated largely through fearful and confused glanced. Eventually, George spoke up. “Well you see, Auntie, that we’re running an Owl Order Service here.”

“It’s for our business, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes,” Fred cut in smoothly.

“We can’t let the customers down, see.”

Muriel held up an imperious, wrinkly finger for silence and closed her eyes for a dramatic moment. “Are you telling me… that you are running a shop from my own back room?”

The twins looked at each other and grinned widely before turning to her and nodding emphatically. “That we are, Auntie.”

Her eyes flew open to fix them with a steely glare. “Well then. It must be stopped immediately. I’ve lived through three wars, five children, sixteen Ministers and two marriages, and never have I ever seen such an… an ABOMINATION!”

The twins did not look too impressed with her screech. “Well, now you have,” Fred offered jovially. “Good thing we’re here to open your eyes, eh?”

“Actually, would you mind pointing us towards the darkest room of the house? We need to test the – ”

“You will not be running such a horrific business on my property,” Muriel commanded loudly over George.

Bravely – or stupidly, depending on how you look at it – Fred snorted. “We’ll do what we want, don’t worry. But we’ll give you a discount on the Patented Daydream Charms since you’re obviously a bit bored stuck in here.”

“This is my house!”

“And we will be making full use of it.”

“If you don’t like us, perhaps just move out into that care home?”

“They’ve got Hogwarts-level protection around it, apparently.”

“I will not be turfed out of my own home!” Muriel snapped. “It is you who must abide by my rules!”

Of course, her plan didn’t quite leave room for the contrary nature of the twins when they were expressly told to not do something, or their determination to carry on running their business despite being isolated from their customers. By Christmas, business was booming, if a little depleted – just as the terrible climate last year had driven people towards the comic relief, the even worse situation had most witches and wizards desperate for something to relieve tension.

Nearing Christmas, Ginny was picked up by her parents amongst a harried throng of anxious parents desperate to return home. When the Weasleys themselves were being broadcast as having several dangerous relations, it was important that they got in and out as soon as possible. However, despite setting a family record for Arthur’s time taken to collect Ginny and bring her home to Muriel’s, the stretch of time where they were gone was still long enough for another verbal battle to be instigated.

They walked through the front door to the sound of Muriel’s screeching, Bitsy throwing pots and pans at the twins, and indignant shouts from Molly for everyone to ‘just CALM DOWN!’. Ginny immediately grinned widely, her grey demeanour banished at the thought of witnessing these showdowns that her father had briefly described to her.

“It is so disrespectful!” Muriel was shrieking, each syllable punctuated by a delayed crash courtesy of Bitsy. “I cannot BELIEVE that you would – would ignore the wishes of your HOSTESS! Back in my day – ”

“There were no care homes to take care of old bags like you!” one of twins yelled, before yelping with extra vigour.

“You seriously need to get socialised, Auntie.”

“This public display of angst is simply not amusing any more!”

“Actually, I dunno… this is pretty funny.”

“Not when she’s destroying half our stock.”

“WILL YOU TWO PLEASE SHUT UP?!”

“Keep your hair on, Mum.”

Mr Weasley decided that this was probably the prime moment to step in and prevent any house-destroying explosions. “Hello, everyone! We’re back!”

There were some muffled words from above, then Fred and George appeared at the top of the rickety staircase Ginny was below. “Hiya, Ginny.”

“Our favourite sister.”

“Least favourite brothers,” she smirked at them, before giving them both a huge hug. “Ahh, no, I have missed you really. Hogwarts is even more dismal than last year without you there.”

“Ginny dear!” Molly appeared at the top of the stairs and rushed down to sweep her daughter into her embrace, stepping back only when Ginny pulled out of her arms with a wince. “Wait, what’s wrong? Have you hurt yourself?”

A wry grin crossed her face at that. “Oh no, it wasn’t anything I did.” She folded her arms and tried to smile, the remnants of a bruise across her temple thrown into sharp relief for all her family to see suddenly. It was obvious that she wasn’t going to explain the wincing, so Molly turned away as if to head back upstairs, before doubling back quick as a flash and yanking up Ginny’s jumper and shirt to see her ribs.

There was a collective gasp from Ginny’s partial family gathered around, but she couldn’t push it back down quick enough. The raised scar lines of dark magic used across her swollen skin were painfully obvious, especially when compared to the rest of her milky-pale skin, and burned themselves into everyone’s memories too easily. There were several seconds of silence when Ginny glared at each family member in turn, attempting to turn on her heel and stomp out of the ruined cheery atmosphere into the velvet-covered living room instead, but Arthur caught at her arm. He felt her tense beneath his hand, and wished there weren’t more injuries on his little girl.

“Ginny, you’ve got to explain this to us,” he told her gently. “How bad’s it become up at the school? We don’t want to send you back to people like – well, who’d do this to you!”

“It’s difficult times, Dad,” she muttered, “and we’re leading a resistance among the students. The school is led by Death Eaters who’d already have had it in for us, and they’re not best pleased that a few pupils keep standing up in class and defying their stupid, stupid words about mudbloods and inferiority and punishments. These bruises are pretty minor – just surface pain, okay?”

The inferred meaning of her last sentence had Fred and George staring at her aghast. There were students being tortured using the Cruciatus curse at Hogwarts – teenagers who just wanted to learn – and they were here arguing with the Vulture because she couldn’t stand their Owl Orders coming in and out?

The rest of the Christmas holidays passed mostly without incident. Ginny spoke off-handedly about the state of school, but mostly just joked around with Fred and George, helping them out with pranks against Muriel until she was too incensed to speak. They all deemed it the closest she’d come to actually leaving, but given that she didn’t pack her bags, they still hadn’t won.

It wasn’t until the morning Ginny was being returned to school that the number of Vulture’s Nest residents decreased beyond Ginny herself. Whilst not entirely unexpected, nobody thought that the twins would actually carry through the threats that they oh-so-cheerfully blackmailed Muriel with (to no avail). Explosive arguments were hardly a circumstance they were unused to!

Admittedly, the one this morning was a truly huge one. Everybody, including Bitsy, was antsy after the news on Potterwatch last night that Bathilda Bagshot and the Potters’ house had been partially blown apart, Bathilda herself being shed like a skin and awful marks of blood, flames and glass spread through the street. Everyone dreaded to find out more details, though since the Ministry had not formally announced this as Harry, Ron and Hermione’s doing or their deaths, none were forthcoming.

Perhaps it was this which drove the twins to declaring the morning Ginny was leaving that they were going to leave on a minor quest of search and rescue. “We just want to help more,” George explained carefully to Molly, trying to ignore the furiously tight-lipped look she was wearing.

“Lee’s sent us a message, Mum, and we can’t just leave them.”

“Hey, who’s going to take care of your stock?” Ginny put in, and they shrugged.

“We’ll sort most of it out, pop in and out from time to time.”

“Boys, you know that you could give us all away if you’re caught and imperiused,” Mr Weasley said.

“We know, Dad, but we want to help out with Potterwatch.”

That was roughly the time when Muriel limped into the room with Bitsy trailing behind, searching for the source of the racket, and multiplying it tenfold within two minutes. Molly refused to let them out, Muriel declared she wanted them gone, the twins wanted Muriel out and to go, Arthur didn’t know whose side to take so repeated that Ginny needed to leave as soon as possible.

However, Ginny being of the opinion that her brothers should get to fight if they wanted to, dragged her case to the top of the stairs and ‘accidentally’ knocked it down so that all her belongings spilled everywhere – the catch on her trunk was rather faulty – and all the family came running to find out what had happened and how they could help. After waving everything away, the knot of inhabitant Weasleys were situated close to the back door, and Fred and George decided to take their leave.

“Alright then, thank you for having us and keeping us in good health so long, Auntie,” Fred declared, winking at Ginny.

“Yeah, we’re going to miss your consistently good food, Mum,” George added.

“But don’t worry about us...”

“We’ll be just fine.”

“We’ll check back occasionally.”

“Oh, but we’re leaving all our stock in our room, please don’t clear it out.”

“We’d quite like to reclaim it when we get back.”

“Oh, and don’t worry Mum, we have no intentions of embarking on any suicide missions.”

“Yeah, just don’t wait up for us.”

“Cheerio!”

With that merry announcement hanging in the air, the twins stepped smartly out the back door and ran to the back of the garden, looking back only to simultaneously wave before leaping over the fence (and so the Fidelius Charm’s boundary) and disappearing with the CRACK of Apparition.

Beside Ginny, Mrs Weasley buried her face in her hands and began to mumble unintelligibly, whilst her daughter laughed out loud at her brothers. Muriel muttered something about ‘should’ve gone while we could’ under her breath, proving the twins right in their assumption that they nearly drove her out of her own Nest, although they never knew it.

They didn’t come back, not properly; sometimes Molly would walk into their still-full room and find the beds she made yesterday all rumpled and slept-in, or later, Ginny would be mooching around the top floor and hear strange crashes and bangs from the attic. Their room stayed stocked full of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes products, though, and while Ginny tried to stay on top of the orders, she had only been taught the recipe for a few of their products and began to run out of stock rather quickly.

Of course, it wasn’t too long before the orders didn’t matter any more. The twins never again joined arms in an attempt to remove Muriel to the care home, and she couldn’t tell them to get out any more. They were fighting at Hogwarts all too soon, losing the battle, then turning the tables and winning – for a price.

After the war was over, there was a period of painful silence as every witch and wizard buried their dead and scraped together their homes again as best they could. For the Weasleys, some of whom had inhabited the Vulture's Nest for the best part of a year, this time left them to wander in and out of Great-Aunt Muriel's house with various belongings - a mop here, a jumper there, piles and piles of wool and Wheezes' products.

Unfortunately, this process was not as easy as could have been, since Muriel strongly objected to everyone traipsing in and out whilst they "did away with her possessions". No matter how often Molly protested that nothing they carried away belonged to Muriel, the crone insisted on hobbling around, picking through their belongings when she was awake and mobile.

Normally, of course, George would be snorting and laughing while he sent sneaky Stunners and Confundus charms at Muriel, but then if this was normally, Fred would have been joining in with at least as much enthusiasm.

Instead, they had to struggle along, trying to avoid her as much as possible and wishing the Vulture was locked away somewhere else (be it Azkaban or Ogden's). It wasn't long before grief-stricken Molly pulled Ron aside and asked him to please do his duty as a son and eject her aunt from here as soon as possible. She hadn't needed to explain why, but Ron was left with the tricky problem of succeeding where his brothers had all failed before him - surely everything had been tried before? He didn’t have his parents’ authority, Bill’s ‘favourite’ status, Charlie’s strength, Percy’s verbosity, Fred and George’s humour and ability to turn the normal into the ridiculous. With these attributes, they’d still all failed.

It took him a few days to work out what he had that none of his family did. Aside from completing a quest and saving the wizarding world with his best friends, he had said best friends. Or rather, he had Hermione. If he and Harry pretty much failed at sorting stuff out when Hermione wasn’t around, how could he hope to get rid of his Great-Aunt at this time when it was most important, without Hermione’s help?

It was with this conclusion in mind that he went to Hermione and asked her for her help in getting rid of his Great-Aunt. “It’s just that she’s over-working her house-elf and they both need to retire,” was the sentence he used where she properly began to concoct a plan.

“That poor elf! And Percy said that this care home had a special elves’ wing?”

“Yeah, I think so. It only seems fair, doesn’t it?”

“Definitely. Well, we need to plan this properly, but are you still planning on coming with me to Australia? I’d like to leave next week if I can, but the Ministry’s still not got back to me about the International Magical Passes…”

Ron, who’d actually forgotten that this trip to search for Hermione’s parents was happening but was determined not to leave her side, quickly assured her he was coming.

Hermione beamed at his response. “Oh, brilliant. Now, this house-elf…”

Maybe Hermione’s plan would have gone without a hitch if their search in Australia hadn’t taken two months, one week and five days. They certainly hadn’t expected their trip to take that long – although Hermione had planned for such an emergency anyhow – but when neither the magical nor muggle records showed Wendel and Monica Wilkins living in their country, it was difficult to not panic that Death Eaters had found Hermione’s parents despite all her precautions.

They’d checked all the New Zealand records, then attempted to check with the other countries – only to have their access blocked by the regulations which Asian Ministries implemented. They eventually had to obtain a short-stay IMP to visit Hermione’s parent’s old house in England in an attempt to find some hair or... well, anything that could be used for a Tracking spell.

There was nothing. The new owners had cleaned out their year-old house rather thoroughly, and so the pair were forced on to The Burrow, in case there were any clues there. But no; the scant few possessions that had escaped the purple bag’s clutch bore no traces of Hermione’s parents.

Forced back to Australia by their short-stay passes, Hermione was beginning to break down when Ron had the bright idea of searching whatever dentist organisations existed in Australia with a photo of her parents. They put an advert into the group’s magazine after Confunding the editor, and proceeded to go through as many dental practices in Sydney as they could with Hermione’s parents’ photo.

It took them thirty-six days of this before the moment they’d been desperate for. After walking into yet another room somewhere in the freezing south – apparently spring was only just arriving in the southern hemisphere – a pretty blonde intern enthusiastically confirmed that they worked here, but that they weren’t called Wendel and Monika Wilkins any more.

“They’re Jeanette and Paul Range from England,” she told them with a grin. “You me to let you through to them?”

After that, time sped up and was moved off the repeats they’d been going through. Hermione removed the year-old memory charm from her parents – which had been starting to wear a little already – without any explanations, and Ron wasn’t left out of the reunion scene either. They celebrated the return of the Granger family, and though Hermione’s parents had to write some hasty resignation notices and goodbye letters to their friends, they didn’t mind the escape back to little England.

However, when the Grangers were happily settled back in and deciding which medium-sized dreams to pursue in time now they were so capable of radical feats like upping to Australia, Hermione decided it was time to implement her plan which concerned Bitsy.

The only problem was that there was a slight hitch in her plan.

Arriving on Muriel’s doorstep almost three months after they’d left, autumn was arriving in Britain and Ron and Hermione got to experience the chilly winds it brought when left waiting outside Muriel’s door for over ten minutes, at which point, Ron suggested they barge right in.

Shuffling inside and stamping their feet in an attempt to bring a little warmth back, they peered cautiously into the living room, only to find it deserted and even messier than usual. A queer, sickly-sweet smell hung over the sofas and after doing a quick sweep to make sure Muriel wasn’t half-dead behind a cabinet somewhere, they left for the kitchen.

Ron and Hermione had more luck in finding life there, but it wasn’t the stricken Bitsy who was poking obnoxiously and uselessly at the stove – it was Muriel.

“Auntie? Are you okay?” Ron asked loudly, coming up slowly behind her. She only jerked her shoulders in response, shuffling around in a circle to face them when Ron put a hand on her shoulder.

“I need – to eat,” she mumbled, glaring at them. “It won’t take me long! Now go away!”

Ron and Hermione shared a look, and Hermione stepped in to take over this strange conversation with the best child- and Great-Aunt-friendly voice she could muster. “Why are you doing the cooking, Muriel? Has Bitsy gone?”

She moved about a little bit, bobbling her head around. “Gone, yes, left me now. You’ll never get me into that Ogden’s though, Ronald Bilius Weasley. Muriel Prewett retains her dignity in all cases!” She attempted to sweep her pink shawl around herself, but ended up hitting Hermione instead.

Ron leaned forward and whispered to Hermione, “how can you carry out that plan without Bitsy?”

“I don’t know yet,” Hermione whispered back regretfully, “as the plan was about freeing her in the first place.”

“Oh, conferring about the best way to move me now? Better keep trying, dear, you’ll never manage it but it could prove a nice way to pass your time.”

They both glared at Muriel for a few moments.

“Right, well, how are you eating?” Hermione asked Ron’s Great-Aunt, this time with a little more forced cheerfulness. “You can’t be doing the cooking yourself.”

“Oh no, of course not, but old Batty Bagshot’s elf has been hanging around here for a while since she passed away, as I think it was a relation of my Bitsy’s. So she’s been taking it all over, but she doesn’t do me any pudding because she says I’ll get fat, silly Mitsy.”

“And where does Mitsy stay?”

“She goes home when she likes, filthy thief, as she wants payment! Imagine that! And she keeps on running away with my precious ornaments when I don’t give her gold. Took a candle-stick one month, you know.”

Ron was trying hard not to laugh as he watched Hermione’s reaction to this news. Having discovered that his Great-Aunt’s new elf was already a radical, she was attempting to distance herself from the news and make a new plan, but was having trouble with it.

“Well, wouldn’t you rather you could have nice puddings whenever you liked, then?” he tried, receiving a poisonous glare for it.

“I’d rather sit in the comfort of my own home, that’s what I’d like, Ronald.”

“Right, right.”

“But if either of you – especially you, girlie, your last name isn’t Weasley! – come back again with the purpose of moving me into that terrible prison I will curse you both using my favourite dark magic I’ve not been able to practice for some years.”

“But we’re just trying to reason with you!” Hermione argued, annoyed that the battle could be lost before it was even begun. Ron caught hold of her wrist and pulled her away sharpish as Muriel scrabbled down her sleeve for her wand, an evil glare fixing on the pair of them that seemed to follow them through the narrow, dark corridors until they Apparated from the front garden.

Neither were happy with the result, but Hermione was determined to return still. “It’s just unfair on that poor elf. I bet Muriel’s trying to make her punish herself when she takes her fair payment.”

“Muriel’s an idiot, but she’ll still carry through her threats. Memory of an elephant for grudges, she has,” Ron grumbled. “I dunno, I don’t think it’ll be safe, and can’t Ginny just take care of it? We’re basically all moved out of the Vulture’s Nest now, so she won’t be much of a problem anymore.”

“There is quite a lot of Hogwarts rebuilding to be done…” Hermione bit her lip. “We’ll go back once Hogwarts is in better condition, okay?” Her plan of bribing or paying off Bitsy had failed now that Mitsy was already so independent, but she could still come up with another idea in however long it took for the rebuilding, dammit!

The only problem arose when Hogwarts remained in almost-as-terrible condition ten months later, and Ginny approached Ron about how she could really do with her inheritance.

“I know that you require time for Muriel, but I’d quite like to get her away from the Nest as soon as possible. I need a start-up fund to rent a flat in Wales.”

“Wales? Won’t they trade in… I dunno… sheep or something? Why Wales?”

“Because that’s where Holyhead is, numpty, and I need to be near my team.”

“Right, well, you can take care of her then. Hermione and I said we were going to try again but we’ve been threatened with dark magic so I’m not that eager to go back soon, and if you’re so desperate, you can have your turn before we set Dad on the case again.”

And just like that, the responsibility was Ginny’s to eject the Vulture once and for all.

Her initial reactions of flummoxation, despair, and frustration each passed quickly in the light of her resolve to solve this problem once and for all. Everyone before her had failed, and expected that the youngest, least experienced member of their family wouldn’t manage it when they couldn’t. After all, what did Ginny have that other Weasleys didn’t? There was determination, but most of them possessed that too. Loyalty was of no use, bravery was required to face her in the first place, but clever thinking was what she needed, aside from a bracing, no-nonsense attitude to carry through whatever plan she produced with this clever thinking.

Ginny spent a lot of time over the next few weeks flying. Her NEWT-frazzled brain was beginning to recover with all this Quaffle throwing helping to clear it, but all she could come up with after seventeen days of having the responsibility was that she wanted to get Muriel in before game season began again in September. Then they could all move on with their lives and the Vulture would no longer be holding them back after over ten years of this… game, this game that Molly and she had begun and they’d carried on still.

It was a late night at the beginning of a hot August when the answer came to her, so clear and simple that Ginny marvelled nobody had thought of such an idea before. She had only been lazily loop-de-looping outside in her pyjamas, attempting to stave off insomnia which tended to attack her ever since sixth year, and now it was difficult to fight the fear which induced it without Harry beside her at night. That didn’t happen very often between the Aurors department’s ongoing fight against the remaining Death Eaters and her brothers’ vigilant fight against her so much as holding hands with Harry.

The revelation was this: to fight her great-aunt, she’d have to think like her great-aunt and, most importantly, do as her great-aunt would do if their situations were reversed.

Yes, if she could move into that mindset and imagine that Ginny herself needed to be removed back to Hogwarts and was refusing to go, what would Muriel do (aside from lecture Molly on what a terrible mother she was now, and write a letter to Professor McGonagall)? She’d have stormed up to the Burrow with a house-elf or two in tow, and dragged Ginny out by her toes screaming.

Charlie had already tried the violent approach, though, and Muriel wasn’t exactly in her peak of physical fitness. She’d threaten her with hexes and cutting off her inheritance, tell her what a scandalous embarrassment she was to the name of Weasley, and generally take no for answer. The house-elves behind her would do nothing but scowl at her and block her exit routes.

Now, then, how would Ginny turn this scenario around to her advantage if it were happening? What counter-attacks could Muriel slip in?

Closing her eyes and gliding slowly over to her open window in the side of the Burrow, Ginny imagined exactly what she needed to do and how she could do it. She would manage this when no other Weasley would, and she would show them all whilst sneaking off with her inheritance.

Victory would be hers.
 
 




 

A/N: You may have guessed that this isn’t the third and final chapter as promised, but when the word counter hit 9K, I had to split it. Oops.
 

 

As usual, thank you to aiedail for all the hard work she’s put into QTR over the years, and to nikkinike for letting me borrow “back in my day…”, you both rock!
~TGK


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