Several light taps sounded on Russell’s door. At first he thought he’d just imagined them, or at least hoped he did, and rolled over in his bed to ignore them. Whoever was interrupting his sleep would just have to come back at a decent hour. He heard the tinkling of keys and the clicking of the lock on his door, but he still couldn’t force himself to get motivated.
“Ron, are you awake?” Christina asked timidly.
Russell kept his eyes closed and tried his best to pretend he really were asleep, but Christina had other ideas in mind.
“Normally activities don’t start until nine-thirty, but I’m getting you up early today because you’ve got a couple of visitors waiting for you in the lobby,” she said sweetly, knowing that would break his façade.
Violently turning around to face her, Russell could hardly contain the excitement he felt as he bolted out of bed, grabbed some clothes from his closet, and charged out the door on his way to the community bathrooms. Once she had regained her balance, Christina smiled at his enthusiasm while watching him race down the hall.
It was early enough that most of the other residents were still sleeping, so Russell didn’t have to fight for any of the showers. In a record time of five minutes, he had showered, dried himself off (with the exception of his hair) and put on his clothes. He took the stairs two at a time and galloped to the lobby where he knew exactly who he would find.
“Harry! Hermione!” Russell shouted, as he threw open the door.
The two other teenagers startled when he burst through, as they had been casually inspecting the room around them. Russell bounded over to them, grabbed Amy in a hug, and planted a giant kiss right on her lips. Somewhat taken aback, she threw David a look that said, “I told you so”, but all he did was smile at her and shrug his shoulders.
“Good morning, Ron,” Amy greeted.
“How ya been, mate?” David asked, while extending his arm out for a handshake. Russell obviously hadn’t seen it, or had and just disregarded it, as he pulled David in for a forceful, manly hug.
“Better, now that you two are here! Actually, it hasn’t been so bad, but blimey have I missed the both of you!”
“We’ve missed you, too, Ron,” Amy answered, making Russell’s grin grow ever wider.
“You have no idea how long I’ve waited to see you two! I’ve got so much to tell you. There’s a witch living here, too, and news about Death Eaters…” he said excitedly. Russell hardly took his eyes off either of them, and they tried not to laugh.
“Say, how did you two get here? I know Hermione doesn’t fly… Did you Apparate illegally?” he asked in a whisper.
“My parents drove us,” David answered without thinking.
Russell looked completely horrified. “But, Harry, your…your parents are dead,” Russell said sadly. He’s barking mad.
“Oh, no… I meant Hermione’s parents drove us. Yeah, ‘cause they’re Muggles, you know, and they have a car…” David stumbled all over his words as he tried to recover. He remembered what everyone had said about playing along, but he’d not been thinking when he’d answered.
“Cool. So I guess your holidays have been going well? Harry, mate, how are the Dursleys treating you?”
“Err, not too bad, considering,” David answered, thankful that he remembered this time.
“Well, hey, I want to show you around,” Russell offered.
“Ok, but just for a moment. We’ve got to be getting back to wor—back home. My mum’s been redecorating the house and needs me back to help her, and the Dursleys… Well, you know, they were reluctant to let Harry come see you in the first place.”
Russell nodded his head in understanding and led them out of the lobby. He took them around to all the rooms that Christina had showed him, explaining the purpose as well as he could, though as he’d never had any classes his scope was quite limited.
“This is the library, ‘Mione,” Russell said, waiting for Amy’s reaction. “I haven’t had time to read much yet, but I fully intend to.”
Amy remembered her character and smiled, then replied with her best Hermione impression, “It’s about time you realized the value of a good library, Ron. I’d have to say, I’m very proud that you’ve decided to give the literary world its due credit. You can learn a lot from books, you know.”
“Yeah, well I never needed to, before. I always had you around to tell me everything,” Russell grinned.
The three exited the library and Russell stopped abruptly, causing David to run right into his back and nearly trip himself.
“That’s where they are,” Russell said seriously. “The Death Eaters are down there, locked up, I suppose. Nicki said none of them could get out, so I guess they’ve got tight security all around.”
David and Amy examined the staircase that led to the basement, which looked anything but heavily guarded. They assumed Russell was twisting around the facts in order to fit with what he knew of his fantasy world.
“Err, who’s Nicki, mate?” David asked, trying to change the subject. The last thing he wanted was a conversation about Death Eaters and Voldemort, because while he knew all the lines to his movies, he’d only read a few of the books and was nothing of a fanatic. He just knew that if the subject kept heading in the same direction that he’d miss some important plot details and end up putting Russell through further distress. He needed for Russ to think everything was normal—well, as normal as it could be with him in a mental home.
“Oh, she’s the witch I told you about. The one who lives here. She’s the one who told me about Barrington, and about the other Death Eaters in the basement. A little strange, she is, but nice,” Russell answered. He then looked down at Amy, who cocked her eyebrow and pretended to take offence (after all, she was playing the part of Hermione).
“Oh, she’s nice, is she?”
“Err, yes, she’s nice, but she’s not you,” he assured, grabbing her around the shoulders in a half-hug.
David laughed, wondering to himself how Amy had managed to keep a straight face about the whole thing. This is all so bloody weird.
“Well, let’s get on up to my room, then. I want to show you before you have to go.”
They followed him as he marched up the stairs two at a time, and Amy had to struggle to keep up with the taller boys. Russell reached his door and stopped just in front.
“E11?” David laughed.
“Yeah, they still have to fix that,” he said while taking a stick out of his pocket. “Alohamora,” Russell said while turning the doorknob. “Lumos.”
Amy and David exchanged glances and held back for a second while Russell entered his room.
“He can’t really do magic, can he?” Amy asked.
“Of course not. Magic isn’t real, Amy,” David assured. “The door must not have been locked in the first place. And I’m pretty sure I saw him flip the light switch when he said ‘Lumos.’”
“Well, he must think magic is real, or else…”
“Hey, are you two coming in, or what?” Russell’s voice sounded from inside the room.
They quickly ducked in the door and examined the quaint little room with the un-made bed.
“Not much to see, really, but it’s not too bad. At least I have my own room, you know.”
Amy continued to inspect the room while Russell opened his closet to show David something.
“Hey, it’s…your broom,” David said, pointing out the obvious.
“Yeah, couldn’t find my Cleensweep, so Mum let me bring this one in its place. Said we’d find mine after I got home.”
“Your mum?” Amy inquired. If she hadn’t been mistaken, she was sure Russell still thought his parents to be “Molly and Arthur Weasley” and was sure that they hadn’t paid him a visit.
“Yeah, the lady who was at the hospital with me. She and the other people said they were my new family until all of this was sorted out, so I’ve just started calling her Mum to make it easier. I have a little brother and two little sisters, too. The littlest one, Annie, gave me that,” Russell said, while pointing to the doll that had been pushed up against the wall on his bed. David had taken a seat on the edge of the bed and made to reach for the doll to look at it more closely.
“Oh…” Amy said.
“Want to see it? Accio doll!” Russell exclaimed.
Thinking as quickly as he could, David took the doll he had just grasped and threw it to Russell. Unfortunately, his aiming was quite a bit off, and the doll hit Russell smack on the head. Amy suppressed a laugh, but Russell obviously didn’t hear it. He bent down to pick the doll up off the floor.
“Guess I don’t know my own strength,” he said, while rubbing the spot on his forehead where the doll had made contact.
Again, Amy had a hard time to keep from laughing, and watching David’s amused expression didn’t do much in the way of helping. He shrugged her shoulders at her, trying to telepathically tell her that they had to do whatever was necessary to make him think his “magic” worked.
“Well, this place seems pretty nice, Ron. It looks as if you’re getting along here.”
“Yeah, it’s not Hogwarts, but it’s suitable. I’m just a bit afraid of that nurse, is all. She’s liquefied the Imperius Curse, you know. Nicki told me. Other than her, though, it’s a pretty nice place. I might go check out those Death Eaters in the basement, to be safe, but I might not even need to.”
David widened his eyes with worry. “Err, I don’t think you should go down there, mate. It could be dangerous.”
“Since when were you one to follow rules, Harry? Especially when it came to dark wizards?”
David didn’t have an answer for him, as he had no idea how to respond. We’re not going to talk about this…
“Just be careful, ok?”
“I’m always careful.”
Amy looked at her watch and realized how long they had made David’s parents wait out in their car. So they’d be a little late to the set…
“Listen, Ron, we’ve really got to run. It was great seeing you again,” Amy said while approaching the redhead for a hug.
“Yeah, you too. Please come back to visit soon,” he answered, while kissing her on the head.
“Maybe we won’t need to, if they let you out of here in a timely manner,” David hoped. Oh, how he hoped he wouldn’t have to come back. This place made him feel more than a little uncomfortable.
“Let’s hope, eh? Come on, I’ll walk to you the lobby.”
“Here’s your doll, Ron.
”Here’s your doll. See you, Ron,” Amy said while reaching up to kiss him on the cheek.
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