For a fraction of a second Harry had forgotten about everything that had taken place in his life within the last few months. Although it was nearing October the mercury was still nearing the 100 degree F mark. He didn’t think he could ever manage to grow accustomed to this southern American weather.
He was gliding through the air at top speed but the wind brought little comfort. He stopped, hovering high above the pitch, to wipe the sweat from his forehead that made his scar glisten in the mid afternoon sun. The other players below him zoomed from end to end, each trying to out fly and out score the other. One of the Swamprats beaters sent a bludger in Angelina’s direction only to have Fred intercept it. Harry heard him yell at the beater.
“Take a bite out of that.”
The other team’s beater laughed at Fred as he sped off to chase down the bludger.
“Come on Harry, get your head out of the clouds, find that snitch,” Charlie bellowed, “It’s hot.”
They most definitely had them at a disadvantage. Harry veered to the left of the pitch, passing his opponents fans. As he slid past he quickly turned to take a second look. The woman he had just flown by had a head full of familiar chestnut brown hair that he remembered from the dock restaurant.
She waved even as she cheered on her hometown team. That girl was a witch. How could he have not seen it?
Rose, P.J. and Cash ran around the outside of the pitch boundary lines straining their necks to see what was going on above them.
“Look at ‘em.” They heard a hard faced little girl say to her friends.
“Bunch of orphans if you ask me,” Said the other who was a sight better looking than the first.
Rose turned quick on her heel and placed her hands on her hips. “I don’t recall anyone asking you, princess.”
“At least she knows royalty when she sees it, Dottie,” sneered the second of the girls.
“Look here Cash, we’ve got the Swamp Queen here, warts and all,” Rose shot back at her.
The little girl puffed up like a miniature toad frog ready to let out a grand croak. But the little girl she called Dottie jumped in.
“You haven’t a clue who you are speaking to, do you?” She questioned. And before they could comment any further Dottie continued. “This is Victoria LaVeau, great- great- great granddaughter of THE Marie LaVeau. And her father owns that box up there.” And she pointed to the highest, largest box above the pitch.
Cash rolled his eyes at the girls. “That may sound impressive to most but do you have a clue who she is, Dottie?” He asked sarcastically. “Her father and mother are Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger-Weasley, and I’m sure you’ve heard of them, even down here.”
“And Harry Potter is our uncle,” P.J. added.
Rose scowled at the two of them and pointed to another box. “That box is where our family is at, namely our Grandpa, Minister of Magic, Arthur Weasley.”
The two girls tried to not look so impressed but they were both busting to know more about the ones who were responsible for the downfall and death of Lord Voldemort. They had heard the stories, but before anything else could be said, Rose turned and headed back to their box. “Come on, if we get caught out of the box they’ll skin us alive.”
Ron grabbed the quaffle just as it was about to go through the far left hoop and passed it off to Charlie as he circled around the hoops. He sped towards the other end when he was sandwiched by two of the opposing team’s players. They were rather large for chasers and made their presence known. The two chasers backed off a bit but went after Charlie again. Charlie lay flat on his broom as he noticed them coming back for an instant replay and dropped just below them.
Harry tried to remain focused on his search for the snitch but the sight of the Swamprats chasers fighting to stay on their brooms after colliding was priceless.
“Hey, tweedle dum, play with this awhile,” George screamed to one of them as he smashed the bludger.
Bill could be heard above all the jeers and cheers as he urged the official to pay closer attention.
Cho flew by flanking Charlie. She swooped as the largest of the opposing teams beaters smashed a bludger her way. Charlie passed her the quaffle and she slipped it in right under the keeper’s nose.
Charlie gave her a wink as Angelina flew pass her giving her a high five.
Harry spotted the other seeker fast at work zooming in and out of the clouds and decided he needed to get to work.
As Cho placed the quaffle through the hoop, making her third goal of the day, Harry spotted the snitch mid-pitch. And by the look of it, the other seeker did too. The snitch changed direction, heading straight for the Swamprats seeker. Harry cursed under his breath as he hit high speed. Just as the seeker put out his hand to grab the snitch it changed direction, heading straight into the sun. He turned to follow, not able to see anything, slamming directly into the middle goal right under Ron. Ron flinched at the sound of skull meeting steel.
“That had to hurt,” Ron declared with a slight grin.
Harry didn’t take time to notice but continued after the humming ball. In just a matter of seconds Harry folded his fingers over the ball and released the breath he had been holding.
The OSC Flames were in their dressing room changing and showering as the rest of the family rolled in one by one. Laughter echoed from the showers as Harry and Ron relived the moment the Swamprats seeker kissed the goal post.
Ron’s face fell as he grabbed the nearest towel and threw it around his waist, running into the locker room. As she rounded the corner his eyes fell upon Hermione, her face pale and tear streaked.
He ran to her, Harry at his heels. “What’s the matter?”
Hermione took a deep breath and tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “Rose,” was all she was able to mutter.
The blood suddenly drained from Ron’s face as well. “What about Rose,” he asked as he grabbed her by both shoulders.
Hermione looked at him, her lip quivering, “She’s…she’s gone.”
Ron looked up at the door as Molly Weasley rushed in carrying a child with two a her skirt tail.
“Mum,” was all he managed to say.
Mrs. Weasley shook her head, “Mad-Eye has security looking for her. He says they are going to need more help.”
Harry had already thrown on jeans and a t-shirt, dashing out of the door without shoes.
Bill and Charlie, who were already dressed, took off after Harry.
Ron felt his knees weaken, but he stood taller and took Hermione into his arms. “We’ll find her.”
Angelina stepped forward to take Hermione into her arms letting Ron dress to help the others. Fleur entered the room and began to tell them the story that cash and P.J. had told others.
After the altercation with the local kids they headed back to their box. Rose said she laid down her banner and was going to rush back for it. They waited and after awhile they went looking for her but she wasn’t there. On the ground, where they had been standing, was Rose’s banner.
Rose lay in the boot of the muggle car scared and mad. She screamed as loud as she could, but it wasn’t doing the least bit of good. Boy, she only wished she could apparate. As she beat her fist into the top of the boot she made mental note to speak with Gramps about this being 17 to apparate business.
The car soon stopped and she tried desperately to hear what was going on. She noticed a small beam of light fighting its way in near her feet. She turned on her side and maneuvered herself around in the tight space to reach the light.
The smallest hole, the size of a pencil top, was looking back at her. She placed the pointed end of the tire iron to it, aiming at her mark.
The dressing room of the OSC Flames had soon become headquarters for the search party. Ginny tried desperately to help but her entire family backed up Harry when he said she should stay put with Mrs. Weasley. Fred entered the room, escorting Hermione.
“Ron says she needs rest,” he told Mrs. Weasley.
Mrs. Weasley agreed and urged the shaking Hermione to sit. “Come along dear, they’ll find her.”
Fleur was trying her best to entertain the children. As they sat in a circle she told them stories that her mother had told her as a child. Everyone’s attention was averted to the entrance as two very familiar looking people entered.
The woman carried a large tray filled with sandwiches and tea bags. “We thought you might need these.” The lady sat them on a bench.
The man looked at Mrs. Weasley and Hermione. “Who should I talk to about helping?”
“Aren’t you the Swamprats seeker,” Fred asked him, not even thinking to crack a joke.
“Yes,” he thrust his hand forward. “I’m Danny and this is my wife, Jolie,” he said, pointing towards the lady.
“We could use all the help we can get to find my niece,” Fred said sincerely. “Follow me,” And Fred led him back out the door he had just entered.
Jolie conjured cups for each of the children and put tea in each for them all. She was a simple but beautiful lady. Her hair was neatly braided and fell down the length of her back.
The room remained quite with the exception of the occasional spat among the children. The younger girls had fallen asleep and were lying on a mattress Ginny had conjured on the floor. They had discussed taking the children back to the inn but no one was willing to be the one to take them. So they had turned the locker room into a makeshift home as well as headquarters.
Ron and Harry walked down one of the streets that exited the grounds. The sun had now set and the stars shown bright in the sky. They had questioned every person who attended the match with the help of the entire Weasley family and others who had volunteered. Most of the others had taken to the air as they searched by foot.
“How could there not be one person in that entire place not see a bright ginger haired girl running around here,” Ron questioned Harry.
Harry didn’t know what to say, he knew it didn’t matter what he did say it wouldn’t make Ron feel any better at the moment.
Ron stopped, staring at the ground; the only sound was that of the crickets and frogs in the nearby bayou. Harry stopped as well and began focusing on the spot that Ron was looking at, he couldn’t see anything of any significance; just the white gravel rock that lay on any other rural parish maintained road. He pushed his fists deep into his pockets and waited on Ron to say something, move, bark, anything.
Ron broke the silence. In the softest voice Harry had ever heard from Ron, he said, “What if we never find her?” Ron could feel his heart beating in his throat. It was becoming harder to breath.
Harry took one step forward placing a hand on Ron’s shoulder. He could see the tears welling in his eyes, glimmering in the starlight. “You can’t think like that mate.”
“I’m an Auror, I’m her father.” He took in a long deep breath of the warm night air and releasing it with great force he screamed, “I’m suppose to protect her!”
Harry jumped a bit, not expecting such an outburst.
Ron spun on one heel and plowed his fist into a tree standing at the edge of the road. He pulled his arm back and swung with even greater force and hit it a second time. “I was in the bloody air playing a blasted kids game while my daughter is carried out, right from under my nose.”
Harry fought with himself to find the right words but he couldn’t find them. He watched as Ron went at the tree again, only this time Harry grabbed his arm, preventing him from plunging his already blood soaked knuckles into the tree.
Ron turned to look at him, now the tears were quite visible. He coughed as low moans escaped his throat. He bent low at the waist, bracing himself with both hands on his knees.
“Ron, I’m not going to tell you I know how you feel, because I don’t, but I’m your best friend and I know that you have got to pull yourself together. You can’t find Rose if you breakdown and… and think of Hermione, if she thinks you have given us hope she will fall apart.”
Ron craned his neck to look up at Harry, breathing hard and deep. “I know; I’m trying.” And he lowered his head again.
Harry didn’t say another word. He just stood there with his hand on his friends back, giving him the time he needed to pull it back together.
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