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CHAPTER 9 BACK TO THE BURROW

The dirt lane wound through the country side. Old rail fences marked the boundaries of the lane on both sides of the road, and it was shaded by numerous trees. Two stone pillars marked where a separate lane joined the main road. To call this branch off of the lane a road was to be fairly kind to it. It actually was little more than a worn path, and appeared to be used only occasionally. The wrought iron gate hanging between the pillars only added to the appearance of age and disuse. It appeared to just barely be hanging by its hinges, and creaked in protest with every breeze, as if threatening to finally fall to the ground. The noise of the gate, the wind in the trees, and the calls of nearby birds, were the only sounds in the otherwise peaceful fields.

POP

The birds were startled from the trees, and then fell silent as four red-headed men appeared in a field, just off the lane, and across from the old gate. They were back to back, each facing a different direction, crouching in a defensive position, with their wands extended before them, as if expecting an attack. The four men relaxed slightly when no attack appeared to be forthcoming.

“O.K,” Bill said, as he started to move towards the trees lining the lane.
“Everything appears to be clear, but keep your wands ready.”

“Of course everything appears to be clear. We're in a field. What possible danger could there be here?” Percy grumbled.

“Crap!” George yelled, causing his three brothers to spin towards him.

All three had dropped into their defensive crouch again, and had their wands extended.

“What is it? Do you see something?” Bill asked, all the time turning his head to search for whatever threat his brother had detected.

George was staring at his feet. “I apparated right into a pile of cow sh...”

“Shut it!” Bill growled, then turned to glare at Percy and Charlie, who were sniggering at George's landing spot. “That goes for you two, also.
Now come on. Let's get into those trees for cover.”

“Bill, there is nobody here but us”, Percy said. “You're being paranoid.”

“Humour him,” Charlie muttered. “Trust me, just because he's paranoid doesn't mean that people aren't out to get him.”

They each ducked behind a tree. Percy shook his head, as he watched Bill poke his head out from behind his tree, looking up and down the lane as he searched for any threats. Meanwhile, Charlie was grinning at George, who was trying to obey Bill and stay behind a tree, while trying to wipe his boot off in some grass.

As soon as George decided that he had finished his cleaning job, Charlie said, “Looks like you missed a spot.”

“What? Where?” George asked, as he frantically started wiping his foot in the grass again.

“Didn't I tell you two to shut it?” Bill glared. “We're not exactly out here for a Sunday picnic. The lane appears clear of any threat, so let's go.” He stepped out into the lane.

The others followed him. “Of course, it's clear of any threat. Who's going to curse a country lane?” Percy asked, as he stepped by Bill and reached for the gate. “Ow!” he yelped, as Bill smacked his hand down.

“I don't know, Perc. Maybe the someone that put a Caterwauling Curse on the gate.” Bill studied the gate for a moment. “Hmm. Appears to be a new one, too. Someone's been here in the past few days.”

“How do you know that?” Charlie asked, sounding impressed.

“Do you know the difference between a Hungarian Horntail and a Welsh
Green?” Bill said, studying the gate.

“Well, of course I do,” Charlie replied. “You know that I work with Dragons.”

“And you're supposed to know that I'm a curse-breaker.” Bill moved his wand in a complex manner around the gate. “O.K., it's clear now.”

“Do you think someone is still here?”, Percy asked, as Bill opened the gate.

“Oh, I certainly hope so,” George said maliciously. He nodded to Charlie, who returned his leer. Both started to push their way past Bill.

“Are you two idiots looking to die?”, Bill snarled, grabbing them by the arms.

“What ?!?”, Charlie responded. “I don't see any signs of any traps.”

“Neither do I!”, said George.

“Nor do I,” added Percy.

“Oh, you don't, do you,” said Bill, as he stooped and picked up a handful of pebbles from the path. “Then, by all means...” he said, tossing a few of the small stones a few feet in front of George. His brothers gaped as a jet of flame shot into the air as the pebbles hit the ground. “...go right ahead.” He tossed the remaining pebbles a few feet in front of Charlie. Three six foot long spikes suddenly shot up from the ground.

“Ouch,” Charlie said, visibly paling.

“Yeah,” George agreed.

Percy swallowed, then said, “Might I suggest that we allow our qualified curse-breaker to lead the way?”

“Agreed.” Charlie and George chorused.

“Finally!”, Bill said. He started up the path slowly, waving his wand in complex patterns every few feet as he disarmed the curses.

“Interesting. These geniuses only seemed to mine the path with traps. Anyone walking off the path would have been fine. What a bunch of idiots.”

“Ah, Bill?” Charlie said.

“What?” Bill asked, looking over his shoulder at his brother.

“Well...I agree that Voldy's followers weren't exactly recruited for their smarts, but...given that WE just walked up the path, I'm not sure that now is the best time to comment on their smarts. They sure would have gotten us, or at least they would have if you weren't here.”

“Oh,” Bill said. He shook his head. “Anyway, the Burrow is just around this turn. I want you three to hold back until I make the turn and determine that all is clear. I doubt that anyone is still here, but if I should walk into a Death Eater trap, I want my back up out of the immediate line of fire.” With that, he stepped around the turn.
His brothers heard Bill gasp, then mutter a soft curse.

“You O.K.?” Charlie asked tentatively.

“Yeah,” Bill replied. “I'm fine. Come on, but prepare yourselves for a shock.”

Nothing could have prepared the brothers for the sight that greeted them when they rounded the turn to join Bill. The Burrow was in ruins.
The only recognizable features remaining of their home were the battered flutterbye bushes in the yard, and the remains of Ron's old attic room, which was somehow still suspended in the air. Even at that, the room was still smoking.

“Looks like someone had a tantrum,” George finally said. “Maybe Bellatrix came to visit and got upset when no one was home.”

“No, Bellatrix wouldn't have left anything standing,” Bill replied.

“And she would have left a note. Or at least a few dead bodies,” Charlie growled. “Bellatrix always liked for people to appreciate her handiwork.”

They all stared at the rubble of their home, each lost in the pleasant memories that he had of their beloved home. Finally, George broke the silence.

“Well, I guess this was to be expected. After all, we are blood traitor family number 1. So, which one of us gets to baby Ronnie that his room is on fire but on the upside it’s the only room left and we’ll have to levitate him up there since he doesn’t have his apparition licence?”


“Ron might just get over it,” Charlie said. “What scares me is the prospect of telling Ginners that all of her 'boy-who-lived' memorabilia is gone.”

“She may not care, now that she's got the real thing, but you're right. Telling her could be a risk to both life and limb. And I hate bat bogies,” Bill added. “What git taught her that damn hex anyway?”

“As I recall, big brother, you did,” Charlie laughed.

“Oh. Well, I knew that it would take a superior wizard to teach her that,” Bill rejoined.

“Mum's going to be devastated,” Percy said quietly from behind them.

“We can't let her come home to this.”

“You're right,” Bill said, as he returned to pondering the ruins. He grinned, “Well, Dad did always say that we needed to renovate.”

“Mum always said....,” Charlie started.

“.... That we needed twice as many rooms,” George finished.

He and Charlie looked at each other in surprise, and then both burst out laughing. Bill quickly joined in, while Percy stood there debating whether or not he should join them.

“Well, that settles it,” Charlie finally said, wiping his eyes. “Time to build the Burrow, version 2.” He turned to Bill. “Well, mate, it would seem that a plan is in order, and that has always been your specialty.”

“I could, but I think George should do it. He always has been the most creative of us,” Bill said. He looked at his watch. “Merlin! I've got to get to work. Tell you what. George, you get started on the plans. Nothing too much over the top. Remember, there are muggles nearby. I'll supply the money.”

“I'll start on the plans, but Fred and I will take care of the money. Business was going well, and besides, we caused enough damage here over the years as it was. I know that Fred would have wanted to pay for it,” George said.


They stopped for a moment, remembering their fallen brother. Finally, Percy lifted his wand towards the heavens.

“To Fred,” he said.

The other three joined his salute. “To Fred,” they echoed.

“Uh, Bill?” It was George that had again broken the silence.

“What ?”

“Can I at least make it bigger than the Fawcett’s’?” George asked.

His brothers dissolved in laughter. The Fawcett’s were wizarding neighbours whom the twins had absolutely despised, primarily because they believed that they were better than the Weasleys because they had more money. However, there had also been an incident that had something to do with a sword and a broomstick when the twins were five years old, that saw them return from a playdate at the Fawcetts' with Fred sporting a black eye, and George carrying a Howler from Mrs. Fawcetts. It had loudly proclaimed that the twins were clearly the Devil's own children, and that they were never again to come within a hundred yards of “her precious, little Johnny.” If they did, she had sworn that she would have them up on charges before the Wizengamot. Bill and Charlie had tried for ages to get the twins to tell them what had happened, but Fred and George had just grinned at each other, and refused to speak.

“Fine, fine,” Bill was finally able to get out. “You go for it. Percy, would you start writing up the legal documents for changing dwelling types and whatever else we might need? You know the procedure better than we do. When you're done, send them straight to Kingsley for approval.”

“But...but...that's not the Ministry approved procedures,” Percy stuttered.

“Percy,” Charlie sighed. “You do remember that the Ministry is worse than a pile of dragon dung at the moment? Just send it to Kingsley, and let him sort it out.”

“What if that doesn't work?”, Percy worried

“Then give it Harry and let him sign it. Then send it to Kingsley.”, Charlie laughed.

“That's bloody brilliant, Charlie!” George sounded awe struck. “I can't believe that I didn't think of it. From now on, we just get Harry to sign stuff or get stuff. No one would dare say 'no' to the Chosen One, would they? I mean. He defeated old Voldy. I always knew that the scrawny little git would be good for something.”

“George,” Bill said quietly, “you can't use Harry for your own benefit.”

“Why not?” George sounded stunned. “After all, he is dating our baby sister! We ought to get something out of it.”

“Do you really think GinGin is going to share him with you?” Bill asked.

“Hmm,” Charlie said. “Probably not, but I do tend to agree with George. We should get something out of this, because he's doing a lot more than just dating her.”

“Are you referring to the fact that Ginerva is sleeping with Harry?”, Percy asked.

“They are not sleeping together!”, Bill roared. “I mean, they are, but they aren't...You know what I mean,” Bill finished, his face reddening with every word.

Percy turned his head to Bill. “I know exactly what you mean. Ginerva and Harry are sharing the same bed to sleep in. But I thought we had already had this argument, and had decided to back our little sister. If Charlie has changed his mind, I want to know about it now.”

“What?”, Charlie said, seeming surprised. “No, I just meant that... that...” Now Charlie's face reddened, as he seemed unsure as to how to finish his sentence.

“We know the pressures that Harry has been under, and we know how he spent his last year,” George interrupted Charlie, “and we saw how the Chamber affected Ginny, and know at least some of what the Death Eaters tried to do to her last year to break her. I imagine that the only way that the two of them feel safe and are able to get a good night's sleep is in each other’s arms. If that is what it takes for them to find comfort, then I have no problem with it. Besides, I can't think of a better man for Ginnikins than Harry.”

“I've seen the way they look at each other. Despite everything that has happened to them, they are deeply in love. And Fleur is convinced that it's a forever type of love. Dad got me into the middle once. It won't happen again. Fleur and I will support them fully,” Bill said.

“I' m in support of them, too,” Charlie said.

“Fine. I just wanted to be sure,” Percy said. “I know that I've made my share of mistakes with the family, but I've never seen Ginerva happier. It's an incredible thing to see someone's childhood dreams come true.”

“So, we're in agreement that we all support GinGin and Harry,” Bill said, “and that....”

“...we're all scared of Ginny,” they finished together, laughing.

“I wonder if Ron's noticed,” George said.

“I haven't heard him make an arse of himself recently, so I doubt it,” Charlie said.

“It's always amazed me that he can be so gifted at strategy, and wizard's chess, and things, and still be so thick headed,” Bill added.

Charlie laughed. “Anyway, exactly what is it that you want me to do, Bill?”

“Do you think that you could get some of your Dragon slaying buddies to come help us with the construction? I doubt that we are the only ones that need to rebuild a house, so local wizarding builders may not be that easy to come by.”

“I'll be back in a half hour,” Charlie said. With that, he turned and apparated away.

“Merlin!” Bill had just looked at his watch again. “I have got to get to work. Will you two be alright?”

George laughed. “We’ll be safer than you. We don't have any goblins waiting here to eat us, and those lovely Death Eaters don't like to come out to play while the sun is shining. A shame, really.”

“Fine. I'll meet you back here at six. If I don't make it back, they've most likely stuffed me into Harry's vault or fed me to a new dragon.” And with that, Bill was gone.

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GINNY'S POV

Ah, dinner time. What a wonderful time of day. Harry, Teddy, and I have joined Ron and Hermione for dinner in the Great Hall. I've noticed that the house tables have become emptier in the few days that have passed since the Battle. Now, the only ones at remaining at Hogwarts are those with no homes to go to, and those that have volunteered to help with the rebuilding of the castle. The Professors have stopped using the staff table, choosing instead to sit with those of us that remain. I see Kingsley is here. I guess since he has now actually been appointed as the new Minister of Magic, he feels that it is important that his presence be felt in the castle, so he keeps apparating in for meals.

We sit at the Gryffindor table, with Ron and Hermione across the table from us. We're about halfway through the meal when Mum joins us. She sits down beside me, and I can immediately tell that she is worried. I mean, Mum is always eager to see that we're well fed, but when she almost starts shoving the food down our throats, you know that she is really worked up about something. Right now, she's practically firing platefuls of food at us. I know that Dad had gone into the Ministry to work today, and Bill, Charlie, Percy and George were going to check on the Burrow, with Bill then going on to Gringotts. I hadn't realized how keyed up Mum had gotten about it, but looking at her now, I can see the fear in her eyes.

I look across the table at Ron. His eyes meet mine, and I see that his eyebrows have almost disappeared into his hair. I guess if even he's noticed how worked up Mum is, I better do something. I take a deep breath, steeling myself. I'm just ready to plunge ahead, when I hear a soft voice with a French accent behind me, asking if she can help feed Teddy. I look up at Fleur, and can tell that she is nearly in full “Veela mode”. I can also see a hint of panic in her eyes. I realize that she is worried about Bill, as this is the first time since before the Battle that he has left her alone for any length of time.

“Ronald!”, I hear Hermione say. I turn to look at them, and find my brother standing up, a dazed look on his face. Hermione looks extremely irritated that Ron still cannot resist the “zee Veela”. Ron starts to reach for Teddy, and Hermione and I both smack his hands.

“OW! What?”, Ron complains. “Oh.” Realization sets in on him, and he does a fabulous Weasley blush as he sinks back to his seat.
I hear Harry chuckle beside me, and turn to look at him. Bless his heart, he's completely immune to the Veela charm. I can feel myself start to flush as my eyes meet his. I can see his amusement at Ron, but I can also see the question in his eyes. He wants to know if I want him to move to give Fleur room to sit down. I give a brief nod, and he gets up from the table and goes around to sit by Hermione.

Fleur smiles at me gratefully as she sits down. She turns her attention to Teddy, and I watch as she starts to feed him. I never cease to be amazed at the little guy. He seems to always be laughing and happy, and makes everyone around him smile. I watch him wrinkle his brow in concentration, and then hear Fleur laugh in delight as Teddy does a passable impression of her hair and Veela features. The girls will never have a chance with him when he gets older. I can see Fleur start to relax slightly.

I hear laughter from across the table, and see Harry and Ron enjoying the sight of Hermione trying desperately to refuse whatever number of helpings it is that Mum is trying to force her to eat.

“Please, Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione pleads. “I swear that six helpings are all that I can possibly eat right now.” The look on her face is so desperate that even Mum gets the message. I hear Mum chuckle, and I can feel her start to relax ever so slightly too.

The problem is, now they've got me feeling nervous. While I'm sure that Dad will be fine at the Ministry, who knows what state the Death Eaters have left the Burrow in. I'm not sure I want to know.
Then there is Bill going into Gringotts'. No one is quite sure what kind of reception that the Goblins are going to give him. Sure, Kingsley swears that they don't hold any responsibility against Bill for the break-in by Harry, Ron and Hermione, but I doubt that they are going to be welcoming him back with open arms, either. I've heard news that the Goblins have already dealt with Griphook, but I've been reluctant to ask Kingsley how they dealt with him, just in case they hold the same hostility towards the Trio.

Everyone had promised to be back at Hogwarts by dinner time, and as the meal passes, I notice everyone's eyes straying to the door. The longer it takes for them to show up, the more concerned we get.
As I think about it, I find myself becoming more and more ambivalent about the idea of returning to the Burrow. It just doesn't feel like home anymore. Home is a place where you're supposed to be safe, but we all had to flee the Burrow because we weren't safe there anymore. It's funny how safe I feel at Hogwarts. I mean, I had to leave here because I wasn't safe, and the place still shows the damage it sustained during the Battle. But it still feels like home to me now.


Of course, I love the life that I had here the past few days with Harry. I've had my own little family here with Harry and Teddy, and I don't want to give that up. I'm afraid that moving back to the Burrow will change all that. I'm not sure that my parents and brothers know that Harry and I are sleeping in the same bed. I mean, they should have figured it after that scene the other day, but I'm not sure. They may have just thought that the argument was simply about Harry and I caring for Teddy, and nothing else. My brothers all eventually backed me there, but I'm not sure that it will carry over to sleeping arrangements.

Bill, I'm sure knows. He originally had expressed support for us, but then we had the fight. I think he was coerced into that by Dad, and didn't really want to take the position he did, but I'm really not sure how he feels now. I'm sure that if Bill does know, that he has told Charlie. Charlie always plays things so tight, though, that I'm not sure of his reaction, either. George, I'm pretty sure will support us, and I'm not sure that I care what Percy thinks at this point. That leaves Ron, and who knows with him. He should know, since Harry and I have been sharing the same dorm room as he and Hermione, but he's been awfully quiet about it, at least for Ron anyway. However, he better keep his mouth shut, or I'll make sure that he doesn't get to keep sharing with Hermione.

Then there is Mum and Dad. I'm fairly certain that Mum knows, but I doubt that Dad has really thought about it. I really don't want to fight like that with him again, but I am not giving up Harry.
I've discovered that Harry has lots of nightmares, and I seem to be able to calm him, just by being there. I know that I still have lots of nightmares about being in the Chamber, and about my torture sessions with the Carrows, but they fly away when I find myself in the comfort of his arms. Then there are the times that I wake up, afraid that he is gone again, or I remember the sight of him when I thought that he was dead. I'll wake up and just stare at him, then snuggle deeper into the warmth of his arms, knowing that it's not a dream. He is alive and well, in love with me, and there to protect me.
I love my family, and I don't want to fight with them. But I'm afraid that moving back to the Burrow will mean that they want me to give him up. I can't do that. I won't do that. And I will fight them tooth and nail if they try to make me.

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Charlie surveyed the day's work. He felt exhausted, and was certain that George and Percy felt the same way. Still, it had been well worth it. The Burrow was still only a shell of its former self, but it was taking shape. He had called in favours from several of his friends, and had quickly assembled a magical workforce. But it was George that had been the real creative force behind the vision for the new Burrow.

His design had a real magic to it. He had made the house much larger, and had incorporated an idea for Ginny's new room that Charlie considered pure genius. He actually wished that he had thought of himself. He couldn't wait to see her face when she saw it. George had even designed rooms for Harry and Hermione, making them an even more official part of the family.

He had shared a laugh with George over this, when he had wondered aloud how often Harry and Hermione would actually use the rooms.

“Not at all, if our little sister and Ronnikins get their way,” George had replied. “But, you know how it is. Decorum must be obeyed.” Their eyes had locked, and they had both dissolved in laughter at the thought of George being concerned about decorum. Charlie shook his head at the memory. He wasn't even sure if George knew what the word meant.

Percy had been a surprisingly level headed addition to the team. He had reigned in some of George's wilder ideas, such as putting a swimming pool in the living room. He had also designed a really nice, large kitchen for their Mum.

All in all, Charlie thought that the house would give them all a fresh start. While they would always cherish the memories from the old Burrow, the new one would give them a blank canvas on which to create new memories. It was a house which he would be proud to bring his parents home to, a home in which they could become grandparents.

George and Percy walked up, interrupting Charlie's thoughts.

“C'mon,” George said. “You know that Mum won't hesitate to kill us if we are late for dinner.”

“Okay,” Charlie said. “I thought Bill would rejoin us before we went back, but maybe he's gone directly to Hogwarts.”

They each took one last look at the new Burrow, and then were gone, apparating to their home away from home. As they did, each was hoping that they would soon be able to go home to stay.
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A/N
I cannot possible apologise enough for the forever and a day wait for this chapter, between college work, and my laptop dying the excuses are endless sorry!!! Huge thanks ass always to my lovely beta DougA who amazingly doesnt give up on me ever.
Hope you like this chapter please review!! Love to see what you think of the story so far and thanks again to all my loyal reviewers and there will be more soon!
X’s Ginners

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