The Weasley Family, minus Percy, Charlie and Bill, shuffled through the front door and into the dark hallway of number twelve, Grimmauld Place. It was clear to them, from the run-down state of this one room, that the house had not been lived in for a very long time. Even though, they knew they were in the right house, having been divulged the secret of its location, they could feel the darkness seeping through the entire building.
The family were startled when the door shut behind them and a voice addressed them from the staircase.
The family turned to see Sirius Black halfway down the stairs.
“It’s been a long time anyone has lived here. The house-elf has not continued to keep this place anywhere near habitable. However, given the darkness of it, I doubt anyone would think to look for any of us here.”
Sirius finished walking down the stairs and approached Arthur and Molly, greeting them warmly, much to Fred’s, George’s and Ron’s confusion. None of them were even aware that their parents knew this man or even when they could have possibly met him. So, it was an even bigger shock when the man turned to greet their sister.
“Hello, Ginny,” he said kindly to the youngest Weasley as he gave her a quick hug. “It’s good to see you, again.”
“Is Harry here?” she asked, looking behind Sirius in hopes that her friend would be there waiting to greet her.
While they had not seen each other in two years, after Harry had rescued her from the Chamber of Secrets, they had written to each other on a near-daily basis. They had spoken of everything and anything, from the most mundane things to the deeply personal things they knew they would never tell anyone but each other. They had wanted to visit each other during the summer when Ginny was home from Hogwarts, but for two years, something had come up that had made it impossible for their parents to make it happen.
“He’s in his bedroom, hopefully sleeping,” Sirius answered, concern lacing his words. “He has not been sleeping all that well for the last couple of weeks. Don’t worry, though, he is very much eager to see his best friend.”
Ginny beamed at the older man’s words as it sent a shiver through her spine at being called Harry’s best friend. They had never said in their letters that they consider themselves as best friends, but for Ginny, at least, she knew deep down that they were.
“Right, let’s get out of this gloomy hallway,” Sirius said, now addressing the entire group. “Not that the rest of the house is much better. Molly, I hope it’s not too much trouble if I ask if you could help me with the task of cleaning this house, perhaps even providing some suggestions for how we could decorate.”
“I would be honoured,” the Weasley Matriarch replied. “I doubt we will get it all done before the kids go back to school, but we can do a clear out and a thorough clean in that time.”
“Sounds good to me. Now, let me show you to your rooms and then, I will give you all a tour of the house.”
Sirius led the group up the stairs, grateful the mounted heads of their former house-elves no longer lined the walls. With each floor
they climbed, he showed another Weasley to the bedroom they would be using throughout their stay at Grimmauld Place. He had placed Ron in one of the bedrooms on the second floor and the twins and Molly and Arthur on the third floor, the same floor his bedroom was located.
“As you can see,” Sirius said as he showed Molly and Arthur their room, “the bedrooms have all been cleaned out, but are in dire need of decorating.”
“Well, it is certainly better than I had expected after seeing just the hallway,” Arthur said with a slight chuckle as he walked into the bedroom.
“Molly, would you like to see where Ginny is sleeping?” Sirius asked before she could follow her husband. While he was very much aware of the fact the Weasleys rejected the old ways that many Purebloods followed, he knew that Molly was protective of her children, especially her only daughter.
“That would be very welcome,” she replied. “I am assuming that is up on the next floor?”
Sirius simply nodded before leading the two female Weasleys up the last flight of stairs to the fourth floor where only two doors were located.
“This is your room, Ginny,” Sirius said as he pointed to one of the doors. “It used to be my brother’s room and actually the best kept room in the entire house. I have removed all the décor he personally added, but please let me know if there is anything else you would like to have removed.”
“Thank you,” Ginny politely replied.
Just as Sirius went to open the door to the bedroom, the noise of another door opening caused him, Ginny and Molly turn round. There, peeking through a small gap, was a pair of startling green eyes; eyes Ginny knew she could never forget.
“Ginny?” a quiet voice inquired in surprise.
“Harry!” Ginny responded; her excitement obvious to the two adults.
The two teenagers stared at one another for a few seconds before Harry opened the door fully and exited his bedroom. He walked over to Ginny and wrapped her tightly in a hug, not acknowledging the fact that Sirius and his friend’s mum were in the hallway as well.
Harry and Ginny held onto each other for several seconds, both comfortable with the closeness, even though neither had seen one another in two years. When they finally let go, Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand, gently pulled her down the hallway and into his bedroom with the door closing behind them.
Sirius and Molly glanced at each other, neither surprised by what was happening.
“If it helps,” Sirius said, breaking the silence, “I figured they would want to turn to one another if one of them had a nightmare and having this floor to themselves means they are less likely to disturb everyone. So, I placed a number of different wards and charms on this entire floor, among them some charms that will stop anything inappropriate.”
Molly appeared to be surprised by Sirius’ actions as she asked him, “When did you realise those two liked each other?”
Sirius chuckled in response; glad he had not been the only notice how the two teenagers were beginning to fall for another.
“Honestly? It probably wasn’t until a few days ago, when I told Harry that Ginny and your family would be coming to stay with us for the summer. He was so excited at the prospect of seeing your daughter. It was the only thing to make him smile after what he went through a few weeks ago. If it had been anyone else, I doubt he would have cared.”
“Did he get excited every time a letter arrived from Ginny?”
“Now I think about it, yes, he did,” he responded, wondering how he hadn’t realised that Harry was falling for Ginny before now. “He was always so excited to get a letter, always eager to read it as soon as possible. He hated the days when he didn’t get a letter or when he couldn’t write back promptly.”
“Ginny was the same,” Molly explained. “I would think, however, it would have been easy for you to overlook Harry beginning to have feelings for her, because their letters were the only contact he had with someone of his own age. That’s not me criticising you, though. You did what you needed to do and that was to protect him.”
“I know,” Sirius sighed, desperately wishing he could have made Harry’s childhood a little better through friends of his own age.
“There’s no point dwelling on what could have been,” Molly told him gently as she looked to the door the two teenagers went through.
“Let’s leave them to it. I doubt they are ready to be anything more than friends yet.”
Sirius stood there, frozen to the spot in shock, as he watched the Weasley matriarch enter the bedroom her daughter was to use.
“Don’t dawdle, Sirius,” Molly said with a slight chuckle as she came back out into the hallway without Ginny’s bag. “You still need to give me and my family a tour of this house.”
Harry dragged Ginny into his bedroom, closing the door on Molly and Sirius, and immediately wrapped his arms around her. His heart was beating rapidly in excitement at having his best friend with him for the summer.
“I’m so happy to see you again, Gin,” Harry whispered, not wanting to let her out of his arms.
“I’m happy to see you as well,” Ginny responded, enjoying being held by her best friend.
The pair eventually pulled apart, allowing Ginny to get a proper look at Harry. She couldn’t help but notice the dark circles under his eyes, a clear indicator he was not sleeping well and more than likely suffering from nightmares.
“You’ve not been sleeping,” she quietly said as she ran a hand gently through his hair.
Harry looked away as though he was ashamed to admit what was happening to him.
Ginny sighed, figuring he might be reluctant to someone helping him. He had helped through her nightmares throughout the summer after he had rescued her from the Chamber, so she was determined to help him. At least, this time, she could do it in person, rather than via letters.
“It’s ok to admit you’re not sleeping,” she continued gently as she took Harry’s hand and led him over to his bed.
Harry’s eyes widened in shock as he watched Ginny climb onto his bed and made herself comfortable, using his pillows to cushion her back as she sat back against the headboard, her legs stretched out in front of her.
“Come and lay your head on my lap, Harry.”
Harry couldn’t believe what Ginny was asking him to do. They had not seen each other in two years and here she was asking him to lay his head on her lap. While he knew in his heart that she was his best friend, this, to him, was a big step to be taking, especially when her family were somewhere in the house.
“Harry, please, come and lay down,” she pleaded. “You helped me after what happened to me in the Chamber, so now it is time for me to return the favour. Please, let me help you the way you helped me.”
The sincerity in her eyes made it so Harry couldn’t refuse her. He knew if anyone understood what he was feeling and the weight of nightmares, it would be her.
“You know you are the best friend anyone could possibly ask for,” he told her as he climbed onto the bed, lay down and settled his head on her lap.
“We can discuss just why I am the best another time, Harry,” she said with a slight chuckle as an ecstatic feeling shot through her at being called his best friend. She began to gently run one of her hands through his messy locks in similar manner her mum had always done for her and her brothers. “For now, you need to rest and relax.”
“Are you going to stay here even once I am asleep?” Harry asked, hating how vulnerable he sounded, but not wanting to be left alone while sleeping.
“I am not going anywhere, Harry.”
A couple of hours later, Harry slowly woke to the feeling of a small hand running through his hair. He couldn’t help the smile that appeared across his face at the thought that Ginny had continued the soothing gesture even as he slept. While he didn’t want the redhead to stop, he twisted his body round so he could look up at her face.
“How did you get that book?” he asked sleepily as he noticed Ginny was now reading a book she not had with her when he pulled her into his room.
Ginny immediately dropped the book in shock, having not felt Harry move his body due to being so wrapped up in what she was reading.
“Harry, you’re awake,” she said, quickly calming herself from the unexpected question.
“I feel better for the nap,” he said before she could ask how he was feeling. “You want to tell where you got the book when there is no way you could have moved without waking me?”
“I asked my mum to bring it to me when she came and checked on us.”
Harry immediately panicked at the thought of Mrs Weasley having seen him curled up asleep with his head on the lap of her daughter.
“Oh, Harry,” Ginny said as she chuckled at her friend’s reaction to knowing her mum had seen sat on a bed together, “my mum trusts us in a room with the door shut. Plus, you were asleep and she told me Sirius would be happy to know you were getting some sleep.
Anyway, my mum was pleased to see me helping you.”
“Why would she be pleased?” Harry asked, slightly calmer now that he knew he was going to be hexed by his best friend’s mum.
“Well, she told me, before we came to your house, that it was my job, while we were here, to help you after everything you had been through,” Ginny carefully told him.
Harry didn’t say anything as he sat up, swung his legs over the edge of the bed and hunched over as he placed his head in his hands. He knew Ginny meant well, but he didn’t want to be reminded of what had happened to him. Even then, he was not entirely sure how much the Weasleys had been told before coming to Grimmauld Place.
“How much do you know about what happened to me?”
“Only the basics,” Ginny calmly informed him, having not yet moved from where she had spent the last couple of hours sitting. “I was told that you had been kidnapped and used in some ritual that helped Voldemort regain his body.”
Ginny finally shifted from her spot on the bed and moved across so she knelt behind Harry. She tentatively wrapped her arms around his waist from behind, relaxing when she felt him grasp her hands, and rested her chin on his shoulder.
“You don’t have to tell me anything, not if you don’t want to,” she whispered into Harry’s ear. “I just want you know that I am here and willing to listen if you ever need someone to talk to.”
For a moment, Ginny didn’t think Harry was going to say anything, and she would have been fine with that as she knew they had time to talk in the coming weeks. If he all needed at the moment was her physical presence, that was fine with her.
“I am not even sure how it happened,” Harry suddenly spoke, finding strength from the warmth of his best friend’s body wrapped around his. “It all happened so suddenly. One moment I was flying on my broom, the next I was tied tightly to this statue in a graveyard. It’s all a blur. Dad said it looks like I accidentally flew through the wards surrounding our home, but even he is uncertain because he taught me where all the ward boundaries are.”
“Do you think, perhaps, someone manage to lure you out?”
“Maybe,” Harry replied uncertainly.
Neither one of them spoke for the moment as Harry allowed the guilt that had been wallowing inside him consume him. No one seemed to be able to figure out how Harry had managed to cross the boundary.
“There was this cauldron in a space between all the graves with flames burning underneath,” Harry continued, pushing his guilt aside for the moment. “Then, Wormtail appeared, holding some sort of bundle in his arms.”
“Who’s Wormtail?” Ginny asked. She didn’t want to interrupt him, but Harry had always pushed her for more details when he felt it had been necessary and she had found it had helped to confront every detail.
“He was my parents’ friend,” Harry automatically replied, which made Ginny believed that he had become so wrapped in his thoughts that he didn’t seem to remember she was there at that moment. “He was their Secret Keeper and he was the one who revealed to Voldemort where me and my parents were living. He is part of the reason I have no parents.”
Ginny could only tighten her grip on Harry’s hands, uncertain how to bring any more comfort. She felt like she should stop him as it seemed to becoming all too much for him, but, at the same time, she knew he needed to talk about what had happened to him.
“I have Sirius now, though,” Harry continued talking, slightly more positive than Ginny had expected. “He’s my dad now. He was frantic when he discovered I was missing. He already felt like he had let my parents down because he had been the one to suggest Wormtail be their Secret Keeper. He didn’t want to let me down.”
Ginny didn’t respond, knowing that Harry had now hit the point he would keep talking until he told her the whole story. Her knees were hurting from her remaining knelt behind her best friend, but she didn’t want to risk stopping Harry from telling his story so she could get more comfortable. All she could do, therefore, was ignore the pain as Harry hauntingly told her about the ritual used to bring Voldemort back, how he had fought against the man who had killed his parents and how their wands had somehow connected.
“I still don’t quite understand how it happened,” Harry told Ginny quietly, “but my parents were right there or some shadow of them. Seeing them gave me the strength to hold on until Sirius and Remus arrived with help to rescue me. I didn’t really see what happened after I let go of the connection, but I think they, along with the other shadows that appeared, somehow protected me as I ran to Sirius so he could get us out of there.”
“Where did you go from there?”
“We came straight here. I think we came by Portkey. I was so out of it that I was barely aware we were here until the next morning,”
Harry told her as he seemed to relax physically. “Dad told me it would be best for us to stay here until the wards at our home could be checked and strengthened. Not quite sure how they could be improved any further, considering Dad said they were the best money could buy.”
Ginny finally shifted positions, her knees aching far more than she realised, and she sat on the edge of the bed next to Harry, her arms still wrapped tightly around him. She felt a shiver shoot through her as she felt Harry adjust his arms around her and pull her into a proper hug.
“Thank you,” he whispered, “for listening to me.”
“Anytime,” she replied, grateful he couldn’t see her face at that moment as she was certain she could feel herself blushing at their close proximity. “I am proud of you for being strong enough to go up against him and survive again.”
“I didn’t feel very strong.”
“You may not have, but you were,” Ginny replied stubbornly. “You said the same thing to me after what happened to me.”
Harry chuckled unexpectedly at her response. She had used his own words against him. He should have known she wouldn’t let him get away with trying to think he hadn’t been strong enough against Voldemort.
“I remember asking Dad if there was any chance I could see you this summer,” Harry said, changing the direction of the conversation, “but I don’t know why I saw your Mum when I dragged you in here.”
Ginny gently moved back, so she could look up at Harry’s face, and she instantly missed warmth and safety she had felt being wrapped in his arms.
“Did your Dad tell you about the Order of the Phoenix?”
Harry nodded, remembering the photo his Dad had shown him of the original Order when he had told Harry about the group and how it would be reforming now that Voldemort had regained his body.
“Well, obviously, it is going to be based here and Mum and Dad were asked to join,” Ginny explained. “So, my parents and your dad thought it might be good for us to be based here for the summer so you could have company your own age for once. Plus, Professor Dumbledore felt because of my involvement with the diary that it would be better to keep me safe as he was not sure if Voldemort would be interested in me or not.”
“Honestly, I want you to be safe as well,” Harry said as he pulled back into a tight hug. “However, right now, I don’t care what the reason is for you all staying, I am just happy to have my best friend here with me for the summer.”
“Ok, I have to ask, but what is with the house-elf heads?” Ginny asked as the two friends made their way down the staircase to the ground floor.
The teens had finally left Harry’s bedroom, once the young wizard had showered and dressed. As they walked down from the fourth floor, Harry had given her a brief tour of the house.
“I honestly do not know,” Harry admitted. “I think Kreacher wants his head mounted up there, though.”
“That is just creepy,” Ginny said with a tone of disgust in her voice. “I can’t believe your dad grew up here and turned out relatively sane.”
“Relatively sane might actually be pushing it when it comes to describing him, Gin.”
As they came to the bottom of the staircase, Harry pressed a finger to his lips to indicate to Ginny to be quiet. He was not in the mood to have Sirius’ mother scream at them.
“I will explain in the kitchen,” Harry whispered when Ginny raised an eyebrow at him in question of his action.
Harry grabbed her hand and tugged along the hallway as quickly and as quietly as he could until they reached the door to the kitchen. However, the moment he pushed the door open, he froze. There, gathered round the table, was his dad, Remus, Ginny’s parents and brothers.
“Don’t be shy, Harry,” Ginny said as she felt him to begin to shuffle backwards. “They don’t bite.”
Harry wanted to tell her that it wasn’t her family that was the problem, but the fact he wasn’t used to being around so many people. He was feeling overwhelmed, even if it was only seven other people besides himself and Ginny in the room. He was used to it just being his dad, Remus and himself.
“Harry! How wonderful to see you again!”
Any chance to escape was taken away from Harry as he was swept up into a bone-crushing hug from Mrs Weasley.
“Come and meet my boys,” Molly told him as she pulled away and tugged him further into the kitchen. “You remember Arthur?”
“Hello, sir,” Harry greeted Ginny’s dad as they shook hands.
“This is Fred, George and Ron,” Molly continued as she pointed to each of her boys in turn.
Harry gave them an awkward wave, not sure what to say for the moment. He could see his dad, sat at the end of the table, desperately trying to hold in his laughter at Harry’s awkwardness. He was grateful when he felt Ginny take his hand and lead him over to two seats at the table.
“So, umm, do you like Quidditch?” Ron asked Harry, cutting through the tension that settled over the table.
“I love it,” Harry answered, “but I have never actually had the chance to play a proper game.”
Harry’s eyes flickered over to his dad once the words had left his mouth. He hoped that the words hadn’t made his dad feel guilty for denying the experiences of a typical child in exchange for keeping Harry safe.
“Well, it isn’t easy to play a proper game when we don’t know enough people to play one,” Sirius commented jokingly.
“Maybe, once it is safe enough for us to do so, Harry could come to The Burrow to play a game,” Ron suggested.
“Can I?” Harry asked, excitement shining in his eyes for everyone to see.
“It probably won’t happen until next summer, but as long as Arthur and Molly are happy to have you, then I cannot see why not,” Sirius replied, knowing the wards around The Burrow were being strengthened for the Weasleys’ safety.
The tension eased as the teens began discussing Quidditch and their favourite teams. The adults were pleased to see them all getting along, all knowing Harry had not had any friends his own age up until this moment.
As lunch continued, a thought crossed Harry’s mind about what Ginny had told him about why the Weasleys were staying with them at Grimmauld Place for the summer. If Professor Dumbledore deemed Ginny as potentially being at risk for her involvement with the diary, then she needed to be able to protect herself. Even more so, if Voldemort ever discovered their friendship.
“Dad? Uncle Moony?”
Two large gasps distracted Harry from asking what he was about to as he turned to see the twins looking at him in shock.
“Do you think it is the same Moony?” one of the twins asked as they turned to look at each other.
“Has to be. I doubt it is just a coincidence,” the other twin responded before they turned back to look at Harry.
“Remus is Moony,” Harry told him before they could even ask. “How do you know that name?”
No answer was forthcoming as one of the twins, Harry suspected it was George, jumped up from his seat and disappeared up the stairs. He returned a few minutes later and held out a blank piece of parchment to Harry.
“Is this what I think it is?” Harry asked, hoping it was the Marauders Map. His dad had taken the time, every day, to tell Harry a little bit about his parents and their friends. He hadn’t held back on what he had told Harry, owning up to being a bully in their younger years and the horrendous incident involving sending a student to the Shrieking Shack on a full moon. Even with all that, Harry lived for those stories and had hoped that one day they would recover the items that belonged to his dad and his friends.
“I can’t believe it!” Sirius exclaimed, pulling Harry from his thoughts. “I thought we would never see it again after Filch confiscated it from us.”
“If it hadn’t been so close to our N.E.W.T. exams, we would have tried to steal it back,” Remus continued. “We didn’t think it was worth the risk of getting expelled.”
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” Sirius said as he pointed his wand at the blank piece of parchment.
Harry and Ginny watched in awe as the content of the parchment revealed itself to them. The detailing was extraordinary and a reminder to Harry how incredibly talented his birth father, dad and uncle were.
“So who is who?” one of the twins asked.
“My dad, James, was Prongs,” Harry told them without looking up from the map. “He was named for his Animagus form, which was a stag.”
Harry tuned out the conversation as Sirius and Remus explained their own names, who Wormtail was to them, and some of the work that went into making the map. He knew the stories behind the map and their names, he didn’t need to hear them again at that moment.
“Are you okay?” Ginny whispered, causing Harry to shiver slightly at the feel of her breath on his skin.
“Yeah, I am good,” he replied. “Just happy to have something that had belonged to my dad.”
“This is truly a piece of art, Harry. Though, I am wondering why the twins never thought to pass it on to either me or Ron.”
Harry noticed, out of the corner of his eye, that Ginny’s hand appeared to be creeping to her side. He suspected that was where she stored her wand.
“Hey,” he said, distracting her from her movements. “How about you ask them before hexing them?”
Ginny pouted for a second. “Fine, spoil my fun, why don’t you?”
Harry laughed at her response, happy to have someone who could pull him from the mood he was in at having been given something of his dad’s.
“Maybe later you can do it, especially if they don’t have a good excuse as to why they never gave it to you. I wouldn’t mind see this Bat-Bogey Hex of yours.”
Ginny smiled brightly at him and Harry felt his heart swell with joy at having been the one to cause it.
The two teens turned back to the map, exploring it in detail and laughing at some of the named parts of the castle that neither had been aware of. As they laughed together, neither were aware of the looks on the faces of Ginny’s parents, Sirius and Remus. All were pleased to see how close they had become after only writing to one another for the previous couple of years.
“Harry?” Remus asked, hating that he interrupting the two teens. “What was it you wanted to ask before?”
Harry looked up, quickly noticing how everyone seemed to be staring at him and Ginny. He quickly fought the blush he could feel forming on his face before answering.
“Oh, erm, Ginny mentioned that Professor Dumbledore was not certain if Voldemort may be potentially interested in her,” Harry explained, “you know, because of what happened with the diary.”
Harry felt Ginny stiffen slightly at the mention of diary. While they had worked through the worst of it together, he knew Ginny would never be fully over what had happened to her. Harry didn’t think anyone could ever come to terms with their trust being betrayed and violated in the way Ginny’s had been.
“I was hoping, because of that, Ginny could begin training with me, while she is here this summer,” Harry asked as he slipped a hand into Ginny’s and gently squeezed it.
“Yes, she can,” Sirius answered immediately, much to the two teens’ surprise.
Ginny looked to her parents, expecting them to protest such an idea. She knew her mum wanted her and her siblings to remain away from the war that was heading their way. Her mum had sat with her when she hadn’t been able to sleep in the summer after her first year. So, Ginny knew that her mum didn’t want any of them to go through the nightmares that she had.
“Sirius and Professor Dumbledore both spoke to us before we made the move to Grimmauld Place,” Arthur explained, knowing his daughter was expecting them to refuse her the chance to train. “We all felt, your mother included, it would be best for you, Ginny, to have some additional training. We don’t know what You-Know-Who is aware of currently, so better to be safe than sorry.”
“Thank you, Dad.”
“The training is going to have to wait for a few more days, though,” Sirius told the teens. “I need to finish off arranging the rooms I want to use for training. I haven’t had the time to sort it with everything else that has been going on and the fact that I hadn’t expected us to be here throughout the entire summer. Until then, Harry, I want you to spend time with the Weasleys, get to know them, and, most importantly, relax.”
Harry nodded, easily accepting what he was being asked to do until they restarted his training. He didn’t think it would be such a hardship to spend time with the Weasley children, especially if meant spending time with Ginny. Somehow, even being stuck in such dark house and knowing Voldemort was back, he knew this was going to a good summer.
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