Over the next few days, Harry started to slowly come out of his shell and made the effort to get to know the Weasleys. With Sirius busy setting up a room in the house for training and working to discover how Harry had managed to be lured outside of the wards on their home, the family of his best friend were his main company.
Mr Weasley, or Arthur as he had asked Harry to call him, was only there in the evenings as he worked at the Ministry in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office. Arthur had been delighted to discover Harry had spent time in the Muggle world as a child and had promptly questioned him over a number of things.
“Harry, what exactly is the function of those small plastic boats?” Arthur had asked one evening as the occupants of Grimmauld Place sat down for dinner.
Harry had been taken aback by the question, especially as it was the last thing he had been expected to be asked about.
“Oh, erm, they don’t really have much of an important function,” Harry had explained to the older wizard. “They are nothing more than a bath toy for children.”
“A bath toy? How fascinating!” Arthur replied, seemingly pleased by the answer Harry had given him.
Molly had immediately begun fussing over Harry, much to amusement of her children and his own dad. Harry had taken the teasing about it from everyone rather well, having quickly silenced them all by saying that he didn’t mind the fussing. Molly had beamed in response and had asked what his favourite dessert was, which led to them all enjoying treacle tart that evening.
However, most of his time was spent with the four Weasley children, who had taken over the library as a place for them to do their summer homework from Hogwarts. Harry was happy to join, especially after Remus had set him some essays to write, knowing that the events at the end of June had delayed them finishing off the last of his schoolwork for the year.
“So, what it is like at Hogwarts?” Harry asked one afternoon, longing for an understanding of the school that was not influenced by his father and uncle. Ginny had told him a fair amount about Hogwarts as well, but even she admitted to him that her view of the school had been tainted by the events of her first year.
“Don’t tell my mum,” Ron said quietly in fear that Molly would overhear what he was about to say, “but I sometimes think the food is better than what she cooks.”
Harry laughed as he replied, “That might be because it is the house-elves who cook the food. Based on my own experiences with them, they will always go above and beyond when any request is made of them.”
“Could you please explain that to our friend, Hermione?” Ginny asked with a slight desperation in her voice. “She has been obsessed with this need to help them, free them, ever since she saw the awful treatment of one while we were at the Quidditch World Cup last year.”
“Is she a Muggleborn?” Harry asked curiously.
“Yeah, how did you know?” Ron asked.
“Dad told me my mum reacted similar to your friend when she discovered that house-elves help keep the castle running,” Harry explained. “My dad, James, took her down to the kitchens to meet them and she took the time to learn about them, their magic, their history and so on. It helped her to accept that they like to work, but still deserve to be treated with respect. I would advise your friend speaks to them before jumping to conclusions about what she thinks they need. They are incredibly powerful magical beings.”
Harry quickly learned more about Hermione Granger, Ron’s best friend at Hogwarts. He was surprised to hear she was a Gryffindor after being told she was extremely bright and loved to learn everything she could about their subjects and the magical world.
“I will be shocked if she isn’t named as a prefect, this year,” Ron said, a proud tone seeping through his words. “She will make it harder for the twins to get away with their pranks, especially if they take more of their own creations with them to school.”
“Did we hear our baby brother talking about us?” one of the twins said as they came into the library.
“Don’t call me that!”
“Ron was just saying that his friend, Hermione, should be prefect, this coming school year, and would make life more difficult for you,” Harry told them.
“Percy couldn’t even control us, even when he was Head Boy!” the other twin said. “So, trust us, Hermione will not be a problem!”
Harry enjoyed learning more Hogwarts and what it was like to go to school there. He was amused by how much Ron talked about his friend, Hermione, making him suspect the youngest male Weasley had a crush on the girl. He laughed at all the pranks the twins had pulled, including one they had pulled on the Potions professor that had left him covered, head to toe, in various shades of pink. The very fact it had been done on Severus Snape, the man he knew had once been a friend of his mum, was even more hilarious. In return, he told them more stories of the pranks the Marauders pulled at school, which only served to give the twins some more ideas. However, it was the evenings, after dinner, that Harry loved the most.
Every night, since Ginny had arrived at Grimmauld Place with her family, Harry and Ginny had spent a few hours talking, just the two of them. They would talk about anything and everything from their childhoods to the nightmares they both had. Harry had never felt so comfortable talking to anyone as he did Ginny, even more so than his dad, someone who he had always been open with. With Ginny, however, he knew she would understand his fears and the nightmares in a way no one else possibly could. Even then, Harry felt drawn to her in a way he couldn’t explain.
Harry’s eyes fluttered open at the sound of his name being called. He turned his head towards where the voice had come from to find a blurry outline of his best friend.
“Ginny?” he said as he reached over for his glasses, bringing her and the room into focus.
Looking at her, he could tell she had been woken from a nightmare. With a house as Dark this one was, he would have been surprised if it hadn’t caused her or anyone nightmares. He had told her, that first evening, that if she had a nightmare that she was welcome to wake him if needs be, which she had quickly responded to by telling him he could come to her as well. Somehow, just knowing she was across the hall from him was enough to keep the nightmares away for now.
“Sorry to wake you,” she said as she slid under the covers when he raised them in invitation to join him. “It’s just that you said…”
Harry just wrapped his arms around his best friend and pulled her closer until she was resting her head on his chest.
“What did you dream about?” he quietly asked as he slowly began to run a hand through her long, red hair.
“I was back in the Chamber,” Ginny whispered as Harry felt her tears hit his chest. “There are so many snakes on display in this house. I have managed to ignore them for the most part, but tonight… they were all I could think about when I went to sleep.”
“Were you dreaming specifically about the Basilisk?”
“Yes, which is weird, because the only time I remember seeing it was when I woke up after you stabbed the diary. I don’t remember any of the times he possessed me and then forced me to use the Basilisk to hurt people. I mean, I did begin to suspect I was the one behind the attacks, but I wasn’t certain because I didn’t remember anything. All I knew was that the blank spots in my memory seemed to line up with them.”
Harry sat up, bringing Ginny with him so he could look directly into her eyes as he said, “You know you’re not to blame for anything that happened? Tom used you to get what he wanted, but you fought him every step of the way.”
“I do know that, Harry,” Ginny replied with a small smile on her face. “I know it in my heart, but sometimes, my brain seems to forget.”
“Is it just the snake décor that is bothering you? Because I wouldn’t blame you if it were as this house is just so Dark. Dad always told me it was, but I didn’t grasp just how much until we arrived here after what happened the other week.”
“Maybe,” Ginny answered, though Harry could sense her uncertainty. He knew, however, that she would talk when she was ready. He wasn’t willing to push her in the same way he knew that she would never push him to say more than he was ready for.
“Do you want to stay here and sleep?” Harry asked nervously, acutely aware that he was asking his best friend, who just so happened to be an extremely beautiful girl, to sleep in the same bed as him.
Ginny’s response was to push Harry back down onto bed before curling up next to him and pulling the covers over them. Harry was certainly not going to complain about it, especially when Ginny seemingly settled down and fell asleep within minutes.
In amongst all of the excitement of having Ginny and her family staying with him and his dad for the summer, Harry felt this big ball of confusion inside of him. They had only met once in person before this summer and yet, when he saw her that first morning, it had not felt weird to hug her and then drag her into his bedroom. It didn’t seem to matter that she had essentially been his pen pal for the past two years; she had quickly become his best friend and the one person he knew he could confide in about anything. However, he would be a fool to deny how much Ginny had changed physically in those two years and how she was growing to become a beautiful young woman. Now, here she was curled up against him in his bed and calling her best friend didn’t seem quite right. She was so much more than that, but he wasn’t quite sure what that was. He knew, though, that he would figure it out at some point.
“I am hoping you have all completed or have at least done the bulk of your summer homework,” Molly Weasley said as she served up breakfast the next morning. “I will be needing your help on getting this place cleaned up. If you all help, then we can get a good portion
of the house done before you return to school in September.”
Her children nodded in confirmation, though Harry suspected that the twins and Ron had not done anywhere near as much as Molly had hoped for. He knew Ginny was close to completing her work as he had helped her with a couple of subjects. She had told him that the sooner she had the work completed, the more time they could dedicate to training alongside Harry. He just hoped helping with cleaning the house didn’t cut too much into the time they would need for training.
“Sorry for sneaking out your room without waking you, this morning,” Ginny whispered, pulling Harry from his thoughts.
“That’s ok,” Harry whispered back as he felt his cheeks begin to heat up at the thought of them having slept in the same bed together.
“I dread to think what would have happened had your mum caught us. I know my dad would have had too much fun teasing us about it.”
“Thank you for last night. I haven’t slept that well in quite a long time.”
Harry couldn’t help but notice as Ginny began to blush. He wondered if it was just because they had shared a bed for a few hours or if there was something more to it. Whatever it was, he knew he didn’t feel embarrassed by what had happened, not that he planned to tell anyone, as it had felt natural to him to have her curled up next to him. He hoped Ginny felt the same way about as he did, not that he was ready to have that conversation until he understood why things seemed different when it came to her.
“I was wondering, though,” Ginny continued, leaning into Harry more to make sure no one overheard them, “if you had forgotten you could come to me if you had any nightmares? It’s just… well, you seemed to be sleeping peacefully when I came in last night, but…”
“I haven’t had any nightmares since you arrived,” Harry told her honestly. “Well, at least nothing that has stopped me from going back to sleep. Talking to you that first morning really helped me. I think if someone had been killed that night then the nightmares would have been far worse than they already are.”
Ginny smiled in response, causing Harry to feel a fluttering in his stomach.
“I promise, though, that if I have one bad enough to stop me from sleeping, I will come and get you.”
“Good. I would hate to introduce my Bat Bogey Hex I have told you about,” Ginny replied, making Harry laugh loud enough to capture the other occupants’ attention.
“What’s funny, Harry?” Sirius asked his son as he entered the kitchen.
“Ginny was just threatening me with her Bat Bogey Hex,” Harry explained, trying to ignore the looks on both his father’s and Molly’s faces. They both appeared to seem happy, but Harry couldn’t figure out why. He just hoped neither of them knew that he had slept in the same bed as Ginny for a few hours during the night.
“Oh, no, you definitely don’t want to be introduced to that, Harry,” Ron said with a shiver. “The feeling of bats coming out of your nose…”
Harry laughed at the look of horror on Ron’s face. He was impressed that Ginny had her brothers wrapped round her fingers with a threat of a simple Hex.
“You’ll have to tell me more about this hex, Ginny,” Sirius said with genuine interest, “but for now, I need to get going as I have a couple of meetings to attend today. When I get home, Harry, I should be able to update you about what is going on and set up a schedule for your and Ginny’s training.”
“Ok, Dad,” Harry replied, relief flowing through him at hopefully getting some answers as to what had happened to allow Voldemort to successfully kidnap him.
“Be good and have fun cleaning the drawing room, kids,” Sirius said with a laugh as he exited the kitchen.
Harry was not convinced that Molly’s idea of having the house cleaned by the end of the summer would happen. They had already spent the morning working on removing the Doxy infestation from the curtains. If they continued at this pace, they would be lucky to get started on the bedrooms. They have been fit for use, but that didn’t mean the bedrooms could be neglected from being scrubbed from top to bottom. Even then, a fair few things in the house had been stuck to the walls with a Permanent Sticking Charm, which left Harry thinking that, perhaps, the house was better left in the state it was in. However, his dad had made it clear he wanted it cleaned up and fit for use for the Order and as a safe house, therefore, it had to be cleaned.
“The tapestry will have to be left for now,” Molly said as she, Harry, and the four Weasley children re-entered the drawing room after lunch. “I will have to speak to Sirius about the best way to clean and repair it. So, in the meantime, we are going to clear out the cabinets. I have no idea if any of the items in there are safe, so I need you all to concentrate as you remove the items in case just the act of touching or moving them makes them do something nasty.”
Molly glared at the five teens, making Harry very glad that she was not his mother. He suspected Molly was not a woman to be crossed.
“Right, Harry, Ginny and Ron, you can work on that cabinet,” Molly said as she pointed to the cabinet to the left of the mantlepiece, “and you, Fred and George, can help me with the other one.”
Harry held in the chuckle at the expressions on the twins’ faces, knowing that they were being punished for trying to sneak some of the Doxies away to experiment with, earlier that morning.
“They deserved that,” Ginny whispered before turning to the cabinet they had been assigned to.
“Like that will stop them,” Ron commented. “Those two are too sneaky. I do wonder how they were never sorted into Slytherin.”
The three teens quickly began working on removing items from the cabinet as they noticed Molly glance suspiciously at them. It didn’t take long for them all to realise it was best not to examine any of the items once a silver snuffbox tried to bite Harry as he removed it and after Ron had opened musical box that played a tune that caused the occupants of the drawing room to become sleepy. Luckily, Ginny had the sense to snap the lid shut before it caused further problems.
“No examining anything, unless it is deemed necessary,” Molly had declared after those two incidences. “Straight into the bag, no questions asked.”
They all did as she asked, until Harry picked up a large, heavy locket. Harry knew he was not meant to examine it, but something was drawing him to do so. It was gold and decorated with glittering, green stones shaped into a serpentine S. Turning it, he could see the seam, but yet there appeared to be no logical place to open it. As Harry went to examine it a little closer, something hard slammed into his legs, causing him to stumble into Ron, who fortunately stopped them both from tumbling over.
“That is my master’s locket,” Kreacher cried as the house elf grabbed Harry’s wrist. “You must give Kreacher back the locket.”
Harry and Ron exchanged a look of confusion as Kreacher’s words drew the other Weasleys over to the two teens.
“My dad has not lived here in a long time, Kreacher,” Harry calmly told him as Kreacher continued to wrestle with Harry’s wrist. “I am certain this is not his locket.”
“No, no, not him, never him,” Kreacher mumbled as he moved onto attempting to uncurl Harry’s fingers from around the locket. “My master, Regulus. Poor Master Regulus.”
Harry wrenched his hand free from the house-elf, wondering why this was such an important possession to Kreacher.
“Kreacher, can you tell me why you must keep it?” Ginny softly asked Kreacher as she knelt down next to the house-elf.
Kreacher looked at the youngest Weasley, shock evident in his eyes at being spoken to in a kind manner. Harry could tell, however, that he was not going to speak as Ginny was not a member of the House of Black.
“Kreacher, you need to tell us why this locket is important,” Harry demanded, despite knowing that they would be going round in circles until his dad came home and intervened. While he knew he was heir to the House of Black, Harry was certain Kreacher would not respond to his requests or demands until Harry was officially the head of the family.
“No, no, no,” Kreacher mumbled as he began to pull his ears in frustration. “Kreacher has said too much. No, Kreacher cannot tell you.
Master Regulus forbade Kreacher from telling anyone.”
Harry turned his head to look at Molly, but that was all Kreacher needed for him to grab hold of Harry’s hand and pry the locket from it. To everyone’s surprise, instead of Apparating, the house-elf turned and shot out of the drawing room.
“We need to stop him,” Harry said as he took off after Kreacher.
The Weasleys followed Harry through the house and down into the basement to where Kreacher’s cupboard was.
“Kreacher, we need to know what is so important about that locket,” Harry demanded once again as he ripped opened the door to the cupboard.
Kreacher looked up, wide-eyed, at Harry as he kept the locket hidden in hands behind his back.
“What’s going on here?” a voice from behind them said.
Harry turned, relieved to see his dad having arrived him. He knew Kreacher would answer to him if his dad demanded it.
“We were clearing out those cabinets in the drawing room and I found this locket. I was just taking a look at it when Kreacher attacked me, demanding he be given the locket. He mentioned your brother, Regulus, Dad,” Harry explained quickly, fearful that Kreacher would take the chance to disappear.
Sirius turned to Molly, who nodded her confirmation that Harry had told the truth.
“Kreacher,” Sirius said in a firm voice, “please give me the locket that Harry speaks of and remain where you are.”
The house-elf obeyed the command of his master, even though the occupants of the house could see him trying to fight against them.
“Explain what this is and what is has to do with my brother?” Sirius asked as he took hold of the locket, quickly looking at it before turning his eyes back to the house-elf.
“Master Regulus forbade Kreacher to tell anyone.”
“Then, perhaps, I can just add this item to the bag of junk I intend on throwing out.”
It seemed every person in the room was holding their breath as they waited for Kreacher’s reaction to his master’s threat. Harry knew his dad had no intention of throwing the locket away as it had invoked a reaction that did not involve any sort of insult from the house-elf.
“The locket, Master, was stolen by Master Regulus,” Kreacher finally responded. “He ordered Kreacher to destroy it, but nothing Kreacher did worked. I failed Master Regulus.”
“Kreacher, who did Regulus steal the locket from?” Harry asked with a sense of foreboding. The small pieces of information he had seemed to be coming together quickly. He knew from what his dad had told him that Regulus had been a Death Eater and had died at a young age. No one knew what had happened to him, but it was assumed that Regulus had died personally at the hands of Voldemort himself. If the locket was given by Regulus to Kreacher to be destroyed, then the locket had to belong to…
“The Dark Lord, Master Harry.”
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