Chapter 8: A Special Place

"Good morning," said Harry as he entered the kitchen of the Burrow the next morning. He saw Ginny sitting at the table folding a piece of parchment.

"Good morning Harry," said Ginny.

"Harry dear," said Molly, "so good to see you." She gave him a firm hug. "I was so happy when Ginny mentioned you'd be staying with us for a while."

Molly released him and Harry said, "Just 'til I get a place of my own."

"Stay as long as you like, it's no trouble at all and you are most welcome." She turned back and continued making breakfast.

Ginny stood and walked to the kitchen window. She opened the window and called out, "Pigwidgeon! I have a letter for you to deliver!"

A moment later, a very excited ball of feathers landed on the windowsill, hooting happily, and pacing back and forth.

Ginny giggled. "Hold still silly so I can tie it on." A moment later she said, "It goes to Professor McGonagall at Hogwarts. Have a nice flight."

The owl hooted and then took off like a skyrocket into the air. A moment later, the owl was out of sight. Ginny turned from the window to see Harry still standing where Molly had released him from her hug. He had an absent expression on his face as he gazed unfocused toward the window.

"Harry?" said Ginny. "What is it?"

"... Huh? ... Oh ... nothing. Just thinking," said Harry in a quiet voice. He moved toward the table and sat down.

Ginny sat down next to Harry. "Hedwig?" she said in a caring voice.

Harry nodded.

She took his hand and gave it a squeeze. "I miss her too."

"Here you are," said Molly as she placed plates in front of Harry and Ginny. "Tuck in before it gets cold."

"Good morning everyone," said Arthur as he hastily entered the kitchen and sat down at the table. "Both back safe and sound?"

"Yes Dad. Everything went well and Hermione restored her parents' memories."

"That is so good to hear," said Molly as she placed a plate in front of Arthur. "Hermione must be very happy."

"Yes, she is," said Harry.

With a wink at Harry, Ginny said, "Mum, Ron said to tell you they'll be back in a week or two and not to worry."

"That's a bit like telling the sun not to rise," said Arthur barely above a whisper.

"I heard that Arthur," said Molly a scolding tone of voice. "After all that has happened to this family, it's a wonder we don't have to drink calming draught twice a day."

"Yes dear," said Arthur in a conciliatory tone. "I'm sorry. Dan and Emma will look after them. They may be muggles, but they are wise and sensible."

"Mister Weasley," said Harry, "How are things at the Ministry?"

"Getting better now that Kingsleys on the job," said Arthur casually. "There were some rumors yesterday about a security problem in one of the lower level courtrooms but that sort of thing happens sometimes. I understand there was a death eater trial yesterday. Why do you ask?"

Harry looked at Ginny and ever so slightly shook his head. "We heard mention of it."

"My word," said Arthur taking a bite of toast, "a long way for that news to travel. But that's all I know about it. The details of the case are being kept very confidential."

Harry took a sip of orange juice. "Auror Sanders will be stopping by this afternoon. He wants to talk to me."

Arthur smiled. "Trying to recruit you into their ranks?"

"I've been thinking about that career, something like a detective."

Standing by the sink behind Harry, Molly glanced at him for a moment with a concerned look on her face.

Arthur stood. "Well, I'm running a bit late this morning and must be on my way to the office." He went over and kissed Molly on the cheek. "See you all this evening."

"By Dad," said Ginny. "Have a nice day."

"The same to all of you." Then he stepped out the kitchen door and disapparated.

A while later Ginny said, "Mum, do you need help with anything today?"

"No Ginny dear, nothing today. You and Harry just rest from your travels. I'll be leaving in a bit to visit with Andra Diggory."

Ginny turned to Harry. "A quick stop by Fred's grave and then a morning walk?"

"Yeah. That sounds good."

Ginny took a piece of toast and put it in her pocket. They stood, went out the kitchen door, and silently walked toward the old oak tree. Upon reaching the grave, Ginny dropped down onto one knee and took out her wand. She pointed her wand at the base of the headstone and said, "Orchideous!" A bouquet of many different colored wildflowers appeared. Standing up, she pocketed her wand and then took Harry's hand. Sparrows sang from the tree branches above them lauding the start of another day. After a few moments, they began walking toward the woods on the far side of the field.

"You didn't want to tell my dad about what happened yesterday?"

"No, not yet. Your dad is really well connected at the Ministry. If he doesn't know the details of that trial, it must be important to keep it quiet. I'll ask Auror Sanders about it this afternoon."

"I'm relieved nothing serious happened. ... Oh! Look over there, a Kestrel!" She pointed to a patch of sky above the woods a short distance away. A bird hovered in flight for a moment and then flew down out of site.

"I envy you having grown up in the countryside like this, away from all the city lights and noise."

They walked slowly along a pathway that led toward the woods. The pure natural surroundings captivated him as she pointed out things he hadn't noticed before. They saw squirrels and quail ahead of them that moved into the tall grass of the field as they approached. When they reached the place on the path where the animal had been, Ginny would break off a piece of the toast and drop it by the opening in the tall grass.

Upon reaching the edge of the woods she said, "Follow me. There's a place I want to show you."

She led him into the woods for a short distance and then stepped between two closely growing bushes. They quietly walked among the trees and underbrush, their feet making a soft crunching sound with each step. Though there was no path, she confidently moved forward. Sunlight filtered through the canopy of leaves causing points of light on the ground all around them. The damp stillness and woodsy scents of the cool morning air heightened their senses. A few minutes later, she turned and disappeared from view through a small opening in a line of tall and closely growing bushes. Harry followed. Stepping into a bright clearing, he abruptly stopped. The sight took his breath away.

She walked slowly down a grass-covered slope toward a small stream. There were boulders, wildflowers, tall reeds, and large trees all around. The water in the stream made a gently bubbling sound as it lapped between the rocks along its course. The sunlight illuminated her long silky hair making it flash its fiery red color. Stopping by the edge of the stream, she looked back over her shoulder toward him with an alluring smile and soft inviting eyes.

"B..limey!" thought Harry as a dreamy expression came to his face. His eyes lingered and took in every detail of the pleasant sight before him. He wondered, "Do her shorts and top fit more snugly now?"

She held out her hand beckoning him to join her. He felt a brief flutter as he began to move forward still gazing intently at her. One of his steps found uneven ground and it caused him a slight stumble. She smiled broadly.

A few more steps and he took hold of her outstretched hand. "You have a powerful stunning charm."

She giggled and then led him across the stream, stepping on two large stones just above the water. The shaded grassy slope was steeper on this side of the stream. They sat down side by side on a thick mat of grass by the edge of the stream. She removed her sandals, reclined onto her back, and dangled her feet in the water.

"This is wonderful," said Harry still turning his head and taking in the sight around him.

"It's my special secret place. I come here when I need to sort things out. You're the only one I've ever brought here."

"I'm honored. Your secret is safe with me." Then looking around with a thoughtful expression said, "But somehow ... this place seems a bit familiar."

He picked up a few small stones and tossed them one by one into the stream. Then he lay back and gazed up at the trees watching the leaves dance in the breeze against the blue sky.

She picked a long blade of grass from a tuft growing nearby and gazed up at the sky. "Were you at a place like this last year when you were away?"

"I'm not sure. We had to keep moving every few days so the snatchers wouldn't get us. We camped in some very remote and beautiful places but we were never able to enjoy them. We were always on guard and took turns keeping watch 'round the clock. It's hard to believe it's over, that the prophecy is fulfilled. I'm thankful we don't have to run and hide anymore. Or be afraid of waking up surrounded by death eaters trying to capture or kill us."

She thought for a moment as her fingers twisted the blade of grass. "Did it all happen because you picked up that glass ball in the Hall of Prophecy?"

"No, Trelawney spoke the prophecy before I was born. Riddle found out about it, but only the first part. He was obsessed with trying to live forever and thought I'd be able to destroy him. So he kept trying to kill me first. In the process, he caused so much pain and killed so many people." Harry turned his head to look at Ginny and in a quiet quivering voice said, "He almost killed you too ... in the chamber of secrets."

Ginny rolled onto her side facing him with her arm propping up her head. She put her other hand over his heart. "You stopped him Harry. You stopped him and saved my life. You were stronger because you care about others."

He looked up at the sky again. "Dumbledore said that too. He heard the whole prophecy and worked out what it meant. He tried to help protect my mum and dad but ... their secret was betrayed."

Tentatively she said, "Do you remember the words of the prophecy?"

He turned his head and looked into her eyes. There was a longing to draw closer and a desire to help him mend. He took out his wand and swept it in a circle around them. "Privatum!" A transparent bubble of magic formed that blocked the sound of their voices.

"It's something that I'll never forget. The one with the power to vanquish ... neither can live while the other survives."     [OOTP, Ch 37]

Her face was sorrowful. "Oh Harry, what a dreadful burden you've had to bear all your life."

"Dumbledore told me about the prophecy after our battle in the Department of Mysteries. Ron, Hermione, me, and now you are the only ones alive who know the complete prophecy. It must always be kept secret so that no one else can use it to cause pain and suffering."

"The secret is safe with me Harry, I promise. So much power in those few words ... how did you know what to do?"

"During the following school year, Dumbledore gave me lessons, told me things I needed to know to defeat him. But I didn't know exactly and it took ages to sort it out."

"It must have felt awful ... knowing you had to kill him."

He nodded. "The worst part was knowing that I was endangering the lives of the people I care about most. Your family welcomed me in and suffered so much as a result. How can I ever say how sorry I am?"

"Harry, you had the courage and guts to stand up to him. You inspired that in everyone who stood with you. We chose to join you because it was the right thing to do. We all wanted to help put an end to that great evil in the world."

He made no reply. After a moment, he looked at her. "Tell me about what happened to you this last year at Hogwarts."

She lay on her back with a faraway expression on her face. Twisting the blade of grass with her fingers and gazing up at the sky she said, "It started out okay. As headmaster, Snape treated us the same as he always did. He made some new rules. Students were only permitted in the halls and corridors when going to lessons or meals. The rest of the time, we had to stay in our dormitory or house common room and study.

The Ministry made changes to the curriculum and the professors were not pleased. The Ministry put overseers in the classrooms to monitor our lessons. What the professors were forced to teach was a joke but they had no choice. They either did as the overseers said or face an inquisition about their loyalties to the Ministry.

But as time went by it got worse. The overseers would give out detentions if a question was asked they didn't like or if they thought you disagreed with what was being taught. For detention, they'd lock you away in an empty room by yourself for hours. You had to read all the anti-muggle rubbish the Ministry was printing. A few times, the entire house of students was not permitted to take a meal because someone stepped out of line.

Neville, Luna, and me started meeting secretly and planning what to do about it. We thought that if they were going to treat us like unruly children, we'd start acting like it. Slowly, others joined us. Most were from the D.A. We used coded messages to communicate with each other and with students locked up in detention. We started nicking things or moving them to inappropriate places. Peeves helped us and thoroughly enjoyed it. He acted as a decoy for us many times."

With a prideful smile she said, "One morning we were being marched into the Great Hall for breakfast. As we entered, everyone started laughing. The statue of Boris the Bewildered was front-and-center in the Great Hall. Neville and Hannah had enlarged it twice normal size and put a strong sticking charm on it. Everyone missed breakfast that day but it was worth it. It took the overseers the rest of the day to remove it. Snape was furious but he also seemed concerned about what the overseers might do.

One night, Luna sent me a message that her father was hurt and she was going to see him. We became very worried when we didn't hear from her. We learned from a Potterwatch broadcast that she had been taken hostage to force her father to print Ministry rubbish in the Quibbler. We thought they might be on to us and lost a bit of our nerve.

Then the Carrows showed up and they were dreadful. They started using physical punishments on us like Umbridge did." Her voice cracked as she said, "But they did even worse. S ... students were being forced ... to punish each other ... to ... to use hexes and curses on each other." A tear trickled down her cheek.

Harry rolled onto his side facing her and held her hand.

After a moment she said, "We decided that it was time for more focused efforts instead of just prankish disruptions. We began to do detention intervention missions and prevent students from really hurting each other. We used shield charms and counter spells. Those who knew what we were doing would pretend to be in pain. I lost count of how many DIMs we did. We put detection charms on the secret corridors and set up extendible ears all over the castle so we could listen in on staff meetings. The Carrows were running things and Snape was just a figurehead. Snape spent a lot of time away from the castle.

Then they started expelling students. Most were D.A. members who were active in the resistance effort. They were forcibly taken to the Ministry courtrooms for interrogation and disciplinary action. It was a dark desperate time for us and Hogwarts. We started doubting ourselves and wondering if our efforts were doing any good.

That's when Neville activated the Room of Requirement a made it the D.A. hideout and headquarters. He refocused our thinking and purpose. If we heard of someone about to be expelled, we'd go to them first and ask if they wanted to stay and work the resistance. Those that did were given access to the hideout and became fulltime members for the cause."

In an empty sounding voice she said, "But most didn't want to help, their spirits had been broken. They said what we were doing was hopeless. It was as if a dementor had sucked out all of their personality. We were losing and it made me feel so angry. What was happening was so very wrong and we had little power to stop them. It was like what happened to me with that diary!"

Her hand now had a painful grip on his hand. Her other hand was clenched in a fist and the knuckles of the fingers were white. Her eyes squinted and her face held a pained expression. He gazed at her sorrowfully as his thumb gently caressed her hand. She took many deep breaths in an effort to calm down and relax. Slowly, the pained expression softened.

In a very contrite voice she said, "I even seriously considered using the cruciatus curse on them. Oh Harry, they were turning me into the kind of person I abhor."

"But they didn't Ginny. They may have changed you for a time on the outside but the goodness and compassion remained in your heart. No one will ever be able to take that from you, you're much too strong and courageous. The Ginny I know would choose to die before giving up on those virtues."

She rolled close and gently pushed his shoulder so he would lie on his back. Laying her head on his shoulder, she wrapped her arm around him and took a deep breath. They were quiet for a while each drawing solace and comfort from the other.

"I wish Professor Trelawney had never spoken that prophecy," said Ginny in a quiet voice. "It caused so much hurt."

"Riddle chose the way the prophecy would be fulfilled. He could have chosen differently ... or not at all."

"Then Fred would still be alive."

"And my mum and dad."

After a long while, she sat up. "Best we start back for the Burrow. You have that meeting with Auror Sanders later."

Harry nodded and sat up.

"Thanks for listening Harry." She gave him a quick kiss. "I feel better."

"You've helped me feel better too."

They stood and made their way across the stream. Hand in hand, they walked slowly up the grassy slope and disappeared into the opening between the tall bushes.

Harry and Ginny sat side by side at the Weasley picnic table. Across from them sat Auror Sanders. He had spent the better part of thirty minutes asking them questions about the incident in the Australian tavern. During the questioning, a magic quill busily wrote in a notebook that lay on the table beside the Auror. Now, there was deep concentration on the Auror's face as he turned pages and reviewed the notes in his book. Harry thought that in some ways, Auror Sanders reminded him of Mad Eye Moody. Auror Sanders was no nonsense and all business whenever Harry had seen him. The Auror rarely had more than a stern blank expression.

"And the last either of you saw Joey and Tony is when they were ejected from the tavern?"

"Yes," they both nodded.

After a moment the Auror said, "Okay, I have all the information I need. I'll contact you if any other questions come up. Now, in all seriousness, it is very important that you do not discuss these details with anyone else. Doing so could compromise ongoing investigative efforts at the Ministry and internationally. Once again, thank you for your vigilance and action. It has made a great deal of difference."

Harry said, "Auror Sanders, can you tell us anything more about what happened at the Ministry yesterday?"

"I am not at liberty to discuss those details at this time. The investigation is ongoing. I can say that this incident ties into others that are worldwide in scope. Both the magical and muggle worlds have been targeted by terrorist organizations. These groups are attempting to disrupt international trust and conducts of behavior on all levels. Their goal is to return to the laws and totalitarian control used in the Middle Ages. I'm sure you can appreciate the inevitable result of that form of governance."

With grim expressions, both Harry and Ginny nodded.

The voice of Molly was heard from the open window of the kitchen. "Ginny, when you can get away, please come and help me for just a minute."

"If we're done Auror Sanders, I will excuse myself."

"Nothing more," said the Auror as they all stood. "Thank you."

Ginny turned and walked toward the Burrow. Harry looked at the Auror and in a low voice said, "What did you find in the courtroom?"

With a serious expression, and in a low voice he said, "What I'm about to tell you is highly classified. Kingsley has okayed just you hearing about it. An explosive device was found in chambers. It had been set to detonate during the preliminary hearings of the trial. A special disarming charm was used to neutralize it. The accused has connections with the operative in Azkaban. We've been secretly monitoring the communications of the operative."

With a downcast expression of disgust, Harry slowly shook his head and thought, "Will it ever end?"

Auror Sanders looked at Harry for a moment. Then he said, "I am of the opinion that the Auror Department would benefit greatly by your membership in our ranks. As evident by your communication to me the other day, you possess many of the skills and abilities we seek. Now if you will excuse me, I must be getting back to my work."

Harry watched as the Auror walked outside the protective wards in place around the Burrow and disapparated. Harry stared blankly as thoughts and memories of Mad Eye and Auror Martin came to mind. After a long moment, a resolute expression appeared on his face. He turned and walked toward the kitchen door of the Burrow.

This is an original fan fiction story based on the seven book series 'Harry Potter' written by J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter, the characters, names and related characters are trademarks of Warner Bros., Inc. Harry Potter publishing rights © J.K.R. This is an unofficial, not for profit site and is in no way connected with J.K. Rowling, Scholastic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing or Warner Bros., Inc. This site is not endorsed by any of these aforementioned parties. Rights to characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. This fan fiction story is owned by the author and subject to copyright law under transformative use.

Copyright © 2015-2017 Don Buczynski
San Diego, California
Published: 8/30/14
Last Updated: 9/30/17