Chapter 1: The Burrow

John Constantine had just turned 12 the day before which was celebrated by the Weasleys which is where he decided to stay for a while. It was actually quite a fun party. Instead of pin the tail they had "catch the gnome" and the pinata they had was filled with chocolate frogs that they also had to catch. Almost everyone John knew from school was there. Ritchie, Chas, Anne, Hermione, and of course the Weasleys were there. The only one that wasn't present was Harry, but John had already guessed that the Dursleys were refusing to let Harry come over. Right now, John was sitting in a lawn chair as he absentmindedly drew in the air with his wand without realizing it. He was wearing a white long sleeve button down shirt with the top two buttons undone. He had a red tie that was tied loosely around his neck, he wore black dress pants, and black dress shoes. He also had a tan raincoat on. He had grown quite a few inches, so he had to go shopping the day before his birthday.

"What is that?" asked a young female Weasley known as Ginny.

"Hmm," John said as he looked at her, "What?"

"That thing you drew," Ginny said gesturing the the magical drawing, "What is it?"

John looked at it and cocked his head to one side. For some reason he drew a shape that looked like a diary or journal in the air. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out as to the reason why.

"Doesn't matter," John shrugged as he waved his wand through the drawing erasing it.

"Okay then," Ginny said, "Well, Mum says it's time for lunch."

"Tell her I'm on my way," John said as he stood up. As Ginny headed back inside, he reached for his lucky lighter as he had many times during the summer, but like then he found the place he'd normally store it to be empty. That lighter had become a habit of his, and he honestly missed that habit. However, keeping Harry safe from Voldemort was more important than his habit. John sighed and then walked to the Weasley's house that looked like it could topple any second. He almost knocked, but then remembered he lived there so it was a bit pointless to do so. Instead, he just opened the door and walked inside.

"Lunch is on the table John," Molly Weasley said as she pointed her wand at a shattered glass cup, "Reparo."

John watched as the cup returned to its usual self before he continued his way to the table. Already sitting at the table was Ron, Ginny, Fred, George, and Percy. Arthur was at work currently and won't be expected home till the afternoon. The table had steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and some biscuits in the middle.

"Why do you wear that coat of yours everywhere you go?" Percy asked disapprovingly as John sat down.

"Cause I can," John shrugged, "Besides we wear cloaks everywhere we go while at school, and those are basically coats as well."

"Hmpf," Percy grunted as he cut into his steak.

"Lose the hood and you'd look good," Fred said as he scooped into his mashed potatoes.

"What if it rains?" John asked as he picked up his glass of water, "I'm not exactly looking to catch pneumonia, mate."

"Fair enough," George said as he bit into his biscuit.

Ron just ate in silence as all the good questions and statements had already been said. They all kept the silence as they ate till Erroll crashed into the window. John could help snorting each time he saw that happen.

"Bird's a bloody menace," Ron complained as Molly went to see if Erroll was alright, "Honestly. It destroys more things than not. I hope it kills itself one of these days."

"Hilarious though," John said, "I've had more laughs seeing that bird fly into things than I had before coming here to stay with you lot."

"There's a letter for you here, John," Molly said as she walked over, "I don't recognize the address, though."

John accepted the letter and looked at it before pocketing it.

"Not going to open it?" Fred asked disappointed.

"No," John said.

"Why not?" George asked also disappointed.

"It's probably just a request for my services," John shrugged, "Never really anything interesting on these letters."

"I'd love to watch you do an exorcism," Fred said with George nodding his agreement.

"Exorcisms aren't for the faint of heart," John said with a serious expression, "Besides, you two would probably botch it up somehow by just being there."

Fred and George looked offended at that, but Percy actually smiled out of amusement. The meal continued in silence, and when everything was done the dishes floated over to the sink and began cleaning themselves. John on the other hand went up to his room to open the letter. When he opened it he read:

Dear, Mr. John Constantine

I have a request of the utmost importance. I believe my daughter is possessed by the devil himself. I took her to St. Mundo's, but they said it wasn't a medical problem and that they had no idea what was going on. That is when I was approached by the Hogwarts Headmaster who was there visiting two patients. He told me that I should contact you, and even though you were still a kid you knew what you were doing. I implore you, please come to my aid at your earliest convenience. I will reward you handsomely. I am currently staying in the French embassy at the moment.

Sincerely, Monsieur Delacour

John sat down on his bed and put the letter down as he debated on if he should go help the man at all, but he had no idea if he could be able to get into the Embassy. He didn't even notice that Ron had come into the room and sat down on the bed next to him. He only realized Ron was there when ron spoke up.

"So," Ron said, "You have been hired for a job by a French guy?"

"Aye," John said, "Problem is, I'm not French so I can't get into the Embassy."

"Dad might be able to help you with that," Ron said.

"Aye," John agreed, "Problem is, my earliest convenience won't be until christmas and he said it was of the utmost importance."

"Oh," Ron said, "Well… I don't have any other ideas. Sorry."

"Not your fault, mate," John said.

"Come on," Ron said, "Let's go play a little bit of Quidditch with Fred and George. They're already going out there."

"Why not," John said as he stood up, "I don't exactly have anything else I need to do at the moment."

Later, at night…

John, Ron, George, and Fred were in Arthur's flying car on their way to Harry's house. Arthur had informed them that Harry had gotten a letter for using magic in front of muggles. They spent a few minutes flying in the air till ron looked to the side and saw something odd.

"That house has bars on one of the windows," Ron said. John looked out Ron's window and narrowed his eyes.

"That's Potter's house," John said, "Go down there."

"Are you sure?" the twins asked in unison.

"Yes," John said.

When they got down there, they saw Harry sleeping in his bed and Hedwig with her head tucked under her wing as she slept. They then spent a few minutes trying to wake Harry up unsuccessfully.

Harry's POV…

He slowly opened his eyes, and saw that moonlight was shining through the bars on the window. And someone was goggling through the bars at him: a freckle-faced, red-haired, long-nosed someone. Ron Weasley was outside Harry's window.

"Ron!" breathed Harry creeping to the window and pushing it up so they could talk through the bars, "Ron, how did you… what the…"

"Harry's mouth fell open as the full impact of what he was seeing hit him. Ron was leaning out of the back window of an old turquoise car, which was parked in midair. Grinning at Harry from the front seats were Fred and George, Ron's elder twin brothers.

"Alright, Harry?" asked George.

"What's been going on?" said Ron, "Why haven't you been answering my letters? I've asked you to stay about twelve times, and then Dad came home and said you'd got an official warning for using magic in front of Muggles…"

"It wasn't me… and how did he know?"

"He works for the Ministry," said Ron, "You know we're not supposed to do spells outside school…"

"You should talk," said Harry, staring at the floating car.

"Oh, this doesn't count," said Ron. "We're only borrowing this.
It's Dad's, we didn't enchant it. But doing magic in front of those Muggles you live with…"

"I told you, I didn't… but it'll take too long to explain now… look, can you tell them at Hogwarts that the Dursleys have locked me up and won't let me come back, and obviously I can't magic myself out, because the Ministry'll think that's the second spell I've done in three days, so…"

"Stop gibbering, mate," said John over Ron's shoulder, "We've come to take you home with us."

"But you can't magic me out either…"

"Who needs magic?" John asked as he handed ron a bottle, "Just splash this on the bars. It'll turn them to dust."

"Here," said Ron, throwing Harry the bottle, "Don't take too long though."

"If the Dursleys wake up, I'm dead," said Harry as he opened the bottle and prepared to pour it on the bars.

"Don't worry," said John, "the effects shouldn't be too loud. You might want to stand back though, mate. It'll cause one hell of a rust cloud."

Harry moved back into the shadows next to Hedwig, who seemed to have realized how important this was and kept still and silent. The car purred as it floated by the window idle and suddenly, with a crunching noise, the bars exploded into dust. Harry ran back to the window to see the dust floating down to the ground below. Panting, Ron hoisted them up into the car. Harry listened anxiously, but there was no sound from the Dursleys' bedroom. The car then floated closer to the window.

"Get in," Ron said.

"But all my Hogwarts stuff… my wand… my broomstick…"

"Where is it?" John asked.

"Locked in the cupboard under the stairs, and I can't get out of
this room…"

"No problem, mate," John said as he climbed out of the car like a cat and into Harry's room.

"Don't make a sound," Harry warned.

John just pulled out an amulet and hung it on his neck, and then he walked straight towards the door without making a sound. He didn't bother to open it as he walked straight into the door, but to all their shock he just walked literally through it like a ghost.

"That's new," Harry remarked.

"Yep," the twins agreed, "Cool though. Useful too."

Harry dashed around his room, collecting his things and passing them out of the window to Ron. Then he went to help John heave his trunk up the stairs. Harry heard Uncle Vernon cough.

At last, panting, they reached the landing, then carried the trunk through Harry's room to the open window. Fred reached from the car to pull with Ron, and Harry and John pushed from the bedroom side. Inch by inch, the trunk slid through the window. Uncle Vernon coughed again.

"A bit more," panted Fred, who was pulling from inside the car, "One good push…"

Harry and George threw their shoulders against the trunk and it slid out of the window into the back seat of the car.

"Okay, let's go," John whispered.

But as Harry climbed onto the windowsill there came a sudden loud screech from behind him, followed immediately by the thunder of Uncle Vernon's voice.

"THAT RUDDY OWL!"

"I've forgotten Hedwig!"

Harry tore back across the room as the landing light clicked on… he snatched up Hedwig's cage, dashed to the window, and passed it out to Ron. He was scrambling back onto the chest of drawers when Uncle Vernon hammered on the locked door… and it crashed open.

For a split second, Uncle Vernon stood framed in the doorway; then he let out a bellow like an angry bull and dived at Harry, grabbing him by the ankle.

Ron, Fred, and George seized Harry's arms and pulled as hard as
they could. John on the other hand pulled out a vial of dust, and threw it into the house. Suddenly, the dust formed into a big creature which stared down at Vernon. That made Vernon so afraid he released a bloodcurdling scream. It also allowed Harry to wrench his leg free and climb into the car as the dust creature drifted away into the wind.

"Put your foot down, Fred!" yelled Ron, and the car shot suddenly toward the moon.

Harry couldn't believe it… he was free. He rolled down the window, the night air whipping his hair, and looked back at the shrinking rooftops of Privet Drive. Uncle Vernon was trying to come up with a logical reason as to why he saw a giant creature and what happened to it. Aunt Petunia, and Dudley were hanging, dumbstruck, out of Harry's window.

"See you next summer!" Harry yelled.

The Weasleys roared with laughter and Harry settled back in his seat, grinning from ear to ear. John looked at Harry with a serious expression.

"What?" Harry asked.

"Do you still have my lucky lighter?" John asked.

"Uhhh…" Harry said nervously, "Uncle Vernon… kinda… confiscated it."

"Fred," John said with an angry expression, "turn the car around."

"Why?" Fred asked.

"I'm going to retrieve something that was stolen," John said between gritted teeth.

"Can't," Fred said, "the cloak is about to run out of juice and we're halfway home.

John snarled and crossed his arms in anger as he looked out the window.

"Let Hedwig out," he told Ron. "She can fly behind us. She hasn't had a chance to stretch her wings for ages."

George handed a hairpin to Ron and, a moment later, Hedwig soared joyfully out of the window to glide alongside them like a ghost.

"So… what's the story, Harry?" asked Ron impatiently, "What's been happening?"

Harry told them all about Dobby, the warning he'd given Harry and the fiasco of the violet pudding. There was a long, shocked silence when he had finished.

"Very fishy," said Fred finally.

"Definitely dodgy," agreed George, "So he wouldn't even tell you who's supposed to be plotting all this stuff?"

"Wait," John said as his brain caught up to what they were saying, "Did you say Dobby?"

"Yes," Harry said, "Why?"

"No reason," John said quietly.

"Okay?" Harry said turning back to George, "I don't think he could. I told you, every time he got close to letting something slip, he started banging his head against the wall."

He saw Fred and George look at each other.

"What, you think he was lying to me?" asked Harry.

"Well," said Fred, "put it this way… house-elves have got powerful magic of their own, but they can't usually use it without their master's permission. I reckon old Dobby was sent to stop you coming back to Hogwarts. Someone's idea of a joke. Can you think of anyone at school with a grudge against you?"

"Yes," said Harry, Ron, and John together, instantly.

"Draco Malfoy," Harry explained, "He hates me."

"Draco Malfoy?" said George, turning around, "Not Lucius Malfoy's son?"

"The very same," John said.

"I've heard Dad talking about him," said George, "He was a big supporter of You-Know-Who."

"And when You-Know-Who disappeared," said Fred, craning around to look at Harry, "Lucius Malfoy came back saying he'd never meant any of it. Load of dung, Dad reckons he was right in You-Know-Who's inner circle."

Harry had heard these rumors about Malfoy's family before, and they didn't surprise him at all. Malfoy made Dudley Dursley look like a kind, thoughtful, and sensitive boy.

"I don't know whether the Malfoys own a house-elf…" said Harry.

"They do," John said, "You've met him."

"Dobby?" Harry asked.

"Aye," John said, "Poor guy gets treated like shit. Just another reason to hate the bloody Malfoys."

"Mum's always wishing we had a house-elf to do the ironing," said George "But all we've got is a lousy old ghoul in the attic and gnomes all over the garden. House-elves come with big old manors and castles and places like that; you wouldn't catch one in our house…"

Harry was silent. Judging by the fact that Draco Malfoy usually had the best of everything, his family was rolling in wizard gold; he could just see Malfoy strutting around a large manor house. Sending the family servant to stop Harry from going back to Hogwarts also sounded exactly like the sort of thing Malfoy would do. Had Harry been stupid to take Dobby seriously?

"I'm glad we came to get you, anyway," said Ron, "I was getting really worried when you didn't answer any of my letters. I thought it was Errol's fault at first…"

"Who's Errol?"

"Our owl. He's ancient. It wouldn't be the first time he'd collapsed on a delivery. So then I tried to borrow Hermes…"

"Who?"

"The owl Mum and Dad bought Percy when he was made pre-
fect," said Fred from the front.

"Percy wouldn't lend him to me," said Ron, "Said he needed him."

"Percy's been acting very oddly this summer," said George, frowning, "And he has been sending a lot of letters and spending a load of time shut up in his room… I mean, there's only so many times you can polish a prefect badge…"

"You're driving too far west, Fred," he added pointing at a compass on the dashboard. Fred twiddled the steering wheel.

"So, does your dad know you've got the car?" said Harry, guessing the answer.

"Er, no," said Ron, "he had to work tonight. Hopefully we'll be able to get it back in the garage without Mum noticing we flew it."

"What does your dad do at the Ministry of Magic, anyway?"

"He works in the most boring department," said Ron, "The Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office."

"The what?"

"It's all to do with bewitching things that are Muggle-made, you know, in case they end up back in a Muggle shop or house. Like, last year, some old witch died and her tea set was sold to an antiques shop. This Muggle woman bought it, took it home, and tried to serve her friends tea in it. It was a nightmare… Dad was
working overtime for weeks."

"What happened?"

"The teapot went berserk and squirted boiling tea all over the place and one man ended up in the hospital with the sugar tongs clamped to his nose. Dad was going frantic… it's only him and an old warlock called Perkins in the office… and they had to do Memory Charms and all sorts of stuff to cover it up…"

John had to hold in laughter as ron explained his dad's job. He always found that story as hilarious.

"But your dad… this car…"

Fred laughed, "Yeah, Dad's crazy about everything to do with Muggles; our shed's full of Muggle stuff. He takes it apart, puts spells on it, and puts it back together again. If he raided our house he'd have to put himself under arrest. It drives Mum mad."

"That's the main road," said George, peering down through the windshield, "We'll be there in ten minutes… Just as well, it's getting light…"

A faint pinkish glow was visible along the horizon to the east. Fred brought the car lower, and Harry saw a dark patchwork of fields and clumps of trees.

"We're a little way outside the village," said George, "Ottery St. Catchpole."

Lower and lower went the flying car. The edge of a brilliant red sun was now gleaming through the trees.

"Touchdown!" said Fred as, with a slight bump, they hit the ground. They had landed next to a tumbledown garage in a small yard, and Harry looked out for the first time at Ron's house.

It looked as though it had once been a large stone pigpen, but extra rooms had been added here and there until it was several stories high and so crooked it looked as though it were held up by magic (which, Harry reminded himself, it probably was). Four or five chimneys were perched on top of the red roof. A lopsided sign stuck in the ground near the entrance read, the burrow. Around the front door lay a jumble of rubber boots and a very rusty cauldron. Several fat brown chickens were pecking their way around the yard.

"It's not much," said Ron.

"It's wonderful," said Harry happily, thinking of Privet Drive.

They got out of the car. John waved right before flickering away. John had clearly perfected his astral projection magic power. So well, that it was like he was actually there. His astral form was no longer intangible without aid.

"Cheater," George whispered enviously and annoyed.

"Now, we'll go upstairs really quietly," said Fred, "and wait for Mum to call us for breakfast. Then, Ron, you come bounding downstairs going, 'Mum, look who turned up in the night!' and she'll be all pleased to see Harry and no one need ever know we flew the car."

"Right," said Ron, "Come on, Harry, I sleep at the… at the top…"

Ron had gone a nasty greenish color, his eyes fixed on the house. The other three wheeled around.

Mrs. Weasley was marching across the yard, scattering chickens, and for a short, plump, kind-faced woman, it was remarkable how much she looked like a saber-toothed tiger.

"Ah," said Fred.

"Oh, dear," said George.

Mrs. Weasley came to a halt in front of them, her hands on her hips, staring from one guilty face to the next. She was wearing a flowered apron with a wand sticking out of the pocket.

"So," she said.

" 'Morning, Mum," said George, in what he clearly thought was a jaunty, winning voice.

"Have you any idea how worried I've been?" said Mrs. Weasley in a deadly whisper.

"Sorry, Mum, but see, we had to…"

All three of Mrs. Weasley's sons were taller than she was, but they cowered as her rage broke over them.

"Beds empty! No note! Car gone… could have crashed… out of my mind with worry… did you care?" Molly yelled, Never, as long as I've lived… you wait until your father gets home, we never had trouble like this from Bill or Charlie or Percy…"

"Perfect Percy," muttered Fred.

"YOU COULD DO WITH TAKING A LEAF OUT OF PERCY'S BOOK!" yelled Mrs. Weasley, prodding a finger in Fred's chest, "You could have died, you could have been seen, you could have lost your father his job…"

It seemed to go on for hours. Mrs. Weasley had shouted herself hoarse before she turned on Harry, who backed away.

"I'm very pleased to see you, Harry, dear," she said with a smile, "Come in and have some breakfast."

She turned and walked back into the house and Harry, after a nervous glance at Ron, who nodded encouragingly, followed her.

The kitchen was small and rather cramped. There was a scrubbed wooden table and chairs in the middle, and Harry sat down on the edge of his seat, looking around. He had never been in a wizard house before.

The clock on the wall opposite him had only one hand and no numbers at all. Written around the edge were things like Time to make tea, Time to feed the chickens, and You're late. Books were stacked three deep on the mantelpiece, books with titles like Charm Your Own Cheese, Enchantment in Baking, and One Minute Feasts… It's Magic! And unless Harry's ears were deceiving him, the
old radio next to the sink had just announced that coming up was "Witching Hour, with the popular singing sorceress, Celestina Warbeck."

Mrs. Weasley was clattering around, cooking breakfast a little haphazardly, throwing dirty looks at her sons as she threw sausages into the frying pan. Every now and then she muttered things like "don't know what you were thinking of," and "never would have believed it."

"I don't blame you, dear," she assured Harry, tipping eight or nine sausages onto his plate, "Arthur and I have been worried about you, too. Just last night we were saying we'd come and get you ourselves if you hadn't written back to Ron by Friday."

"But really flying an illegal car halfway across the country…" Molly continued as she added three fried eggs to his plate, "anyone could have seen you…"

She flicked her wand casually at the dishes in the sink, which began to clean themselves, clinking gently in the background.

"It was cloudy, Mum!" said Fred.

"You keep your mouth closed while you're eating!" Mrs. Weasley snapped.

"They were starving him, Mum!" said George.

"And you!" said Mrs. Weasley, but it was with a slightly softened
expression that she started cutting Harry bread and buttering it for him.

At that moment there was a diversion in the form of a small, red-headed figure in a long nightdress, who appeared in the kitchen, gave a small squeal, and ran out again.

"Oi!" exclaimed a Liverpudlian voice on the stairs as some quick footsteps hurried up the stairs, "Watch where you're going luv!"

Harry looked up and saw John Constantine walk into the kitchen in just his american boxers.

"John!" Molly exclaimed, "Clothes!"

"What?" John asked before he looked down and saw his appearance, "Oh."

He then snapped his fingers and clothes materialized onto him gaining jealous looks from all the Weasleys while Harry just stared open-mouthed.

"What?" John asked again this time at Harry as he walked to the table.

"That's new," Harry said for the second time that morning.

"I'll teach it to ya later," John shrugged as he sat down, "It's a harmless spell that requires no words, circles, or otherwise. Once you learn it, you can do it anytime anywhere. Ideal for if you have to change clothes on the fly."

"Why won't you teach it to us?!" demanded the twins in unison.

"You two would be impossible to catch after you do one of your pranks," John as he picked up a sausage replied, "also, Harry needs as much magical abilities and know-how as he can if he's to survive and/or defeat you-know-who."

"Who was the redhead in the nightdress?" Harry asked changing the subject.

"Ginny," said Ron in an undertone to Harry, "My sister. She's been talking about you all summer."

"Quite irksome to be honest," John grunted as he brought an some of the fried egg to his mouth.

"She'll be wanting your autograph, Harry," Fred put in with a grin, but he caught his mother's eye and bent his face over his plate without another word. Nothing more was said until all four plates were clean, which took a surprisingly short time.

"Blimey, I'm tired," yawned Fred, setting down his knife and fork at last, "I think I'll go to bed and…"

"You will not," snapped Mrs. Weasley, "It's your own fault you've been up all night. You're going to degnome the garden for me; they're getting completely out of hand again…"

"Oh, Mum…"

"And you two," she said, glaring at Ron and Fred.

"You can go up to bed, dear," she added to Harry, "You didn't ask them to fly that wretched car…"

But Harry, who felt wide awake, said quickly, "I'll help Ron. I've never seen a degnoming…"

"That's very sweet of you, dear, but it's dull work," said Mrs. Weasley, "Now, let's see what Lockhart's got to say on the subject…"

"Oh no you don't!" John said as he whipped out his wand and set the book ablaze.

"John!" Molly shouted, "You had no right to incinerate my book! Especially, since it was written by one of the best wizards of all time!"

"Obliviate!" John said pointing his wand at Molly making her forget all about the book and what he just did.

"Not again," groaned Ron, "You're going to giver her alzheimer's before she gets to the proper age for such a disease."

"Everytime she brings up that fraud's name and his books I feel physically ill," John said defensively, "I did the only thing I could think of to stop her."

"Try to find another way," Ron groaned again.

"Let's go deal with those gnomes before she comes to," John said as he stood up from his chair.

Yawning and grumbling, the Weasleys slouched outside with John ahead of them and Harry behind them. The garden was large, and in Harry's eyes, exactly what a garden should be. The Dursleys wouldn't have liked it… there were plenty of weeds, and the grass needed cutting, but there were gnarled trees all around the walls, plants Harry had never seen spilling from every flower bed, and a big green pond full of frogs.

"Muggles have garden gnomes, too, you know," Harry told Ron as they crossed the lawn.

"Those are nothing like what you're about to see," John said as he pulled out a bag of something. He then opened it and tossed what was in it into the air. Suddenly, the contents went zipping about the garden and cries of shock, surprise, and yelps of pain could be heard. The next second later, the gnomes floated into the air unable to move as they just hovered. The gnomes were certainly nothing like Santa Claus. They were small and leathery looking, with a large, knobby, bald head exactly like a potato.

"Now comes the hard part," Ron said as he grabbed one and held it at arm's length as it kicked out at him with its horny little feet; he grasped it around the ankles and turned it upside down.

"Gerroff me!" the gnome demanded

"This is what you have to do," he said. He raised the gnome above his head and started to swing it in great circles like a lasso. Seeing the shocked look on Harry's face, Ron added, "It doesn't hurt them… you've just gotta make them really dizzy so they can't find their way back to the gnomeholes."

"My part in this is done," John said as he tucked the bag away, "Before you all start griping and holding a grudge, I already did half the job. Otherwise, it'd take a few hours trying to catch them and get rid of them. See you all later."

At that, John walked back to the house and inside.

Ron let go of the gnome's ankles: It flew twenty feet into the air and landed with a thud in the field over the hedge.

"Pitiful," said Fred, "I bet I can get mine beyond that stump."

Harry learned quickly not to feel too sorry for the gnomes. He decided just to drop the first one he caught over the hedge, but the gnome, sensing weakness, sank its razor-sharp teeth into Harry's finger and he had a hard job shaking it off… until…

"Wow, Harry… that must've been fifty feet…"

The air was soon thick with flying gnomes.

"See, they're not too bright," said George, seizing five or six gnomes at once, "The moment they know the degnoming's going on they storm up to have a look. You'd think they'd have learned by now just to stay put."

Soon, the crowd of gnomes in the field started walking away in a straggling line, their little shoulders hunched.

"They'll be back," said Ron as they watched the gnomes disappear into the hedge on the other side of the field, "They love it here… Dad's too soft with them; he thinks they're funny…"

Just then, the front door slammed.

"He's back!" said George. "Dad's home!"

They hurried through the garden and back into the house.

Mr. Weasley was slumped in a kitchen chair with his glasses off and his eyes closed. He was a thin man, going bald, but the little hair he had was as red as any of his children's. He was wearing long green robes, which were dusty and travel-worn.

"What a night," he mumbled, groping for the teapot as they all sat down around him, "Nine raids. Nine! And old Mundungus Fletcher tried to put a hex on me when I had my back turned…"

Mr. Weasley took a long gulp of tea and sighed.

"Find anything, Dad?" asked Fred eagerly.

"All I got were a few shrinking door keys and a biting kettle," yawned Mr. Weasley, "There was some pretty nasty stuff that wasn't my department, though. Mortlake was taken away for questioning about some extremely odd ferrets, but that's the Committee on Experimental Charms, thank goodness…"

"Why would anyone bother making door keys shrink?" asked George confused.

"Just Muggle-baiting," sighed Mr. Weasley, "Sell them a key that keeps shrinking to nothing so they can never find it when they need it… Of course, it's very hard to convict anyone because no Muggle would admit their key keeps shrinking… they'll insist they just keep losing it. Bless them, they'll go to any lengths to ignore magic, even if it's staring them in the face… But the things our lot have taken to enchanting, you wouldn't believe…"

"LIKE CARS, FOR INSTANCE?!"

Mrs. Weasley had appeared, holding a long poker like a sword. Mr. Weasley's eyes jerked open. He stared guiltily at his wife.

"C-cars, Molly, dear?"

"Yes, Arthur, cars," said Mrs. Weasley, her eyes flashing, "Imagine a wizard buying a rusty old car and telling his wife all he wanted to do with it was take it apart to see how it worked, while really he was enchanting it to make it fly."

Mr. Weasley blinked.

"Well, dear," Arthur said nervously, "I think you'll find that he would be quite within the law to do that, even if… er… he maybe would have done better to, um, tell his wife the truth… There's a loophole in the law, you'll find… As long as he wasn't intending to fly the car, the fact that the car could fly wouldn't…"

"Arthur Weasley, you made sure there was a loophole when you wrote that law!" shouted Mrs. Weasley, "Just so you could carry on tinkering with all that Muggle rubbish in your shed! And for your information, Harry arrived this morning in the car you weren't intending to fly!"

"Harry?" said Mr. Weasley blankly. "Harry who?"

He looked around, saw Harry, and jumped.

"Good lord, is it Harry Potter?" Arthur said forgetting about Molly for a bit, "Very pleased to meet you, Ron's told us so much about…"

"Your sons flew that car to Harry's house and back last night!" shouted Mrs. Weasley, "What have you got to say about that, eh?"

"Did you really?" asked Mr. Weasley eagerly, "Did it go all right?"

"I… I mean," he nervously corrected himself as sparks flew from Mrs. Weasley's eyes, "that… that was very wrong, boys… very wrong indeed…"

"Let's leave them to it," Ron muttered to Harry as Mrs. Weasley swelled like a bullfrog, "Come on, I'll show you my bedroom."

They slipped out of the kitchen and down a narrow passageway to an uneven staircase, which wound its way, zigzagging up through the house. On the third landing, a door stood ajar. Harry just caught sight of a pair of bright brown eyes staring at him before it closed with a snap.

"Ginny," said Ron, "You don't know how weird it is for her to be this shy. She never shuts up normally…"

They climbed two more flights until they reached a door with peeling paint and a small plaque on it, saying RONALD'S ROOM.


i originally wasn't going to start this this soon, but i was unable to work on a different story and didn't want to work on another. in which case this came to being. unlike the previous story, this'll only do one chapter at a time unless i'm really into it.