Mayhem at the Ministry
disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, just Arabella.
Hope you like it!
Mayhem at the Ministry
Mr Weasley woke them after only a few hours of sleep. He used magic to pack up the tents, and they left the campsite as quickly as possible, passing Mr Roberts at the door of his cottage. Mr Roberts had a strange, dazed look about him, and he waved them off with a vague 'Merry Christmas.'
'He'll be all right,' said Mr. Weasley quietly as they marched off onto the moor. 'Sometimes, when a person's memory's modified, it makes him a bit disorientated for a while…and that was a big thing they had to make him forget.'
They heard urgent voices as they approached the spot where the Portkeys lay, and when they reached it, they found a great number of witches and wizards gathered around Basil, the keeper of the Portkeys, all clamoring to get away from the campsite as quickly as possible. Mr. Weasley had a hurried discussion with Basil; they joined the queue, and were able to take an old rubber tire back to Stoatshead Hill before the sun had really risen. They walked back through Ottery St. Catchpole and up the damp lane toward the Burrow in the dawn light, talking very little because they were so exhausted, and thinking longingly of their breakfast. As they rounded the corner and the Burrow came into view, a cry echoed along the lane.
'Oh thank goodness, thank goodness!'
Mrs. Weasley, who had evidently been waiting for them in the front yard, came running toward them, still wearing her bedroom slippers, her face pale and strained, a rolled-up copy of the Daily Prophet clutched in her hand.
'Arthur - I've been so worried - so worried-'
She flung her arms around Mr. Weasley's neck, and the Daily Prophet fell out of her limp hand onto the ground. Looking down, Arabella saw the headline: SCENES OF TERROR AT THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP, complete with a twinkling black-and-white photograph of the Dark Mark over the treetops.
'You're all right,' Mrs. Weasley muttered distractedly, releasing Mr. Weasley and staring around at them all with red eyes, 'you're alive…Oh boys…' And to everybody's surprise, she seized Fred and George and pulled them both into such a tight hug that their heads banged together.
'Ouch! Mum - you're strangling us -'
'I shouted at you before you left!' Mrs. Weasley said, starting to sob. 'It's all I've been thinking about! What if You-Know-Who had got you, and the last thing I ever said to you was that you didn't get enough OW.L.s? Oh Fred…George…'
'Come on, now, Molly, we're all perfectly okay,' said Mr. Weasley soothingly, prising her off the twins and leading her back toward the house. 'Bill,' he added in an undertone, 'pick up that paper, I want to see what it says…'
When they were all crammed into the tiny kitchen, and Hermione had made Mrs. Weasley a cup of very strong tea, into which Mr. Weasley insisted on pouring a shot of Ogdens Old Firewhiskey, Bill handed his father the newspaper. Mr. Weasley scanned the front page while Percy looked over his shoulder.
'I knew it,' said Mr. Weasley heavily. 'Ministry blunders…culprits not apprehended…lax security…Dark wizards running unchecked…national disgrace…Who wrote this? Ah…of course…Rita Skeeter.'
'That woman's got it in for the Ministry of Magic!' said Percy furiously. 'Last week she was saying we're wasting our time quibbling about cauldron thickness, when we should be stamping out vampires! As if it wasn't specifically stated in paragraph twelve of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans —'
'Do us a favor, Perce,' said Bill, yawning, 'and shut up.'
'I'm mentioned,' said Mr. Weasley, his eyes widening behind his glasses as he reached the bottom of the Daily Prophet article.
'Where?' spluttered Mrs. Weasley, choking on her tea and whiskey. 'If I'd seen that, I'd have known you were alive!'
'Not by name,' said Mr. Weasley. 'Listen to this: 'If the terrified wizards and witches who waited breathlessly for news at the edge of the wood expected reassurance from the Ministry of Magic, they were sadly disappointed. A Ministry official emerged some time after the appearance of the Dark Mark alleging that nobody had been hurt, but refusing to give any more information. Whether this statement will be enough to quash the rumors that several bodies were removed from the woods an hour later, remains to be seen.' Oh really,' said Mr. Weasley in exasperation, handing the paper to Percy. 'Nobody was hurt. What was I supposed to say? 'Rumors that several bodies were removed from the woods…' well, there certainly will be rumors now she's printed that.'
He heaved a deep sigh. 'Molly, I'm going to have to go into the office; this is going to take some smoothing over.'
'I'll come with you, Father,' said Percy importantly. 'Mr. Crouch will need all hands on deck. And I can give him my cauldron report in person.'
He bustled out of the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley looked most upset. 'Arthur, you're supposed to be on holiday! This hasn't got anything to do with your office; surely they can handle this without you?'
'I've got to go, Molly,' said Mr. Weasley. 'I've made things worse. I'll just change into my robes and I'll be off…'
'Mrs. Weasley,' said Harry suddenly, unable to contain himself, 'Hedwig hasn't arrived with a letter for me, has she?'
'Hedwig, dear?' said Mrs. Weasley distractedly. 'No…no, there hasn't been any post at all. Oh, and before I forget,' she left the room to go fetch something near the fireplace and returned, 'here you go, Arabella dear. This is from Remus; it's for your new school year.'
Arabella took the box from Mrs Weasley and thanked her.
'I'm gonna go upstairs,' said Arabella. 'Hermione, you coming?'
'Yes,' she said quickly. 'Harry? Ron?'
The four of them marched out of the kitchen and up the stairs. Arabella put the box in Ginny's room before heading towards Ron's attic room.
'What's up, Harry? Who are you waiting an owl for?' said Ron, the moment they had closed the door of the attic room behind them.
'There's something I haven't told you,' Harry said. 'On Saturday morning, I woke up with my scar hurting again.'
Hermione gasped and started making suggestions at once, mentioning a number of reference books, and everybody from Albus Dumbledore to Madam Pomfrey, the Hogwarts nurse. Arabella told him to go straight to Dumbledore. Ron simply looked dumbstruck.
'But - he wasn't there, was he? You-Know-Who? I mean - last time your scar kept hurting, he was at Hogwarts, wasn't he?'
'I'm sure he wasn't on Privet Drive,' said Harry. 'But I was dreaming about him…him and Peter - you know, Wormtail. I can't remember all of it now, but they were plotting to kill…someone.'
He had teetered for a moment on the verge of saying 'me,' but couldn't bring himself to make Hermione look any more horrified than she already did.
'It was only a dream,' said Ron bracingly. 'Just a nightmare.'
'Yeah, but was it, though?' said Harry, turning to look out of the window at the brightening sky. 'It's weird, isn't it…? My scar hurts, and three days later the Death Eaters are on the march, and Voldemort's sign's up in the sky again.'
'Don't - say - his - name!' Ron hissed through gritted teeth.
'And remember what Professor Trelawney said?' Harry went on, ignoring Ron. 'At the end of last year?'
Hermione's terrified look vanished as she let out a derisive snort.
'Oh Harry, you aren't going to pay attention to anything that old fraud says?'
'You weren't there,' said Harry. 'You didn't hear her. This time was different. I told you, she went into a trance - a real one. And she said the Dark Lord would rise again…greater and more terrible than ever before…and he'd manage it because his servant was going to go back to him…and that night Wormtail escaped.'
There was a silence in which Ron fidgeted absentmindedly with a hole in his Chudley Cannons bedspread.
'Who are you expecting a letter from?' asked Arabella.
'I told Sirius about my scar,' said Harry, shrugging. 'I'm waiting for his answer.'
'Good thinking!' said Ron, his expression clearing. 'I bet Sirius'll know what to do!'
'I hoped he'd get back to me quickly,' said Harry.
'But we don't know where Sirius is…he could be in Africa or somewhere, couldn't he?' said Hermione reasonably. 'Hedwig's not going to manage that journey in a few days.'
'He wouldn't be that far by now,' said arabella.
'Come and have a game of Quidditch in the orchard, Harry' said Ron. 'Come on - three on three, Bill and Charlie and Fred and George will play…You can try out the Wronski Feint…'
'What about me?' said Arabella, pouting.
'Ron,' said Hermione, in an I-don't-think-you're-being-very-sensitive sort of voice, 'Harry doesn't want to play Quidditch right now…He's worried, and he's tired…We all need to go to bed…'
'Yeah, I want to play Quidditch,' said Harry suddenly. 'Hang on, I'll get my Firebolt.'
Hermione left the room, muttering something that sounded very much like 'Boys.' Ron also left the room with Arabella following him closely behind.
'Em – Arabella?' said Harry, clearing his throat. 'Can I talk to you? I need to tell you something.'
Arabella nodded as Ron shot him a grin.
'What's wrong?' asked Arabella, looking at his worried face.
'There was something else that was mentioned when Voldemort and Wormtail were talking,' said Harry slowly, trying to find a way to say this.
'What did they say?'
'Wormtail asked him about using a girl and Voldemort said that she looked like her mother and how his faithful servant would get close to her,' said Harry, not looking her in the eye.
'Why are you telling me this?'
'I think, and this is just a wild shot in the dark, but I that you are the girl he was talking about.'
Arabella was shocked by this. She stared at Harry for a moment.
'And what would he want with me?' asked Arabella.
'I don't know, but I think it has something to do with your mother,' said Harry.
'She does not know Voldemort,' said Arabella hotly.
'I know that,' said Harry, raising his hands up in surrender. 'I'm not the enemy here. I'm just telling you what I saw.'
'She doesn't know him,' said Arabella, feeling frustrated with the whole world.
Neither Mr Weasley nor Percy was at home much over the following week. Both left the house each morning before the rest of the family got up, and returned well after dinner every night.
'It's been an absolute uproar,' Percy told them importantly the Sunday evening before they were due to return to Hogwarts. 'I've been putting out fires all week. People keep sending Howlers, and of course, if you don't open a Howler straight away, it explodes. Scorch marks all over my desk and my best quill reduced to cinders.'
'Why are they all sending Howlers?' asked Ginny, who was mending her copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi with Spellotape on the rug in front of the living room fire.
'Complaining about security at the World Cup,' said Percy. 'They want compensation for their ruined property. Mundungus Fletcher's put in a claim for a twelve-bedroomed tent with en-suite Jacuzzi, but I've got his number. I know for a fact he was sleeping under a cloak propped on sticks.'
Mrs. Weasley glanced at the grandfather clock in the corner. Eight of the hands were currently pointing to the 'home' position, but Mr Weasley's, which was the longest, was still pointing to 'work.' Mrs Weasley sighed.
'Your father hasn't had to go into the office on weekends since the days of You- Know-Who,' she said. 'They're working him far too hard. His dinner's going to be ruined if he doesn't come home soon.'
'Well, Father feels he's got to make up for his mistake at the match, doesn't he?' said Percy. 'If truth be told, he was a tad unwise to make a public statement without clearing it with his Head of Department first -'
'Don't you dare blame your father for what that wretched Skeeter woman wrote!' said Mrs. Weasley, flaring up at once.
'If Dad hadn't said anything, old Rita would just have said it was disgraceful that nobody from the Ministry had commented,' said Bill, who was playing chess with Ron. 'Rita Skeeter never makes anyone look good. Remember, she interviewed all the Gringotts' Charm Breakers once, and called me 'a long-haired pillock'?'
'Well, it is a bit long, dear,' said Mrs. Weasley gently. 'If you'd just let me -'
Hermione was engrossed in The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4, copies of which Mrs Weasley had brought for her, Harry, Ron and Arabella in Diagon Alley. Charlie was mending a fireproof balaclava. Harry was polishing his Firebolt. Fred and George were sitting in a far corner, quills out, talking in whispers; their heads bent over a piece of parchment. Arabella was sitting in the chair next to Hermione, watching everyone.
'What are you two up to?' said Mrs. Weasley sharply, her eyes on the twins.
'Homework,' said Fred vaguely.
'Don't be ridiculous, you're still on holiday,' said Mrs. Weasley.
'Yeah, we've left it a bit late,' said George.
'You're not by any chance writing out a new order form, are you?' said Mrs. Weasley shrewdly.
'You wouldn't be thinking of restarting Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, by any chance?'
'Now, Mum,' said Fred, looking up at her, a pained look on his face. 'If the Hogwarts Express crashed tomorrow, and George and I died, how would you feel to know that the last thing we ever heard from you was an unfounded accusation?'
Everyone laughed, even Mrs. Weasley.
'Oh your father's coming!' she said suddenly, looking up at the clock again.
Mr. Weasley's hand had suddenly spun from 'work' to 'traveling'; a second later it had shuddered to a halt on 'home' with the others, and they heard him calling from the kitchen.
'Coming, Arthur!' called Mrs. Weasley, hurrying out of the room. A few moments later, Mr. Weasley came into the warm living room carrying his dinner on a tray. He looked completely exhausted.
'Well, the fat's really in the fire now,' he told Mrs. Weasley as he sat down in an armchair near the hearth and toyed unenthusiastically with his somewhat shriveled cauliflower. 'Rita Skeeter's been ferreting around all week, looking for more Ministry mess-ups to report. And now she's found out about poor old Bertha going missing, so that'll be the headline in the Prophet tomorrow. I told Bagman he should have sent someone to look for her ages ago.'
'Mr. Crouch has been saying it for weeks and weeks,' said Percy swiftly. 'Crouch is very lucky Rita hasn't found out about Winky,' said Mr. Weasley irritably. 'There'd be a week's worth of headlines in his house-elf being caught holding the wand that conjured the Dark Mark.'
'I thought we were all agreed that that elf, while irresponsible, did not conjure the Mark?' said Percy hotly.
'If you ask me, Mr. Crouch is very lucky no one at the Daily Prophet knows how mean he is to elves!' said Hermione angrily.
'Now look here, Hermione!' said Percy. 'A high-ranking Ministry official like Mr. Crouch deserves unswerving obedience from his servants -'
'His slave, you mean!' said Hermione, her voice rising passionately, 'because he didn't pay Winky, did he?'
'I think you'd all better go upstairs and check that you've packed properly!' said Mrs. Weasley, breaking up the argument. 'Come on now, all of you…'
Arabella followed Hermione and Ginny upstairs to Ginny's room. The rain was getting louder. Arabella landed on her bed with a small huff. Her trunks were half-packed. The box that Remus sent her was by her bed, unopened. She wanted to talk to him, or write, but didn't know what to out in the letter. She can't just say, 'Hey Moony. Quidditch match was excellent. Was there any way Mom knew Voldemort? Love you, Arabella.'
Arabella decided to finally look in the box, might as well see what he sent her. She opened the beige box and first found a note on top of some packing tissue paper.
This once belonged to your mother. Now it belongs to you.
She recognized the handwritings as Sirius'. The 's' were the same as hers, as well as the 'l' and some of the 'e'.
She opened the wrapping tissues and found a dress underneath it. It was a floor-lenght, silky looking red dress with a v-neckline and a v-back. The straps and the waist seemed to have some red rhinestones on them.
'That's beautiful,' said Ginny, staring at it. Hermione was also staring at it.
'Why do we need dresses?' asked Arabella.
At that moment, Mrs Weasley knocked on the door and was carrying an armful if freshly laundered Hogwarts robes.
'Here you are,' she said, sorting them into two piles. 'Now, mind you pack them properly so they don't crease.'
'Mrs Weasley, why do I need a dress for school?'
'It said on your school list that you're supposed to have dress robes this year… oh, I'll be back a moment!'
She bashed out of the room and came back in very quickly, carrying a green, floor-length dress and a floaty, blue dress.
'These are yours,' she said, handing the green one to Ginny and the blue one to Hermione. 'I had to wash them and mend some of the threads, but they're still good. I got those from your parent, Hermione. They sent it to me after you all left for the game.'
'Thank you, Mrs Weasley/Mom,' said Hermione and Ginny. Mrs Weasley excused herself and left the room.
'Why do we need dresses?' said Arabella, feeling a bit annoyed. She didn't like to get fancy for any sort of event. She has never worn any make-up freely, except for the time where Nymph won a bet against her, nor has she ever worn a skirt. She always wore jeans with a shirt or a jumper. This was a whole new territory for her.
'Are you annoyed with the thought of wearing a dress?' asked Ginny, raising her eyebrow.
'Yes,' said Arabella, putting the dress in the box and in her suitcase.
'Why? It might be nice,' said Hermione, surprising Arabella. Hermione never seemed like the girly kind to her.
'It's a dress,' said Arabella. 'I don't like dresses.'
'You have never worn a dress, have you?' asked Ginny, smiling.
'No, and I'm rubbish at wearing make-up because I don't wear it either,' said Arabella.
'I could help you,' said Ginny. 'I could help you with make-up.'
Arabella smiled at her. 'Thanks, Gin.'
'Don't worry about it,' said Ginny.
All of a sudden, there was a peaking sound in their room. At the window was Shay, all wet, with a letter attached to him. Arabella opened the window.
'Hey,' mumbled Arabella, gently stroking his feathers and taking the letter.
Shay hooted and stood there inside Ginny's room near the window. Arabella looked at the letter and saw that it was from Remus.
How are you? Is everything okay? I heard about the Quidditch Match.
Snuffles got the dress the day you left for the Weasleys. It was your mothers. She wore it to an event once, long time ago. It was also her mother's dress, too. Hope you like it.
I'll send you your ten galleons next time.
Arabella felt a bit bad about the remarks she said before about dressing up. The dress belonged to her mother and her mother before that. She just never knew how important it was to her family. She grabbed some parchment and ink.
I'm fine, everything's okay. The Quidditch Match was amazing! I'll tell you about it the next time I see you. I like the dress, it's really nice. I like it.
She decided to leave out the suspicious voice that cast the Dark Mark and what Harry told her about his dream with Voldemort. She tied the letter to Shay's leg and he went off into the rainy day. Somehow, the decision to leave off the two things she want to talk to Remus about made her feel very lonely in a full house.
Thank you for reading!