"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 impact of what he was seeing hit him.
"What are you staring at-?" started Emily whose mouth opened and closed like a fish.
Ron was leaning out of the back window of an old turquoise car, which was parked in mid-air. Grinning at Harry from the front seats were Fred and George, Ron's elder twin brothers.
'All right you two?"
"What's been going on?" said Ron. "Why haven't you been answering my letters? I've asked you guys to stay about twelve times and then dad came home and said that you Harry, got an unofficial warning for using magic in front of Muggles…"
"It wasn't me…but how did he know?" asked Harry curiously.
"He works for the Ministry" said Ron. "You know we're not supposed to do spells outside school-"
"Bit rich coming from you" said Emily, 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…"
"He didn't, it's…complicated" stuttered Emily.
"Point is, is that we've come to take you home with us. Both of you." said Ron.
"But you can't magic us out either-"
"We don't need to" said Ron, jerking his head towards the front seats and grinning. "You forget who I've got with me".
"Tie that round the bars" said Fred, throwing the end of a rope to Emily.
"If the Dursley's wake up, we are both dead" said Harry, as he watched Emily tie the rope tightly around a bar and Fred revved up the car.
"Don't worry and stand back" said Fred.
Emily and Harry both moved backwards into the shadows, while Harry went next to Hedwig, Emily went to Archimedes. The car revved louder and louder and suddenly, with a crunching noise, the bars were pulled clean out the window as Fred drove straight up into the air – Emily and Harry both ran back to the window to see the bars dangling a few feet above the ground. Emily listened anxiously, but there was no sound from the Dursley's room.
"Did you hear anything?" asked Emily anxiously.
"Nope, I think we're good" replied Harry.
Fred then reversed as close as possible to Harry and Emily's window.
"Get in" Ron said.
"But all our Hogwarts stuff…our wands…my broomstick…" stuttered Harry.
"Where is it?"
"Locked in the cupboard under the stairs, and neither of us can get out of this room" stated Emily.
"No problem" said George from the front passenger seat. "Out of the way, Harry. Back in a tick Em's"
Fred and George climbed carefully through the window into their room. You had to hand it to them, thought Emily, as George took a hair pin from his pocket and started to pick the lock.
"A lot of wizards think it's a waste of time, knowing this sort of Muggle trick" said Fred, "but we feel they're skills worth learning, even if they are a bit slow, thought you could have done this Emily."
"Uncle Vernon took away all my hair pins in case I enchanted them or something" snorted Emily in annoyance.
There was a small click and the door swung open.
"So – we'll get both your trunks – you guys grab whatever else you need from your room and hand it out to Ron" whispered George.
"Watch out for the bottom stair it creeks" whispered Emily back, as the twins disappeared onto the dark landing.
Emily ran around her room, collecting her things and passing them out to Ron. Emily and Ron then decided to help Fred and George with the trunks. Emily helped George and Ron helped Fred, and at last, panting, they reached the landing, then carried each of the trunks through their room to the open window.
"A bit more" panted Fred, who was pulling from inside the car, "one good push…"
Harry, Emily and George threw their shoulders against the trunk and it slid out of the window into the back seat of the car.
"I think that's it, my trunks in, Harry's trunk is in, Archimedes is in…is that it?" asked Emily.
"Ok, let's go" George whispered.
Emily clambered into the car and sat with Ron in the back. Everything seemed to be alright it was only as Harry climbed onto the window-sill 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!" exclaimed Harry.
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 Emily and Ron. He was scrambling back onto the chest of drawers when Uncle Vernon hammered on the unlocked 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, Emily, Fred and George seized Harry's arms and pulled as hard as they could.
"Petunia!" roared Uncle Vernon. "They are getting away! THEY'RE GETTING AWAY!"
Emily and the Weasleys gave a gigantic tug and Harry's leg slid out of Uncle Vernon's grasp. As soon as Harry was in the car and slammed the door shut, Ron yelled, "Put your foot down, Fred!" and the car shot suddenly towards the moon.
Emily could hardly believe it – she was free. Both her and Harry were free. Emily was staring out the window and turned to smile at Ron and noticed that Harry had wound down the window, the night air was making his hair more untidy than usual. As Emily looked back out the window she saw Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and Dudley were all hanging, dumbstruck, out of Harry's window, and Dudley were all hanging, dumbstruck, out of Harry's window.
"See you next summer!" Harry yelled.
Emily burst out laughing at his comment and the Weasleys joined in, roaring with laughter.
"Ron would you mind if I let Archimedes out? Just so he can fly behind us?" asked Emily.
"Oh, umm no not all, do you want some help?"
"Could you hold the cage for me?"
Ron nodded and held the cage while Emily took the hair pin from George and released Archimedes who soared out happily and shot out the window somewhere.
"Thanks" chirped Emily.
"Could you do the same for Hedwig?" asked Harry.
Hedwig did the same as Archimedes, and she shot out the window and glided alongside the car.
"So – what's the story?" said Ron impatiently. "What's been happening?"
Harry and Emily took it in turns to explain everything that had happened, told them about Dobby, the warning he'd given Harry and the incident about the 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?"
"I don't think he could" said Emily.
"Yea, it's like I said, every time he got close to letting something slip, he started banging his head against the wall" added 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 masters' 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 and Ron together, instantly.
Emily whirled round to look at Ron and Harry, "who have you got in mind?" she asked.
"Draco Malfoy" Harry explained. "He hates me"
Emily was about to say something about the unlikeliness of this but before she could George piped up.
"Draco Malfoy?" said George, turning round. "Not Lucius Malfoy's son?"
"Must be, it's not a very common name, is it? Said Harry. "Why?"
Emily listened intently at what the Weasleys had to say.
"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."
Emily had listened to what the twins had been saying and found it easy to believe that the Malfoy's were involved in the dark arts, especially his father, but at the same time, Draco wasn't that bad. Emily and Draco had formed a mutual agreement so much so that Emily and Draco had gotten into the habit of having cups of tea together in the Slytherin common room – much to the annoyance of others but eventually they had gotten used to it. Still, Draco do this…? Emily personally thought that Draco wouldn't waste his time planning something like this, well she wouldn't certainly, she was about to voice her opinion on the matter when she had discovered that the conversation had changed.
"Glad we got you two out of there, anyway", said Ron. "I was getting really worried when neither of you answered my letters."
Harry's ears perked up when he discovered that Ron had also been sending messages to Emily, but it went unnoticed by Ron and he continued talking.
"At first I thought it was Errol's fault-"
"Wait, who's Errol?" asked Emily
"Our owl. He's ancient. It wouldn't be the first time he'd collapsed on delivery. So, I then tried to borrow Hermes-"
"Who?" asked Harry
"The owl mum and dad bought Percy when he was made prefect" said Fred from the front.
"But Percy wouldn't lend him to me" said Ron. "Said he needed him"
Emily zoned out a little, as much as Emily liked Percy, she found it immensely inconvenient that he kept trying to catch her and her friends out on what they were doing, and Emily figured that Percy might have had something to do with them having Filch on their tails for a while.
The next thing Emily was aware of was the flying car going lower and lower.
"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 Emily looked outside the window for the first look at Ron's house.
It looked as though it had once been a large stone pigsty, but extra rooms had been added here and there as though it was held up by magic (which Emily had to remind herself was highly possible). Four or five chimneys were perched on top of the red roof. A lop-sided sign stuck in the ground near the entrance read 'The Burrow'. Round the front door lay a jumble of wellington boots and a very rusty cauldron. Several fat brown chickens were pecking their way around the yard.
"It's not much" said Ron.
"Not much? Ron this wonderful!" exclaimed Emily, she couldn't stop looking at the amazing house.
"It's brilliant" said Harry.
They got out the car.
"Now. We'll go upstairs really quietly" said Fred, "and wait for Mum to call us down to breakfast. Then Ron, you come bounding down stairs 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, I sleep on the-"
Ron had turned a nasty greenish colour, his eyes fixed on the house. Emily and the other three whirled around.
Mrs. Weasley was marching across the yard, scattering chickens and for a short, plump woman, it was remarkable how much she looked like a saber tooth 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 sons of Mrs. Weasley's sons were taller than her, 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?...never, as long as I've lived…you wait until your father gets home, we never had bother like this from Bill, 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 at 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, and Emily was feeling guilty. Mrs. Weasley's voice had gone hoarse before she turned to where Harry and Emily were standing.
"I'm very pleased to see you both," she said, "come in and have some breakfast".
She turned and walked back into the house and Emily, after nervously glancing at Ron and the twins, followed her inside.
The kitchen was small and rather cramped. There was a scrubbed wooden table and chairs in the middle and Emily sat down and looked around. She had never been inside a wizard house before.
Emily was taking in her surroundings when she heard Mrs. Weasley 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 muttering, 'never would have believed it', and 'what were you thinking of'.
"I don't blame either of you dears" she assured Emily and Harry, tipping eight or nine sausages onto their plates. "Arthur and I have been worried about you too. Just last night we were saying that we would come and get you ourselves if you hadn't written back to Ron by Friday. But really" (She was now adding three fried eggs to her plate), "flying an illegal car halfway across the country – anyone could have seen you-"
She flicked her wand casually at the washing up in the sink, which began to clean itself, clinking gently in the background.
"It was cloudy mum!" said Fred.
"You keep your mouth shut until you are finished eating!" snapped Mrs. Weasley.
"They were starving them mum!" said George.
"And you!" Said Mrs. Weasley, but it was with a slightly softened expression that she started cutting Emily bread and buttering it for her.
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.
"Ginny" Ron explained, "my sister. She's been talking about you, Harry, all summer"
"Yea she'll be wanting your autograph Harry" grinned Fred, but he caught his mother's eye and bent his face over his plate without another word. Nothing more was said until all five plates were clean, which surprisingly took a short amount of 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 that you've been up all night. You're going to de-gnome the garden, they are getting completely out of hand again.
"And you two" she said glaring at Ron and George. "You can both go up to bed, dears", she added to Harry and Emily. "You didn't ask them to fly that wretched car"
Emily was a little tired but she did want to write letters to Suzie, Elysia and Rebecca and explain why she hadn't answered. Emily rubbed her hands together, trying to get some heat in her, Ron noticed.
"My jumpers are up in my room, if you want one, if your cold that is?" stuttered Ron.
"Are you sure you wouldn't mind?" asked Emily.
"Not at all, do you still have the one mum made you?"
"Yea, but it's getting worn, I've hardly had it off, it was freezing in our room sometimes"
Mrs. Weasley then told Emily where Ron's room was so she could have peace to write her letters.
Emily headed up stairs and couldn't stop being awed and amazed at the moving photographs on the wall, she would never get used to that.
Emily found Ron's room and put on one of his jumpers and got to writing her letters:
I know that I haven't been able to answer your letters because a House Elf was stealing them – I promise you that it is the truth! I wouldn't ever ignore you all, so please don't be mad! I don't think there should be any other problems about receiving letters from now on because I am staying with the Weasley family. Hopefully you aren't all mad or will at least forgive me and take the unusual circumstances into account.
Love Emily x
Emily had just finished writing her letters when she heard a door slam shut.
Emily wandered down stairs to see what had happened and saw the boys on the other side of the room.
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 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 putting a hex on me when my back was turned…"
"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 in my department, though. Mortlake was taken away for questioning about some seriously odd ferrets, but that's the Committee on Experimental Charms, thank goodness…"
"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 to their keys still shrinking – they'll insist they just keep losing it. Bless them, they'll go to any lengths to ignore magic even if its staring them in the face…but the things out 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 was to take it apart to see how it worked, while really he was enchanting it to make it fly."
Mr. Weasley blinked.
"Well, dear, 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 and Emily arrived this morning in the car that you were not intending to fly!"
"Harry and Emily?" said Mr. Weasley blankly. "Who?"
He then looked around and saw Harry and jumped.
"Good Lord, is it Harry Potter? Very pleased to meet you"
While Mr. Weasley was greeting Harry Mrs. Weasley came and guided her by the shoulders so that Mr. Weasley could meet her too.
"And you are Emily, of course you are! Fred and George have told us so much about you, a smart cookie apparently, and of course Ron has told us about you" Mr. Weasley said with a smirk, which confused Emily a little.
"Your sons flew that car to Harry and Emily's house and back again last night!" shouted Mrs. Weasley. "What have you got to say about that eh?"
"Did you really?" said Mr. Weasley eagerly. "Did it go alright? I-I mean", he faltered, as sparks flew from Mrs. Weasley's eyes, "that-that was very wrong indeed, boys – very wrong indeed…"
Fred and George then pulled on the sleeve of Emily's jumper and they left Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to their discussion.
"Come on, we'll show you our room" said Fred.
"You are going to love it!" added George.
"Yea but we know how much of things we have, so don't go taking anything."
"Yea, we share ideas"
"I'm surprised Ron's let you wear that jumper" commented Fred.
Harry and Ron were just following the twins and Emily up the stairs.
"Why?" asked Emily looking worried and a little confused.
"It's just that, that one's his Chudley Cannons one, it's his fav- ouch!"
"It's an old jumper, isn't that right Ron?" said George with an innocent look on his face.
Ron nodded and overtook the three of them on the stairs and Harry followed him.
Emily laughed and shook her head at what she was hearing, though not really understanding what it all meant.
Emily spoke with the twins for a while and came up with some ideas about what they could get up to once they had returned to Hogwarts but Emily decided that she should probably return Ron's jumper to him.
Emily knocked before she went in and heard the boy's conversation end. She cautiously stuck her head in and saw Ron and Harry collapsed on the floor.
"Hey, I figured I should give you your jumper back" said Emily smiling.
"Oh…you can keep it if you like. It suits you" said Ron. He then turned a little bit pink.
"Are you sure?"
Ron just nodded.
"Surprised I have any jumpers left because of you" Harry commented. "Just don't let her take all your jumpers, she has a habit of getting emotionally attached to them and not giving it back" said Harry as he sent a look towards Emily.
"I gave you it back eventually!" objected Emily
"Yea but only after it was too small to fit me anymore, which meant that you got it anyway!" countered Harry.
"Anyway" said Emily, trying to change the subject. "I just wanted to say thank you to you again for coming and saving us from our Aunt and Uncle, and for taking us to your house. It's fantastic here!" Emily said this as she admired Ron's room, there were Quidditch posters dotted all over the place and a poster of Viktor Krum on wall.
"It's not much, it's a bit small" added Ron quickly. "Not like that room that you guys had at the Muggles house. And I'm right underneath the ghoul in the attic, he's always banging on the pipes and groaning…"
But Emily didn't care, she thought it was fantastic that they had ghouls and gnomes and smiling widely she said, "Ron, this is by far, the best house I have ever been in!"
Ron went bright red. Little was Emily aware that, the compliment meant so much more to him than what Emily would know.