~ Harry ran back up the stairs, slamming through Ron's doorway, and finally remembered to close the door behind them. Harry's heart felt like it was going to beat right through their ribs, but they couldn't sit still, instead they paced around the room until their heart finally slowed enough to think again. Not that he really wanted to think. Actually yeah, that's probably a way better idea. No thinking for him right now.
Harry let out a sigh, maybe he'd try to deal with all this confusion later, but for now, flying. If ever there was a time to lose himself on a broom, now was it. He snagged his Nimbus, and after a peek out the window to be sure no one would be able to see him from the road, he glided down to the garden below and ran off to the orchard to join in the impromptu Quidditch match.
When Harry arrived, he sat back and watched from the sidelines as Ron played keeper while Fred and George looked to be playing chaser for one side against only Charlie as the other. It was surprisingly even, Charlie was obviously the better flyer and flew a much nicer broom, while the twins were only just managing to outperform him through seamless teamwork. As Harry watched Ron managed a fairly impressive save against one of the twins, to cheers from Charlie and rather creative threats from Fred, well probably Fred.
"Harry! Yes, about time! You're with me," Charlie happily shouted, to good natured complaints from the twins.
Thankfully Oliver made everyone practice occasionally with just the quaffle, so even though chaser wasn't Harry's position, he wasn't too worried about embarrassing himself. When he took up position (literally as they were about fifty feet up in the air) he noticed Charlie looking at him with an odd expression.
"Umm, is this okay?"
Charlie was curious, but he didn't really think Harry would be willing to explain what had happened just now, so he seized on the first topic he could think of.
"I was just trying to remember what position it was your dad used to play. People always said he was hella talented."
Harry's smile returned, he loved hearing about his dad, but not enough people seemed to talk about his mom. "Yeah, he was a chaser, and supposedly really good. Flying is pretty much the one magic that just, totally seems to click for me. So, uh, d-did you know my parents?"
"Nah, sorry Harry, they were a bit before my time. Wish I did, but yeah… So, uh, ready to kick these guys' butts?"
After a very brief planning session, play resumed. Charlie and Harry harmonized pretty quickly. While they were both able to out fly the twins, and only partially because of their better brooms, the game was still surprisingly even. Harry was a fantastic catch, and he was even a decent aim, but he just didn't have the strength to throw it very fast. Between Ron managing to block most of Harry's shots, and the twins intercepting a fair percentage of Harry's passes, (though Harry's speed allowed him to intercept some of theirs as well) him and Charlie were only just beating the twins. After a few of Ron's saves, Harry started to worry that Charlie might get upset at him for not scoring, so he tried to offer Charlie the next score opportunity, but Charlie just passed the quaffle right back. Harry was only half surprised when Charlie cheered equally for Harry's attempts and Ron's saves. It was the kind of thing most of his teammates at school would do, at least when they were just playing around during training.
Play continued at a pretty furious pace for the next 30 minutes or so, when Harry noticed that Ginny had come back out. She was watching from some benches the Weasley's had sat up at the edge of the homemade half pitch. At the next pause he dropped down to land next to the younger girl.
"Hey Ginny. Sooo, umm, would you, uh, like a go?"
Ginny was dumbstruck, and just stared at Harry for several seconds, "Y-you mean I can play? On your broom!? On a Nimbus!" Ginny's smile lit her entire face, but just as Harry was holding it out to her, Ron flew down low enough to loudly complain.
"Woah, hey no way Ginny! What are you crazy, Harry? She can't fly a broom! Especially not on a Nimbus."
Before Ginny could find her voice, shock from Ron saying something so stupid right to her face and all, a very confused Harry asked him why ever not. Thankfully Charlie interrupted Ron's sputtered excuses, but not before Ginny got mad, which is apparently a very bad thing. Harry had heard enough horror stories to understand that Ron would be having a really unpleasant time soon. Ginny fought back against seven older brothers by rarely backing down, and always getting even.
"Ginny, how'd you do in broom flying class last year?" Charlie asked, amusement evident.
Ginny crossed her arms and turned away from Ron before coolly answering, "considerably better than Ron if I'm not mistaken."
"Best get on up here then little sis!" Charlie laughed, and then laughed all the harder at Ron's scowl.
Ginny started to reach for Harry's broom again, but hesitated, "You sure you don't mind Harry?"
"Umm, well, uh… just be safe okay," Harry smiled, holding the broom out.
Ginny didn't need to be told twice. She jumped on and immediately took off at full speed, angling her flight so that she flew so close to Ron he almost fell off in his rush to get out of her way. The twins started to fly after her, thinking she'd lost control of the broom, but after a perfectly controlled high speed bank, Ginny aimed back down towards them, and shot between the two without a hint of hesitation. She came to a stop next to Charlie, both of them smirking hard, just barely holding back their laughter.
"Hey Ron, kinda looks like she can fly a Nimbus after all," Harry yelled up to his red faced friend.
And that's all it took, everyone except Ron burst into laughter so hard that they had to be careful not to lose control of their brooms. Ron sputtered something about showoffs, but the laughter was too strong and by the time he had flown back up to the single large goal hoop he was smiling too. Harry watched carefully, evaluating Ginny's control and general gameplay. She was pretty dang good, and obviously having the time of her life. While she wasn't quite as good on a broom as Harry after two years of training, he thought she had the potential to easily get there. She dropped a few passes, but her aim when she threw the quaffle was spot on, and Harry was a bit chagrined that Ginny seemed like she must be stronger than him, as she was having an easier time scoring against Ron.
On the walk back to the burrow for lunch, Harry and the twins were excitedly trying to convince Ginny to join the team as a backup chaser and maybe even seeker. Harry couldn't figure out why she was resisting at first, Ginny obviously wanted to, but surprisingly it was Ron that finally clued Harry in. Apparently it wasn't Ginny they had to convince, it was Mrs Weasley. Charlie hugged his little sister, and told them to leave it to him.
After lunch Harry joined Hermione. If he was going to have any chance at finishing this summer's homework, AND reading ahead in his new books he would need to work hard, much to Ron's dismay. A little before dinner time Harry wandered down to find Mrs Weasley hard at work in the kitchen.
"Would you like some help Mrs Weasley? I'm uh, well I'm not too bad of a cook."
"Really Harry? That's a wonder, I doubt any of my boys would even know how to fry an egg," they both shared a small laugh before she continued, "that is really sweet of you to offer dear, but I do most of my cooking magically, so I'm afraid you wouldn't be able to be much of a help. Wouldn't you rather go play with Ron?"
Molly turned just in time to catch a dejected look as it flitted across Harry's face.
"Oh, but ah, I don't suppose you would be interested in watching? I doubt you've ever seen food preparation the magical way."
Harry openly marveled at all how much faster the meal was coming together, not to mention how much control Mrs Weasley must be able to exert to manipulate as many ongoing spells as she was using, which flattered the witch greatly. It didn't take Harry very long for a whole host of questions to pile up, and once she had finally convinced Harry it was okay to ask his questions, the two began a merry conversation that lasted until supper was ready. Molly was very amused when it turned out that the reserved, well mannered best friend to her youngest boy turned into a regular little chatterbox when it came to cooking and household chores. Her good mood threatened to sour a few times however, when Harry would let slip the occasional tidbit too much. She was a believer in discipline, one had to be when raising seven children, three of which were regular little mischief makers, and chores were a terrific way to instill some of that discipline, but from a few things Harry mentioned, it sounded like these muggle relatives of his maybe took things a bit too far. She resolved to send Albus that letter very soon.
After dinner everyone sat around chatting for an hour or two, before they all separated to their own devices, until time for showers and bed at least. That simply a routine was established. After breakfast they would play Quidditch for a couple hours, Charlie offering tips and tricks to all, but especially mentoring Harry and Ginny, then heading back just before lunch. After lunch Harry would work with Hermione, Ginny and Ron joining in occasionally, but never for long, unless they could weedle Hermione into tutoring them. Then Harry would head down just before supper to learn more about magical cooking, and various other home care magics. Even though he couldn't technically cast the spells, he could still mimic the wand motions, and was even able to fetch this and that for Mrs Weasley in order to spare her concentration.
Charlie hung around for the entire week, it turns out he was studying for a certification to work with Wyverns (two hind legs, two wings), a slightly smaller and less dangerous offshoot to the types of dragons he already worked with, as well as the certification for category 4 dragons. Dragons (four legs and two wings, possessing great cunning and varying degrees of intelligence), were broken down into five categories. The first two categories included dragons that only grew to be little larger than birds, the largest known had been the Atlantian Crestrunner with a wingspan of about 20 feet. Sadly all of the known species from the first two categories were extinct thanks to poaching and the pet trade. Category three included most of the known dragons in Europe and the Americas, but category four was where the real monsters began. The dragons from three were intelligent and cunning, but the dragons from four were all of that plus violent. They also tended to possess more weaponry, like the infamous Hungarian Horntail, which was just as dangerous with its spiked tail as it was with its fangs. A licence for category four would allow him to work with all but the 2 most deadly dragons known to wizard kind, the only two category five monstrosities. There was the Uruloki, also known as the great fire serpents. These were sentient, massive, legendary beasts. Thankfully not many of these enormous monsters are known to still exist, and at last check they were all hibernating. The second species of category 5 dragon are known simply as the frost dragons. Almost nothing is known about them, except that they didn't seem to get very large, are almost completely immune to wizard magic, and their breath attack will completely freeze everything in their vicinity without fail, regardless of attempts to use shielding magic. It wasn't even known if they were sentient or not.
After dinner, the twins would occasionally hang out with Harry and the others, and occasionally disappear to their room, where the odd explosion would occasionally be heard. Harry tried to sneak in once, just to see what they were up to, especially as he had overheard something about an upcoming prank, and very much did not want to be the one targeted. But as soon as he cracked open the door and stepped through, a bucket of cold water dumped out over his head. Many laughs were had all around. Harry decided it was best not to try sneaking up on the twins again, at least not in their space.
Mostly Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny would all hangout together after supper, and Harry was happy to see that all it had taken to bring Ginny out of her shell around him, was for him to make a complete fool of himself.
Harry did have one pet project he'd begun to work on without letting any of the others know. Between the wild magic he'd used on his aunt, the endlessly cast and imperfect warming charm, and his experience activating the rune magic on his trunk, he'd decided he really wanted to start using this wilder magic now, rather than wait for sixth or seventh year. Every night, after they had gone to bed, Harry would try to summon his wand back to him from the floor beside his cot.
~ The week continued more or less in this fashion without too much fuss until Wednesday night, after supper Harry told everyone to hang tight for a minute while he ran upstairs. He returned a few minutes later with his messenger bag, having trouble hiding his grin. Harry explained that he had an early Christmas gift for Ron and Hermione, Ron cheered while Hermione tried to refuse as it wasn't Christmas yet, but Harry insisted that they needed them for the trip to Hogwarts. He started tossing everyone else a chocolate frog, before pulling two small, wrapped boxes from his bag with a flourish and placing them in front of his best friends. As he sat down, to many thanks for the chocolate, he announced "happy early Christmas" and Ron tore into his wrapping, while Hermione slowly unwrapped hers, peeling the tape back as she went.
"Er, Harry, it looks like a nice box and all, but why won't it open?" Ron asked, while tugging on the lid.
"Oh, yes Harry. The detail is lovely, but I can't open mine either," Hermione half complained half complimented. It always bothered her when she couldn't figure something out quickly.
"Those" he paused for dramatic effect, "are your new school trunks!"
They stared at Harry, then each other, then to the boxes they held, before focusing back to a grinning Harry. Hermione tentatively asked how exactly that would work.
"Oh, I get it! Hey, no fair Harry." Ron exclaimed before turning to his mum, "can you undo the shrinking charms mum?"
But before Mrs Weasley even had her wand out Harry commented, "Ron, don't be lazy, unshrink it yourself."
And before Ron could reply, he whipped out his own trunk and pushed his magic into the rune. He tossed the rapidly expanding trunk to the ground before it got too large to hold.
Ron gasped, and the twins and Charlie chortled at Harry's antics.
Hermione beamed as she looked down at the, currently miniscule, carvings in the lid of her own mini-trunk. "It's a shrinking rune! Oh my gosh, that's so neat. How do I activate it?" The young witch was practically bouncing in her excitement.
"That's what you have to figure out," Harry stated with the utmost smugness.
Hermione stuck her tongue out at him, all smiles at the challenge, but Ron just groaned, causing everyone else to laugh. After a nod from Harry, Mr Weasley relented to Ron's continued plea for a hint. He explained the principles behind runic magic, and of course Hermione managed to enlarge her trunk a minute or two before Ron. Hermione was ecstatic over the multi-compartment trunk, and especially the office/library, just as Harry had expected. Everyone took turns exploring Hermione's trunk, and when Ron finally enlarged his own. Harry explained that, once he found out about the library compartment, Hermione simply had to have her own, he did too actually, but Ron's trunk was so much simpler because he still had another big gift Harry was saving for actual Christmas. Ron and Mrs Weasley complained that Harry really shouldn't have spent so much on them, that he needed to watch his spending, but when Harry sheepishly admitted that, as it turned out, he was actually kinda rich, everyone just sorta paused to take it in. The poor kid who had always worn ill-fitted hand-me-downs, the kid that never looked like he got enough to eat at home, the child that lived with muggle guardians who didn't even seem to care for the child, that kid was actually rich… yeah, that took a second to process.
Life at the burrow continued in pretty much the same fashion until it was finally time to head to King's Cross Station and the Hogwarts Express.
So yeah, this one is ever so slightly rushed, I'll probably come back and edit it slightly one day. Exciting news is that I'm getting married in a couple months, bad news is my attention will be divided for a while. I'm hoping to still update about once a week.
I've also been hung up on another new fanfic, 'The Family That Chooses You'.