Odyssey to the Orient by potterfan2008
** Winner of Most Adventuresome, Best Overall and People's Choice in the Portkey Challenge **
Harry and Ginny stumbled upon a Portkey when they were cleaning Gimmauld Place. It swept them away on an incredible journey.
Categories: SIYE Challenges, Portkey Challenge (2018-1)
Chapter 1: Chapter 1 Swept Away
Chapter 2: Chapter 2 Searching for Answers
Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Poachers and Goblins
Chapter 1: Chapter 1 Swept Away
Author's Notes: Thank you so much to Arnel for her support, encouragement, and excellent beta skills. I love the idea of this challenge, so I hope you enjoy my interpretation. The Valley of Rubies is a real place, you will find out where it is in the next chapter.
With a sigh of relief, Harry slipped into the empty drawing room. He’d slept poorly the night before, his sleep interrupted with nightmares. He kept seeing Cedric fall and Voldemort being reborn. Thankfully, Ron was a sound sleeper and Harry hadn’t woken him. His head ached, but he didn’t want to ask for any potion. He didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that he was having trouble sleeping.
It had been a long afternoon of cleaning and Ron and Hermione were in rare form today. They’d been sniping at each other for most of the day before devolving into a shouting match over Ron’s inability to take things seriously and Hermione’s inability to have fun. The twins were making it worse by winding Ron up and making him more intractable in his arguments. Harry was tired of being drawn into their arguments.
He tensed a moment later when the door opened, but relaxed when he saw Ginny sneaking in. During the past weeks at Grimmauld Place, she’d become a friend. He was thrilled that she no longer blushed and stammered when she saw him. He had discovered that she was a bit more like the twins — clever, fun loving, and brave — than he’d realized. They shared a similar sense of humour and he reckoned that she would be one of the few people who might understand what happened in June.
She was surprised to see him, but grinned. “Tired of the fighting?”
“Yes,” he said fervently. “I don’t understand them.”
She nodded. “Hermione yelled at me because I was cleaning wrong. I don’t need to stick around and get yelled at because she’s mad at Ron. I hope they start talking before tonight. When they are still fighting, she storms around the room making snippy comments. It’s damn annoying.”
Harry laughed. “Trust me, I know. I’ve been caught between the two of them more times then I care to think about. Ron usually just becomes grumpy and doesn’t want to talk, but I’ve been yelled at by Hermione for not sticking up for her or whatever.”
Ginny drifted over to the curio cabinet on the right side of the fireplace. They’d already thrown out a lot of junk, but there were still a few items in the cabinet. She spotted an elephant statue that she’d not noticed before. “This is pretty.”
Joining her at the cabinet, Harry nodded. “It is. That’s rather surprising, most of the junk here is ugly.”
Giggling, she said, “It was probably bought by mistake.”
Reaching into the cabinet, she picked up the elephant trinket that she and Harry had been admiring. Harry reached over and stroked the smooth trunk. “I think this is made from ivory.”
Lifting it up higher, Ginny said, “Do you think the eyes are real gems? They look like emeralds.”
Shrugging, Harry traced around the eye of elephant. The eyes were green chips with clear chips around them. There was a decorative headgear on the statue with multi-coloured chips of stone. “I don’t know, but it seems like the Blacks don’t have a shortage of jewels. This is much better than that awful ring we saw yesterday.”
“I’ll ask Sirius about this,” Ginny said. “He might know where it came from or something.”
Seeing his interest, Ginny held the elephant out to Harry so he could look at it more closely. When his hands closed over the elephant, there was a wave of magic. Ginny grabbed onto one of Harry’s arms to steady herself. Her other hand was still on the elephant. Before she could say anything, she felt the familiar sensation of being hooked through the stomach and the dreary drawing room spun away.
Hermione glared at Ron and the twins as they headed down to the kitchen. She couldn’t believe Ron’s attitude about schoolwork. They had started arguing about Ron’s inability to take things seriously and things had gone downhill. She knew she shouldn’t let it get to her, but she couldn’t help herself. That combined with the twins needling both of them, she was not in a good mood. Sighing, she wished she weren’t sharing a room with Ginny.
She had nothing against Ginny, but she was simply used to having time and space to herself. Since she’d arrived at Grimmauld Place, time to simply sit and read had been scarce. It was an honour to be invited to stay at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, but she didn’t enjoy the endless days of cleaning and battling a variety of magical creatures or charmed items.
Hermione followed Ron and the twins as they tromped into the kitchen. Mrs Weasley immediately put them to work setting the table and bringing food to the table. Mrs Weasley was in her element, cooking and serving food to so many. Remus Lupin was there talking to Sirius and Bill Weasley. Hermione noticed that Mr Weasley wasn’t home yet. He’d been kept at work later and later as the summer wore on.
“Where’s Harry?” Sirius asked the teens when he didn’t see his godson join them.
Hermione’s head shot up. When was the last time she’d seen him? “Harry? He was cleaning with us earlier.” She bit her lip. “I haven’t seen him in a while.”
The Weasley brothers also shook their heads. Ron spoke up, “I haven’t seen him since just after lunch. I don’t know where he went. I don’t think he slept that well last night. Maybe he fell asleep.”
Frowning, Sirius jogged up the steps calling his godson’s name. He made his way upstairs checking all the rooms. On his way back downstairs, he looked a bit more carefully. Even checking some of the hidden areas he remembered from his childhood, he found no one. He reappeared in the kitchen. “He’s not upstairs.”
“What do you mean he’s not upstairs? Where else would he be?” Mrs Weasley demanded. Glaring at the twins, she said, “Do the two of you know anything about this?”
“No, Mum,” the twins replied honestly. Fred added, “We haven’t seen him in a while. I thought maybe he was in his room.”
Sirius shook his head. “He’s not.”
Mrs Weasley looked around anxiously when she realized who else was missing. “Where’s your sister?”
“I didn’t see her,” Sirius said. “There is no one upstairs.”
“Could they have left the house?” Hermione asked. She knew they weren’t supposed to leave, but Harry was never the best at following the rules.
Bill had risen and was casting a spell that Hermione had never heard of before. Mrs Weasley and Sirius both watched him anxiously. He looked troubled at the results. “They didn’t walk out the door and there is evidence of a Portkey from a room on the second floor.”
Sirius and Bill raced out of the kitchen with the others not far behind. Pushing open the drawing room door, Sirius looked around. Bill cast another spell and nodded. “They left from this room.”
“Can’t you tell where they went?” Hermione asked.
Hardly sparing a glance for her, Bill shook his head. “The trail is too cold. They left a good four hours ago.”
“Four hours?” Mrs Weasley glared at her children. “You haven’t seen your sister or Harry in four hours and you didn’t think to say anything?”
“We were working upstairs,” Fred defended himself. “I thought they were working with Ron and Hermione.”
Hermione bit her lip. She’d been so upset at Ron that she hadn’t really given much of a thought to Harry or Ginny. She could see that Ron was thinking the same thing.
A much-subdued group returned to the kitchen as Bill contacted Professor Dumbledore. For once, Mrs Weasley wasn’t encouraging them to eat as she waited for her husband to come from the Ministry.
Harry and Ginny landed in a heap on a dusty floor. Harry leapt up with his wand out, his heart was racing as he surveyed their surroundings. They had arrived in a hot, dark, dusty room that, to his relief was empty. It was stifling, as if it had been shut up for a long time. He sneezed several times in a row as did Ginny as they had disturbed quite a bit of dust when they’d landed on the floor. If he had to guess, he would say it was a drawing room.
There was a sofa covered with a dust-covered cloth and a matching love seat. A low table sat between them. Along the back wall was a curio cabinet with more elegant and beautiful items like the one that had been found at Grimmauld Place. There was a large stone fireplace, but as Harry scanned the mantle he was disappointed to realize there was no Floo powder. There was a small writing desk in a corner next to a small shuttered window.
There was a large picture window covered with a shutter on the opposite wall, but he could see through the slates enough to see that it was dark outside. He could make out trees, but he couldn’t tell where they were. The moon was only a half moon, so it didn’t provide as much light as he would like.
Reaching down, he helped Ginny up. He was gratified to see that she also had her wand out. Picking up the elephant, he held it out and she put her hands on it as well. Unfortunately, nothing happened. His heart sank as he realized it wasn’t going to return them to Grimmauld Place. He glanced over at Ginny. She was looking around the room with wide eyes and Harry fancied he could see a bit of fear in her eyes that mirrored what he was feeling.
“Damn!” Ginny said finally. Her voice a bit more wobbly than usual. “Where do you think we are?”
“I have no idea,” Harry replied quietly. “Someplace that hasn’t been used in forever. This looks worse than Grimmauld Place.”
“It might be another house owned by Sirius’ family. It looked like that elephant was sitting in that cabinet forever.”
“Do you know how to tell if we’re alone?” Harry whispered. “It doesn’t look like there’s anyone here, but we should make sure.”
After a moment, she shook her head. “I know there’s a spell, but I don’t remember what it is. I’m sorry.”
“I guess we’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. I think we should stick together.”
She nodded. Harry tried to smile down at her. With his free hand, he reached down for her hand and squeezed it. “We’ll figure this out.”
Together, they left the dust-covered room. Harry could feel his heart beating steadily and his nose was itching from all the dust. He was glad he wasn’t alone, but he was determined that Ginny wouldn’t share the fate of the last person who had shared a Portkey with him.
The next room was larger and equally as dust covered. It was a larger living area, less formal than the other room. The furniture reminded him of a holiday house, he thought it was called rattan furniture. The cushions were decorated with swaying palm trees.
There was an open doorway that led to a formal dining room and an old-fashioned kitchen. A small laundry sat off the kitchen and a half bath was beyond that. All were dust covered with no indication anyone had been there in years. A quick check on the first floor showed three bedrooms and one bathroom. There was no sign of anyone having lived there or even visited in years. Thick dust and cobwebs covered most of the surfaces.
Returning to the ground floor, Harry walked into the casual living room and over to the door he’d seen. It took a minute of pulling, as the door was stuck, but he had it open soon enough. It was a relief when the cooler air flowed into the closed-up house. The door led to an enclosed patio with a large pool. To his surprise, the water was a clear blue.
“It must have a stasis charm on it.”
Harry jumped at the sound of her voice. Turning, he grinned a bit ruefully. She laughed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“No, that’s okay,” Harry smiled. “I was concentrating and…sorry.”
“It’s kind of strange that the pool has a charm on it and not the house,” she commented. Harry appreciated that she was maintaining her calm.
He shrugged. “I bet they had house-elves to clean the house. Maybe they don’t clean pools.”
Ginny started laughing. “Wouldn’t that be funny? Hermione would be so proud of them refusing to clean pools.”
Harry laughed before walking around the pool. There was a door on the other side of the screen enclosure. Opening the door, he stared into a canopy of thick, green jungle. There was about twenty yards of an overgrown garden before the jungle started.
Swearing, he stared into the night. They must be past the charms or wards cast on the house because now he could hear birds and an occasional roar of some animal. He didn’t hear any voices so that actually made him feel better.
He heard Ginny swear as she stepped up next to him. She looked out at the jungle before looking up at him. “Where do you reckon we are?”
Stepping back, he left the door open to let some cool air in. They sat down on the cool concrete of the patio. “I have no idea. Africa, maybe? Some Island?”
“I guess,” she replied doubtfully. She looked down at the elephant that she’d just remembered she was still carrying. “I guess this was a Portkey to travel here. It looks like this place has sat empty for a lot longer than Grimmauld Place.”
“I hope Sirius knows about it,” Harry said fervently. “What time do you reckon it was when we left?”
“I think it was about two or so.”
He nodded. “That sounds about right. So, wherever we are, it isn’t in the same time zone as London. I guess that means it can’t be Africa.”
“India? Are there jungles in India?”
He laughed as he tried to visual a globe. “I think we can safely say that we are awful at geography. I don’t know, but they do have elephants, so maybe.”
“It could be far enough away that it is dark in India when it’s the middle of the afternoon in London.”
“Let’s see what it is like out front.”
They walked across the house and Harry cautiously opened the front door. They gasped. It appeared that they were on a mountain overlooking a valley. Down below in the valley floor, they could see a village around a large lake. Harry could see several gold-topped pagodas dotting the lower hills. There were no large buildings or skyscrapers. Nothing looked remotely familiar. It was confirmed, wherever they were, they were really far from home. His heart dropped. Would anyone think to look for them?
As they stood looking down, Ginny reached out for his hand. He took her hand gladly, grateful for the contact in this alien landscape. Was this what India looked like? All he could picture at the moment was the Taj Mahal. He had no idea what the landscape was like.
Looking up, he was astonished at the night sky. Unfortunately, it was nothing he recognized.
“Does it all look Muggle?” Ginny asked quietly as she gazed down at the valley.
He shrugged. “I think so, but I really don’t know. I think those gold buildings are temples — but I don’t know what religion it would be, but I’ve seen pictures in one of Aunt Petunia’s magazines. It seems like they are using electricity.”
“It would take us hours to get down there.”
“We need to wait for daylight for that. Hopefully, there is a road to make it easier to go down there.”
The front garden was much larger than the back garden. There was a pair of chairs from which you could look down at the view. There was a variety of trees and bushes that seemed tropical. He couldn’t really identify them.
“Are those bananas?” she asked as she looked around the garden. Letting go of his hand, she hurried over and found a large banana tree. There were plenty of small bananas. Together they gathered several clusters of bananas.
“These bushes have tons of berries, but I don’t recognize any of them,” Harry said. “Maybe there is something in the house that will tell us what is good to eat.”
“Here’s a well!” Ginny called out excitedly. “We have water.”
She used the crank and pulled up a bucket of clear water. “This looks like it was protected as well.”
“That gives us food and water. Why don’t we look about the house and see what we find?”
“Do you think we can use magic?” he asked after looking around. “I don’t want to spend a night in a gross, dusty house.”
“I’ll give it a go,” she said. “You’ve received enough notices from the Ministry.”
The two of them waited for almost fifteen minutes and Ginny didn’t receive any type of letter from any Ministry. Harry stood up. “Why don’t we clean a few rooms so we can sit comfortably?”
Together, they cleaned the living room and kitchen using a combination of both magic and non-magical cleaning. Harry found a household broom and cleaning supplies in one of the cupboards that he felt more comfortable using. The familiar work helped keep his mind occupied so he didn’t worry about what was going to happen.
They’d opened the windows and found large ceiling fans that worked with the touch of a wand on the controls. It cooled the almost stifling house considerably.
“I have to say it’s a lot nicer cleaning here than at Grimmauld Place,” he commented as he finished mopping the floors. He was rather grateful that he was here with Ginny. As much as he enjoyed Ron’s company, he tended to complain more than he cleaned. Ginny was a hard worker and they worked well together. She was a bit distracting in that every time she stretched, he could see the pale skin of her stomach — not that he was complaining.
“It’s a bit surprising,” she replied. “There’s none of the dark objects that are at Grimmauld Place. We haven’t run into anything dangerous.”
Harry groaned. “Ginny, I hope you didn’t just jinx us.”
She laughed. “Sorry.”
Rummaging through the cupboards, Ginny found a kettle while Harry found a canister of loose tea. He cautiously held it up to his nose and sniffed. “It seems okay.”
Ginny found several empty containers and retrieved water from the well. She decided to clean some dishes, so they could at least drink from a cup. She could possibly make some tea later.
It was almost two hours later when they flopped down on the sofa in the living room. Harry looked around. “This is much better.”
She nodded as she handed him a banana while he poured water from the pitcher they’d found. “I’m exhausted. All of this cleaning is wearing me out.”
“I think it being dark helps.”
He glanced over at Ginny. “I was thinking. Rather than trying to clean another room or two upstairs, why don’t we kip down here tonight? I found an airing cupboard filled with sheets and pillows. They cleaned up well.”
She sent a grateful look towards him. He fancied that she didn’t want to clean another room either. Not to mention, he’d feel better if he was in the same room as her. Soon enough, they had sheets and pillows set up on the floor. Ginny glanced over at him.
“Do you mind if I leave one of the candles lit?” Ginny asked as she gestured to the candles they had lit during their cleaning.
“No,” Harry replied. Hesitantly he added, “I don’t fancy waking up in the dark in a strange place.”
“Thank you,” she said, making him glad he’d said that. To his surprise, she hugged him. He returned the hug, enjoying the feel of her against him. Unlike her mother’s strong hugs, her’s was comforting and welcome.
Albus Dumbledore looked every bit of his years. “You have no idea to where the Portkey was keyed?”
“No, Albus,” Sirius said angrily. “Obviously, if I knew, I would have already tried to find them.”
“You didn’t know there was a Portkey hidden amongst everything else?” Molly asked suspiciously.
“Of course not! I wouldn’t have allowed the children to clean if I thought they might be sent off to who knows where,” Sirius yelled. “Merlin, I know you don’t trust me, but please, I wouldn’t put the children in danger.”
“I checked for Portkeys when we first walked through,” Albus added. “I didn’t detect one.”
“If it wasn’t activated, you wouldn’t have detected it,” Bill said tiredly.
“Are you suggesting that someone in the Order put it here?” Remus asked sharply.
“It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve been betrayed,” Sirius said simply.
“Albus, do we know for sure that You-Know-Who doesn’t have them?” Arthur asked hesitantly.
“Severus hasn’t heard anything,” Albus replied. “I can’t imagine that Tom could penetrate the Fidelius. He’s trying to keep a low profile and retrieve the prophecy. Besides, what are the chances that it would be Harry and Ginny who touched the Portkey? It just doesn’t sound like something he would do.”
Sirius nodded. “I can’t imagine Voldemort visiting here and not killing everyone in the house.”
“True,” Bill murmured. “I haven’t detected any breaks in the wards. I think it must be something that was in the curio cabinet — possibly something that had been there for years.”
“I sent a message off with Hedwig. I’m hoping that with their bond, she will be able to find Harry,” Sirius said.
“That could take days!” Molly wailed.
“If you have a better suggestion, I would like to hear it,” he replied as calmly as he could.
As the others continued to talk, Sirius sat back. A Portkey. He tried to recall if he’d heard anything about a Portkey. His father mentioned once that his father had commonly used Portkeys to travel. Years ago, it had been more common to use reusable Portkeys, but that had fallen out of favour as the Ministry required the registration of Portkeys. Could it have been sitting there for decades? His father hated to travel, but he knew his grandfather loved traveling.
Once Dumbledore and the others left, Sirius headed for his father’s study. He hated his father’s study. This was where his father had pronounced his punishments for whatever his transgressions had been. This was where his father had used the Cruciatius on him the night he’d ending up fleeing the Potters’ house.
Only his great love for Harry could have induced him to enter this room and sit at his father’s desk. The sound of yelling from the upper floors made him roll his eyes. He was becoming rather tired of Molly’s overbearing attitude. With a wave of his wand, he locked and Silenced the room.
The desk which had seemed so huge in his childhood was more manageable now. The top gleamed with the blotter, ink and quill stand perfectly in place. There was a small clock and the expected picture of Regulus on the top. The shelves were spotless, indicating that Kreacher must have been visiting this room frequently.
He ran his eyes over the books. Most of them, he would wager had never been opened. There were biographies of well known purebloods, volumes on the Dark Arts, and a section on Potions. That surprised him a bit. It was his mother who had been more skilled in Potions. There were a few pureblood classic novels. Novels that contrived to show how like savages Muggle-borns were and how noble Purebloods were. His cousins, Bellatrix and Narcissa, had loved those books.
Realizing that he was simply delaying the inevitable, he opened the top right-hand drawer and pulled out a wooden box. He set it on the desktop and pricked his finger with the knife he’d taken from the drawer. Placing a drop of blood on the centre of the box, he said, “Toujours Pur. I am Sirius Orion Black, head of the House of Black.”
A white light flashed, and the box opened. Reaching in, he took out the Black family ring. Without hesitation, he put it on his finger. He felt a surge of magic as he took the reigns on the house of Black. It was a heady feeling. He could feel the connections to the other members of the house of Black.
He took great satisfaction in severing ties with Bellatrix and Narcissa and reinstating both Andromeda and Tonks. He had lesser ties to some of the other families, including the Weasleys, the Prewetts, the Longbottoms, the MacMillans, and the Crabbes. Focusing, he could feel the very powerful magic of his heir and godson, but to his dismay, he couldn’t tell where the teen was. He could feel the hum of magic from the house. With a loud pop Kreacher appeared — called by Sirius’ magic.
“Kreacher, I am now head of the house of Black.”
Kreacher bowed resentfully, but without the comments of the previous weeks.
“Do you know anything about the Portkey in the drawing room?”
Kreacher shrugged. “It is old magic, not working. Master Arcturus may have used it years ago, but Kreacher does not know where it goes.”
“Are there other properties?”
“Kreacher doesn’t know. Master Orion had Kreacher stay here.”
Swearing, Sirius dismissed the elf. He would have to visit Gringotts. They would be able to give him a full inventory of the houses and properties of the house of Black. He just prayed that Harry had been transported to one of the Black properties.
Ginny lay on her makeshift bed and tried to fall asleep. Harry seemed to have fallen asleep almost as soon as they laid down. Thank Merlin that Harry was whisked away with her. It was unbelievable how calm and steady he was in the face of such an unexpected danger.
While she was still registering the fact that they’d been transported to some unknown place, he was already trying to make sure they were safe. He was a hard worker as well. If she was stuck cleaning with someone, she definitely preferred Harry. Ron tended to complain more than he worked while Hermione tended to be critical. With a smile, she wondered if they’d stopped fighting.
With a sigh, she rolled over on her side. She’d been so scared when they’d been abruptly transported away from Grimmauld Place. She thought that it was only because of Harry that she hadn’t fallen to pieces. Surely everyone was looking for them, right?
She wondered if they really were in India. Hopefully, tomorrow they would be able to figure out where they were and how they could get home.
As her eyes started to close, she saw a movement in the corner. Suddenly terrified, she reached out and shook Harry’s arm. “Harry!”
He woke immediately. “What’s wrong?”
“I saw something! In the corner!”
Squinting, he reached for his glasses. As he placed his glasses on, a deep black form dropped from the ceiling onto Ginny. He jumped back with a yell. Not Ginny! It only took him a moment to realize what it was — a Lethifold. The creature was also known as a Living Shroud.
His heart racing, he remembered that there was only one spell that worked on a Lethifold — the Patronus Charm. Harry summoned up the memory of laughing with Ginny earlier. “Expecto Patronum!”
Prongs raced over to the Lethifold and with a great swoop of his antlers, the Lethifold was torn away from Ginny. She took a great gulp of air as Prongs ran off the intruder. Harry was over at Ginny’s side in an instant.
“Are you okay?”
In response, she launched herself into Harry’s arms sobbing. All of the terror and confusion she’d managed to hold in all evening came spilling out. Harry’s arms tentatively wrapped around her. He held her, running his hand down her back.
It took a while for her shuddering sobs to stop. She stayed still in Harry’s arms, relaxing in the strength of his arms and the security that he would never let anything hurt her.
Harry handed her a handkerchief. “Are you okay?” he asked again.
After wiping her face, she blew her nose. “I’m sorry.”
He shook his head. “Ginny, you were just attacked by a Lethifold! You have nothing to be sorry for. You woke me up in time to help.”
“A Lethifold?! That’s what that was?”
“I didn’t know what it was,” she admitted. “I just thought I saw movement.”
“I recognized it from the description in my Care of Magical Creatures book,” he explained. “It looked like you were covered with a black cloak.”
“I’m glad you don’t panic in a crisis,” she said.
“It was scary,” he admitted.
After a moment, she reluctantly pulled out of his arms. “I don’t think I can go back to sleep.”
“Do you want some tea?”
Together, they made some tea. Ginny had found a small unspoiled canister of sugar in one of the kitchen cabinets, she added some to her tea. She cautiously took a sip. “It’s good. I can’t tell what flavour it might be, but it’s good.”
After trying the tea, Harry nodded. “It is.”
They took their tea back into the living room where Harry straightened out their makeshift beds. Sitting down on the floor, they drank their tea quietly for a few minutes.
Ginny jumped slightly when Harry spoke up. “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?”
“Greece,” she said.
“You didn’t even have to think about it,” he laughed.
She shook her head. “When I was little, Bill would tell me stories about the Greek gods. I was fascinated by them. They have all sorts of wizarding sites, plus they have beautiful beaches.”
“My aunt always had travel magazines,” Harry said. “I’m not really sure why, because they didn’t really like to travel, but there was one issue on the Greek isles. The pictures were beautiful with the blue water and the bright, white houses.”
“What about you?” she asked. “Where would you like to go?”
He considered it for a minute. “It’s hard to say, but I’d love to go on an African safari. The idea of being able to see a lion or zebra is brilliant.”
“That would be fun,” she agreed. “One of Charlie’s mates did that his first year out of Hogwarts.”
The pair sat and talked until Ginny eventually fell asleep. Harry carefully laid her down against her pillow and covered her with a blanket. He watched her for a minute. She had shown a lot of courage since they’d arrived here. The thought that he could have slept through her attack, chilled him. He was glad he’d been able to save her a second time.
As he watched her sleep, he acknowledged how beautiful she was. Why hadn’t he asked her to the Yule Ball? He would have had a lot more fun with her than with Parvati. He was embarrassed to remember his fascination with Cho Chang. For the better part of a year and a half he’d drooled over a girl that he really knew nothing about. Since he’d returned from the graveyard, his fascination with Cho had disappeared.
Ginny had visited him in the hospital wing after the third task. She’d been a quiet companion. She wasn’t full of questions like Hermione nor was she as awkward about emotions as her brother. Somehow, she had a knack for knowing when to talk and when to be quiet. As he started to drift off to sleep, he wondered if she would be interested in going to Hogsmeade with him once they were back at school.
The sun had barely risen in the sky as Harry and Ginny made their way down the road into the valley below. It was hot and sticky. Ginny was really wishing she had something else to wear other than her jeans. The sun was much hotter in this part of the world and Ginny knew she’d have more freckles by the end of the day.
They’d found some money in the writing desk that they hoped was still good. Ginny wouldn’t have recognized the brightly coloured papers as money, but Harry assured her that it was — even if he couldn’t identify it. They’d also taken a small bag of Galleons that they’d found, just in case. The road on which they were walking wasn’t paved, it was a simply dirt track that wound down the mountains and into the valley below.
Ginny was very hot and tired by the time they arrived at the village. They’d seen some signs that indicated they were in the Valley of Rubies, but they were still a bit unsure what country they were in. The signs they’d seen were in English and another language that she didn’t recognize — the letters didn’t even look familiar.
They wandered into the village until they came to the market square. It was a noisy and colourful place. They could hear the clanking of pots and pans and smell the frying of food. The air filled with an exotic sounding language. The chaos of it reminded Ginny of the marketplace Bill had taken them to in Cairo.
“They are selling gems,” Harry said.
He gestured to several stalls on one side of the square. “They are selling jewels — rubies, emeralds, sapphire. See the signs.”
She nodded as she read the notices. Like the other signs they’d seen, they were in both English and another language. They still hadn’t figured out where they were. The other language on the signs didn’t use the same letters as she was used to, so they had no clues.
Several signs stated that they bought uncut jewels. “I wonder if there is a Gringotts in the area. They are usually where money is to be made.”
“That would be great.”
Enticed by the smell of pungent spices, they found a stall selling food. With a lot of gestures, they managed to purchase tea, fried eggs, and some type of noodles. They sat in the square watching people. There were women walking around selling food, sharp-eyed gem dealers, and young red-robed monks with their shaved heads and happy smiles. Some of the older men worn turbans and long tunics over loose trousers while a few were dressed in more western jeans.
“This is really good,” Ginny commented as she finished her breakfast. It had been a long time since lunch the day before. She was heartily sick of bananas.
Once they finished eating, they walked around the marketplace looking at all the stalls. Ginny was quite happy to find a shop selling clothes. She bought a brightly coloured yellow sundress that was embroidered with lambs and other small animals. It wasn’t difficult to convince Harry to part with his heavy, oversized jeans for a pair of thin linen trousers and a sleeveless shirt. Thinking of the beautiful pool, Ginny grabbed a bathing costume for herself and talking Harry into a pair of board shorts.
Feeling much cooler, they started to leave the market when Ginny grabbed Harry’s arm. “Look.”
He looked where she pointed and noticed a symbol that he recognized as a rune. It didn’t know what it meant, but he recognized it from the cover of one of Hermione’s books.
His stomach swooped as she grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the wall with the rune. To their dismay, they couldn’t find any hidden entrances or any other signs of the wizarding world.
“I’m sure there’s something here,” she said in exasperation.
“Maybe there is a password or something,” Harry said.
She sighed. “Probably.”
Taking a chance, he wrapped an arm around her in a loose hug. She smiled up at him, making him think that he’d made the right decision. Hugging him back, they explored the rest of the market. At one stall they purchased eggs, milk, cheese, and butter as well as some fruits and vegetables. They found some bread and rice at another stall before they headed back up to the house in the hills.
“I want to come with you,” Molly insisted.
“Me too!” Ron and Hermione chorused.
Sirius groaned and shook his head. “No, I don’t know where I will find them and I’m not taking all of you on a sightseeing tour. Bill and I will go and check out the other Black properties. I’m hoping the Portkey took them to one.”
“Snape confirmed that Voldemort doesn’t seem to be aware that Harry is missing,” Bill added. “Hopefully, they simply found an old holiday Portkey.”
It took some time, but Bill had been able to take Sirius to Gringotts where he could officially claim his inheritance. He’d taken all of the paperwork for any properties his family owned. Unfortunately, there were more than he expected. Bill had scheduled a series of Portkeys to their first stop. Sirius remembered his grandfather was fond of visiting Jamaica, so that was the first place they were going to investigate.
Back to index
Chapter 2: Chapter 2 Searching for Answers
Author's Notes: Thanks to Arnel for all of her help! All of the places listed are real, but the names are the former names. I will list the real names at the end of the chapter. The information from the Encyclopaedia Britannica is accurate.
Harry’s eyes almost popped out of his head when Ginny strolled into the pool area in a dark blue bathing suit. It showed that Ginny had grown up in more ways than one. She was beautiful! Why had he never noticed that before? While he was busy staring at her, she ran and jumped into the water splashing him where he held onto the side of the pool.
She swam the length of the pool before returning. “Why aren’t you swimming?”
He blushed. “I don’t know how.”
“How can that be? You rescued Ron and Gabrielle from the bottom of the lake during the second task.”
“That was because of the Gillyweed,” he said uncomfortably. “Dobby brought me some just before the task. I grew gills and webbed feet and hands.”
“Had you used it before?”
He shook his head ruefully. “I didn’t even know what it was until Dobby showed up.”
“I don’t know if that was really brave or really stupid.”
He laughed. “I think a bit of both.”
Ginny treaded water while she looked over at him. “Do you want to learn how to swim?”
“You’d teach me?”
He considered it for a moment. Ginny wouldn’t try to drown him like his cousin and he didn’t think she would take the mickey like Ron or the twins might. She was certainly much prettier than Dudley’s swimming instructor. Although she would certainly be very distracting.
In short order, she had him floating comfortably on his back. At first, he felt a bit exposed, but when she didn’t take advantage of him floating, he relaxed. The water was cool and refreshing after their long walk back from the village.
“Bill taught me to swim. The twins kept throwing me in and he wanted to make sure I would be able to hold my own,” Ginny confided.
He smiled. He bet she was really cute when she was little. “My cousin had swimming lessons, but my aunt wouldn’t let me take lessons as well. I like playing in the water, but my cousin would always try to drown me.”
He couldn’t help but laugh at the naughty names she called his aunt and cousin. It wasn’t often that people spoke up for him, so he appreciated it. After floating for a time, she demonstrated some basic strokes. It took some practice, but he was soon able to kick and use his arms at the same time. He had a bit of trouble with breathing, but Ginny was sure he’d be able to learn.
After practicing for a while, Harry found some pool toys in a small cupboard. They threw the ball back and forth in the shallow end. They spent more than an hour and a half splashing and playing in the water.
Ginny sat on the steps. “As much as I’m having fun, I’m hungry.”
They investigated the groceries that they’d bought at the market. Harry pulled out the eggs and vegetables. “How about an omelette?”
“You know how to cook?”
He nodded. “I make breakfast for my relatives all the time.”
Ginny toasted some bread while he chopped up some vegetables to put in the eggs. It didn’t take long for them to prepare a simple meal.
After eating, Harry said, “I think we should look in the drawing room where we first landed. Maybe we can find out more information about where we are.”
“Good idea,” she agreed. “I’ll wash up the dishes as you cooked.”
A thoroughly discouraged Sirius and Bill returned from the small ski lodge in the French Alps. Like the other properties they’d found, it was dusty and deserted.
Swearing, Sirius looked longingly at the Firewhiskey on the sideboard, but he resolutely ignored it. He and Bill had explored the three properties that Gringotts had told them were attached to the Black vault over the past day and a half. It had been very discouraging.
“Any thoughts?” Sirius asked the younger wizard.
Bill stood and walked around the study. “We might be going about this all wrong. We don’t know who placed this Portkey. We were going on the assumption that it was your grandfather, but maybe one of your other relatives had a holiday house and it isn’t attached to the Black family vault.”
The house-elf popped into the study. He bowed low. “Yes, Master Sirius.”
“We are trying to find a property that wouldn’t be attached to the Black Family vault,” Sirius explained. “Do you know if there are any letters or diaries from other family members?”
“There are boxes in the attic,” Kreacher offered.
“Are there a lot of boxes?” Sirius asked.
“Maybe we could have Hermione and my brothers help,” Bill said. “They’ve been chomping at the bit to help.”
“Remus has been wanting to help also,” Sirius said.
“I’ll go get them,” Bill said.
Thirty minutes later, Sirius was explaining to Hermione, Ron, Fred, and George what they wanted. “Kreacher has identified the boxes that he believes has the diaries and other papers. We’re looking for any mention of a holiday house.”
“Wouldn’t Gringotts have the information for any family house?” Fred asked.
“Not necessarily,” Bill answered. “Several of the Black family members have been blasted off the tree and anything they bought wouldn’t be from the vault.”
“There are eight boxes,” Sirius said. “Each of you should pick a box and take it down to the library. We will go through each box carefully. Look for letters, diaries, pictures, or anything that might indicate a holiday home.”
Harry methodically went through the desk in the drawing room. It was an old-fashioned roll top desk with many cubby holes. He found some more colourful money as well as some Galleons. In the bottom drawer, he found a small box of uncut jewels.
He looked up and smiled as Ginny walked in. “I think we are in Burma. There are some notes here about the jewel mines of Burma.”
Frowning, he said, “I think Burma has a different name now, but I can’t remember what it is.”
“Burma,” Ginny turned the name over in her mind. “Where is Burma?”
In reply, he went to the shelves and pulled out a heavy book that appeared to be part of a large set of books. He put it on the desk and opened it. “Burma is in southeast Asia. It is bordered by the Bay of Bengal and Sea of Andaman to the south, Bangladesh and India to the west, China to the north and French Indochina and Siam to the West.” He read a bit further. “It was a British colony when this was written, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t anymore. I don’t know what Siam is, or French Indochina, but I don’t think that’s what they are called anymore.”
“What is that book? How did you know the information would be there?”
“This is the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It’s a bunch of books that you can look up almost anything in. We used them a lot in primary school to look things up.”
“These look pretty old.”
He frowned. “I know. From what I’ve seen, this house was built in the 1850s. I don’t know how long it’s been since anyone has lived here.”
“I hope Sirius knows about this place.”
A loud crack of thunder woke Ginny very early in the morning. Immediately, she looked for Harry and was relieved to see him sleeping on the floor next to her. It amazed her how quietly he slept; she was so used to her brothers’ obnoxiously loud snoring, that Harry’s silence was welcome. Glancing around the room, she could see no Lethifolds hiding in the corners.
Pulling a sheet around her a bit more closely, she walked to the door leading to the pool. It was pouring rain. The pool was already starting to overflow, and she could see the charms that had been placed on the house to prevent flooding. If not for those charms, the water would start coming in the house within minutes.
She watched the swaying of the palm trees. The noise of the rain hitting the roof was so loud, it masked the sound of Harry coming up behind her, but she could sense him as he approached.
She looked back at him with a smile. “This is incredible.”
The pair watched the show mother nature was putting on for a while. Eventually, Harry made his way into the kitchen. It was very early, only 5:40 in the morning, but they hadn’t really adjusted to this time zone yet. Yesterday, they’d both napped after walking to town and swimming in the afternoon. Last night had been very low key. They’d found a chess board and played chess.
It had been fun to play with a non-wizarding chess board, but unfortunately, he didn’t play any better with a Muggle chess set. He’d finally discovered the part of Ginny that talked a lot. It was fun listening to her. She told him about growing up the youngest of seven. She didn’t feel the pressure to live up to her older brothers as Ron did, rather she found inspiration in her two oldest brothers especially.
They talked about the Quidditch World Cup they’d gone to see the previous year. Harry discovered that like her brothers, Ginny was rather a Quidditch nut. She wanted to play Chaser and Harry made a note to introduce her to the three Gryffindor Chasers once they returned from school. While none of the Chasers would be leaving until next year, he bet they would love having someone else to work out with them.
Rummaging through the pantry, he found a cache of spices and baking ingredients that had all been preserved. He decided to try to make a banana bread. That was something Aunt Petunia had him do whenever they had leftover bananas. He was fairly certain he remembered the recipe. After putting the bread in the oven, he decided to scramble some eggs. He would love some bacon or sausage to go along with them, but they had been very hesitant to buy any meat. He’d seen animal shaped signs over the meat stall and he’d seen a horse, goat, and an animal he didn’t recognize. Overall, he thought going vegetarian for a few days wasn’t a bad idea.
“Harry, you don’t have to do all the cooking!”
He shrugged as Ginny pulled out some plates. “I don’t mind. I rather enjoy cooking.”
“Well, thank you.” Taking a deep breath, she said, “What is that amazing smell?”
“I made some banana bread.”
“That’s a great idea!”
“If I remembered the recipe right, it will be a great idea,” he corrected.
He was gratified to discover that he had indeed remembered the recipe correctly. They ate their simple meal and cleaned up.
Making a face, he watched the rain. It would pour down and lessen and then rain hard again. “I guess we won’t be making it down to the village today.”
She shook her head. “I imagine the road is a muddy swamp by now.”
“I’m going to explore the bedrooms upstairs,” he said.
“I want to look at the books in the other room.”
Other than casting some cleaning charms, they’d pretty much avoided the bedrooms. They both had taken showers after cleaning the bathroom upstairs, but they still camped out downstairs rather than choosing bedrooms upstairs. He started with the room he thought must be the master. There was a chest of drawers that he wanted to explore. He’d only made a small dent in them when he heard a terrified shriek from downstairs.
His wand aloft, he ran downstairs. Ginny was standing on a chair with three snakes around her.
All four of the turned to look at him. The three serpents immediately slithered in his direction. There was a large python, a cobra, and one snake that had yellow and black stripes that Harry couldn’t identify.
“Speaker,” the python was the one who spoke. The snake was huge with beautifully patterned skin, Harry was certain it was at least three and a half meters long. He was also sure it was a Burmese python.
“Yes, I can speak Parseltongue.”
“We sensed you here,” the cobra said as he slithered around Harry’s feet. “We are sorry if we scared the other human.”
“I’m Harry. This is my friend, Ginny. She can’t speak Parseltongue.” The three serpents bobbed their heads almost in greeting.
Harry chanced a look at Ginny who was watching the proceeding with a bit of fear. “They said they could tell that I was a speaker. They came to find me.”
“T-they won’t hurt us, will they?”
The serpents quickly reassured Harry that they wouldn’t hurt either human when he repeated her concerns. Ginny made her way over to Harry’s side and the snakes held rather still. “I d-don’t think I’ve seen snakes up close before.”
Harry appreciated her bravery, he could tell she was scared, but she was trying. He sat on the floor and she followed suit. The three snakes reminded Harry of dogs as they wanted him to pet them. They weren’t cool and slimy. He rather liked the feel of their skin.
“Can I pet them?”
The python must have realized what she wanted, because he slithered closer to her. Like Harry, she found petting the snake rather pleasant. The yellow and black snake seemed like the shyest of the three, but he too wanted to be petted. Harry had dubbed him the bumblebee snake as he really didn’t know what kind of snake it was. It was smaller, less than two meters long. The cobra was in between the other two, closer to two and a half meters long.
“We don’t see many wizards in this area anymore,” the bumblebee snake commented.
“Have you seen other wizards?” Harry asked excitedly.
“There are a few in the village,” the cobra said as his hood flared around his head. “They help the villagers capture us, so we can ‘dance’ for the humans. Some humans keep us in captivity with other animals.”
“Like a zoo?”
The cobra nodded. “Zoo, that is the word. Some snakes like to live in the zoo, they are fed regularly and don’t have to worry about being killed.”
“Some of the humans eat us,” the python said. “Usually cobras, but they aren’t always picky.”
“That’s awful,” Harry said. His thoughts about not eating meat while here reinforced.
“There are non-wand users over the mountain,” the bumblebee snake said.
“Non-wand users?” Harry questioned. He looked over at Ginny while he quickly translated for her.
“Goblins?” she asked.
The three nodded. “Yes, goblins. Sometimes there are wizards with them, but we tend to stay away. Goblins set up traps around their camps.”
“Can you take us there?” Harry asked excitedly. “We have no way of getting home and they might be able to help us.”
The three whispered among themselves for a moment. The python said, “We can’t take you now in the rain, but in a day or two there should be a dry period. We can take you then.”
A splash sounded from out in the pool area. Exchanging a startled look, Harry and Ginny raced to the door. There was another snake swimming in the pool.
Looking at the python, Harry said, “I don’t mind if you want to visit, but every snake who visits must know not to hurt either of us. If I ask you to leave, please respect that.”
“Of course, speaker.” The bumblebee snake slithered over to the edge of the pool and appeared to be reprimanding the swimming snake.
That snake slithered out of the pool and hissed an apology before slithering out under the screen.
“Water snakes have no manners,” the cobra hissed.
“We will return tomorrow,” the python said, “but I don’t think we will be able to travel to the non-wand users until the next day.”
“Would you like any rats?” the bumblebee snake asked. “We could bring you some.”
“No, thank you,” Harry said. “We have food.”
“None of it is live,” the cobra said in a horrified tone.
“That’s okay,” Harry said. “We like it that way.”
Together, Harry and Ginny watched as the snakes left. Harry closed the door behind them.
“I don’t think we want to leave that door open anymore,” Ginny said faintly.
“Are you okay?” Harry asked.
Blinking rapidly, she nodded. “I’m fine.”
Correctly reading the look on her face that she really wasn’t fine, Harry reached out and pulled her into a hug. He felt her shoulders shake. “It’s okay. They won’t hurt you.”
“I know,” Ginny sobbed. “I just…I want to go home. A Lethifold and now snakes.”
It took her some time to calm down. She pulled away embarrassed and wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry, Harry. I don’t…I’m not usually such a girl about things.”
“It’s okay,” he reassured her. “It’s been a rough few days.”
“Those books from yesterday, will they tell us what kind of snakes those were? I don’t even know if they are poisonous or not. Are there other dangerous animals here?”
“Let’s go look.” Together they walked into the drawing room. “I’m pretty sure the biggest one was a Burmese python. The medium sized one was a cobra, but I don’t know what kind. I have no idea what the bumblebee looking one is.”
“Cobras are poisonous, aren’t they?”
Harry nodded. Reaching up, he pulled down the same encyclopaedia he’d used the day before.
He read out loud, “The jungles of Burma are home to many different bird species, including parrots and pheasants. There are water buffalo, tigers, leopards, elephants, and rhinoceros. Bears, gibbons, and monkeys are common in the jungles areas. Snakes, turtles, and crocodile are found in the delta area.”
“That wasn’t overly helpful, other than scaring me,” Ginny said.
Harry nodded. Scanning the book shelves, he found another book titled, The Dangerously Venomous Snakes of Burma. “According to this, there are almost one hundred and fifty types of snakes in Burma, forty-four of them are venomous.”
Flipping through the pictures, he said, “The big one was a Burmese python. I think the cobra was a monocle cobra. The bumblebee snake is actually called a banded krait and it is also poisonous.”
“But they won’t hurt us, right?”
“They promised they wouldn’t,” Harry reassured her. “We’ll just have to watch out for each other."
“Who is Castor Burke?” Hermione asked.
Sirius frowned as he tried to place the name. Standing he wandered over to the wall and looked at the tapestry. “Oh, Castor. He was the son of Belvina and Herbert Burke. Belvina was the sister of my great-grandfather, Sirius. The Burkes moved to America after the war with Grindelwald.”
“That explains his letters from America,” Hermione sighed.
“My mother kept in touch with the Burkes. Castor had a son, Damocles, to whom she used to write. I think they were thinking to set him up with Andromeda or Narcissa,” Sirius made a face as he examined the tapestry.
“Alphard mentions a flat in London,” Fred said.
Sirius smiled. “That was my flat. Alphard was disowned for giving me gold.”
“Are your parents related?” Ron asked in a horrified voice as he looked at the tapestry.
“They are second cousins,” Sirius replied shortly. “Keeping the bloodline pure was more important to them than the ick factor of marrying your cousin.”
“Your mum’s aunt married a Potter. Are you related to Harry’s family?” George asked as he looked over the tapestry with his brother.
Sirius shook his head. “Not really. Charlus Potter was James’ fourth or fifth cousin.”
“Lycoris Black mentions a home in Kenya,” Molly said.
“Lycoris…I remember him,” Sirius said. “He was my grandfather’s brother. He did…he lived in Africa for a while.”
“Have we found a home in Africa?” Remus asked.
Bill shook his head. “There’s no documentation for a home in Africa. Remember, he may have sold it.”
“I don’t think so,” Molly said in an excited tone. “Here is the deed.”
Sirius and Bill scanned the document. “Let’s check it out.”
“Mate, not to rain on your parade, but it’s late,” Remus pointed out. “You don’t want to be wandering around an unknown property in the dark.”
Sirius wanted to argue, but he knew that they were right.
“Goodness,” Molly said. “I will check in with Kreacher and make certain that dinner will be ready soon.”
By mid-afternoon, Harry was bored and a bit grumpy. It was still raining and by now the front garden was flooded as well as the back. It felt a bit like they were stuck on the island.
They’d cleaned the master bedroom and peered in the others. There were a few pairs of trousers and shirts left in the wardrobe. Ginny was altering them, so they would each have something else to wear. She’d already cut the heavy jeans they’d arrived in to make them shorts — much more useful in the hot environment. Harry definitely appreciated that part of the sweltering environment.
Harry thought he’d discovered who lived here. There were several documents with the name of Rigel Black. He presumed the man was a relative of Sirius’. Ginny didn’t think any women had lived here. She thought Rigel must have worked with Gringotts. They’d found a small chest of jewels. These were all cut and polished. Harry would wager they were worth quite a bit of money. He’d happily give them all away if they could leave.
“Harry! Look what I’ve found.”
Turning, Harry saw a large wooden box in her hands. “What is that?”
“An old-fashioned wireless,” she explained as she set it down on the low table. Touching her wand to it, the device sprang to life. It didn’t take long until she was able to find a station playing music.
“Is that a local station?”
She shook her head. “If you purchase one to use overseas, they cast a charm so it will pick up the WWN. You can charm it to pick up the local stations as well. I’m thinking that’s what they’ve done.”
Humming along with the music, she skipped over to the shelves. Holding up a box, she said, “I found this. It looks almost like Gobstones, but they aren’t.”
Peering into the box, Harry grinned. “These are marbles.” He gasped. “I think they’re made with precious stones.”
“Do you know how to play?”
He shrugged. “Not really, why don’t we play Gobstones with the marbles?”
That settled, Ginny drew circles on the floor while Harry counted out fifteen marbles for each of them. “What sorts of games does your family play?” she asked.
He stiffened and she worried that she’d asked the wrong sort of question. “I’m sorry, that was very rude.”
“No, that’s okay,” Harry said. “I don’t really consider the Dursleys my family. They’ve never really wanted me there and didn’t encourage me to join them. This past summer, I had to hide outside the windows to listen to the news.”
He shrugged, but felt warmed by her defence of him. Ron and Hermione knew that he didn’t have a great home life, but it wasn’t something they talked about. “It was a lot worse before Hogwarts. You know, thinking about it, I don’t think the Dursleys ever play games together.”
“Really? What do they do?”
“Watch a lot of telly.”
“Telly? Oh, that’s like the WWN with pictures?”
“That’s a good way of describing it,” Harry agreed. “They have all sorts of programmes and my cousin, Dudley, loves watching them. He has a PlayStation — it’s a sort of game, but it’s on the computer.”
“Hermione tried to explain computers. I’m still a bit lost.”
“They are machines that can do all sorts of things. They do calculations, they help send people into space, my uncle uses one at work, and you can play games on them. I don’t know that much about them either. My aunt and uncle don’t use one at home. I’ve seen them in the library.”
“What does your uncle do?” she asked curiously. “I don’t know a lot about Muggles. I know Hermione’s parents do something with teeth, but I’m still not sure what that means.”
Harry smiled. “My uncle has the most boring job in the world — he sells drills and drill bits.” He sketched a picture of a drill for her. “Drills are used to put holes in things and they are quite handy, but I’ve heard way more about them then I want to. My aunt is a homemaker, but she spends a lot of time gossiping with the other housewives.
“Hermione’s parents are dentists. They are healers for teeth. Muggles have a lot more trouble with their teeth than wizards.”
Ginny nodded as they started playing marbles. He looked over at her curiously. “What do you want to do when you finish school?”
She blushed slightly. “I’d love to play Quidditch professionally. Bill took me to see the Harpies when I was only six. I’d love to play for them.” She shrugged. “If I don’t make it into the pros, I’d like to do something like curse-breaking.”
“Quidditch would be brilliant,” Harry said a bit wistfully. “I think I’ll probably end up an Auror. Voldemort seems to come after me often enough. It’s not just that, though. I like figuring things out.”
“It’s supposed to be really hard,” Ginny said. “I’ve talked to Tonks. She’s the first trainee they’ve taken on in quite a while.”
“She told me. I don’t know, it would be interesting. What does a curse-breaker do?”
“A lot of curse-breakers work for Gringotts, like Bill does. They have to map out and break the curses placed on someplace. They work in places like Egypt, Rome, Greece, India, Mexico, China — basically any place there were ancient wizards. Some work just on battlefields or on old houses.”
“That sounds pretty cool,” Harry commented. “I never took Ancient Runes or Arithmancy. I wish I had. I hate Divination.”
“You should talk to Professor McGonagall. I know there’s some way of switching classes, but I don’t know what it is.”
Harry nodded. That was actually a good idea. He really did hate Divination with Trelawny’s never-ending predictions of his death. He’d looked at Hermione’s Arithmancy book before and it didn’t look too difficult. Ancient Runes seemed a bit more difficult, but it did look interesting.
Sirius and Bill had made their trip to Africa first thing in the morning, but there was no sign of the two missing teens.
Albus and Moody came over while they were eating lunch. Sirius looked at them eagerly. “Any news?”
“Unfortunately, no,” Albus replied. “Severus has discreetly asked around and there is no indication that they have Harry and Ginny or that they know Harry is missing.”
“We checked the Lestrange properties, but there was no sign of them,” Moody said. “Nothing at Malfoy Manor.”
“Lucius wouldn’t be able to keep from taunting us if he found Harry on his property,” Sirius said.
After lunch, Albus accompanied them up to the library. He looked over the information they had complied so far. Bill had conjured a board with a map. They had big red Xs through the places they had already checked.
“Phineas mentioned that his uncle and cousin lived for a time in India,” Albus said. “Have you discovered anything about India?”
“No,” Sirius said. He scanned the remaining boxes with more enthusiasm. “We will certainly look for that.”
Hermione gasped. “An elephant!”
Everyone turned to look at her. “There was an ivory elephant in the curio cabinet.”
“Damn, she’s right,” Sirius said. “I’d forgotten all about it. It’s been in there as long as I can remember.”
“An elephant could indicate India,” Albus agreed.
With renewed vigour, the group dove into the remaining boxes, searching for clues that might help them find the lost teens.
Harry made cheese sandwiches with rice and grilled vegetables for dinner. He found that he really enjoyed cooking for Ginny. She kept him company and talked the whole time.
They ate in the living room, listening to the WWN. It was such a perfect relaxing time. A song he recognized from the Yule Ball came on. Without even thinking about it, he turned to Ginny and held out his hand. “Would you like to dance?”
Her smile was blinding. He wrapped his arms around her waist while she wrapped hers around his neck. They swayed in time to the music, spinning around.
“You’re such a good dancer,” he said quietly.
“Thank you,” she replied. “Mum made me practice with my brothers.”
“I wish I’d asked you to the Yule Ball.”
Her eyes widened as she looked up at him. He was cursing himself for letting it slip out like that. What should he say?
As he stared into her cinnamon-coloured eyes, he leaned down and kissed her. He pulled away, but she pulled him back down and kissed him. He couldn’t help but smile as he kissed her.
He threaded one hand through her hair. He didn’t have anything to compare it with, but it felt like liquid sunshine bubbling up in him. Eventually, he pulled away and smiled down at her. “You’ve made a horrible summer so much better. I don’t know if I can tell you how much you’ve meant to me. Ron told me that I’d never seen the real you, but I think I have now and I really like what I’ve seen.”
She blushed. “I know I was stupid.”
“No, you weren’t.”
She nodded. “I was. I had a huge crush on my childhood hero who did all these amazing feats. I remember waking up in the Chamber of Secrets and thinking that you were so much more amazing than any made up hero. In some ways that made it worse, I had a huge crush on Harry, my brother’s best friend.
“Hermione kept telling me to date other boys and gain some self-confidence, but I just couldn’t do that. I had a boy ask me to Hogsmeade in the spring, but I turned him down.”
He grinned down at her. “I’m glad. I’m sorry I didn’t pay much attention to you.” He blushed. “I had that stupid crush on Cho Chang.”
“You don’t anymore?”
He shook his head. “I spent a little time around her and Cedric. She seems nice enough, but we don’t have anything in common.”
She rewarded that statement with another kiss. The rest of the evening was spent talking, kissing and just enjoying each other’s company.
To Harry’s relief, it wasn’t raining when he woke the next morning. He glanced over and could see that Ginny was still asleep. They’d decided to keep camping in the living room. He was all for that. What if a snake came or a Lethifold returned?
Plus, he liked to fall asleep listening to her talk. He didn’t think there was anything wrong with it, they had made their own beds at least a meter apart. Maybe the Weasleys would have preferred for them to be a bit further apart, but he wasn’t going to worry about that. He still couldn’t believe that someone as pretty and amazing as she was would want to date him.
While he was enjoying his time alone with Ginny, he wanted to find a way back home. It was dangerous here.
A/N: Burma was a British colony. It is now independent and known as Myanmar. Siam is now know as Thailand and French IndoChina covers part of Laos which borders Myanmar. The Encyclopaedia Britannica listing was on Myanmar. The other book was actually titled, "The Dangerously Venomous Snakes of Myanmar."
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Chapter 3: Chapter 3 Poachers and Goblins
Author's Notes: Thank you so much to Arnel for her great beta skills and support! This was a fun challenge. I can't wait to read the other stories now. As I've mentioned the Valley of Rubies is a real place, I hope I've been able to do it justice. Poaching is a problem in Myanmar as well as other south Asian countries. Many parts of the tiger are used for Ancient Chinese medicine and the treatment of the bears is done for the same reason.
Ginny woke up to the sound of Harry moaning. Sitting up, she swept her hair out of her face as she tried to figure out what was going on. He was twisting and turning on his pile of blankets. Pushing her blankets away, she padded over to his side. Kneeling down next to him, she gently shook his shoulder.
To her surprise, he woke instantly. He blinked up at her. “Ginny?”
He sounded very young and confused in that moment. Ginny wanted to do nothing more than protect him and make him feel safe. She said quietly, “You were having a nightmare.”
“I’m sorry,” he said automatically.
“Harry, don’t be silly. You can’t help having nightmares.”
Remembering how she hated people hovering when she was waking from a nightmare, she gently squeezed his hand before standing and going into the kitchen. As she boiled water for some tea, she heard him moving around. She thought he went into the bathroom because when he appeared in the kitchen a few minutes later, he had splashed water on his face.
With a smile, she handed him a mug of tea. She watched him sip the tea, as she sliced up some of the banana bread. He still looked a bit lost, but his colour was better than when he’d woken up.
He looked up startled when she sat down with him.
“Do you want some bread?”
Nodding, he helped himself to some bread, taking time in spreading butter on it. She sat quietly with him.
Harry took a bite of his bread. He felt a bit embarrassed that he’d awakened her. He was also a bit surprised that she wasn’t upset or asking him a million questions. Uncle Vernon tended to yell if Harry accidentally woke him up, but Ginny was making him tea. Hermione would be asking tons of questions and trying to fix him, but Ginny wasn’t doing that either. It was a bit confusing.
Perhaps because she wasn’t asking him questions, he felt like talking to her. “I was dreaming about that night in the graveyard. I keep seeing Cedric fall over and over again.”
“Peter killed him, right?”
Harry nodded. He’d already told her about Sirius and Peter, as well as the events of his third year. “I keep thinking that maybe I should have done something differently. I was the one who insisted that he take the cup with me.”
“But you didn’t do it for a bad reason,” she said calmly. “You were trying to share credit with him. It wasn’t like you knew what would happen.”
Harry sighed. “That’s true. I just feel so guilty that another person died because Voldemort wanted to get to me.”
“You can’t help what Tom does,” she said firmly. Her lip trembled a little, but she took a deep breath. “I know that it’s hard. Merlin knows that I still feel guilty about everyone who was Petrified.”
“That wasn’t your fault.”
She smiled. “It isn’t your either.”
“I know that’s true, but sometimes…. it’s just hard.”
Leaning over, she hugged him. “I know.”
Taking their tea back into the living room, Harry sat down on the couch with Ginny curled up next to him. “I keep wondering what else I could have done. I realized where we were just a second before Peter appeared and he just killed Cedric.” He played with the end of her hair as he thought about that awful night. “I felt so helpless when he tied me to the tombstone and cut my arm.”
Ginny nodded as she traced the scar with gentle fingers. “It must have been scary.”
“I thought he was going to kill me. I prayed that something would go wrong with the ceremony, but of course it didn’t. Voldemort looks…he doesn’t really look human. He certainly doesn’t look anything like Tom. He’s bald with red eyes and he doesn’t have a nose. I watched his Death Eaters kneel in front of him while he told them how disappointed he was. Why would they follow him?”
“I don’t know, but he’s good at getting others to follow him. I knew there was something wrong, but I still wrote in the diary.”
He looked over at her. “What made you think something was wrong?”
Leaning into him, she said, “It was unimportant things at first. I was losing time and I woke up in strange places. Tom was so nice and understanding, but then he’d say something really mean.”
Blushing, she explained, “I mentioned that I was jealous of Hermione. She spent so much time with you and she was such good friends with you. Tom thought I should hurt her. When I mentioned she was Muggle-born, he was…well, he was scary. He talked about hurting people who had hurt him. It scared me.”
“I can understand that,” Harry said. Looking down, he tipped her chin up. “You know that you have no reason to be jealous of Hermione, right? We’re good friends, but I’m not interested in her like that.”
Mortified, she nodded as she felt as if her face was on fire. “I know.”
Leaning down, he kissed her gently. “Trust me, I never wanted to do that to her.”
Wrapping his arm around her shoulders, Harry said, “Where do you want to live when you are a famous Quidditch player or an amazing curse-breaker?”
Giggling, she accepted the change in topic. “I’m not sure. I think I’d like to live in the country. I’d like to have a Quidditch pitch and some land, but I’d also like to live in London. Not like at Grimmauld Place, but a flat in the middle of the city close to restaurants and all sorts of things. One of my roommates lives in London and the way she talks about being able to walk to shops and go to plays and visit museums…it sounds great.”
“That does sound fun. I’ve never really been able to visit London. I’ve been to Diagon Alley, but anytime my primary school was going to London for a school trip, my aunt wouldn’t sign my permission slip. I used to be so jealous that I couldn’t go.”
“We should ask Sirius or Bill if we could go into Muggle London.”
Harry’s eyes lit up. He’d never really had anyone to ask to take him places before. It was obviously not an option to ask his aunt and uncle, but it hadn’t occurred to him to ask Sirius. “That would be great. I’ve even heard Hermione talking about the Tower of London or the British Museum. I just want to go see those things.”
He fell asleep a while later snuggled up next to Ginny. His dreams for the rest of the night were much more pleasant.
“Are you okay, Hermione?”
Turning, Hermione saw Tonks standing behind her in the gloomy corridor. She wasn’t sure how to answer the Auror. Loud sobbing sounded from the drawing room. Once again, the lead they thought they’d had on Harry and Ginny had fallen through.
The younger witch shrugged. Tonks gestured for Hermione to follow her. They ended up in the kitchen. Hermione sank down on the bench and blinked back tears. “I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m intruding on the Weasleys, but I…I want to make sure that Harry and Ginny make it back here.”
“I know,” Tonks said as she handed Hermione a cold Butterbeer. “Sirius is beyond upset and Remus is with him. The Weasleys…poor Molly. She’s blaming herself because she had all of you cleaning.”
“It’s not her fault.”
“Of course it isn’t, and I think that deep down she knows that. Sirius is feeling guilty as well.”
Hermione bit her lip. “Is there anything we can do?”
“I’d say make dinner, but neither of us are good with cooking. Do you want to come with me to get some take out?”
Happy to have something to do, Hermione nodded. The two witches slipped out of the hidden house and into Muggle London. As they walked, Hermione voiced the thought that had plagued her for days.
“Are we going to find them? Sirius and Bill searched so many places and have come up with nothing. We are almost out of papers to research. What if…if they…”
Tonks cut across Hermione’s rambling. “If they are dead?”
Blinking back tears, Hermione nodded. Tonks smiled and placed an arm around Hermione’s shoulders. “I was talking to Arthur last night. Molly is carrying her family clock around with her. Ginny’s hand is currently at lost, but Arthur told me that if someone dies their hand falls off the clock.”
A surge of hope raced through Hermione. “That means they are definitely alive?”
Tonks nodded. “Kingsley has verified through another source that Voldemort doesn’t even know what is going on. We’re fairly confident that it is as it appears, a case of an old Portkey.”
While Tonks placed a large order at the local chippy, Hermione sank down at one of the tables. A football match was playing on the telly, and there was a group of university students enthusiastically cheering on their favourite team. She couldn’t help but smile, it just all seemed so normal.
An hour later, the Weasleys, Hermione, Tonks, Remus, and Sirius all sat down for dinner. Sirius had discovered another old family home that he and Bill would check out in the morning, so over all the mood had improved. Hermione was happy she’d been able to leave the house for a while and help out at the same time.
Harry looked down over the valley. He could see the road was still muddy in places and reckoned it would be difficult to walk down into the village. The weather wasn’t nearly as bad as the previous day, but the air was thick and wet. It was much hotter than England, at least it felt like it was.
“Do you want to go swimming?” Ginny asked. “I checked… no rude sea snakes.”
The two changed into swim wear and jumped into the pool. Harry practiced swimming a bit more and after an hour or so, he was able to swim from one side of the pool to the other without putting his feet down. He wouldn’t win any races, but he wouldn’t drown either. He felt quite proud of his accomplishment and very grateful to Ginny for her help.
As he finished his second lap of the pool, Ginny started clapping. Blushing, he smiled. “Thank you.”
He pulled her close and kissed her. What started out as a brief kiss evolved quickly. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close.
It was several long minutes later when they pulled apart, breathing heavily. Harry gently pushed her wet hair over her shoulder and kissed her on the shoulder. She smiled up at him and rested her head on his chest.
A noise made both of them look up. It was the banded krait from the day before along with the python, but the cobra was nowhere to be seen. Sensing Ginny’s lingering uneasiness, Harry climbed out of the pool and helped her out. As she wrapped herself up in a towel, Harry walked over to them.
“Speaker, we need your help,” the krait spoke up.
“What’s going on?” Harry asked.
“Our friend other friend, the one you call a cobra, was captured by evil men. They caught several cobras and other snakes, turtles, and other animals for dreadful things.”
After quickly translating for Ginny, Harry asked, “What can we do to help?”
The python sat up a bit straighter. “We wish for you to rescue our comrades. It will be a bit dangerous, but I believe you can prevail. These are not magic users, they are regular humans.”
Ginny looked over at Harry. “They want us to rescue the animals, don’t they?”
Harry nodded. Ginny sighed, but said, “I think we need to help. We can at least go and see what is happening.”
“How far away is the camp?” Harry asked.
“Not far,” the krait said. “You should be able to walk there in less than half a day.”
Glancing at the jungle, he said, “I don’t know what kind of clothes we should be wearing to walk in the jungle, but I’m sure what we’re wearing won’t do.”
“We can wear those trousers we found upstairs with the boots,” Ginny said. “I can size the trousers easily enough.”
Leaving the serpents downstairs, the teens headed for the wardrobe in the master bedroom. There were several pair of trousers that Harry said were called khakis. Ginny was able to make them fit. They each found a long-sleeved shirt to wear as well as old-fashioned pith helmets to protect their heads. The boots were a bit more problematic as Ginny didn’t know how to change the size of them. In the end, Harry found a pair that fit and Ginny was able to stuff some socks into a larger pair, so she could wear them.
Harry laughed when he re-joined Ginny. “We certainly look like we’re headed out for an adventure in the jungle.”
While Ginny packed up the food, Harry folded the blankets they’d used and straightened up. Walking around the ground floor, Harry locked the windows and front door. He wasn’t sure if they would be coming back to the house after rescuing the snakes or not. Once they returned downstairs, Ginny filled two containers with water and cast the sunscreen charm on both of them. The pair joined hands as they followed the snakes out into the jungle. Harry put a Silencing Charm on their shoes to decrease the noise they were making. After the day spent indoors, Harry was glad to be doing something. He squeezed Ginny’s hand. She smiled up at him. He couldn’t believe how right it felt to be holding her hand.
Quietly, they followed the snakes deeper into the jungle. It was quite thick in some places and Harry had some cuts on his hands from the vines he’d moved aside. The jungle was alive with the calls of birds and screeching of monkeys. Several other snakes had come out to greet them. Harry didn’t understand why they did that, but as long as Ginny was okay with it so was he.
After a good two and a half hours of walking through the jungle, the krait announced, “We are close to their camp.”
Harry wished he had his Invisibility Cloak. His eyes widened. Maybe he could use the charm Tonks used on him, suddenly he wished he spent some time yesterday practicing magic. “Ginny, do you know the Disillusionment Charm?”
“I know what it is, but I don’t know how to do it.”
It took a few minutes of practice, but soon Harry was able to cast the charm. He Disillusioned both of them. “We have to move slowly. The charm helps us blend into the background, but it won’t work if we run.”
Ginny nodded before realising he couldn’t see her. She reached out and took his hand. “Okay, let’s go see this camp.”
As they approached the camp, Harry could hear male voices calling back and forth in the same melodic language they’d heard in the village. He wished he knew some sort of translation spell.
It took another ten minutes of walking until they reached the clearing. Harry gasped at the sight. There was a large Asian elephant chained to a tree. There were three tigers in a cage as well as four black bears. Sadly, he also saw the fur of a tiger who had obviously been killed.
“Humans,” the python hissed disparagingly. “They use the tiger for some sort of medicine.”
“Medicine?” Harry asked.
“Ancient Chinese medicine,” the krait clarified. “They use all of these creatures.”
Ginny gasped when she caught sight of the bears. “What have they done to those poor animals?”
Looking over at the bears, Harry immediately saw what she was talking about. Each of the bears had a metal tube in their abdomen that was connected to a bag collecting some sort of fluid.
The python must have sensed where she was looking, for he said, “They collect bear bile. It is used in medicine, sometimes they cut off the bears’ hands as well.”
“That’s awful!” Harry said.
He surveyed the camp. There were about two dozen smaller cages stacked on the bed of a pick-up truck. In the cages were snakes, monkeys, and turtles. Ginny saw a funny looking animal with a long snout and tail that was covered with scales. The python told her it was called a pangolin. The bears were in a separate cage near the elephant while the tigers were caged across the camp. Near the centre of the camp were a stack of rifles as well as machetes.
“We need to get rid of those,” Harry said gesturing to the weapons.
Ginny said. “We need a distraction.”
Harry looked at the two snakes they had followed to the camp. “Can you talk to the other animals? Not just the snakes?”
“I can speak to most of them,” the krait said. “The bears can help us talk to the bigger animals. We do better speaking to the reptiles and smaller animals.”
Harry nodded. “Okay, I want to help, but I don’t want to get mauled by a tiger or bear for helping.”
The two serpents nodded and slithered towards the captured animals. Harry could hear them talking to the other snakes. The snakes and turtles nodded. It took a bit longer to see a response from the monkeys and pangolin. Several minutes later, Harry saw the bears looking over where he and Ginny were standing.
“No one with hurt either of you,” the python said. “The elephant said, that if you release him, he can help distract the poachers.”
Ginny crept silently to the opposite side of the camp. The python had insisted upon accompanying her, for which she was rather grateful. The men in the centre of camp were eating and drinking, not even bothering to post a token guard. As she watched, one of the men approached the tiger cage and started taunting the big cats. From the raucous laughter of the men and the coarse gestures the man was making, Ginny was rather glad that she couldn’t understand him.
Looking over at the copse of trees where Harry was hiding, Ginny could just make out his profile. He lifted his hand and Ginny counted to three.
As the elephant stepped out of the chains, he trumpeted loudly. The immense animal reared up before landing back on all four feet, shaking the whole camp. The men turned to the elephant in horror, not noticing their weapons being Summoned away. They scattered as the elephant ran through the centre of camp. This was when they noticed the weapons missing.
Amidst much cursing, the men ran from the huge animal and jumped into a jeep and raced away yelling at each other. With a triumphant grin, Harry joined Ginny in the middle of the camp.
“I don’t know how long they’ll be gone,” Harry said, “We better hurry.”
With a wave of his wand, he freed all of the snakes. Ginny lifted the turtles out of the cages. Cautiously, Harry approached the tiger cage and opened it.
The largest tiger roared, causing both Harry and Ginny to jump. They both had their wands clenched in their hands, watching the beautiful animals carefully. Harry stood in front of Ginny, trying to protect her. The three large cats watched the two teens for a moment before the largest one approached Harry and bumped the teen’s leg, rubbing his face against him.
With a tentative hand, Harry reached down and petted the silky animal. Ginny couldn’t help but do the same. She laughed as the other two rubbed up against her as well. Harry watched with a smile as she sat down on the ground. The largest tiger stayed near him, but the other two rolled around as Ginny petted them and played with them.
Petting the tiger, he watched for a few minutes as Ginny played. The cobra slithered up next to him. “We need to free the others.”
Nodding, Harry left the tiger standing guard and freed the monkeys and pangolin. “What can we do for the bears?” he asked the python. “They need medical care.”
“Medical care?” the python questioned.
“They are injured.”
The crack of a branch had him whirling around with his wand in his hand. Ginny screamed, but Harry had his wand on the intruders. He found himself facing two wands. The wizards were both tall and thin in dark blue robes. One had black hair and a moustache and the other had longer brown hair.
Before Harry could even think of anything to say, Ginny spoke up. “Are you from Gringotts?”
“Aye,” the brown-haired wizard said with a Scottish brogue. “Who are you and what in Merlin’s name is going on?”
Harry walked over to Ginny. “How did you know who they were?” he whispered as he helped her up.
“Their robes,” she whispered back. “They are Gringotts’ work robes. These are the wizards we were looking for.”
Deciding to trust her judgement, he said, “We ended up here by a Portkey. We’re trying to get back home.”
“Poachers?” the black-haired wizard with a French accent asked as he took in the camp. The tigers rubbed against Ginny once more before bounding off into the jungle.
Harry nodded. “We were able to free all of the animals but the bears. They put some sort of tubes in them to collect bear bile. I think they know we won’t hurt them, but I don’t know how to help them.”
The bears let out a roar as the older wizards approached. The black-haired wizard said, “We’ll remove the tubes and heal them from here. Is there some way you are communicating with them?”
Harry looked over at Ginny. She shrugged and looked at them. “Will you promise not to over react?”
The Scottish wizard raised an eyebrow, but nodded as did the French wizard. Ginny took Harry’s hand to give him support. Taking a deep breath, Harry said to the python, “Can you come where they can see you?”
He dimly heard the two wizards exclaiming as the python and cobra came into view. The python said, “These wizards work with the non-wand users.”
“They want to heal the bears, but they are afraid the bears might attack them.”
The cobra lifted its head. “The bears won’t hurt anyone.”
“You’re a Parselmouth?” the Scottish wizard asked in astonishment. Harry nodded sheepishly and the older wizard gasped. “Harry Potter?”
“I’m Harry Potter. This is Ginny Weasley.”
“Bill’s sister?” the French wizard asked.
Ginny nodded. “Do you know my brother?”
“I worked with him in Greece. Last I heard he’d transferred back to London.”
“He is in London,” Ginny said. “Is there some way you can contact him?”
“Aye, we have a Gringotts communication devise in camp. It might take a while due to the time difference,” the Scottish wizard said. He held out his hand. “I’m Gavin Wills. This is Jean Beaumont.”
Harry watched as the Gringotts wizards removed the horrid tubes and healed the bears. The four animals rumbled off into the jungle.
“How far away is your camp?” Harry asked once all the animals except for the three original snakes left.
“Walking it is probably still another day away,” Gavin said. “Have you ever Apparated?”
Harry and Ginny both shook their heads.
“We can Side-Along Apparate you to the camp site and send word London,” Jean explained.
Three hours later, Harry and Ginny were sitting around the campfire at the Gringotts camp with Gavin. There were four tents that reminded Harry of the tents from the World Cup. He would wager they were much bigger on the inside than outside.
When they’d arrived in camp, Gavin and Jean introduced them to the two goblins working the site — Ironfist and Earthdigger. The team was excavating a cave full of rubies and sapphires that the Muggles in the area had forgotten existed. Harry had watched curiously as the goblins sent a message to London. They’d written the message in Gobbledegook and placed it in a cylindrical container which was fitted into a hole in a highly decorated box.
Ironfist chanted in Gobbledegook and the cylinder disappeared. He explained that it would appear in their supervisor’s office in London. With the time difference, it was mid-afternoon in London.
“It will be some time before we hear back,” Jean said. “Would you like to see the mine?”
The teens nodded eagerly. Jean outfitted each of them with a hard hat and a safety vest with a harness. Harry was surprised to see that most of the safety equipment was similar to what he’d seen on Muggles.
Gavin nodded when Harry commented on it. “The main differences come with the actual mining and the safety of the mine. There are certain spells we use to hold up the cave wall or reinforce the ceilings. Sometimes we can Apparate into the caves or shafts where we are digging, but many times there may have been curses placed on the site or there are Muggles in the area, so we have to rappel down the Muggle way.”
Jean made sure that each of the teens were properly outfitted and showed them how to rappel down into the cavern. Both Harry and Ginny picked up the skill easily and soon found themselves in a large cavern.
Ginny reached out and took Harry’s hand. He glanced over at her. “Are you okay?”
Taking a deep breath, she nodded. “I’d rather face this with you.” Looking around, she added, “This isn’t much like the Chamber of Secrets.”
Harry had to agree. In addition to the daylight flooding into the top of the cavern, the front of the cavern was well lit with torches and floating candles. There were more tunnels off the large cavern, but they weren’t well lit, so it was difficult to tell where they led. Two more goblins were working in the cavern, pulling rocks with gems inside from the walls. They appeared to be using both wandless magic and pick axes.
If Harry hadn’t seen the uncut and unpolished gems at the house, he wasn’t sure if he would have recognized them as gems. One of the goblins, showed them the vein on which they were currently working. The area was studded with gem-laden rocks. Harry recognized the rubies and the moonstone they goblins were harvesting.
“This cavern has been in continuous use since the late nineteenth century,” Gavin explained. “As I’m sure you know, the British Empire was large and far flung. After the French showed an interest in Burma, or Myanmar as it is called now, the Brits decided they needed to investigate. By the end of the 1890s, the Brits had taken over most of the country and most certainly this valley.
“This cavern is rather unique in that it has not only precious gems in the Muggle world, but in the wizarding world as well. There are moonstone, jade, and bloodstones that have magical properties. I don’t know if you’ve seen any goblin made pieces, but they are brilliant at creating gemstone jewellery.”
Ginny nodded. “My great-aunt has a moonstone tiara. She keeps telling me she wants me to wear it for my wedding.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Yes, apparently, I’m quite remiss in not having already having an ‘understanding’ with a ‘nice young wizard.’ She’s very old-fashioned, but she’d not too bad.”
Returning to the surface, Jean offered to let them stay in the camp until someone was able to come for them. After a hurried conversation, Harry and Ginny eagerly agreed. Harry was thrilled to have something to eat other than eggs and cheese.
Ginny rested her head on Harry’s shoulder. “I’m glad we were able to help those poor animals.”
Wrapping his arm around her, Harry smiled. “Me, too. Those poor bears. I can’t believe how cruel the poachers are.”
“It’s an economic decision,” Gavin spoke up. “Many of the people here are very poor. People in China and Thailand are willing to pay a lot of money for bear bile, tiger bones, and other animal parts. It’s a way to make money. I’m not saying I agree with it, but that’s why they do it. It’s a good thing the two of you did today.”
Blushing, Ginny smiled. “Thank you.”
Nodding, Gavin joined the other Gringotts employees, leaving Harry and Ginny alone in the darkening evening. Ginny looked up at Harry. “I’m kind of sad that they will be able to find us soon.”
Harry grinned. “Me, too!” Pulling her closer, he dropped a chaste kiss on the top of her head. “It’s been quite an adventure and I’m glad that you were the one here with me.”
“I’m very glad that you were with me,” Ginny said as she kissed him gently.
“Do you think Ron will be upset that we are dating?” Harry asked curiously.
Ginny wrinkled her nose. “I hope not. He might be a bit of a prat at times, but he told me once that he thought we would be good together.”
Burying his face in her hair, Harry couldn’t help but smile as he inhaled her unique flowery scent. Ron’s approval, while not necessary, was nice. He thought Hermione would be happy for them as well.
“It was amazing playing with those tigers,” she said after a few minutes. “They are such beautiful animals.”
“Your brothers told me you liked cats, I just thought they meant little cats,” Harry teased.
“They told you I liked cats?”
He nodded. “It was in your first year.”
“I have always wanted a cat — a little one,” she clarified. “Crookshanks is a lovely cat, but I’d love one of my own.”
Filing that fact away for future reference, Harry laughed. “Crookshanks is lovely? He must like you better than he likes your brother. He and Ron are still butting heads.”
The pair enjoyed cuddling while listening to the somewhat exotic sounds of screeching monkeys, calling birds, and the occasional roar of a big cat. The Gringotts’ camp was protected from bugs so they didn’t have to worry about mosquitos or other creepy crawlies. Harry stole a few kisses as they talked about the coming year. Harry was a bit worried about going back after the horrid press coverage he’d been subjected to over the summer, but Ginny reassured him that his friends would be with him. On the other hand, he was very much looking forward to taking Ginny to Hogsmeade.
The sound of flapping wings caused Harry to look up. He sat straight up when he saw a familiar white owl flying towards him. “Hedwig!”
Hedwig wearily landed on Harry’s outstretched arm. While Harry removed the letter from Sirius, Ginny fed Hedwig some chicken left over from dinner.
“Sirius says they are looking for us,” Harry said. “He wants us to write back, but it looks like it took four days for Hedwig to make it here.” Looking at his owl, he said, “You can stay here with us. Sirius should be coming soon.”
Hooting in understanding, Hedwig settled on a tree branch near the camp.
Sirius skimmed the journal in front of him. After the disappointment of the previous day, he was determined that today would be the day to find them. He had to remember to thank Tonks for her thoughtfulness the day before. Not only in bringing home food so Molly didn’t have to cook, but giving the Weasley family a chance to grieve. Merlin knows he’d felt close to sobbing himself, but he’d managed to hold out.
He looked up as Bill raced into the room. “We’ve found them! They made their way to a Gringotts camp in Myanmar.”
Relief flowed through him. Harry was safe. Feeling re-energized, he said, “When do we go?”
“I’ll be able to pick up a Portkey in thirty minutes,” Bill said with a big smile. “I’ve spoken to my supervisor and he’s instructed me to go and retrieve them.”
The noise Bill made running to the library drew the other Weasleys. Bill smiled when he saw his mother. “Mum, she’s fine. She and Harry made it to a Gringotts camp in Myanmar. Sirius and I will go retrieve them.”
Clutching her chest, Molly smiled. “Thank Merlin!”
Tears in her eyes, Hermione hugged Ron before drawing back in embarrassment. To cover her confusion, she hugged Tonks who had just arrived.
“I must send word to Arthur!” Molly said.
“I can take a message for you,” Tonks said. “I don’t think we want this bandied about the Floo Network.”
“Of course,” Molly said happily as she wiped away tears. “I must talk to Kreacher about our meal tonight.”
“I see a treacle tart in our future,” Ron laughed quietly to Hermione.
She nodded. “I’m so happy they’ve been found.”
Looking slightly embarrassed, Ron asked, “Where is Myanmar?”
“Myanmar is the former British colony of Burma,” Hermione replied. “It is near India — that must be why the elephant was used as a Portkey.”
“Burma!” Sirius exclaimed. “Rigel Black.”
He searched the family tree they’d stuck to the wall in library. Many names were now crossed out, but Sirius soon found Rigel. “He worked for Gringotts in the end of the nineteenth century. He never married and never had any children. I think he died in Burma during a cave-in.”
Harry woke to someone shaking his shoulder. Squinting, he smiled to see his godfather bending over him. “Sirius!”
To his delight, Sirius drew him up in a big hug. Looking over, he saw Ginny in a similar pose with Bill. Looking back at his godfather, he grinned. “I am so glad to see you!”
“Me too, kiddo! We’ve been searching for days.”
After taking their leave of the Gringotts team, Sirius and Bill Apparated the teens to the Black estate overlooking the Valley of Rubies, Hedwig sleeping in the cage Sirius conjured for her.
“How did you know where to come?” Harry asked as they entered the house.
“We’ve been searching all of the Black properties we could find,” Sirius explained. “When we received word that you were in Myanmar, I found a reference to Rigel’s house in Burma.”
The teens quickly gathered their belongings. Harry showed the boxes of cut and uncut gems to Sirius, who shrank them and put them in his pocket. Once they had everything, Bill activated the Portkey.
Neville listened wide-eyed as Harry and Ginny recounted their adventure. They were on the train to Hogwarts and while Harry had felt a bit of envy that he wasn’t named prefect, he was happy to have the time to spend with Ginny.
“That is amazing,” Neville said a bit enviously.
“It was,” the new couple replied at the same time before laughing together.
“The two of you are…together?” Neville asked hesitantly.
Harry nodded as he smiled at his girlfriend. “We are.”
“What did her brothers say?”
“Not much,” Harry said. “They all seem happy for us. Ron complains if we kiss in front of him and the twins followed us around one night making kissing noises, but I figure that’s their way of saying they approve.”
A soft meowing noise sounded in the compartment. With a smile, Ginny stood and pulled down a small carrier. Reaching in, she took out a small yellow kitten. Cuddling him close, she returned to her spot next to Harry who immediately wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
Grinning, Ginny kissed him on the cheek before turning to Neville. “This is Ruby. I was going to buy her myself, but Harry bought her and gave her to me as a late birthday present.”
“She’s cute,” Neville agreed.
“I was able to get a new wand,” Ginny said. “Bill helped us in exchanging some of the jewels for money. Sirius wanted to split the money between me and Harry, but Mum said no. He gave Harry half the money. Mum wouldn’t let us take too much, but Sirius managed to slip me, Ron, and Hermione some extra money.”
Before Neville could respond, Ron and Hermione burst into the compartment. Ginny could tell Hermione wasn’t pleased with Ron. She was reprimanding him for not paying enough attention during the meeting.
Looking over, Ginny met Harry’s eyes. He smiled back at her. This is how their adventure began. Ignoring the fact that Ron, Hermione, and Neville were in the compartment, Harry leaned over and kissed her.
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