|SIYE Time:6:51 on 24th April 2018|
Odyssey to the Orient
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Category: SIYE Challenges, Portkey Challenge (2018-1)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery
Story is Complete
** 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.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2679; Chapter Total: 525
Awards: View Trophy Room
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.
Albu s 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.
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