|SIYE Time:21:59 on 21st October 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: 3926; Chapter Total: 661
Awards: View Trophy Room
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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