(All characters and locations within belong to J.K. Rowling unless otherwise stated.)
The Nocturnal Lament
“There is no true preparation for loss. No matter how sudden or long coming it is, losing a loved one will always hurt. But it can be worked through by sharing the pain and the love amongst those we still have who we love, and the memories we all share.”
General (ret.) Jigme Dorji Wengshuk
There was hushed conversation as Harriet and Daniel stepped back inside the tent. Harriet was relieved to see everyone else was safe too. Fred, George, and Ginny were there, as were Charlie, Bill, and Percy. She was even more relieved to see Kieran and Scott there with Kieran’s parents.
Kieran and Scott were sitting with Marcus on his bunk. He was wrapped in a blanket as per Professor Howe’s instructions and holding a cup of hot chocolate. Both boys had an arm around his shoulders, and were talking to him in hushed voices. To Harriet’s relief, he looked much calmer now than he had before. His hands were no longer shaking.
Hermione was giving Percy a very dark look which Harriet found odd, as usually Hermione got on better with Percy than anyone else did.
“But I don’t get it,” Ronnie said. “What was the point of causing all that just to levitate some Muggles?”
Apparently they had started the discussion of the events without her.
Daniel gave a hollow laugh as he walked over to the stove and poured himself a cup of coffee. “That was the point, Ronnie. That’s a Death Eater’s idea of fun.”
“Yes,” Mr Weasley agreed. “Half the Muggle-killings back when You-Know-Who was in power were done for fun. I suppose they had a few drinks tonight and decided to remind us all that lots of them are still out there.”
“But what do they have to do with Kinney?” Bill asked. “That I don’t get…”
“Professor Howe said nothing,” Harriet chimed in.
“Heh, lousy timing then,” Bill said, wincing. Harriet now noticed that he was letting Mrs Flamel apply a bandage to his arm where a large cut was still bleeding.
“Not entirely,” Charlie said. “If he’d chosen to strike at the riot itself we could have had a real problem on our hands. Killing Karkaroff though… hate to say it this way, but that was almost a lucky break for you Harriet, by the sound of it.”
Harriet blinked. “What do you mean?” she asked.
Charlie shrugged. “Well, by talking to this lot, sounds like he had it in his head to turn you over to the Death Eaters should they have found you.”
Harriet grimaced a little. She had wondered that as well.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Dora said.
“But why would he do that?” Ronnie asked. “I mean… yeah they were You-Know-Who’s supporters but still.”
Daniel snorted and Mr Weasley looked grave.
“Because, once upon a time, Karkaroff would have been perfectly happy being out there with them,” Daniel said. “I was with Moody when we brought Karkaroff in.”
“Brought him in?” Harriet asked. “You mean?”
“Yeah, Karkaroff was a Death Eater too. Probably would like to be again, but he helped put too many of his old “friends” in Azkaban for them to accept him back. Turning you over would have given him a considerable amount of credit with them. Just like Wormtail.”
An awkward silence fell over the group once more. Ronnie broke it. “Okay… but one last thing I don’t get… if they were Death Eaters causing the riot, and the Dark Mark is You-Know-Who’s symbol… why did they run away when they saw it?”
“Use your brains, Ronnie,” said Bill. “If-ouch!” Bill cut off and glared at Charlie who had nudged Bill’s hurt arm angrily.
“Lay off her for once, would you?” Charlie muttered giving Bill a dirty look. Harriet felt her admiration for Charlie grow even more.
Bill went a bit red and gave Ronnie an apologetic look. “Sorry, Ronnie, okay, well if this lot really were Death Eaters, they—like Karkaroff—worked really hard to stay out of Azkaban after Harriet finished him off. They told all sorts of lies about him forcing them to do his bidding. That puts them right at the front of You-Know-Who’s hit list should he ever return. I bet you they were ruddy terrified the moment they saw the Mark in the sky.”
“So, whoever conjured it,” Harriet said. “Were they doing it to support the Death Eaters, or scare them off?”
“Yeah, I mean… if they’d be scared of it, why conjure it?” Dora asked.
“And you remember the laugh?” Hermione chimed in. “The way the person who conjured it laughed before doing so. I’m sure they found Karkaroff’s body and that’s why they were laughing.”
“Hmmmm,” Daniel said, rubbing his chin. “That’s a very good point, girls.”
“Yes,” Remus said. “A very good point, indeed. It could so easily go either way…”
“Well, we won’t get to the bottom of it tonight,” Mr O’Brien said. “We’ll take Marcus with us, shall we Arthur? We’ll take him in to St Mungo’s for some proper treatment first thing after he wakes so you can get your lot back home.”
“Yes, good thought, Sean,” Mr Weasley agreed.
“Come on mate,” Scott said as he and Kieran helped Marcus back to his feet. “Just a bit more walking and you can get some sleep?”
“Yeah,” Marcus said. “Good plan…”
“F-feel better soon,” Hermione said, trying to sound comforting though by the looks of it she felt unsure.
“Thanks,” Marcus said and actually gave her a hint of a smile before departing the tent with Kieran, Scott, and the O’Briens.
“Right, for the rest of us, we’ll get some sleep. Your mother will be worried sick,” Mr Weasley said to his children. “A few more hours sleep, then we’ll catch an early Portkey back home safe and sound and you lot can all get a proper rest. Alright?”
There was general agreement and Harriet, Hermione, Ronnie and Dora returned to their tent. Harriet was exhausted, but she still couldn’t fight off the deep sense of worry. Only a week ago, she had woken with her scar hurting, something that had only ever happened to her when Lord Voldemort was close. And now, Lord Voldemort’s symbol had appeared in the sky for the first time in thirteen years. It felt like too strong a connection to be a coincidence.
Harriet tossed and turned a little more when suddenly she heard it. Outside the tent, she heard a cough and knew it was Daniel sitting watch. She smiled a little and lay her head back down.
That’s when she heard it. The soft but unmistakable sound of a violin was playing from somewhere nearby. Somehow, Harriet just knew it was the same violin she always heard when she was in King’s Cross. It put her in mind of the kindly, raggedy violinist she had met on her first train-ride to Hogwarts. It was a warm, comforting feeling.
“Ronnie, do you hear that?” Harriet asked.
“Muh?” Ronnie muttered, clearly almost asleep.
“The violin,” Harriet said, keeping her voice down.
“Wha vierlin?” Ronnie grunted into her pillow. “Needa sleep…”
Harriet rolled her eyes and lay back down. The violin continued to play, its tune soft and calming. Harriet felt as though she was floating on the notes, dreamily drifting off to sleep.
* * * *
They woke at the crack of dawn. Harriet felt as though all of her limbs had put on twenty pounds, she was so tired. Daniel and Remus joined them as they made their way out of the clearing. It was an ominous feeling as they went. The mist was back, and everywhere the toppled and charred remains of tents loomed up at them.
Harriet blinked looking up at Mr Roberts as he waved them off from the front step of his cottage. His eyes looked out of focus.
“He’ll be alright,” Mr Weasley said as they got out of ear-shot. “When people are Obliviated and their memory modified, they get a little… disorientated for a while. And that was a very big thing they had to make him forget.”
There was the sound of many agitated voices as they neared the place with the Portkeys. A large crowd had formed, everyone who had arrived via Portkey looking to get away from the site as quickly as possible. Mr Weasley managed to work his way through the crowd up to Basil and began talking to him in a hushed voice. Harriet blushed a little as Mr Weasley gave a discreet nod in her direction and Basil nodded and waved them forward.
Another unpleasant Portkey trip later they were back on Stoatshead Hill. No one spoke as they made their way through the village. In spite of it all, Harriet could only think of two things: breakfast and proper sleep.
As they reached the Burrow, a cry greeted them. “Oh thank goodness, thank goodness!”
Mrs Weasley sprang up from where she had been sitting on the front step waiting for them. She was still in her bedroom slippers as she hurried towards them a copy of the Daily Prophet tucked under her arm.
“Arthur, I was so worried—so worried—” Mrs Weasley flung her arms around Mr Weasley’s neck, dropping the Prophet to the ground. Harriet looked down and saw the headline.
SCENES OF TERROR AT THE QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP
Underneath it was a large, black and white picture of the Dark Mark floating ominously over the trees.
“You’re all alright…” Mr Weasley said staring around. “You’re alive… oh boys!”
Mrs Weasley released Mr Weasley immediately flinging her arms around Fred and George. The embrace was so tight and sudden that their heads knocked together.
“Ouch! Mum! You’re strangling us!” The twins chorused.
“I shouted at you before you left!” Mrs Weasley sobbed. “It’s all I’ve been thinking about! What if You-Know-Who had got you and the last thing time we’d ever spoken I yelled at you about O.W.L.s and trick sweets. Oh Fred! George!”
“Now, now, Molly,” Mr Weasley said soothingly gently removing Mrs Weasley from the twins and guiding her back to the house. Daniel paused and picked up the newspaper from the ground and they followed Mr and Mrs Weasley inside.
Everyone crammed into the Weasley’s tiny kitchen and Hermione made everyone some tea. Mr Weasley poured a shot of Ogden’s Old Firewhisky in Mrs Weasley’s as well. Once they were settled in, Mr Weasley picked up the copy of the Daily Prophet that Daniel had set on the table and read, Percy and Bill leaning over his shoulder to read as well. Charlie and Hermione prepared breakfast together.
“Of course,” Mr Weasley sighed, rubbing his bald patch. “Ministry blunders… culprits not apprehended… lax security… Dark wizards running unchecked… national disgrace… Who wrote this? Ah… of course… Rita Skeeter.”
“That woman has it in for the Ministry!” Percy said indignantly. “Last week she was saying how we’re wasting time quibbling about cauldron thickness, when we should be worried about stamping out vampires!”
“What?” Hermione asked, nearly dropping the eggs she was holding.
“Yes…” Remus said bitterly. “If you think Umbridge is the only one with a less than enlightened view towards non-human beings, you’re sorely mistaken, Hermione.”
“But it’s specifically stated in paragraph twelve of the Guidelines for the Treatment of Non-Wizard Part-Humans—”
“Do us a favour, Perce, and shut up,” Bill said, yawning.
Daniel chuckled darkly. “Also I’d never let a vampire hear you reciting that, either.”
“Why not?” Ronnie asked.
Remus snorted. “They don’t exactly take the term ‘part human’ as a compliment.”
Mr Weasley chortled. “Ah, and there’s Howe. Poor Dawlish, he is really going to catch hell for that. And I’m mentioned it seems.”
“What?” Mrs Weasley spluttered. “If I’d seen that I’d have known you were alive!”
“Not by name,” Mr Weasley said.
“What’s it say?” Daniel asked.
Mr Weasley cleared his throat and read. “If the terrified wizards and witches who waited breathlessly for news at the edge of the wood expected reassurance from the Ministry of Magic, they were sadly disappointed. A Ministry official emerged sometime after the appearance of the Dark Mark, but before he could give a statement, an Auror appeared to shoo the crowd away before hurrying the official off before he could explain anything. This, coupled with the rumours of bodies being removed from the woods and a troop of vampires being spotted in the area is leaving a great many members of the wizarding public wondering just what the Ministry is trying to hide. Oh really…” Mr Weasley said and finally put the paper down. “Well she’s really put the fat in the fire now.”
“Yeah, once it gets out that someone really was killed,” Bill said.
“What?!” Mrs Weasley gasped.
Daniel grimaced and gave the teens a tired look. “Why don’t you lot get some sleep,” he said as Mr Weasley began to explain what had happened to Mrs Weasley. “You’ve all earned it.”
“But breakfast is almost ready,” Ronnie moaned.
Remus gave a little snort of laughter into his mug of tea. The sizzling eggs and sausages did sound and smell delicious and Harriet’s stomach rumbled.
“Here you go,” Charlie said, setting two plates down in front of Ronnie and Harriet before turning back to get more for Ginny, Fred, and George. “Take them on up to your rooms.”
“Cheers,” Ronnie said, eyeing her plate with extreme hunger.
Harriet, Ronnie, Ginny and Hermione collected their plates and headed up the stairs. After the lack of sleep and the long walk from Stoatshead Hill, Harriet now felt as though her legs weighed forty points each. They sat in a circle in the middle of Ronnie’s floor and ate.
“Y’know?” Ronnie muttered. “Glad Daniel suggested this… tired of going over what happened over and over again…”
“Me too…” Ginny agreed.
Harriet could only express her agreement with a nod. Her eyes were having a hard time focusing. Not only that, she was still busy mulling over what had happened. And not just what happened last night. She couldn’t help but keep thinking about the dream. She glanced at the three around her.
“Okay… I have something to tell you all,” she managed to say.
The three looked up from their plates. “What is it?” Hermione asked.
“Well… remember that night I had that nightmare at Scott’s?” Harriet asked Hermione.
“Well… it…” Harriet fumbled for words. “It wasn’t just a nightmare… my scar was hurting…”
Ronnie and Hermione’s eyes went wide.
“Your scar!” Hermione said. “But Harriet, the last time your scar hurt, it was because—”
“I know, I know,” Harriet said. “But, he couldn’t have been near me at the time. He definitely wasn’t in Privet Drive… but I was dreaming about him and Wormtail at the time… and they were plotting to kill… someone.”
“W-well, it was only a dream,” Ronnie said.
“You remember everything that’s happened since, right?” Ginny asked quickly. “So he hasn’t, you know…?”
“No,” Harriet said. “I don’t think he possessed me… it was just a dream. But then again… was it? It’s weird… first my scar hurts… then a week later the Death Eaters are on the march and Voldemort’s mark is in the sky.”
“Don’t say his name!” Ronnie hissed as the other three shuddered.
“And then there’s what Professor Trelawney said at the end of last year…”
Hermione snorted. “Oh Harriet, you’re not going to believe anything that fraud says?”
“You didn’t hear her, Hermione,” Harriet said. “This was different. Even Professor Dumbledore said it was a real one that time. She went into this trance, and said the Dark Lord would rise again with the help of his servant… and that night Wormtail escaped.”
An awkward silence fell over the room.
“Anyway,” Harriet said, “I wrote to Daniel and Remus about it. They said there wasn’t anything to worry about. Not yet anyway.”
“Well, it’s best not to worry then I guess,” Ronnie said.
“Yes, especially if Daniel said not to worry,” Hermione said. “I’m fairly sure there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for you.”
Harriet smiled a little. “I know…” she blushed more.
“What is it?” Ginny asked.
Harriet shrugged. “Just… sorry, it’s silly. Just last night when he was bringing me back to the tent, I looked up and Daniel and just felt this well… like he was my… you know?”
“Dad…?” Ginny asked kindly.
“Well… yeah…” Harriet said.
Everyone gave her sympathetic smiles.
“That’s alright, Harriet,” Hermione said. “I get the feeling he sort of looks at you the same way, well, reversed… but you know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I do,” Harriet agreed. “Though… I felt a bit… I don’t know… like it didn’t seem complete…”
“Well, we’ll have to get on him about dragging his feet with Professor Sinistra then so we can get you a mum too,” Ronnie said laughing.
Harriet rolled her eyes and grabbed her pillow off her cot, throwing it at Ronnie, but not very hard. As she did, her head swam a bit. She’d gotten a lot off her mind, and now her stomach was full. Those two issues taken care of, sleep was settling in on Harriet fast.
“Well, let’s all get some sleep,” Hermione said. “We could all use it.”
There was little argument as they stacked their empty plates and changed into bedclothes. With nothing to occupy her mind anymore, and her tummy warm and full, Harriet fell asleep before she’d even taken off her glasses.
* * * *
It was Friday, and they’d just returned from giving their statements to the Ministry. Fortunately, this time they had only been required to speak to Madam Bones directly in her office, rather than down in the dark old courtrooms with the horrible chair with chains. It had also been good to see Marcus again. He seemed much better now, though no one dared bring up the night of Karkaroff’s murder.
Meanwhile, Mr Weasley and Percy had been gone almost all week. They both left before sunrise each morning and returned well after sundown each night.
They returned to the Burrow, Mrs Weasley smiling at them kindly as she put her large sunhat on the hat-rack.
“Nicely done, girls. Hurry on upstairs to change and I’ll make us all some lunch.”
“Ugh, if I never see the inside of the Ministry again, it will be too soon,” Ronnie muttered as she hurried past them, up the stairs to change out of her dress clothes as fast as she could.
Dora had returned with them, and gave Ronnie’s back a little smile and shook her head.
“She has to dress up nicer than that almost every day at Hogwarts…” she said, but not very loudly.
“Well, it was much nicer giving our reports to Madam Bones alone in her office,” Hermione said as they followed Ronnie up the stairs.
“Agreed,” Harriet said. “Though wasn’t that fun having to go through it all, again.”
“No…” Hermione said.
They changed out of their dress clothes and into more comfortable clothing.
“Well, at least there shouldn’t be anything else until we get back to Hogwarts,” Hermione said reasonably.
“I know, less than a week,” Ronnie said. “So ready to get back.”
“Me too,” Dora agreed. “Miss that drafty old place.”
“Yes, getting to see our friends every day, lessons, the library,” Hermione said.
“Hagrid, Quidditch, Hogsmeade,” Harriet added.
“You know, I think I’m going to try out again this year,” Dora said. “Now that Flint’s finally gone.”
“Finally gone?” Harriet asked.
“Yeah,” Dora said. “He should have graduated at the end of our second year but he failed his exams and had to repeat.”
“What position you going for?” Ronnie asked.
Dora shrugged. “Dunno. I like Seeking and Chasing. So I might try out for both and see.”
“Heh, that’d mean we’d have to fly against each other,” Harriet said.
Dora shrugged again. “Well, that would be the case if I was in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff too, wouldn’t it?”
“True,” Harriet nodded.
Hermione smiled. “Well, I think—what on earth?”
They paused as there was a cry of shock from downstairs.
“That was mum,” Ronnie said and quickly hurried from the room and down the stairs, her feet pounding.
Harriet, Dora and Hermione all exchanged one look and hurried off after her. They met Fred and George on the stairs coming out of Charlie’s old room where Harriet was sure they had been working on more items for Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in secret.
“What’s going on?” George asked. “Was that mum?”
“Dunno,” Harriet said as they hurried past the twins. “We’re going to find out.”
Fred and George exchanged a look and followed. The group hurried into the kitchen and paused. Mrs Weasley was sitting at the table, Bill, Charlie, Ronnie, and Ginny all gathered around her. Harriet looked down at the little bundle in Mrs Weasley’s arms and felt her heart sink. Lying in Mrs Weasley’s arms like an infant was the raggedy, fluffy, and lifeless form of Errol.
“No,” Fred said and he actually staggered a little.
“He was such a good owl,” Mrs Weasley said, her chin wobbling and tears pouring from her eyes.
Ginny hugged her mother tight around the shoulders, shaking with little sobs herself. Ronnie sniffed, trying not to cry. Dora slowly walked over to Ronnie and put a hand on her shoulder. Ronnie spun around and pulled Dora into a tight embrace. Dora grunted, but awkwardly hugged the much taller girl back as Ronnie finally caved.
“Poor Arthur… he’s going to be devastated…” Mrs Weasley said, her voice still shaky.
Mrs Weasley looked up at them all with a forced smile. “He was Arthur’s first owl… his parents gave Errol to him when he started attending Hogwarts…”
Harriet felt her own eyes get watery and she looked around the kitchen. Hedwig and Pigwidgeon were nowhere to be seen.
“You never told me that,” Bill said.
Mrs Weasley nodded. “I remember it like it was yesterday… the first time Errol brought him a letter from home… the way he smiled with pride… he was such a beautiful owl back then… the biggest in the school…”
“He lived a long, full life, mum,” Charlie said soothingly. “Longer than most of his kind live…”
“And he passed at home with people who loved him,” Bill added. “Not even many humans get that.”
“I know… you know he carried all of your birth announcements for you… he delivered our wedding announcements…” Mrs Weasley paused giving a big sniff. “There hasn’t been a single moment of our lives together that Errol wasn’t a part of…”
“I’ll… I’ll dig a place for him in the garden, Mum,” Charlie said.
“I’ll fetch him a proper box,” Bill added. “We can lay him to rest when Dad and Perce get home.”
Mrs Weasley didn’t seem to have heard. She just kept looking down at Errol with a pained look of loss. “He brought me the first love letter anyone had ever sent me… and your father had ever sent anyone…”
It was a very subdued atmosphere for the rest of the day. Fred at one point suggested they go out and play some Quidditch but even Harriet wasn’t interested. On top of feeling sorry for the Weasleys, she was also curious where Hedwig and Pigwidgeon had gone. She knew she’d seen Hedwig that morning at breakfast before they left. Even stranger, Charlie said that he checked in Percy’s room to use his owl, Hermes, to send a letter to Mr Weasley and Percy, and even Hermes was gone. No one else seemed to share Harriet’s curiosity however, when she brought it up.
When Mr Weasley returned that night, it was another wave of emotions. Mr Weasley was even more broken up over Errol’s passing than Mrs Weasley had been. The rest of the Weasley family sat in awkward silence in the living room giving Mr and Mrs Weasley some space in the kitchen. It had been difficult seeing Mrs Weasley’s pain, but it was nothing to Mr Weasley’s.
Even Percy was sitting with everyone, despite how much he was complaining about the work he had to do when he first arrived before they broke the news to him.
“There’s never been a day of my life without Errol around… for any of us,” Percy said randomly into the heavy silence.
“Me either,” Bill said.
Charlie grimaced and put a big hand on Percy’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. Percy sighed and put one of his hands on Charlie’s, patting it.
Harriet had always wondered why the Weasleys had kept using Errol despite his age instead of getting a new, younger owl. As she looked around at the pained faces pretending not to hear the choked voices of Mr and Mrs Weasley in the kitchen, she finally understood. Errol wasn’t just an owl to the Weasleys. To the Weasleys, Errol was in fact another Weasley. She suddenly really wished Hedwig was back.
Finally, Mr and Mrs Weasley came into the living room. Mr Weasley’s hands were trembling as they held the box Bill had brought that now contained Errol.
“Okay… let’s go out and lay him to rest, everyone,” Mr Weasley said. His voice was shaking as much as his hands.
Everyone rose without a word. Harriet, Dora, and Hermione hung back a bit as the Weasleys moved into the back garden. It was impossible for Harriet not to feel like an outsider intruding on the Weasley family’s grief. As she looked into Hermione and Dora’s faces, Harriet could tell she was not alone in this feeling.
Bill, Charlie, and Percy lit some lanterns and set them around the small grave that Charlie had dug. Harriet was surprised to see that by the looks of it, Charlie had used an actual shovel to dig it.
They made a semi-circle around the grave and Mr Weasley knelt next to it and gently laid the box down into it. Then he rose and stepped back to re-join the circle. Mrs Weasley hooked an arm in his and rested her head against him. Harriet looked at Dora and Hermione standing either side of her. She held out her hands to them and each took one. Ronnie sniffed and gave a little sob and Dora gently hooked her arm in Ronnie’s and rested her head on Ronnie’s shoulder as Mrs Weasley had done. Ronnie looked down at Dora, went a little red before gently resting her cheek on the top of Dora’s head in return.
They stood in silence for a while. Once or twice someone tried to speak but couldn’t.
Finally, Bill broke the silence. “I’ll never forget when he brought me my first letter at Hogwarts. He was so bloody big he toppled two jugs of pumpkin juice.”
Mr Weasley gave a little choke that this time sounded more like a laugh than a sob. “He always was a clumsy old boy,” Mr Weasley said.
The Weasleys then went on to list off their old memories of Errol. Harriet, Hermione and Dora stayed silent, except for the occasional laugh or sniffle or sob depending on the memory.
At last, Mr and Mrs Weasley said they were going to turn in. Little by little, everyone else did too. Only Charlie remained outside to bury Errol and he was still sleeping outside in his tent.
By now it was nearly midnight. The girls headed up to their room and quietly got ready for bed. Harriet lay there for what felt like a long time, listening to the slow steady breathing and the gentle breeze that was fluttering Ronnie’s curtains through the open window. She had just started to finally nod off when she heard it: a slight skittering on the window sill.
Harriet rolled over and put on her glasses. Hedwig was back, sitting on the sill with not only Pigwidgeon, but two more owls as well. Harriet squinted and recognized Scott and Marcus’ owls, Alba and Hesper.
“You’re back!” Harriet said excitedly and sat up.
“What?” Dora muttered, half-asleep.
“Hedwig and Widgie are back,” Harriet said. “Scott and Marcus’ owls are here too.”
She hurried over to the window and got down on her knees. She wrapped her arms around Hedwig and hugged the owl as tightly as she dared without causing harm. Hedwig hooted and nibbled the temple of Harriet’s glasses. Pigwidgeon meanwhile fluttered over twittering noisily onto Ronnie’s bed and hopped up and down on Ronnie’s head a few times.
“Piiggiiieeeee,” Ronnie moaned. “I’m sleepiiiing.”
Then, Harriet heard it.
“Shhhh,” she shushed, listening hard.
“What is it?” Dora asked.
“Shhhh,” Harriet repeated. “Wait…”
She heard it again. Low hooting somewhere in the distance. Then another owl started up. Then another.
“What on earth?” Hermione asked, joining Harriet at the window.
It sounded as though there was at least a dozen owls out there now. “You lot awake?” Harriet heard Charlie call up to them from the back garden.
“Yeah,” Harriet called back.
“Get down here,” he said, smiling up at them from the darkness. “You’re not going to want to miss this.”
They hastily pulled on socks and jeans and headed down. By the time they got into the back garden, the number of owls sounded like it had doubled. Hedwig soared down onto Harriet’s shoulder, puffing up a little the way she always did when she was proud of herself. The hooting grew loud and louder.
Charlie was beaming as he walked over to them. “Hear that?” he asked, unnecessarily. “Owls’ lament… never thought I’d ever hear one.”
“An owls’ lament?” Dora asked.
“Yeah, for Errol,” Charlie replied. “They’re saying their goodbyes too.”
Harriet looked around in wonder. She couldn’t see any of the owls, but by the sound of it there had to be at least a hundred. On her shoulder, Hedwig began adding her hoots to the mix, as did Pigwidgeon and even Hermes who was sitting on the nearby picnic table with Hesper and Alba.
“Wow…” Dora said, actually turning around in circles as the hooting continued to get louder and louder.
It seemed to have awoken the rest of the family, as before long everyone came out to join them. Harriet smiled at Hedwig.
“That’s where you were… you three were letting everyone know that he’d passed away, weren’t you?”
Hedwig paused in her hooting to puff up her feathers with pride even more and twitter softly.
“This has to be every owl for miles and miles,” Fred said. “Blimey…”
“Oh Arthur, it’s the send-off he deserves, isn’t it?” Mrs Weasley said finally smiling.
“Yes dear,” Mr Weasley agreed, hugging Mrs Weasley close. “It is.”