Follow the Leader

By: Judy
Summary: A slow moving piece in three, about Ron, about Tom, and the inevitability of Charlie and Ginny, who were meant to fall towards each other, eventually...
Notes: This is the better version of what I posted before. A lot longer, but I'm quite proud of this methinks. Comments, criticism, all welcome.

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i.

Ginny's favourite game was follow the leader. For at five, she had no brilliant ideas like the twins did, or an occasional burst of genius like Ron. Percy was the one who scrunched his thin lips and refused to play unless he was the leader because he was the oldest so there. Sometimes the twins felt sorry for him and let him join the games, other times they taunted him until his ears turned red and mum had to step in to break up the fight. The twins were always the bravest bunch. Ginny followed until she stopped being afraid of heights or dark rooms odd little creatures that lived in the garden. For five was when she was old enough to tag along, and she has not stopped since.

Ginny's favourite game was follow the leader, for she gave and gave and did not ask for anything in return. She allowed each boy, distinct in their own way, to take what they needed from her. They only had to lead, and she willingly went where they gestured. It was a dance of sorts, where they were all waiting for a chance at fulfillment, and she satisfied the wants of each brother, promising she would always be there, with open arms.

In Hogwarts the girls had heroes and pictures hidden in robes. There were quidditch athletes, a handsome wizard who made it into the daily prophet, and even a good-looking muggle would catch a certain girl¡¦s eye. Giggles and whispers and secrets, like an elaborate private joke including every single girl but her. For Ginny¡¦s heroes were in her family, all with red hair and freckles and a good dollop of Weasley pride. She could tell who was who with a touch, a whisper, a sleeve at the corner of her vision. She could feel them pull away when their hands brushed hers, but slowly, as if bound to her by invisible taffy that stretched and stretched. Tall and thin and one her own height, shoulders broad or shaking with mirth in double time. When she woke up she knew by an arm whichever one held her, who pulled her close in sleep and who was on the far side of a too narrow bed, but fingers gripped hers possessively. The brothers wished she would stay young forever, to wait for them as a sister should, and she wanted to prove to them she was capable of whatever they asked.

Ginny's favourite game was follow the leader because she told everyone what they wanted to hear.

Percy wanted someone to believe in him, someone to tell him he was larger than life, that he was intelligent and charming and handsome. She would keep him close and assure him of his status until he dreamed of wizards and muggles looking up at him in awe.

She was the only one who knew Fred and George had differences. Minor, but they were there. She was the one who could tell one from the other with a blink, without even thinking about it. She knew which pranks were Fred's and which pranks were George's. At times Ginny felt smothered between them since being so close to the two gave the danger of becoming them as well. That was what they needed, someone to remind them that they were apart, that they were two people but would become one soon, maybe.

Bill was far away, as far as a sun in his own solar system, his own galaxy. His orbits crossed hers every thousand years, and he was as constant as sunrise and sunset. He came to her to fulfill the sake of family, to take care of the littlest one and to walk away with puzzlement at who was comforting who. With Ginny, in her nightgown and small contented smile, he allowed himself a break from being apart from the crowd because sometimes, even being an individual can get a bit lonely.

Yes, Ginny knew those four. They were at separate corners of the universe, the intellect, the twofold teasing, the unique, like when you put them together they would become one person. Perhaps someone satirically gifted and eccentric and everything Ginny ever loved about the four. But they were easy to please, not like the other two, one demanding without knowing it, one barely there at all. A contradiction of second brothers, a second oldest, a second last.

The former told her stories of mountains so high they took your breath away. He gave her gifts of jewels and trinkets and lovely things, and she drank in his stories along with the sound of his voice. She whispered the names of exotic places to herself late at night, rolling them through her mouth until it filled her room with visions that taunted her. He was the one who didn't seem to need her at all, whose touches were fleeting. It baffled her and scared her, moments with Charlie who lived in the wastelands, who had no need for cities or her, and it hurt her because she could not explain why and there was no magic to counter his perpetual sadness.

But the truth was she has always been closest to Ron. (Ginny's favourite game was follow the leader, and even though one of the twins stole her first kiss, the first shard of her heart she gave to Ron.)

Ron was herself in male form. He was her companion, her best friend. Their hands mirrored each other's, and even their hair was the closest in shade. She was his shadow, always underfoot. When he went off to Hogwarts, she cried for ages, and when the day finally came to join him, she saw a stranger with Ron's face. The excitement of meeting the Boy Who Lived was marred by the fact that it was he who led Ron away into adulthood and left Ginny behind. She found herself being forced to grow up, to let go of childhoods on the rooftop with the stars, and acknowledge that tagging along with your brother in public was a big no no.

He was her summer, but like all seasons, they came and went as they pleased.