George shifted Ginny over on to Ron's knee – the back seat of the car hadn't been expanded, in accordance with their Mum's ironclad commandment, so Ginny was passed like an unwanted package between the three of them. He was glad they were five minutes from home – Ginny wasn't especially heavy, but she made up for it by being more than a little boney.
Ron's new, as yet unnamed, owl bounced around the back window, and Ginny snatched it up irritably. Fred and George were regaling their parents with the story of how they had given Cedric Diggory and Roger Davies rabbit ears, and she stared at him accusingly, "Where'd you get this?"
Ron swallowed. He'd never been any good at lying, and lately lying to Ginny seemed to take particular skill. She stroked the owl's beak with the tip of one finger. He said, "Harry gave it to me."
Ginny narrowed her eyes. "Harry gave you an owl?"
"Yeah – well – no. It's Hedwig's. She had babies – chicks I mean."
"Really? How come he didn't give Hermione one."
"What do you care? Upset he didn't give one to you?"
"No. But there's no way that's one of Hedwig's chicks."
Ginny let the owl go and stared at him. "Hedwig's pure white Ron – and there's no white on this owl."
Ron blushed and looked at her – her hair was looped behind her ears, and she had a spot coming on her chin. Ginny bit her lip, and Ron was shocked to see that she looked about to cry. She stared out the window and he said, "What does it matter? It's just an owl."
Ginny ignored him and the second they parked the car, she grabbed her trunk and ran up to her room. Ron stared after her as she shouted, "I'm unpacking Mum."
It was a couple of hours before Ron knocked on Ginny's door. He didn't want to do this exactly – even though they had played together as children, defending each other against Fred, George and Percy, they hadn't talked much since he'd started at Hogwarts, and Ginny had been quiet after her first year.
Still, he hated it when she was angry with him and showed it. He felt it like and itch in the middle of his shoulders. Just because he had Harry and Hermione didn't mean that he'd completely forgotten that Ginny was his sister. Of all his siblings she was the one he'd had the most vicious fights with, the most intense shouting sessions, and also the closest friendship. She wasn't supposed to be angry with him – she could be angry with everyone else, but not him. Ginny was supposed to look at him and see her favourite big brother, the one person who could always make her laugh, the most wonderful big brother in the world – that was just the way things were supposed to be, even if she could be a bit of pain sometimes, and they didn't always spend that much time together.
After a moment or two he opened the door. Ginny was lying on the bed, a pillow cudded into her middle. When she saw him she threw the pillow at his head. "What was that for?" he said, wounded.
"Nothing." Ginny huffed into her second pillow.
"It wasn't nothing. I wanted to talk to you and you go and start throwing things at me."
"Well you deserve it."
"What – why?"
Ginny sat up and stared at him. "You get everything."
"You're mad – I don't get anything you don't."
"Yes you do!"
"Is this about me being friends with Harry when you're not?"
"Everything does not revolve around bloody Harry Ron!"
Ron sat down at the end of her bed – he was about to say something when she added, "Anyway I thought I counted as a friend, at least…I mean…I know I'm not…"
Ron winced – he hadn't meant to imply that Harry din't think of Ginny as a friend, even if he did find her attraction to his best friend somewhat inexplicable. "I don't mean that – he likes you."
The hope in Ginny's voice threw him and he said, "Of course, it would be better if you talked to him. Harry likes people who talk."
"Thank you Ron – I had figured that out." Her voice grew quiet. "I just get…nervous."
"Okay – but, you should talk to him you know. He needs more people who are funny."
"What about Hermione – she's funny?"
"Come on Ginny – you know Hermione's not…"
"Okay…I'm still annoyed."
"Well, if it's not about that…then what?"
"You have an owl now."
"So?" He began to feel as though he was banging his head against a wall.
"So? You have an owl, and a broom – I don't even get to fly! Do you know how long I had to argue with Mum so I could paint my room?"
"Oh yeah." Ron noticed the apple-green walls for the first time. "You could fly if you want."
"Not without a broom I can't. And you won't let me fly with you."
"I know Ginny, but, you don't want to fly with us. We're rough."
"How would you know? How would any of you know what I want Ron? I wan to play Quidditch."
"I can't make them let you play."
"And why would you for your stupid little sister?"
"You're not my stupid sister – I don't have any stupid sisters… You can borrow my brrom when I'm not using it, you know."
She looked slightly mollified and Ron added, "And you can use the owl whenever you want."
"You shouldn't call him 'the owl' you know – he needs a name."
Ron grinned, "You can name him. That way he'll have to send your letters."
Ginny bounced up and down on her bed. "Really? I'm good with names you know."
Ron groaned inwardly, remembering the immensely long names she'd given her dolls. "Great. Ready for dinner now?"
"Yeah." Ginny was smiling again, and she gave him a quick hug from behind as they went out the door, saying, "Ron? What about Pigwidgeon – I think it's sweet, and he's really small."
He wished he hadn't been right.