A/N: This came to me the other day when I was thinking about how when I had a nightmare, I would go and sleep in my parent's bedroom. I have no brothers or sisters, and I remembered my friend telling me that whenever she got scared, she would run to her big brother instead of her parents. I don't know why, but I got to thinking about Ginny, and I've always had a feeling she was closest with Fred and George. Wheels spun, words were typed, and this was written.
Tell me what you think, because reviews make me happy.
She stared down at the book in her hands and ran her fingers over the aged, cracking cover. The book was small and thin with yellowed pages—only big enough to fit in a child's fairy tale. There had been times when she had considered throwing out the ratty old thing, but each time she got close to tossing it in the bin, she reconsidered. She had even had the bin lid lifted once or twice, but something in the back of her mind kept telling her to wait a little longer before being rid of it.
Even when her father had given the book to her, the cover had been barely distinguishable as red, and the golden lettering of the title was mostly gone. She had been absolutely delighted to receive this wonderful gift, something she could finally call her own, even if it was just this side of trash-worthy. She never did know who the previous owner had been, but she often imagined it was her grandmother. In a way, it had never mattered, because it became hers—it was something none of her brothers had touched or scribbled their names into.
Slowly and ever so carefully, Ginny lifted open the cover. Her eyes welled with sorrow as she looked down at the faded, barely moving illustrations. The charm that had given the pictures movement was beginning to wear off, and yet she could not bear to part with the volume. The words had faded so badly years ago that she had spent an afternoon tracing over them with a quill, and even now that was fading.
How long had it been since she had read this?
She remembered a night that seemed a lifetime ago, when things had started to change from what they had been. All she had had to fear as a little girl were the creepy crawlies of her nightmares, and the ghoul in the attic, but as the years wore on (had they worn before?), her nightmares were filled with other things. Underground chambers and diaries that seemed to bleed ink…
Twelve years old and terrified of thunder. It had been a ridiculous notion to her at the time, but it had been so intense, so real that she could not ignore it. Just as she had since she was old enough to abandon her own bed in fright, she had wandered to their room. She had never tried to justify the choice of going to Fred and George's room when the thunder seemed to shake The Burrow, but she knew it had always irked her mother.
Why would her only daughter not come to her to soothe away her tears?
The twins had understood, always. No matter how hard she tried, she could not remember a single time when they had teased her about her nightmares, or turned her away when the thunder got loud. They had always allowed, even encouraged, her to come to them. She would end up sleeping between them, so sound that no matter how loud the thunder was, or how close the lightning struck, it was as though it were not there at all.
In fact, they had understood especially that night in June, not so long after she had been rescued from the Chamber of Secrets. She recalled standing in their doorway, biting her lower lip to keep it from trembling, with tears in her eyes and her stuffed rabbit clutched tightly to her chest. They had been awake, staring out their window as the lightning flashed in the dark sky, and immediately beckoned for her to come in.
"Shh, there's nothing to be afraid of, Gin," Fred said as he reached out for her. "We're right here."
She needed no further invitation, dashed across the room, and hopped in between them. They had pushed their beds together, as they always did when it stormed outside—they loved to watch the lightning. She sat in between them, holding her rabbit so tightly his button eyes may have popped off, and each of her twin brothers put a comforting arm around her.
All the visions in her head of someone emerging from a book… of writing on the walls with blood… not being able to control herself—it was all gone when Fred and George put their arms around her. The echoes of the basilisk's hisses no longer troubled her when George offered his pillow and shushed her sobs.
"Shh, now," he said. "Nothing's going to happen to you so long as we're here. We promise." He patted her hair gently and kissed her forehead.
Fred wiped away a tear with his thumb. "No tears, little sister."
Ginny could feel a drop of water escape from her eye, and she wiped in away slowly. She had not realized she was crying, sitting there on the edge of a bed she only knew was hers because her name was written across the headboard. She did not understand why she felt so out of place in her own room, even if things had changed so differently in the world outside her door.
She could never explain why she adored them so. Yes, she loved her entire family, even Prissy Percy, but whenever she had a nightmare, it was the twins she ran to. It was Fred and George who banished her tears and got her first finger-paintings. Not being able to tell them about the diary and what it was doing to her had been far worse than not telling mum, dad, or Ron. Harry had since told her about the anguish felt by her siblings when they had heard she had been taken into the Chamber. Fred and George had, for once, been sullen and quiet. They had also been unable to sleep—she knew this much because they had crashed the moment they were sure she was safe at home and nothing else was going to happen to their only sister.
Ginny had always felt a little guilty about it, but she could not help but feel that she loved the twins just a little bit more than her other brothers. Ron was nice when he wanted to be, and he was protective. The others were alright, even if Percy was annoying. But Fred and George had always treated her as an equal, and though they did get riled up when they heard about her being with a boy, they were content to allow her to make her own decisions. They trusted her. They loved her.
They had let her sleep in their beds what must have been dozens of times, and not once, not once did they belittle her fears. The only jokes they had for her were those in reply to those she had made about her own nightmares. When she was okay to joke, so were they.
Oh, how she had cried when they had boarded the train for Hogwarts each year! Finally getting to join them had been one of the happiest days she could recall. Stormy nights when they were at school had been hellish. All she had was a book to cling to, and a stuffed rabbit to hold close as she imagined them there with her.
She turned the page. "This book, in all it's tattered glory, belongs to Miss Ginevra Weasley. Touch it and be cursed into oblivion," was written near the bottom of the title page in Fred's scratchy handwriting. She could not remember him writing this in there, but he must have been old enough to spell "oblivion".
"No tears," Fred repeated as he shared his threadbare blanket with her.
It smelled just like him—fresh air, cherry jellybeans, and a little bit of gunpowder. She tugged the blanket closer, and he did not argue that she was hogging it. She knew even then that if she had wanted it, he would have given her the whole thing, even though it was his only until mum finished knitting his new one.
"Did you bring the book?" George asked quietly, knowingly. He looked down at her with understanding eyes that sparkled in the dark.
She nodded shyly, producing it from between her chest and Mr. Rabbit. She held it out, and Fred took it from her, slowly opening to the first page so as not to damage the binding. He probably could have fixed it very easily with a charm, but he never did. She was rather glad the thought never occurred to him, or that he ignored it if it had.
"Once upon a time," he began, pulling her a bit closer with his arm. He needed no light to read by, for he knew this story by heart.
George laid his head on top of hers, like always. "No tears, little sister," he whispered so only she could hear, and sighed, his breath shifting her hair.
Ginny felt her lips split into a tear-covered smile as the familiarity of the situation acted as her comfort blanket. Fred would always read to her as the thunder boomed and the lightning struck, sharing his blanket, while George would lay his head on hers, listening as intently as she while sacrificing his pillow. Fred would pull her close and continue to surprise her with his shockingly good reading voice, pausing in all the right places and giving each of the character's a different tone, and George would shake her now in then with an internal laugh that could not be heard, only felt.
With every word that Fred read to her, with every rhythmic movement of George's chest as he breathed, the Chamber of Secrets got further and further away. They lulled her into sleep—no jokes, no jibes, not even a malfunctioning product from their business was used to cheer her. Perhaps that was why she sought her comfort with them… they knew when and how to make her laugh, but they also knew when to not try and simply settle for being her big brothers.
"Once upon a time," she whispered shakily, a tear dripping down onto the page as she heard the word's echo in her head in Fred's voice.
Once upon a time, she had been happy, and this house had been filled with laughter.
She sniffed and closed the book slowly, allowing the creaking of the spine to take her back to that house filled with joy. Much as she hated to think it, life had been so much simpler before the Weasleys had met young Harry Potter. The worst problem they had had back then was scraping together money for school supplies and trying to get Errol to deliver post on time. She remembered sunny mornings with warm toast and spicy pumpkin juice, made all the better by dad's arrival from work. She remembered playing in the garden and crying to her brothers when Percy said something rude.
She remembered Fred and George smiling. Laughing. Making her do the same.
She swallowed and set the volume on her nightstand, right next to the picture of the family during her sixth birthday party. Fred and George had her hoisted up on their shoulders and were singing at the top of their lungs, while the rest of the Weasleys looked on with a laugh and a cheer. They would be off to Hogwarts soon, and she remembered how her birthday wish had been that she could go too.
"Nox," she whispered reedily, and was drenched in darkness that pressed down like a blanket of iron.
She wanted so badly to go to their room now, to bring the book with her and have them beckon her to beds below the window. She would give anything for Fred to wrap his arm around her and for George to lay his head on top of hers, easing her frightened breath into a rhythm that matched his own. She sobbed, wishing Fred could wipe away her tears with his thumb and George would shush her with calming words. The sobs were harder to suppress each time she wished for these things, because she knew they could never do those things again. Fred was gone and George was broken.
Her tears subsided within the hour, replaced by a desire to know where Fred was now. Ginny stared out the window of her bedroom, watching the stars twinkle up in the night sky. Mum had told her long ago that stars were angels, looking down on people they loved while they waited up in Heaven. She wondered which one was Fred. She searched for the one shining the brightest, the one twinkling with laughter, and she decided that he must have been the star just off to the right, because it had not been there before. Now it shone brightly, flickering in a pattern that reminded her of his laughter…
The soft knocking on her door would have went unnoticed if she had been asleep. She rolled over, brows scrunched together in curiosity as she said, "Come in."
The doorknob twisted and the hinges creaked as George pushed the door open. He stood in the frame, a pillow that Ginny knew had been Fred's clutched to his chest and tears streaking down his face. He looked like the frightened child she remembered being, running to her siblings for shelter from her nightmares. Her heart stammered as she watched him shake slightly as though he were cold.
"Gin…" he whispered unnaturally, not moving otherwise.
"George," she replied quietly, sitting up. "What's wrong?"
Well, now, she thought. That was a stupid question.
He cast his gaze toward the lower corner of the doorway, a drop of sorrow escaping him. "I… I was wondering if… Could I stay here tonight?"
She smiled weakly and patted the mattress beside her. George made his way over to Ginny's bed and sat down on the edge. He could no longer harness his sadness; a torrent of tears was falling down his face and he struggled to catch his breath. He said nothing; his sobs spoke louder than anything he could have said. He leaned into Ginny's outstretched arms and cried uncontrollably into her embrace. She did her best not to mirror his grief, allowing only a few tears to dampen her older brother's hair she leaned her head down on top of his, pressing a kiss to his forehead.
"Shh… I know, George, I know…"
George still did not say anything; he continued to cry until his tears ran dry.
She stayed up all through the night, stroking his hair and shushing him as he clutched Fred's pillow to his chest. He fell asleep in the tiny hours of the morning as she rocked him gently, doing her best to return the favor he had given her so many times. She gave up her pillow and her blanket, as well as any rest she may have gotten.
As the sky began to lighten, and George's frantic whispers that were responses to whatever he was seeing in his head faded slightly, she continued to rock him. She whispered to him and told him everything was going to be all right. He would be okay; someday the sun would shine again.
And over and over again, she whispered, "No tears, big brother… There's nothing to be afraid of… I'm right here."