DISCLAIMER: I am not JKR, nor claim to be. This is a work of fanfiction, and is not written for profit. Some dialogue is borrowed from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, pages 159-160, which was written by JK Rowling.


Menarche


"Well, mine happened overnight, you see," said Molly Weasley, "and I didn't find out until the morning, when I found there was blood all over my sheets. It gave me quite a startle, dear, as my own mother never told me to expect it."

Ronald Weasley stopped walking, his slightly protuberant ears twitching as he listened. Blood? On her sheets? What on earth could his mother be talking about?

"I'm not saying for sure that it will happen this year, of course. Everybody's different, and I was only just barely thirteen. You might be older when it happens, even by several years, but I hate to send you off to Hogwarts unprepared, if it should happen."

"Thanks, mum," said Ginny, in a rather subdued manner. Ron supposed that she was musing over the mysteries of the human body. Frightening, to think that one might wake in the middle of the night to find that one was covered in blood for some mysterious reason.

He felt sure it hadn't happened to Harry or Hermione yet, as they would have told him about it. He had a momentary fit of pique over the fact that they hadn't even told him that one ought to expect it--but then, Hermione was strangely closed-mouthed about certain things, and he doubted that Harry's awful Muggle family would see a need to mention it. They neglected him in every other way, after all. Initiating him into the mysteries of puberty didn't strike Ron as something they would do.

"So, if it does happen," said his mother, in a comforting sort of voice, "I suggest that you tell Professor McGonagall. It'll change a few things about the way your magic works, and as head of House, she's the one who will be helping you through that adjustment. And if you've any pain, you can pop up to Madam Pomfrey for a potion and some supplies."

"Supplies?"

"Oh, you know," she said, vaguely (Ron thought), "for dealing with the blood, to keep it from going all through your clothes. I know you don't think school robes are very comfortable, but let me tell you, they hide a multitude of sins. Oh my goodness, I remember, in my fourth year, a girl in Slytherin started during a Hogsmeade trip, when she was in her Muggle things. White pants were a bit of a thing, at the time, and--well, you can imagine. It wasn't a lot of blood, of course, but it was certainly enough."

"Oh." Ginny sounded horrified. Ron didn't blame her.

"I'm sure that won't happen to you, though. Gryffindor women are smarter than that."

"So, I'm to just go tell Professor McGonagall?"

"That's right, dear. Just knock on the door to her office and say, 'Professor McGonagall, I've got my period,' and she'll know what to do."

"Mum!" whispered Ginny in a scandalized voice.

"There's nothing to be embarrassed about, Ginevra. It happens to everybody. It isn't as if she hasn't heard it a thousand times before."

"Right," said Ginny uncertainly. "Well, thanks for telling me, mum."

"I'm glad we had this little chat," said their mother fondly. "Run along and tell Fred and George that I'd like them to de-gnome the garden again, wouldn't you? It's positively crawling with them."

"Yes, mum."

Ron realized just in the nick of time that Ginny would be exiting through the door through which he had been listening to them, and felt that it would be in his best interest to run for it. Accordingly, he did.

He thumped his way up the stairs and into his room, slamming the door behind him. It locked with a click, and he threw himself onto his bed, looking up at the attic door in his ceiling, and doing some hard thinking.

It wasn't fair. Nobody had warned him about some mysterious period. He supposed that his parents had divided the duty up by gender--dad to educate their sons, and mum to educate, well, Ginny. It only made sense, he admitted to himself, with some forlornness, that he'd slipped through the cracks. So many sons had gone before him, they'd probably just all blended together in his father's mind, an endless parade of red hair and freckles and baffling bodily functions that needed explaining.

Well, he made up his mind then and there that he wouldn't be caught behaving like a sissy over it. He wouldn't even mention it to Harry and Hermione, lest Fred and George overhear and laugh at him for being upset about not being told. And if it did happen--he gritted his teeth manfully--if it did happen, he would take it calmly, and greet it as the advent of his true manhood. Nothing wrong with that, no matter how embarrassed Ginny and his mum had sounded. Granted, blood showing up in one's pants... well, it didn't sound terribly pleasant. He understood the embarrassment. But he was anxious to prove himself, and he looked forward to the day when he, Ron Weasley, became a man.

It was only three days until term, and those days were passing very quickly. They'd only recently returned from Egypt, and Ron was in the last stages of recovering from a sunburn that promised to leave him with twice as many freckles as he'd had before. He began checking every morning to be sure that there was no blood on his sheets. After all, if it had happened to his mum when she was thirteen, he was due. He was, after all, a third year now.

He had no idea when it might have happened to his dad--perhaps later, he realized. But, as his father had failed to communicate with him on the matter at all, he could go only by what information he did have. Accordingly, he checked the sheets.

He half-hoped that, the day before term, it might come up in discussion. Perhaps it had happened to Harry or Hermione over the summer, after all.

But they didn't talk about that. Instead, he and Hermione got ice cream at Fortescue's and he told her all about Harry's misguided adventures with his aunt and the Knight Bus--stupid Harry, having all the fun on his own, as usual--and about his trip to Egypt. Hermione, in turn, filled him in on the details of her summer vacation, but without any mention of a period of any sort.

When Harry showed up, there was no opportunity to ask about it, or even to drop hints. Hermione obviously was as late a bloomer as Ron was evidently doomed to be, and he didn't wish to hurt her feelings. If anything had happened to Harry, he'd find out once they were alone in their room at the top of Gryffindor tower. He shuddered to think of poor Harry, discovering himself to be all bloody, with only the Muggles there for comfort. Better if they all bloomed late, then. Yes, it would be better that way.

The next day passed in a flurry of preparation and last-minute teasing of Percy. Then they were on the Hogwarts express, Ron clutching the sandwiches (not corned beef) that his mother had made for him, and all feeling quite relieved to be getting back to school at last.

"I need to talk to you in private," Harry muttered, as the train got underway.

Ron perked up. Perhaps Harry had got his period over the summer. "Go away, Ginny," he said immediately. No need to embarrass her, as she obviously didn't like talking about it.

"Oh, that's nice," snapped Ginny, before she turned and stalked off. She wouldn't be so grumpy, Ron reflected, if she knew what he'd just spared her. Typical younger sister. Always ungrateful.

It took them a few minutes to find an empty compartment--the one at the very end of the train--and even that wasn't completely empty. A grown man was slumped in the corner, fast asleep. Harry and Hermione stopped walking so quickly when they saw him that Ron bumped into them. He found it ridiculously irritating that an adult was there at all (especially when he wanted to have a private conversation with them), given that the train was reserved for students exclusively.

"Who d'you reckon he is?" he whispered grumpily as they entered the compartment and sat down.

"Professor R.J. Lupin," whispered Hermione.

"How d'you know that?"

"It's on his case." She pointed. Sure enough, his name was on the case. Ron felt like a bit of an ass.

"Wonder what he teaches?" he asked, to cover up his embarrassment.

"That's obvious," she said, still whispering. "There's only one vacancy, isn't there? Defense Against the Dark Arts."

Of course. He felt even more of an ass. "Well, I hope he's up to it," he said, trying to deflect their attention away from his own stupidity. "He looks like one good hex would finish him off, doesn't he?"

When Professor R.J. Lupin showed no sign of movement, Ron took a deep breath, and then continued, turning to Harry. "Anyway... what were you going to tell us?"

But Harry disappointed him by only wanting to talk about Sirius Black, and the conversation that Harry'd had with Ron's dad. That was definitely interesting--Ron was the first person to admit that--but it didn't drive the questions about periods from his mind. After all, if he couldn't get information from his parents, he ought to be able to get it from his best friends.

As the weeks went by, he did finally begin to grow distracted. What with Crookshanks running all over the castle after Scabbers, Snape making their lives a living hell, Dementors after Harry all the time, hippogriffs attacking Draco, Sirius Black trying to break into the school, and Professor Lupin giving bloody brilliant Defense lessons, there simply wasn't time to worry about puberty every minute of every day.

In fact, he'd almost forgotten about it completely, until It happened.

He'd gone up to the Gryffindor tower for a bit of a nap between classes. It hadn't been a long nap. There was homework to be done, after all, and fights to be had with Hermione. But he'd been tired, and a nap here and there was a useful thing.

He was still sleepy when he got back up, which is why he almost didn't notice.

But he did notice. He turned around and just happened to glance down at his bed. The House Elves kept the sheets crisp and clean and very, very white.

But Ron's sheets weren't very, very white.

No--there, in the center of the bed, was a round, red stain.

Blood.

He gasped. It had happened. His period. Just like his mum had described, right down to the very letter!

He was immensely relieved that he'd caught sight of his sheets before heading back down to the Common Room. He certainly hadn't noticed his pants or trousers feeling damp at all--he supposed because the blood hadn't got cold, still being in contact with his body--and he would have gone unsuspectingly downstairs without realizing that there was blood emanating from... somewhere in the region of his pants.

He shuddered. Suddenly, he didn't want to know any more about the subject. Gingerly, careful not to look down, he tiptoed into the bathroom and stripped--careful, also, not to look at his soiled clothes before he threw them into the basket where the House Elves collected the laundry. He got into the shower and scrubbed hard (still not looking), until he was sure that he had to be clean.He had to find Professor McGonagall right away. He threw on his loosest set of robes, careful not to let himself brush up against anything with the region of his body that constituted his--well--the place that was bleeding, whichever specific bit of him it was. Neither option that occurred to him, now that it was actually happening, struck him as anything other than disturbing.

He ran through the Common Room without stopping for even a second. His every thought was focused on getting to McGonagall as soon as he he possibly could. He shuddered at a sudden, terrible thought--what if someone stopped him? What if Professor Snape stopped him? It might be a natural, healthy part of growing up, but he didn't relish explaining to Professor Snape that he'd just got his period. Some things ought to be private, especially from nosy, nasty Slytherin professors.

But he managed to make it to Professor McGonagall's office without mishap (thank Merlin), and, when he pounded on the door, he waited for only seconds before he heard her answering, "Enter."

Not hesitating, he did.

It didn't occur to him to hesitate until he was actually in the office, and the door was swinging shut behind him. It struck him for the first time that Professor McGonagall was, at least in some distant sense, a girl. Did he honestly have to talk about this withher?

"What is it, Weasley?" she asked, not unkindly, although she looked surprised to see him.

He swallowed nervously. There ought to be a male professor he could to discuss it with, but his mum had told Ginny to go to McGonagall not because she was a woman, but because she was Head of House.

She was the head of Gryffindor House, he reminded himself, and weren't Gryffindors famed for their bravery? It wasn't very brave to hang around in silence because you were afraid of talking about your period with someone whose job it was to listen to things like that.

"I--er..." he said, not as eloquently as he would have liked.

"Yes?"

"I..."

She cocked her head to one side, peering at him through her spectacles. "Is something wrong?"

"Not exactly," he said, swallowing down some of the saliva that had suddenly begun to flood his mouth. "I--er--well, you're my Head of House, right?"

She raised her eyebrows. "The last time I checked, Weasley, yes."

"So it's--it's right to come talk to you about... things, isn't it?"

She set down the quill that she'd been holding since he came into the room, folding her hands on her desk. "Yes. What do you wish to discuss?"

"I--" he stopped and swallowed again, feeling his face growing very hot. He finally understood why Ginny had sounded so very embarrassed during her conversation with their mum. But there was nothing for it. He just had to say it. He licked his lips nervously, and then blurted out, "I'vegotmyperiodwhatdoIdo?"

Professor McGonagall blinked very slowly. "I beg your pardon?" she asked, in a very polite voice.

"I--I've--you really didn't hear me?" he said, awash with despair.

"I... don't think that I did, no."

"I've got my... er... my... you know."

She looked just the slightest bit uncomfortable. "No, Weasley, I'm afraid I don't."

He wiped his profusely sweating palms on the sides of his robes. "My period," he whispered, shuffling his feet in embarrassment. There was something terribly unpleasant about discussing anything that related to that region of his body with Professor McGonagall, of all people.

"Your what, Weasley?" she asked, her eyes widening.

He felt a sudden panic. She shouldn't look like that. Hadn't mum said it was routine? Was there something dangerous about it, something that he'd missed? He knew he hadn't heard all of the conversation. Fear clenched in his stomach, making him feel ill.

"My period," he said again, beginning to hate the word. Had he honestly looked forward to this? This was hellish. "My--er--well, you know. Puberty, and... things," he said lamely.

Her face contorted in a very strange way, twisting into an expression that Ron had never seen before. She looked as if she might be sick--no, that wasn't it. She looked as if she were choking on something, maybe. He watched her anxiously. He hadn't noticed anything in her mouth, but he knew Dumbledore's penchant for handing out sweets, and it wasn't an unreasonable fear that she might have had one in her mouth and accidentally inhaled it. If she didn't start breathing soon, he'd have to do something about it.

Didn't Muggles have some sort of method for that? He remembered dad talking about it--what was it called? The Lick Maneuver, he thought. That didn't sound promising at all. He hadn't the foggiest idea how you could stop someone from choking just by licking them.

Unless it meant licking whatever they were choking on, in an attempt to--to push it further down, maybe, and get it into their stomach? That seemed like it might work, especially since he also remembered dad talking about something called 'the kiss of life.'

He licked his lips nervously. This was going from bad to worse. Her face had gone through several different shades of red and purple now, and was going back to white. Her eyes were huge, her nostrils flaring. Something was wrong with her, he was sure. He shuddered. He didn't much fancy sticking his tongue into her mouth, but he couldn't just let her die.

Just when he'd made up his mind that it was time to step in and manfully save her life, she opened her mouth and took a very deep breath. Just as abruptly as it had started, her spasm, or fit, or whatever it was, stopped.

"Weasley," she said, in a strange, tight voice, "what makes you think that?"

"Well," he said, his face getting hot again, "I mean, I heard mum and Ginny talking about it--it isn't that my dad wouldn't have," he added hastily, "only, you know, there's so many of us, he just forgot. And mum explained all about it and said that the first thing to do was come right to talk to you about--about growing up, and the way it would change using magic and things."

"Ah," said Professor McGonagall, her mouth twitching strangely. "She explained all about it?"

"Well, most of it, I think." He thought that there was something that looked a bit off about the position her mouth. He was beginning to feel like he probably shouldn't have come. "I missed the first bit."

"Right," she said. "Well, Weasley, I think I can set your mind at ease."

"Oh," he said, incredibly relieved. "Good."

"You aren't getting your period."

"Er," said Ron, shuffling uncomfortably and wondering how she knew. "I'm not?"

"You are not."

"You're--er--sure?"

Professor McGonagall's lips pressed together very tightly for a moment, and her shoulders shook a little. "Yes, Weasley," she finally said. "Quite sure."

"Oh," he said.

He began to worry that he might possibly have misunderstood the conversation he'd overhead. "I don't need to see Madame Pomfrey either, then?"

"On the contrary, I think you probably should, as there is no normal, healthy reason why young men should be bleeding from--er--there."

Ron's ears began to feel very hot. "There... isn't?"

"No, Weasley."

"But mum said..."

"I am sure she did, Weasley, but she said it to your sister."

"Oh, ah," said Ron in a brilliant moment of total and unpleasant comprehension, backing towards the door. "Oh. Oh. Well.Thanks, Professor," he managed, before his last shred of courage gave out, and he fled.

He ran back to his bedroom as quickly as he had left it, his throat beginning to burn by the time he'd mounted the last step. Throwing the blankets back, he stared at the blood on the sheets once more. He went into the bathroom and pawed through the dirty laundry until he found the pants he'd tossed in there so recently.

There wasn't so much as a spot of blood on them. It couldn't be his, then. Once more, he ran back into the bedroom, a horrible sense of foreboding upon him now. If it wasn't his own blood, it had to be someone else's, and there was only one other person--well, not a person, of course, although sometimes Ron could swear that Scabbers understood every word he said--who slept in his bed.

"Scabbers? Scabbers?" He threw himself onto the floor, peering underneath the bed, looking for any sign of his rat.

There was none to be found. There was, however, a single tuft of ginger cat hair.

"Oh no," he moaned. Scabbers was gone, and he'd wasted precious time mooning about over some ridiculous period that only girls got. Embarrassment fueled his fear and rage, and he tore the sheets from the bed, yelling in anger before he was even halfway down the stairs.

"LOOK!" he roared, striding over to the table where Harry and Hermione were sitting. "LOOK!" He shook the sheets at her.

She furrowed her brow in confusion. "Ron, what--?"

"SCABBERS!" he screamed. "LOOK! SCABBERS!"

Hermione, an absolutely baffled look on her face, leaned away. Harry looked down at the sheets in Ron's arms.

"BLOOD!" yelled Ron, when they said nothing. "HE'S GONE! AND YOU KNOW WHAT WAS ON THE FLOOR?"

"N-no," said Hermione, her voice unsteady and a guilty look in her eyes.

He dropped the cat hairs onto her homework--runes--and scowled, waiting for comprehension to dawn on them.

"I--I--Ron--" said Hermione, her lip quivering.

"Oh," said Harry, picking up one of the hairs and inspecting it.

"This is all your fault," snarled Ron, "yours, and that bloody, crazy cat's."

Hermione flinched.

Sweeping the sheets back into his arms, Ron threw his nose into the air and swept away, ascending the stairs once more, to mourn his pet. He'd never forgive her for this--never, never, ever.


Author's Notes: Have been promising to write this for months, after a particularly bizarre and late night in WIKTT chat coming up with strange one-shot ideas. This is for you, you muses of madness.

I have no other explanation or excuse.