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Chapter 6 – What Should We Be Doing?

For the next several weeks Ron didn't try and make any preparations beyond making sure he read within sight of his mother for at least an hour each afternoon.

He'd quickly finished Muggle Inventions, and the last chapters we a true eye-opener to him – it was team-written by a muggleborn and her wizarding-raised husband and they had managed to both explain muggle's advances simply enough for a wizard to understand and to explain them correctly, something he knew was rare in the magical world.

He'd never really thought about how muggles got along without magic. When his dad talked about them, it was always in the tone of an indulgent parent and not the real amazement Ron felt after reading about airplanes and computers. After finishing the book on inventions Ron was actually anxious to start the book on muggle weapons hidden in his room. If he could find something in there that he could use, the Death Eaters would never see it coming.

Unfortunately Ron was too afraid to read it when his mum might see it, so when he finished with Muggle Inventions he moved on to the old school books Bill & Charlie left behind (the ones that weren't currently being used by Percy and the twins). He always took several of the textbooks off the shelf and tried to let his mum only see the 1st year titles, but was secretly searching the upper year Charms and Transfiguration books for one very specific spell that he was going to need come Christmastime. A side benefit was that he got a very good review of the Hogwarts curriculum, though he didn't appreciate it at the time.

As per their plan to capture Wormtail, Ron had Ginny convince Molly to let her use their old camera and persuaded Ginny to give everyone the impression that she loved photography. He also asked Molly to cast an Unbreakable charm on the rarely-used cage for Scabbers, saying he wanted a safe place to put him so that he wouldn't get accidentally injured by someone sitting on him or something.

His mum had ruffled his hair affectionately and cast the charm for him, saying she was glad was thinking of his pet's safety. What she didn't know was that he had kept the rat animagus in the cage constantly after that. In Ron's mind, the risk of his behavior seeming odd was far outweighed by the risk of Wormtail escaping. Keeping him securely locked up was the only way Ron could keep himself from killing the traitor.

Despite Ron's warning about caution, Ginny was anxious to do more to get ready for the troubles ahead. She demanded that they had to prepare, and Ron was hard-pressed to counter her arguments.

"I mean honestly Ron, are you more worried about not being found out or are you just being lazy?" She hissed at him in the orchard one day.

"I'm NOT- we have to be careful!" Ron spluttered. He flushed though, because he had been luxuriating in the peaceful days at the Burrow. As more time passed from Ron's jump to the past, it was easier and easier for him to bury himself in his life at the Burrow. Mostly because it was amazing to see his family alive again (all right, so he hadn't actually seen his older brothers, but he knew they were alive and that was enough for him), but also because he was consciously focusing on his "younger" self's memories he could avoid stewing over his bleak memories from his "older" self.

But it also meant that Ron had almost deliberately lost his sense of urgency. Combined with his natural tendency to coast (he retained enough maturity to at least admit that), Ron had been lazy for the past few weeks. It was one thing to acknowledge his youth and inability to leave the Burrow or do serious magic, it was quite another to revert to his childlike refusal to prepare for anything. Especially when he knew how badly things could go wrong.

Ginny saw Ron's flush and moved in for the kill. "I know we're young. I know we can't do magic yet. But if we don't start to get ready now it's like we're just sitting and waiting for You-Know-Who to take over! If you saw him win, then that means that we can't sit back and hope that adults will take care of us until we're grownups."

Ron's jaw dropped. Since he had sort-of confessed his secret to Ginny he hadn't seen any more flashes of maturity from her, and had started to revert back to thinking of her just as his little sister. Clearly though, Ginny had been spending her time thinking about what Ron's "vision" meant, and had come to some conclusions that were very mature for her age.

In the face of that, Ron could only acquiesce, hanging his head. "You're right, Ginny."

"Of course I'm right," said Ginny with a roll of her eyes, "Honestly Ron, I know you mean well but you're so used to..."

"Being a kid?" Ron asked her sarcastically.

Ginny blushed lightly. "I know it's rich for me to be yelling at you, but you know what I mean! We should be doing something now, so when we finally get to Hogwarts we can spend time doing something useful instead of playing catch-up in classes."

Ron held up his hands in defeat. "Hey, hey! I already said you were right."

Ginny let out a quick laugh. "But I was working up some good momentum!"

"If you really want you can keep yelling, I'll just be over by the pond." Ron said with a grin, getting up and making as if he would leave her sitting in the shade of the apple tree.

She leapt up and tackled him to the ground. They roughhoused for a minute until Ron finally pinned Ginny and tickled her until she begged for mercy through her shrieking laughter.

"Victory is mine!" Ron declared, rolling off Ginny and raising his hands in celebration.

"Get you… for that… later!" Ginny gasped out through her giggles.

Ron turned his nose up and attempted a Malfoy impersonation (not that Ginny would recognize it, of course) and sniffed loftily. "I'm sure."

Ginny giggled again and threw a clump of grass at his head.

They lay on the grass in companionable silence for several minutes. Ron stared up at the leaves of the tree above him and was forcibly reminded of the day he came back in time, lying helplessly on the grass and waiting for Ginny to help him.

When was the last time I was happy, back then… up then in the future? Ron wondered to himself. Sixth year, probably. Maybe Bill's wedding, before we had to run.

It was no wonder Ron had been goofing off, really, when he was finally happy for the first time in ages. Still, that was no excuse for slacking.

Ron rolled over at stared at Ginny, who had started to plait grass stems together with a pensive look on her face. "What do you think we should do to be getting ready?" He asked her, curious about what she might come up with.

Ginny kept braiding, but her eyebrows furrowed in thought. "Well, I think I should start looking at our brother's old textbooks with you." She said slowly. "I can't practice, but I can learn the theory really well."

"Maybe we can get Mum to show us how to do the wand movements properly and practice with sticks or something." Ron suggested. He could tutor Ginny himself on the more basic stuff, but that would be suspicious. Plus, he knew he wasn't the most patient and would have a hard time coaching Ginny through the finicky process of precise wandwork.

"Hmm." Ginny said. "Too bad there's no practice wands out there, that would light up when you said the word right and made the right movement."

"Who would buy them though?" Ron asked.

"Oh, I would!" Ginny declared. "Think about it, then students could practice spells over the holidays without breaking the rules."

"Now I really wonder why no one's made one yet." Ron admitted.

"We should get Fred and George on it!" Ginny declared happily. "They can make anything!"

Ron smiled at Ginny's faith in the twins. And she didn't even know how inventive they could really be.

"We can write them a letter." Ron offered. "Maybe they'll be so inspired they'll make us some for Christmas."

Ginny snorted. "Hah! Knowing them they'll blow up in our faces or something."

"That would be like them." Ron said with a laugh.

Ginny rolled onto her stomach and propped herself on her elbows, looking at Ron seriously. "We need to learn how to duel." She said, changing the conversation abruptly.

"No." Ron said. Ginny gave him an incredulous look, "Wait, let me explain!" He said, and Ginny settled, still looking at him like he'd swallowed a Babbling Drought. "Dueling is… knowing the rules, and a lot of fancy spellwork. It's not very practical. If I'm right…" Ron swallowed, thinking of the 'duels' he had been in, "We'll never be fighting like that. We'll be fighting people that know so much more than us that we'd never stand a chance if we fought like real duelers. We'll be running, throwing spells from hiding places, taking on groups by ourselves. Dueling won't teach us how to do that."

"So we need to learn… strategy?" Ginny asked.

"Not right away, I guess." Ron said. "We'd never be able to really teach ourselves anyway. I think we should learn how to run, how to hide from each other, how to track each other."

"Like playing Hide-and-Seek? Ron, be serious!"

Ron was tempted to make a Sirius joke, but Ginny wouldn't have understood. "Think about it Ginny, if we got really good at sneaking around, at sneaking up on people! We'll never be able to know more than the adults, but we could be much, much better at what we do know. And it's something we can practice without making Mum suspicious."

Comprehension dawned on Ginny's face. "Oh! And we can make it more complicated too. Like… taking the bean bags and putting chalk on them – then we can throw them at each other like spells!"

"Brilliant, Ginny!"

"And… And… We can start running every day, so we'll be really good at that too." Ginny said enthusiastically.

At that, Ron groaned. When Ginny poked him in the ribs he waved her away irritably. "That's a good idea too, I know. It's just…"

"A lot like work?" She asked archly.

Ron stuck his tongue out at her. "Fine, fine." He sighed.

They spent the rest of the afternoon planning their "training" schedule. First off, they'd try and convince their mum to add pronunciation and wand-handling to their morning lessons. They'd run in the mornings before breakfast (a prospect Ron agreed to unwillingly – he hating waking up early), play their modified games of Hide-and-Seek for part of the afternoon, and study the first-year textbooks just before or after dinner. Ron promised to help Ginny with that, as he'd already reread the books. It would give him a good excuse to look through the more advance books as well – he could say Ginny had asked him a question or that he wanted to stay ahead of her.

After their planning session Ron felt much better. It wasn't the intensive training that they probably needed, but it was the best they could do. Plus, as Ron kept reminding himself, Ginny really was still a child. As much as he needed and wanted her help, there was no way he was going to try and turn her into a soldier. They would just have to muddle through as well as they could and wait for Hogwarts.

That evening, Molly Weasley found them huddled over a piece of parchment at the kitchen table, whispering back and forth while Ron wrote.

"What on earth are you two up to?" She asked.

"We're writing to Fred and George, mum!" Ginny said cheerfully. "We miss them, you know."

Molly narrowed her eyes slightly, not fooled by Ginny's innocent look. "I hope you two aren't planning any mischief."

"Of course not, mum!" Ron said indignantly. "If we were planning trouble we certainly wouldn't be cooperating."

Well, that did make sense. Her two youngest tended to only prank each other and wisely left their parents unscathed.

"Hm." Was Molly's response. She went to the living room to listen to the wireless with Arthur, shaking her head as the children tried to muffle their snickers.

"Well?" Arthur asked as he wife settled next to him on the couch.

"They're writing to the twins." Molly told him.

"Ah." Arthur paused. "Do you think we should be worried?"

"Possibly, possibly."

They listened to the wireless in silence after that, only looking at each other with slightly nervous smiles when they heard more laughter from the kitchen.

End Chapter 6

Notes: Arg, this chapter was a beast. Necessary, but sort of a filler chapter. That and academics is the reason for lateness. I'll attempt to be more timely.