Chapter 8: You Can't Spell "Wrong" Without "R-o-n"
Disclaimer: All I own are the plot bunnies, and ownership there is actually shared with my co-writers. Other copyrights are, of course, owned by their copyright holders, for details, see the A/N at the end. I make no claims to them.
Author's Note: My co-writer, sassyfrass, and I decided that we wanted to write a bunch of one-shots about how Harry COULD have been introduced to the Wizarding World, by other characters besides Hagrid. The only stipulation was that each one shot had to include the line: You're a wizard, Harry! Great thanks go to my betas, sassyfrass and rosiekatriona. Enjoy!
Molly Weasley was at her wit's end. The weather had turned warm, with the coming of spring, and the two of her children who were still at home were feeling the effects of having been cooped up too long in the house.
Ginny, her last child, and only daughter, only this morning had spent almost an hour trying to persuade her mother to take her shopping.
"But, Mum, you know we need to get more fabric! I'm growing out of my dresses, see?" Ginny emphasized this complaint by raising her arms. Molly looked at the hem of the beautiful spring-green sundress and sighed. There was no way Ginny was going to be able to wear that article much longer. Her kneecaps were definitely visible, which was the usual measure of when Ginny needed new clothes, but even worse, her pale legs for a good three inches above the top of the kneecap were also there for the whole world to see.
"I see, Ginny dear. Do you have something else you can wear for right now?" Molly really hadn't planned on doing any shopping that week; Arthur's payday wasn't until the next Thursday, and their budget was rather tight already.
"No, Mum, this is the longest dress I have." An angelic smile appeared on the young girl's face. "I guess you could cut some of my pants into shorts, and I could borrow one of Ron's t-shirts."
Molly bit back the instinctive answer. She knew that the styles of the Muggles in Ottery St. Catchpole were more extreme than those of the Wizarding World, and had resigned herself to accepting Bill's long hair and earring, and Charlie's tattoos. But she wasn't so sanguine about letting her daughter get the idea to flaunt her long legs like some. . . She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Ginny wasn't anything like that—she just wanted to have some fun clothes to wear.
"All right, Ginny, go find a pair of pants that you would like made into shorts, and I'll see what I can do. But we can't go shopping until next Saturday, all right?" Thankfully, Molly was a very accomplished seamstress—she had to be, trying to keep her seven children in clothes on the small budget that she and Arthur had allotted for that purpose.
Ginny stood for a moment, mouth agape, shocked that her mother had actually agreed. Then, as if afraid that her mother would change her mind, she flew back upstairs to rummage through her bureau. As she did so, she thought to herself that this would be a good day to ask for that other thing, too, since it seemed her mum was in a lenient mood. And it's not like she didn't deserve it. After all, she almost never got anything new, being the youngest child. Even the grand majority of her dresses and blouses had been handed down from other Wizarding families, or purchased used in McGillicuddy's Gently Used Robes and Consignment Shoppe. "Thank goodness," she thought, "that Mum won't buy used knickers." Giving a shudder at the idea of wearing someone else's underwear, she resumed her search.
"Ah ha!" she exclaimed, as she pulled out the pair of denim jeans that she had been looking for. They were still large enough in the waist that she could wear them comfortably, and still in good enough condition to wear for the summer—assuming she didn't slide on the rock face into the pond again, and wasn't that an embarrassing experience. The worst part, though hadn't been the rip in her pants, which her mum had easily mended. No, the worst was that Ron had seen it.
Ron had spent the rest of the summer teasing her about her knickers, which, that day, to her eternal mortification, was the pair that had "I Love Harry Potter" written inside of little hearts all over the backside of them.
The teasing had eventually gotten so bad, that Ginny, in a fit of pique, had yelled, "But I do love Harry Potter, and one day I'm going to marry him!" Terminally embarrassed at having shouted out her secret dream, she had turned bright red and fled to her room.
To say that Ron had had a field day with that would be an understatement. He, of course, had told all the others, even going so far as to send poor Errol to Rumania and Egypt to ensure Ginny's humiliation at the quills of her two oldest siblings. Scarcely a day went by that Ron didn't think up some mean remark to make Ginny blush.
"So, Ginny, have you set the date yet?"
"Aww, does ickle Ginnikins have her wedding dress all picked out?"
And, of course, his personal favorite, "Harry and Ginny, sitting in a tree, K I S S I N G!"
But then, one day, he went too far. Ginny had managed to force herself to the point where she just ignored the teasings as the immature, inane utterances of an utterly prattish brother. But then, deciding that it wasn't fun to tease the same way anymore, he had said those fateful words. "Ginny, why would the Boy-Who-Lived even want to be friends with you, let alone marry you? You're covered in freckles, have knobby knees, and your hair is too orange. I'm sure he'd rather marry some exotic, black-haired, beautiful girl."
Ron had finally voiced what had been Ginny's secret fear, and she couldn't take it anymore. She burst into tears, not so much of sadness, but more of anger, although there was definitely broken-heartedness in there too, and performed the first feat of wandless magic she had managed since she was six and had turned Fred and George blue for scalping her favorite doll. Pointing an accusing finger at her brother, she gave a wordless scream of rage. A mustard-yellow light exploded from her fingertips, and hit Ron full in the face. A second later, his nose began to run, and then, shocking them all, the snot turned into little flying creatures that started attacking Ron's face and getting stuck in his hair.
Ginny was shocked—certainly she had dreamed of being able to do some sort of disgusting curse that would be all hers, that no-one else would know how to do, but actually doing it was another matter indeed. But her shock didn't stop her from instantly implementing Weasley Children Tactic Number Three. She ran, like a bat out of. . .well, she ran as fast as she could to the house, where her mother was kneading bread dough for the weekly baking. Deciding that this also called for WC Tactic #4, she burst into tears, threw her arms around her mother, and sobbed out, almost incoherently, "I'm sorry, Mum, I didn't mean to do it, but Ron made me so mad, and I just—I couldn't think, and then the light hit him, and his bogeys, and bats, and Mummy, I didn't mean to!"
Molly was not unaware of the tactics her children used to get their way. It was, after all, a rather rambunctious set of children she'd raised, and throughout the years she'd had to deal with a wide range of occurrences, but being aware of, and being immune to were two different things. And, to her secret shame, she'd always given Ginny just a little more benefit of the doubt than the others, because, well, there were only two of them, against seven men.
Molly quickly wiped her hands on her apron, cast a kneading charm on the dough, although it never turned out as well as when she did it by hand, and gathered up her daughter.
"Now, now, Ginny, what's the matter?" She sat down on one of the kitchen benches and placed Ginny on her lap.
Ginny had worked up a good set of tears by then, and continued blubbering as she told her mother what had happened. "Ron said—sniff—that Harry Potter wouldn't—sniff—want to marry me—gasping sob—because I have orange hair and ugly knees, and he probably wants his wife to have black hair!"
Molly wasn't surprised—she had watched Ron torment Ginny all summer, and had just about decided to step in, but it seemed that it had been taken out of her hands. "And, Ginny, what happened to him?"
Ginny sniffed again, and then told her mother about the accidental magic, although, she admitted to herself, it certainly seemed to have been on purpose. Molly looked quickly at the Family Clock, seeing that Ron's hand was currently on Deservedly Suffering, and, relieved, pulled out one of her many handkerchiefs.
"Okay, Ginny, why don't you wipe your eyes, and blow your nose, and go up to your room for awhile while I deal with Ron, okay?"
Ginny nodded her acceptance, and headed up, while Molly went out to the lake to see if she could help Ron see what he had done wrong with his little sister, and, if necessary, add to his seemingly-never-ending list of punishments.
Ginny shook herself out of her wool-gathering, and, shutting her bureau drawer, ran back downstairs to give her mother the jeans.
Ron was in the kitchen when she arrived, begging for biscuits, which wasn't very surprising.
"Here they are, Mum!" Ginny said, brandishing the pair of jeans like a banner.
"Wassat?" Ron asked.
"Ginny has outgrown her clothes, Ron, and I'm going to make those pants into shorts for her to wear this summer," Molly answered.
"You're letting Ginny wear shorts? How could you, Mum?" Ron asked, rather unwisely.
Molly's lips tightened into a thin line as she looked at her youngest son. Ron paled, recognizing Molly Weasley Look Number Three. Quickly running through the twins' advice in his head, he started stammering out an explanation. "But Mum, you never let Ginny wear shorts! It's indecent! What if some guy came and saw her legs?"
Ginny couldn't help it; she snickered. Luckily, neither of the other two heard it. She sat down at the table, content to take in the action. Ron had messed up—the only way to mitigate Look Number Three was to apologize to their Mum, instantly and sincerely, and then hug her for all they were worth. Ron had mistakenly jumped into the recommended behavior for Look Number Four instead, and this meant that fireworks were about to ensue, and his list of punishments was about to grow even longer.
Next Saturday finally dawned, and Ron had worked off his list of punishments as well, so Molly took her two children shopping. One of her friends had mentioned that there was a really good fabric store in Surrey, with quality materials and good prices, so she decided to try that out. One dizzying Floo ride later, they were at the Arballos', which was the family closest to the fabric store that Molly knew. Ginny didn't know them, so she just greeted them politely and stood back.
Ron, on the other hand, ignored Mr. Arballo's hand and said, "Bloody blazes, you guys must be richer than Merlin!"
Molly immediately swatted the back of her son's head. "Ronald Bilius Weasley! Were you raised by savages? I can't believe you could forget your manners so appallingly! I did not raise a monkey! Now, apologize to Mr. Arballo. I never-- Just wait 'til--" Seeming to run out of epithets, Molly just huffed in indignation, apologized on Ron's behalf to her friend, and rushed her children out, not even giving Ron the opportunity to say anything more.
"Ronald! When we get home you are grounded for another week. I can't imagine what you must have been thinking to say that to Mr. Arballo. So what if he's rich, it's not something we need to point out. And did you ever think that, by doing so, you make us look poor? We're not yokels from the back country!" Just to make her point, she gave Ron another swat on the back of the head.
Ginny, who had been somewhat awed by Ron's ability to do the completely wrong thing at any time, snickered quietly and smirked at Ron when he turned his head to see what was going on. Ron turned even redder, and called her a rather nasty name, which, unfortunately, his mother heard, earning him yet another two days' grounding, and a forced apology to his sister on top of that.
After a ten-minute walk, they managed to find the fabric store, which, happily, was located right by a play park. The park looked somewhat shabby, but at least there were swings and a teeter-totter, and a merry-go-round. Animosity forgotten, Ron and Ginny immediately started imploring their mother to let them go play while she shopped for fabric.
"No, Ginny. I need you to come pick out fabric. It's your clothing, isn't it?" Then, glaring at Ron, she said, with more than a hint of steel in her voice, "and no, Ronald, you can't go either. Who knows what you'll do—insult some Muggle pleaseman, no doubt, and get sent to jelly." With some more mumblings under her breath, she chivvied her children into the store.
"Muuuuum, my feet hurt," Ron whined. "Aren't you done yet?"
Well practiced at ignoring whining children, Molly said, "Now, Ginny dear, we just need to find one more, then you can go play, all right?" Molly was pushing a cart that already had five different kinds of fabric. "I can't believe how cheap this fabric is," she had exclaimed, more than once.
Ginny was enjoying the shopping much more than Ron, although she sympathized with him about sore feet. There just seems to be something wrong with fabric store floors that makes it so that no matter how someone stands, their feet start to hurt, and Ginny and Ron were experiencing this phenomenon in full measure.
"How about this one?" she asked. "I really like the dark brown, and it would look beautiful with some of that cream lace on it. . ."
Molly looked carefully at the chosen material. "Yes, yes, I think that would be perfect. It's a good, sturdy fabric, and will wear very well. I'll make it with extra in the seams, so I can let it out as you grow, and it should be good for two, maybe three years." She thought for a moment longer, nodded decisively, and put the bolt of cloth in her cart. "All right, you two, you may go play. Remember to not call the other children Muggles, and no accidental magic. Do you understand?" Both children nodded. "Oh, and be sure to tell everyone that your mother is very close and coming to pick you up at any minute, okay?"
They nodded again, then shot out the door and over to the swings.
Harry Potter was very grateful for this unforeseen chance to slip away. For some reason, Aunt Petunia hadn't loaded him up with nearly as many chores as usual this Saturday, and he was able to finish them rather quickly. Slipping his shoes off, and holding his pant legs up so they wouldn't scuff against the floor and alert anyone to his plans, he snuck through the kitchen and out the back door. Very carefully shutting the door, making sure to release the latch a little at a time, he tiptoed around the corner of the house. Out of sight of any of the windows, he put his shoes back on. Ahead was the last dangerous stretch in his escape. He had to make it around to the front of the house, and past the hedge that separated #4 Privet Drive from the equally boring, but slightly-differently-colored, #2 Privet Drive. Once there, he was all but invisible. Walking normally, as he'd found out by sad experience that running tended to draw attention that he didn't want, he closed the distance to the corner of the lot, and slipped out of sight.
Breathing a great sigh of relief, he continued on his way to the play park. He knew he wasn't really wanted anywhere, but at least at the play park he could usually find a corner that wasn't being used by anyone else. Once he'd even been able to swing for a couple of minutes before being sent away. Maybe today he'd be able to sit on the teeter-totter! Of course, he couldn't make it go by himself, but at least he could sit and pretend.
Arriving at the park, he scanned the grounds quickly to fix the locations of any quiet areas where he might be able to sit in the dirt and draw pictures. It wasn't as enjoyable as drawing on paper, but the kind of pictures he liked to draw invariably got him into trouble with the Dursleys, so it was better to draw them in the dirt, where no-one else would know what they were.
Today he decided he'd try to draw a flying motorcycle. It had been in his dreams lately, and he wanted to see if he could capture the feeling of freedom that came along with it.
Intent on his drawing, he was rather startled when an unfamiliar voice spoke behind him. "Watcha drawing?"
Harry jumped in surprise, and made to scuff his foot over the picture.
"Is that a flying motorcycle? How did you make it fly? Is it magic?" The tall, red-haired boy seemed to be genuinely interested in what he was seeing, but he had said that word—that horrible word that "no self-respecting citizen would have any truck with". And Harry had learned, through bitter experience, not to trust that anyone was as kind as they seemed. Time and time again someone had come over to talk to him, but then either never talked to him again, or taunted him just like all the others.
"It's nothin'," Harry mumbled. "I'm just messin' around."
The redhead continued on as if he hadn't heard. "Flying is great, isn't it? It's almost as good as Quidditch. What team do you support?"
"Ron!" came a strident voice a little way behind the boy. He jumped guiltily and looked around.
"Ginny! What do you want!?" He asked, a little rudely, in Harry's opinion.
"Ron, come play on the teeter-totter with me!" Harry didn't know the girl who had joined them. He supposed that she must be this Ron's sister, as her hair was red too, albeit much more fascinating than the boy's messy cut. But even though Harry didn't know her, he recognized a "you're in trouble" look when he saw it, and started backing away, afraid that he'd been the cause of it, and therefore likely to be punished.
Unluckily, he thought, the girl, Ginny, noticed his movements. "Oh, don't worry—Ron was dropped on his head when he was a baby and sometimes says things that no-one understands. Right, Ron?" The glare that accompanied this last question made it plainly obvious to everyone that Ron was to agree, shut up, and follow her to the teeter-totter.
Plainly obvious to everyone else, apparently, as Ron opened his mouth again. "No, Ginny, he was drawing a flying motorcycle, and you know Dad has the Anglia--"
"Ron!" the girl yelled. "Shut up!" Looking at Harry, she said, "I'm sorry, I need to talk to my brother for a second."
"O-Okay," Harry stuttered, not used to anyone apologizing to him. He watched as the little girl reached up, grabbed the boy's ear, and pulled him over to—not the teeter-totter, as he'd assumed, but a small bunch of bushes that was trying to masquerade as a copse of trees. He couldn't hear what they said, but it was obvious that she was really giving him an earful.
Harry shrugged. It probably wasn't worth the effort to worry about the two—once they found out who he was, they wouldn't want to talk to him either. So he wandered over to the fence and sat down against it. He didn't think he should draw the motorcycle again, that had caused too many problems. But maybe he could draw an owl—he had seen some owls flying around recently, in the daytime no less, and thought they were among the most beautiful animals he'd ever seen. Finding another stick, he started to sketch in the dirt.
Lost in his work, he was once again startled by the boy's voice. "Is that an owl? We have an owl, but he's rather pathetic. He takes four days to carry a letter to Charlie at the dragon preserve."
Harry knew the boy was taking the mickey, now. "Look, just. . .just stop teasing me, okay? I don't know about magic, or anything like that. I just like owls and, and motorcycles. And look! Your sister's coming!"
It was true—the girl, Ginny, was striding over to the pair of boys with a determined look on her face. But even more disturbing was the woman coming behind her. She was obviously the mother of these two, and by the look in her eyes, she was furious.
"Ronald Bilius Weasely! What in the world were you thinking? I should take you right home and ground you for a month! Those gnomes--" the lady turned white, looked at Harry, and changed what she was going to say. "Those weeds are taking over the garden, and I can think of nothing better for you than to have you weeding for the rest of the month!" And with that, she grabbed Ron's ear—the same one Ginny had grabbed—and started marching him back towards the store.
Ron didn't go without protest, though, and started yelling, "But, Mum, I'm sure of it, he's a wiz--"
But whatever Harry was or was not was cut off as a hand plastered itself firmly over Ron's mouth.
Harry stood and watched the couple move off, not noticing that the girl was standing rather close to him, watching him instead of her mother.
"Hi," came her voice, which, this time, was pleasantly soft, and, dare he think it, friendly? My name's Ginny. That was my prat of a brother, Ron—he just can't seem to do anything right. I'm glad I'm not him—that was Molly Weasley Look Number Seven, and it usually means at least a week of punishment."
Harry looked down at the girl's hand, which was extended to him. "Um, hi, Ginny. I'm Harry."
"It's nice to meet you, Harry. Now, since I never did get to play on the teeter-totter, would you like to be my partner? I can't get it to go by myself, here, so I need some help." The smile on her face was, possibly, the nicest thing Harry had seen in a month of Sundays.
"Um, okay. I haven't ever done it myself, but I've seen how it's supposed to work. I think I can help you."
"Great!" she exclaimed, and still holding Harry's hand, she ran off, pulling him along with her.
The teeter-totter, Harry found out, was fun, as long as you remembered to catch yourself on the way down. Otherwise your bum got very sore. That lesson sank in after only two repetitions, and it was much more pleasant after that.
Ginny, on the other hand, was rather preoccupied. When Harry went down on his side, the resulting breeze blew his fringe up, and she saw something that looked an awful lot like a lightning-bolt scar. She couldn't be sure, since they were in motion, but she started to get a sneaking suspicion that this person was not just any Harry. And if she were right, she had a rather difficult decision to make. After all, she had idolized The-Boy-Who-Lived almost her whole life, and had developed a rather hearty crush on the mythical figure that he had become. So, part of her really wanted to blush, and stammer, and turn into a raging fangirl. But this wonderful, kind boy, with whom she'd been playing, was just Harry, who didn't know his own illustrious history; someone who looked like he needed a friend much more than he needed an admiring public. Now, Ginny was not dumb, regardless of what Ron said, and could visualize two different futures. The first, where she insisted on treating Harry as Harry Potter, and the second, where she befriended Just Harry, and helped him cope with the world that he'd be introduced to, willy-nilly. And, having seen those two disparate futures, she made her decision; Harry might be Harry Potter, but first and foremost, he'd be Harry, Ginny's Friend. With that resolution, she turned her attention back to their game.
After awhile, they decided to stop teetering and go over to the swings. As they walked over there, Ginny took a deep breath and asked, "Harry, what's your last name?" The anticipation just about killed her, and she did feel herself getting lightheaded from not being able to breathe properly.
"Potter," Harry answered, and then Ginny knew.
"You're Harry Potter!?" she half-asked, half-exclaimed. "Then I was right—that's a lightning-bolt scar on your forehead, isn't it?"
"Um, yeah—how did you know?" Harry asked.
"Oh, Harry, I've heard all sorts of stories about you—how you defeated You-Know-Who, and how you ride a dragon and have this beautiful sword, and how you can just look at the bad guys and they're so scared of your magic that they just faint! I've always wanted to meet you, and I never thought I would, and now, here you are, and you're so nice and. . ." Ginny trailed off, noticing Harry's stunned look and remembering her resolve to treat him like Just Harry.
"Ginny, you must have the wrong person. I'm not anything like that. I don't know what you mean by magic. My Uncle Vernon says that there's no such thing as magic." Harry imitated his uncle's stentorious bellow, which made Ginny giggle, a sound that Harry decided he liked very much.
"But Harry, you were drawing a flying motorcycle, right?" Harry nodded reluctantly. "And haven't you ever done anything. . . anything strange? That you couldn't explain?"
Harry thought back to the occasional occurrences of strange behavior that might, just might, possibly be explained by magic. "Um, well, once I turned my teacher's hair blue, 'cause she wouldn't believe me about Dudley stealing my homework."
Ginny's smile turned, if possible, even brighter. "I knew it was you, Harry. I just knew it!"
"But, what does this mean? Are you. . .are you magic too?"
Ginny giggled. "Of course! I'm a witch. In fact, last week, I made Ron's bogeys turn into little bats that attacked him."
"So, I'm a witch too?" Harry asked, surprisingly not averse to the idea of being magical.
Ginny laughed again. "No silly, you're obviously not a witch. You're a wizard, Harry!"
A/N: Thanks, as always, to my wonderful betas, rosiekatriona and sassyfrass.