Birds of a Feather, Chapter 1, Weasley Children
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter Universe belongs to J. K. Rowling.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Weasley, there isn't anything we can do." The matron looked particularly sad at having to convey such dreadful news, but no-one in the room seemed to be too concerned about her feelings at that moment.
Molly's face fell, as she finally accepted the Healer's statement as fact. She turned to her husband to see his reaction, and it was just as she had feared. As she watched, tears filled his eyes, and his face crumpled with the pain of understanding. She reached out to him and, when he came into her arms, held him just as close as she possibly could, trying to staunch the flow of tears and emotions that were cascading down his face.
"I'm so sorry, Arthur, I wish--"
But her husband cut her off. "No, Mollywobbles, there isn't anything to apologize for. I know this wasn't anyone's fault, and I'm not angry. I'm just sad that we won't be able to have any more children." He sniffed mightily, trying to regain control of himself, before turning to the matron.
"Would you please excuse us for a moment? We'd like to have some privacy."
The older lady smiled sadly at them, muttered a quick spell to clean her work area, and walked out, closing the door.
"But, Arthur, you know how much we wanted a girl! And now we can't even have another boy! I so wanted to give you a little girl to hold and love, and I thought now was a good time to have one. After all, Ronnie's a year old, and I didn't want to wait any longer."
Arthur looked down, saddened by the grief in his wife's voice. "Molly," he said after a minute, "it doesn't matter." She went to interrupt him, but he raised his hand to stop her. "Yes, I would have loved to have had a little girl, but we're still a family. I'd much rather have what we have now, six wonderful sons, and each other, than take a chance on losing you by trying to have another one. I really do appreciate the wonderful children you've given me, and I won't let the lack of a daughter interfere with my. . . our happiness. Besides, the boys will be growing up soon enough. They'll get married, and I'll have the chance to have daughters-in-law, and that will be wonderful in its own way."
Molly looked Arthur in the eyes, trying to gauge his sincerity. She had been so worried that this eventuality would crush his spirit, but seeing him like this, eyes hopeful, albeit somewhat teary, made her feel much better about the news from the Healers.
"All right, dear. We'll just adjust to this, and keep working on making our family the best it can be."
In the woods outside of the small village of Ottery St. Catchpole, a small, rat-faced man scurried along next to someone who was taller, and much more handsome. In spite of the good looks of the taller man, he still evinced a feeling of distrust, as if his aristocratic veneer was just that, a thin layer of attractiveness spread over a base of filth. "But, Lucius, what are we going to do with the baby?" Fear oozed from the small man's voice, reinforced by his constant and furtive glances behind the pair.
"Silence!" the man known as Lucius hissed urgently. "We're almost done with this stupid task. Do you want someone to hear us?"
The little man squeaked in fear, and immediately looked up in horror at having made another sound. The tall man, whose blonde hair shone in the moonlight, declined to comment, and instead commenced searching the ground for something. Finding a small hollow at the base of an oak tree, evidently what he was looking for, he lowered the small bundle that he had been carrying, tucked it between the tree roots, and stood up again.
"Okay, the spell will wear off in about ten minutes, so we'd better get back to where they'll be able to trace us."
The other man looked confused. "What spell?" he asked.
Lucius sneered at him and turned to start walking. "Veela have incredible olfactory senses." At the other's uncomprehending look, he explained further. "They can smell when others of their disgusting race are near. So if we wanted them to not find the baby, we needed to mask her scent. I found a spell that will cover up all scent from someone for half an hour. They've been tracking us for awhile now, but we were able to sneak away to this forsaken place under cover of that spell. We need to get back to where I cast the spell, so that we can apparate away. They'll come to that spot, smell that we apparated, and try to follow us, assuming that we took the foul baby with us. Even if they manage to find where we apparated to, they'll think they're wrong, because they won't find the baby. Then we can come back later and take the thing to our Lord, and he can perform his experiment on it. Now, be quiet, we're almost there."
Back in the trees, the small Veela child started to wake up.
That summer would prove to be a rather significant one for the Weasley family. Of course, it started out like any other. School had let out for the summer, which meant that Bill and Charlie were not away at school anymore. All six boys were home all day long, which was wonderful for their mother. She worried about them when they were out of her sight, and having them all underfoot, while occasionally rather chaotic, was also very calming to her mothering spirit.
Of course, after about two days, the Weasley matriarch had had enough of their bickering, and banished them all to the garden to de-gnome it. Fred and George were placed under the care of Bill, and Ronnie was given to Charlie to take care of. This left Percy to his own devices, but this shouldn't have been a problem. Percy had always shown himself to be a well-mannered, and rather calm child. Very dependable and obedient, he had almost never gotten himself into trouble. Today, however, would prove to be quite a startling exception to this rule.
Percy was bored. He had always disliked de-gnoming the garden--it was just too dirty for him. Reading books was much more to his liking, even though he couldn't read very well yet. Percy's greatest desire was to be the best at something. With Bill and Charlie home, he was no longer the champion gnome-thrower, and didn't like not being in the spot-light. So, he decided that instead of getting dirty tossing gnomes, he'd pick a bunch of flowers for his mother. She'd probably be very happy with them, and might even tell the other boys how nice he was.
Picking a moment when the Charlie was bent over Ronnie, wiping his nose, and seeing that Bill was chasing one of the twins (Percy thought it was George, but he was too far away to tell for sure), he wandered around the corner of the house. Now that he was out of sight of the kitchen and the others, he strode purposefully towards the meadow where the best flowers were growing. His mind full of thoughts of which colors he liked best, it took him awhile to notice the sound of a crying baby.
"Mum! Mum! Come quick!" came the sound of Bill's excited voice. Molly had been working on lunch at the moment, and just about dropped the knife she'd been using to cut the bread. She rushed outside, only to see all of her children toddling, running, or walking off towards the woods that surrounded the meadow.
"Bill, come back here this instant!" she called, hoping to get to the bottom of whatever was causing the upset in her children.
"But, Mum, we have to go now--she's crying and won't stop!" came her eldest son's frantic reply. Nevertheless, he stopped and turned to face her.
"Who's crying?" Molly asked.
"We don't know! Percy said he found her and tried to pick her up, but she wouldn't let him and just keeps crying. So he came to get the rest of us, and I thought we should tell you where we were going. C'mon!"
Molly was not the most athletically-inclined of the Weasley family. Having five pregnancies, and six children, and being the mother of a family that loved to eat meant that she had not kept her girlish figure as she could have wanted to. She knew that her husband didn't mind in the slightest, he loved her just as she was, and truth-be-told, it didn't bother her too much either. But when a child was in danger, she called upon unusual reserves of speed and stamina, and usually managed to be among the first on the scene. This was one of those times, and she managed to arrive right behind Charlie, and consequently Ronnie, at the large oak tree.
"Oh my, look at the poor thing," Molly said, to no-one in particular, as she knelt down to see if she could discover more about the crying girl. As she moved towards the child, the girl obviously noticed her movements, for she stopped crying to look at the woman in curiosity. "There, there, little one, let's see if there's anything wrong with you." Molly picked up the girl, and started unwrapping the dirty blanket from around her small body. By this time all the boys had arrived and had formed a somewhat quiet, but rather restless, semi-circle around the two females.
"Who-" George said.
"-dat?" Fred finished.
Little Ronnie just stuck his fingers in his mouth and grimaced.
"Shut up, you two," reprimanded Charlie. He fancied himself rather knowledgeable in the ways of children, and decided that he could explain this easily. "That's Mum and Dad's new baby. You know, they go out and find the baby in the woods and bring it home--that's how they got Ronnie and everything." With a conspiratorial glance at Bill, he mumbled "anyway, that's what my friends at school said."
Bill didn't have any evidence to the contrary, but he had noticed something peculiar. "Mum, how come you didn't get all fat this time before getting a baby from the woods?"
Molly, thankfully, was used to impertinent questions from her children, so didn't take offense. "Boys, we really shouldn't take the time to talk about this right now--she's still very sad, and we should take her home and see if there's anything wrong with her. Charlie, get Ronnie please, and Bill, make sure Fred and George come home too. Percy, you come with me, since you found her."
All the boys indicated their agreement, grudging, in the case of the twins, and rather vague, in the case of Ronnie, and followed behind their mother, back to the ramshackle structure they called home.
Arthur Weasley was rather surprised to receive a Floo call from his wife in the middle of the day. Thankfully, all he was doing that day was paperwork, so taking off the rest of the afternoon was feasible. This was a good thing, since by the tone of his wife's voice, he would have been in for quite the lecture if he hadn't showed up within ten minutes of her request. Upon arriving home, he was shocked to see his wife holding a beautiful, blonde baby girl lovingly in her arms.
"Well, what do we have here?" he asked.
Molly told her husband the happenings of that morning, interspersed with sometimes-helpful comments from the boys, and ended by saying, "I don't recognize her features--she doesn't look like she belongs to the Lovegoods, and there aren't any other magical families this close."
"Are you sure she's magical?" Arthur asked. The chances of a lost child having magic were rather small, but it had to have happened sometime in the past, just by chance, so he couldn't rule out the possibility.
"Well, I'm not sure exactly how magical she is, but when we came into the house, she saw Ronnie's stuffed Quaffle, and summoned it to herself."
"I bet that went over really well, didn't it?" Arthur responded.
"Well, it's been fine since I conjured up another one for the little girl to play with and gave Ronnie back his own."
"May I hold her, Mollywobbles?" The pleading look in Arthur's eyes was clear enough that she couldn't say "no", even though she hadn't quite gotten her fill of the child in her arms.
"Of course, dear. Here you go."
As Arthur received the little girl into his arms, he looked down into her bright blue eyes with his own deep brown ones, and felt an instant love for the pretty little girl. "She's beautiful, Molly!"
Molly watched the scene with joy, although it was tinged with sadness. She had so wanted to give Arthur his own baby girl--since the fateful visit with the Healer they had talked about her inability to do so, and they both were reconciled to the fact, but that didn't mean they were happy about it. Seeing him now with this little girl in his arms, she couldn't help but think that maybe Providence was smiling upon them by leading them to this little lost girl.
And she certainly couldn't disagree with his assessment of her looks. The little girl had long, pale-blonde hair. Her crystal blue eyes shining up at them were the eyes of an angel. Her skin was perfectly clear and smooth, unmarred by any imperfections, with the exception of little tear tracks that hadn't managed to get cleaned off yet. She looked about as un-Weasley-ish as it was possible to get, but regardless, they felt their hearts fill with love for the little lost girl.
"Perhaps. . . perhaps we should let her stay with us until we find her family?" Arthur's suggestion was really a question. He knew that Molly really would be the one to take care of her, and while she had said that she wanted another one, this would be rather an imposition at the time. He hoped she'd be okay with it, and having been married to her for so long he thought he knew how she'd react, but it never paid to assume too much.
"How dare you even ask that, Arthur?" Molly exclaimed. "Of course she'll stay with us for the time being. And if we can't find her parents, then we'll give her a home right here. No-one deserves to be put in an orphanage, especially when we have enough and to spare." She wasn't really upset with him--she had understood the real question in Arthur's voice just as well as he had. But being the mother that she was, she couldn't help but be passionate about seeing helpless children have the proper care given to them.
"In fact, let's start getting a place ready for her to sleep. She can be in our room for the next couple of nights until she gets used to being here, and if she gets. . . needs to stay here longer, then we'll put her in with Ronnie until we can add another room. Or maybe Charlie or Bill can move to the attic and we can put her in their room. Oh dear, we do need to think of a name for her; we can't just keep calling her 'the girl'. What shall we call her, dear?"
"Well, she's just so beautiful, she reminds me of a queen of old. Perhaps, Guinevere?"
Molly made a face at that. "That's too lofty a name for a little girl like this, but I think you're on the right track. What about Ginevra? It's Italian for Guinevere, and we can just shorten it to Ginny." She looked down at the little girl, who had fallen asleep in her arms. "Precious one, I know that this isn't your real home, and we don't know your real name, but would you be okay if we called you Ginny?" And it seemed as though it would be, for the beautiful blonde-haired girl smiled in her sleep.
Paradoxically, the continued failure to find young Ginny's parents made the Weasleys happier and happier. As the days progressed, and their contacts within the Ministry and the Hogwarts Alumni Association failed to turn up a family who had lost a baby girl, hope took root, and grew, and flowered in the hearts of the Weasley parents. The Weasley boys, too, were getting used to the idea of having a little sister. Ronnie was, perhaps, the least happy about it, as it moved him from being "the baby of the family" to being "one of the babies of the family". But he adjusted well enough, with just a few outburst of possessiveness showing up occasionally when Ginny would play with his stuffed chess pieces.
Finally, after four or five months had passed, Arthur and Molly started the paperwork to legally and magically adopt the little girl who had won their hearts. They knew that if they ever found the birth parents in the future, they'd still have to work with them to ensure that Ginny was taken care of, but until such time came, they could give her the love and support and stable home life that she needed.