He's Leaving Home
Eleven-year old Ron Weasley is off to school in a week and he's excited and terrified in equal measures. It doesn't help that every single member of his family keeps trying to give him advice, and that his sister keeps hiding his shoes...
Because I wanted to write something short and sweet for a change! This will be 8 chapters long, counting down the last seven days before Ron departs for Hogwarts. I hope you enjoy it, and please let me know what you think!
Chapter One: Monday (Molly)
"Don't shout, dear. I'm not deaf. Not yet, anyway…"
"Where are my shoes?"
"Exactly where you left them, I should imagine."
"I've looked everywhere!"
"Have you looked under your bed?"
"Yeah, that was the first place I looked!"
"They're not there!"
A few moments later Ron came thundering down the stairs and bounded into the kitchen where his mother was washing up the breakfast things. "It's Ginny," he announced, breathlessly. "She's hidden my shoes again!"
"Don't be silly, dear. Why would she do that?"
"I don't know!" he wailed. "She's being all weird at the moment. Can you ask her where she's hidden them?"
"You've got a tongue, haven't you?"
"She won't speak to me. If you ask her -"
"I'm sure your sister has better things to do than hide your shoes, Ronald. You've probably just forgotten where you left them."
"No, I haven't, they were under my bed, and I can't go to Diagon Alley without my shoes!"
"Who's going to Diagon Alley?"
He blinked. "I thought we were. To get my new wand."
Molly pulled her hands out of the washing up bowl and wiped them on her apron. "No, I'm going, with Percy, to get his new schoolbooks and Fred and George's new cauldrons. It'll be done much quicker without you lot under my feet. Bill can keep an eye on you, once he gets out of bed."
"But... I wanted to choose it myself..."
"Choose what, dear?"
"You don't need a new wand -"
"Of course I do; I can't go to school without a wand!"
"Yes, dear, I know. That's what I'm trying to tell you, if you'd just let me finish… we've already got you a wand."
"You've already bought it?" he exclaimed, practically bouncing up and down in his excitement. "Can I see it? Is it in the shed? What wood did you get? Did you buy it in Ollivander's?"
Molly sighed. She hated having to disappoint him, but there was no way around it. "Look… Charlie bought himself a new wand when he started his new job, so you're having his old one. Alright?"
"I'm not getting a new one?" he howled.
"It's a perfectly good wand!"
"It's Charlie's wand!"
"Oh, don't be silly, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it -"
"Well, if there's nothing wrong with it," he shouted, "How come Charlie doesn't want it?"
His mother's patience finally snapped. "Don't raise your voice to me, please. Wands are expensive, and I am certainly not going to waste money on a brand new one when there's a perfectly good one not being used. Now run along, please, I've got a lot of work to do this morning."
Ron stared at her, aghast. He had been really excited about finally getting a wand of his own. It was supposed to be a really important moment for all witches and wizards, a rite of passage, Dad had said. As if it wasn't bad enough that he was going to have to turn up on his first day of school dressed in second-hand robes, now he had to use a second-hand wand too. Great.
He heaved a defeated sigh. "Can I see it, then?"
"No. It's dangerous to play around with wands until you know what you're doing. You'll get it on Monday morning before you leave."
"Monday?" he cried. "That's ages away!"
"It's next week," she reminded him gently. As though he needed reminding! "You can wait a week, can't you?"
"But... won't I need to practice?"
"No. And I don't want you practicing, either. Not until you're safely at school. Wands are not toys."
"I know that, I only want to see it. I won't try and do a spell or anything. You don't even have to take it out of the box," he added hopefully.
She sighed. "The answer's no, Ronnie. How many times?"
He looked so despondent that she pulled him into her chest for a hug (much harder to do now that he was taller than her) and patted his hair. Ron extricated himself hurriedly from her embrace, looking appalled.
"Mu-um! Get off!"
"I tell you what," she said placatingly, "Why don't you sit down and help me peel the potatoes for dinner? We can have a nice little chat, just the two of us."
Her son's face assumed a pained expression. "Do I have to?"
"No," she smiled, "You don't have to. But the quicker we get these peeled, the less time you'll have to wait for dinner. It's shepherd's pie tonight. You love shepherd's pie."
Ron hesitated. He did love shepherd's pie. "Okay," he sighed, pulling out a chair and sitting down at the kitchen table opposite his mother. She pushed the bowl of potatoes and spare peeler across to him and for several minutes they sat there peeling potatoes in silence.
"Mum?" he asked, eventually.
"Did everyone else get a new wand? Bill and Percy and..."
"Yes," she admitted carefully, "But only because this is the first time we've had a spare. Bill tends to break them, and Percy, Fred and George are all still using theirs."
"So Ginny will get a new one as well?" he asked indignantly.
Her apologetic little shrug said all he needed to know.
"Oh, Ronnie, I'm sorry, but it's not deliberate, honestly it's not. That's just the way things work out. We all have to make sacrifices, you know. I can't buy Percy all the books he needs either, and Ginny needs new shoes, and you know we're saving up to go and see Charlie in Romania..."
"It's alright, Mum," he mumbled guiltily, "I don't mind really."
She smiled, leaned across and patted him on the head. "You're a good boy, Ronnie."
He winced. "Mum?"
"Can you call me Ron? Instead of Ronnie, I mean."
His mother looked rather hurt. "What's wrong with Ronnie? I've always called you Ronnie, ever since you were a baby."
He shrugged. That was sort of the point. "Nothing. I just... prefer Ron, that's all."
"Alright, well, I can't promise anything, but I'll try." She leaned back in her chair and surveyed him with a slightly wistful smile. "Sooo... this time next week you'll be on the train to school! Are you excited?"
Ron's stomach gave a queasy little lurch. "Sort of," he said faintly.
"Oh, you'll be fine! There's nothing to worry about."
"I'm not worried!"
"Because it's perfectly normal to be worried, you know -"
"Of course you're not. You're my brave little soldier, aren't you?" She chuckled. "Not so little anymore though, eh? Well, just make sure you don't grow out of any more of your clothes, or break anything, because you won't be getting anything new until next summer."
Ron silently shelved his idea of "accidentally" breaking Charlie's rubbish old wand by, say, throwing it down a mountain. Sometimes he wondered if his mother could actually read his mind.
"I'll try not to grow any taller," he grinned.
She narrowed her eyes at him. "Very funny. And that reminds me..."
Uh-oh, thought Ron, his smile fading. It sounded like she was gearing up for one of her long rants. And sure enough...
"Don't answer back to the teachers. And don't be cheeky to the prefects, either; they're there for your own good. And make sure you have a bath at least twice a week and always on a Sunday night. And make sure you brush your teeth twice a day. Properly, mind, don't just push a bit of toothpaste around your mouth and think that'll do. And don't stay up too late or you'll be too tired to concentrate properly in your lessons. And eat proper meals and not just cakes and biscuits. And write to your father and me; we don't expect a letter every week, but we'd like to know how you're doing, and we don't want to hear about it second hand from Percy. And don't let Fred and George lead you astray. I know what they're like, and I don't want you going down the same path. Honestly, the number of owls I've had from the school about those two; it's more than the rest of you put together. Oh, and make sure you send your clothes to the laundry regularly. Are you listening to me, Ronald?"
"I hope so, because this is good advice. What else? Oh, yes; work hard, and do your homework on time. And don't eat everything on the table just because it's there. And remember that it doesn't matter if you're not top of the class, just as long as you've done your best."
Ron made a sceptical noise in his throat. The chances of him coming top of the class in anything seemed incredibly unlikely. If Mum was expecting him to be another Percy, she was going to be very sorely disappointed.
"And don't pick any fights with anyone, and don't let anyone pick any fights with you. And if someone calls you a nasty name, the grown-up thing to do is to just ignore them and remember that you are better than them and that to respond would just be dragging you down to their level. And if you do get into trouble -"
"What sort of trouble?" asked Ron, half-intrigued, half-alarmed at the suggestion.
"Any sort," she said sternly. "If you get into any trouble, go to Percy or one of the teachers. Don't try to sort it out yourself. I don't want letters from Professor McGonagall saying you've been fighting -"
"She's the Head of Gryffindor House. You'll probably have more to do with her than you will with the Headmaster. Think of her as the Headmistress of Gryffindor. You'll share some lessons with the other Houses, but most of the time you'll be with students from your own House."
"What if I'm not in Gryffindor?"
"Don't be silly," said his mother briskly, "Of course you'll be in Gryffindor. Weasleys are always in Gryffindor."
"But what if I'm not?" he persisted.
His mother just chuckled and shook her head as if to say he was being ridiculous.
"Were Uncle Gideon and Uncle Fabian in Gryffindor?"
"Yes, they were," she smiled. "So I had older brothers to look after me when I started school, just like you will."
Ron made a face. He rather suspected that Fred and George's idea of "looking after" wasn't the same as Fabian and Gideon's. And that his mum's brothers hadn't once tricked her into eating worms, like Fred and George had done to him. Actually, he wasn't at all convinced that having three older brothers at school would be any sort of advantage. Maybe if Charlie was still there, he thought wistfully. But he'd left school in June and was off in Romania studying dragons. Charlie would be a good person to have around if Ron got into any trouble.
"Now," his mother went on, "This is very important. Some of the older boys might try to get you to smoke a cigarette. You don't want to get on the wrong side of people like that, so the best thing is probably just to have one little puff and then they should leave you alone. Just one little puff, mind. Because if I find out you've been smoking, Ronald Weasley, I will kill you. Now, how are you getting on with those potatoes?"
Still slightly thrown by the idea that bigger boys might tie him down and force him to smoke cigarettes, Ron glanced dazedly down at the single badly-peeled potato on the table in front of him and gave a helpless shrug.
"Good," she beamed, climbing heavily to her feet. "Well, you carry on with those, and I'll take a cup of tea up to Bill."
Ron's mind was racing with all this new information. She made it sound like the older boys considered it their mission to make life hell for the new kids. Fred and George were only third years, so they were hardly going to stand up for their brother against some massive seventh year who took a dislike to him. And Percy would be less than useless. What was he going to do, read at them?
Molly watched him over the teapot. He looked anxious, and she wondered if she'd said too much.
"There's really nothing to worry about, you know," she reassured him.
"And if you really hate it, there's only fifteen weeks 'til Christmas. Not that long at all, really..."
Ron's stomach performed another sickening little lurch. Fifteen weeks! It was ages! Nearly four months! A quarter of a year!
"We're all going to miss you very much, you know."
"Ginny won't," he said stubbornly.
Molly waved a dismissive hand. "Oh, of course she will."
He just shrugged. "Yeah, right. That's why she won't even talk to me, then."
She smiled, rested her hand affectionately on his shoulder for a moment, and left the room.
Her son waited until she was out of earshot, then let out a long, frustrated sigh.
Next up: it's Fred and George's turn to offer Ron some not-so-helpful advice. Hope you liked it and please let me know what you thought of Chapter One!