So many stories have asked the question: "What if Harry Potter was a girl?" Few stories, however, seem to bother with the question "What if Ron Weasley was a girl?" So, just to be contrary, this story will. Everyone else here is going to be their canon genders, but Ron's going to be a girl, and then we'll see how this might change the story.
Based on the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling
"— packed with Muggles, of course —"
Harry turned around to see a plump, red-haired woman talking to five children, three boys and two girls, and all of them with the same flaming red hair. Each of them, apart from the smallest girl, was pushing a trunk like Harry's — and (Harry's heart almost skipped a beat when he saw this) on one of the carts, in a cage much like Hedwig's, an owl was sitting on its perch and looking out at its surroundings.
The mother — she had to be their mother — was chatting away, and so none of them seemed to notice when Harry, heart hammering, pushed his cart after them, making sure to stay just close enough that he'd hear what they were saying.
"Now, what's the platform number?" said the mother.
The smallest girl (who looked rather minuscule next to the others) looked like she was about to answer, but the tallest girl answered first. "Nine-and-three-quarters, Mum," she said. "It's always been nine-and-three-quarters. It hasn't changed just because I'm going this year. It was nine-and-three-quarters last year, and the year before, and it was nine-and-three-quarters the year before that, and the year before that —"
"Congratulations, dear sister, you pass the memory test," said one of the boys.
"Now comes the big question," said his brother (the two looked completely identical; Harry guessed they must be twins). "Did you remember to pack your dolly and your blankie? You're going to be all alone in your dormitory, you know, no Mum or Dad to run to if you have a nightmare —"
"I'll give you a nightmare!" the dear sister hissed, clenching her fists.
"Stop it, all three of you!" said the mother firmly.
"I still think it's unfair that I'm not going," said the smallest girl.
"How d'you think I feel, Ginny?" said the taller one rather sourly. "You're at least gonna be home with Scabbers, you'll have some decent company. Look what I'm supposed to have for company."
Unexpectedly, the twins laughed.
"You know, we can't argue with that," said one. "If I had to choose between the two of us and a pet rat who only wakes up once a decade, I'd choose the rat too."
"Our dear little sister's starting to show some wisdom at last," said the other, pretending to wipe a tear off his cheek. "They grow up so fast."
"Percy," said the mother, interrupting them in order to address the tallest boy (a rather pompous-looking teenager wearing horn-rimmed glasses). "You go first."
Percy, who hadn't said anything so far, nodded and marched towards platforms nine and ten. Harry watched him carefully, but as bad luck would have it, just as the boy reached the barrier between the two platforms a large crowd of tourists walked past, obscuring Harry's view. It only took ten seconds or so for them to pass, but it was enough; when they'd passed, the boy had vanished.
"Fred, you next," said the woman, completely undisturbed by the fact that one of her sons had vanished.
"I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the closest twin. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother, can't you tell I'm — Ow! Ronnie, quit it, I still have a bruise there!" He rubbed the arm his sister had poked.
"That proves you're Fred, then," said the girl sweetly. "George doesn't have that bruise. Told you I'd get you back."
The boy-who-by-all-accounts-had-to-be-Fred sighed dramatically. "Sisters. No respect at all for the delivery of a good joke. Mum, be honest, she's adopted, isn't she?"
"Don't be silly, Fred," said the woman, shaking her head. "Go on, off you go."
"All right, but I thought you'd know by now that asking me not to be silly is like asking Ginny to be tall!" With that (and accompanied by a yelp of protest from the smallest girl), Fred took his cart and pushed off towards the platform barrier. This time, Harry was determined to keep his eyes peeled to see where he went, but... all of a sudden, the boy was just gone, just like his brother, and Harry couldn't tell where he'd gone off to at all.
Now the third brother took his cart and went off in the same direction — and then he, too, was nowhere to be seen.
Harry gathered up his courage and stepped closer to the plump woman. "Er, excuse me," he said.
She turned around and gave him a warm smile. "Hello, dear," she said. "First time at Hogwarts, is it? It's our Ronnie's first time as well." She motioned to her older daughter, who was almost half a head taller than Harry but just as skinny; which combined with her long hair and mass of freckles gave her an awkward, almost comical, look.
"Yes," said Harry, feeling both relieved that it seemed he wouldn't have to explain himself, and surprised that the tall girl was no older than him. "The thing is — the thing is, I don't know how to—"
"How to get onto the platform?" she said kindly. "Not to worry. All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier between platforms nine and ten. Don't stop, and don't be scared you'll crash into it; that's very important. Best do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous. Go on, go now before Ronnie."
"Er — okay," said Harry.
He pushed his trolley around and began walking towards the extremely solid-looking barrier.
People went past him, jostling him as he sped up, getting closer and closer to the barrier. He pushed on, and the heavy cart went faster and faster, the barrier rushing towards him, and he closed his eyes, bracing himself for the unavoidable crash —
— except the crash never came.
When he opened his eyes again, he was met by the sight of a scarlet steam engine waiting next to a platform packed with people, adults and children, most of them dressed in the kind of wizard-style clothes he'd seen back at Diagon Alley, a lot of them hauling carts and trunks just like his. Cats of all colours and sizes were slinking about between the people, owls were hooting, and Harry could even hear the odd toad croaking. Overhead, a sign proudly declared that this was the Hogwarts Express, due to leave at eleven o' clock, and as Harry turned back to look at where the barrier had been, he saw only a wrought-iron archway with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it.
He'd made it.
Harry allowed himself a brief moment of relief and awe before he began pushing his cart off down the platform. The first few carriages on the train were already packed with students, some hanging out of the window to talk to their families, some fighting over seats... Harry kept walking, past laughing students and crying parents, past a round-faced boy who was telling his grandmother he'd lost his toad, past a tall boy with dreadlocks who seemed to be carrying some kind of monster spider in a box (with friends hanging around him saying "go on, Lee, give us a look!"), past dozens if not hundreds of others. There had to be an available seat somewhere on this train, right?
Finally, near the end of the train, he found an empty compartment, and could begin unloading his things. Hedwig's cage was easy enough to get onto the train, but the trunk proved worse; it was extremely heavy, and while he could haul it around all right, lifting it up to get it inside the train door proved near-impossible.
"Hey, need a hand with that?" Harry turned to see the red-haired girl from before — Ronnie, wasn't it? — standing next to him.
"Er —" Harry hesitated. Somehow, it didn't seem right to ask for help from a girl, even one that was big for her age and taller than him. But Ronnie, without asking further, reached down to try and haul the trunk up onto the steps — "tried" being the key word, because though she grunted and strained, she had no more luck than Harry in hauling the trunk all the way up to the steps.
For a moment, Harry just stood and watched her in amazement. Then, a pang of guilt hit him because he was letting her fight with his truck all alone, and he grabbed the other side of the trunk to help lift it.
Together, they managed to haul the heavy trunk up on the first step. Panting heavily, Ronnie grinned at Harry with an expression of pride on her face — an expression that vanished very quickly as she looked at the steps and realised there were two more of them. "Damn," she panted. "What have you got in that trunk? Solid gold bars?"
"Er, no, I —" Harry began.
"Never mind. We need more help," said the girl, taking a few deep breaths and then turning to call: "Hey — Fred, George — over here!"
Seconds later, the twins appeared. The family resemblance was clear; they had the same red hair, the same blue eyes, the same freckles, and even the same open, easy-going looks on their faces. Of course, the twins, while not much taller than their sister, were notably stockier and sturdier-looking, and luckily they didn't need any convincing in order to lend a hand.
Between the four of them, they managed to get the trunk into the compartment and stocked away into the corner.
"Thanks," Harry panted, brushing his hair out of his eyes.
The three siblings suddenly stared at him. It took perhaps a second before Harry understood that they were staring at his lightning-bolt scar.
"Blimey!" said one of the twins. "Are you —?"
"He is," said the second twin. "Aren't you?"
"Er, aren't I what?" said Harry, feeling a little confused.
"Harry Potter!" said Ronnie. "You're Harry Potter!" She looked awestruck.
"Oh, yeah, him. Er, I mean, yes, that's, that's me," said Harry, and felt himself turning red as they gawked at him.
Just then, to his enormous relief, the sound of their mother's voice came from outside. "Fred! George! Ronnie! Are you there?"
With a last lingering look at him, the three redheads exited the compartment and went outside to join their mother.
Harry sat down by the window, where, half-hidden, he could watch the red-haired family on the platform and witness what had to be the last family farewell. Ronnie looked slightly uncomfortable as her mother hugged her tightly and called her "my little girl" (which was a little funny, because Ronnie was almost as tall as her brothers), but the twins were joking and laughing, and completely dismissing their mother's warning that they'd better behave themselves this year; and as the third brother, Percy, showed up, already dressed up in the flowing black Hogwarts robes and a red and gold badge with the letter P on his chest, they spent a bit of time teasing him for taking such obvious pride in having been made a Prefect.
He probably shouldn't be spying on them like this, Harry thought, but it was, well, nice to see what looked like a completely normal family. They were bickering and teasing one another, true, but it wasn't like he was used to with the Dursleys. There was such an easy-going and unspoken fondness between them, easily visible behind the arguing, that Harry found himself rather liking this family, even if he didn't know them.
"Hey Mum, guess what?" one of the twins suddenly said. "You know that black-haired boy who asked about the platform? Know who he is?"
"No, dear. Who is he?"
"Harry Potter!" the twin announced in a dramatic tone. "Our little Ronnie went to help him with his trunk, and of course George and I had to give them a hand. And we saw his scar! It's really there — like lightning."
"Oh, why didn't you call for me too?" said the youngest sister, looking betrayed. "I wanted to see him as well!"
"Didn't know it was him, did we?" Ronnie murmured.
"You already saw him, Ginny," said the mother. "The poor boy isn't something you goggle at in a zoo. Poor dear, that explains why he was all alone. I did wonder. He was ever so polite when he asked how to get onto the platform —"
"Never mind that," said the twin excitedly, "d'you think he remembers what You-Know-Who looks like?"
The mother looked sternly at him. "I forbid you to ask him, Fred! No, you don't dare! As if he needs reminding of that on his first day at school!"
"All right, all right, keep your hair on."
"Good! And you take care of your sister, you hear?"
"Mum, I'll be fine," said Ronnie. "I'm going to school, not to war."
"Oh, I don't know," said the other twin. "The two things have quite a bit in common if you ask me."
The conversation might have gone on longer, but now a whistle sounded, and the mother ushered her children towards the train, telling them to hurry up. A lot of hugs and kisses were exchanged, Ronnie picked up her younger sister and spun her around, and then everyone who was going on the train was on board, and the train began to move.
From his place by the window, Harry could see the mother waving and the smallest sister running along by the train, laughing and crying at the same time.
The train rounded a corner, and picked up speed; houses were flashing by faster and faster, and Harry felt a thrill. He was really going. It was really happening.
The door to the compartment opened, and Ronnie peeked in. For some reason, she looked a little shyer now than she had, but she still smiled at him. "Hello again," she said. "Er — I don't have anywhere else to sit. You don't mind if I —?"
"Er — yeah. I mean, no. I mean — I don't mind!" said Harry, and Ronnie gratefully slid down in the seat opposite him. She met his eyes, smiled nervously, and then became very interested in Hedwig, who was still sitting in her cage and watching the newcomer with interest.
"Oh, is this your owl?" she said, looking at Hedwig with adoring eyes.
"Er, yes," said Harry. "Her name is Hedwig."
"Oh, she's beautiful! Hello there, girl!" Ronnie cooed at the cage. Hedwig let out a friendly-sounding hoot, of the kind she usually greeted Harry with, and closed her eyes in satisfaction as the girl carefully stuck a finger into the cage and stroking her feathers lightly.
The door opened again, and the twins peeked in.
"Hey, Ron," said one of them. "Already making friends with the local wildlife, are you? Listen, we're going to the middle of the train. Lee Jordan's got a giant tarantula down there, and we'd like a chance to see it before you show up and begin cuddling it."
"I won't —" Ronnie, alias Ron, pulled slightly away from Hedwig's cage, but then apparently decided not to say whatever it was she had planned on saying. Instead, she just flopped back down in her seat and murmured "Right, then."
"Harry," said the other twin, "did we introduce ourselves? Fred and George Weasley. And this is our little sister, Veronica. Try anything unseemly with her, and you answer to us." (This last bit was, it must be admitted, delivered with a smile and a wink, so Harry wasn't particularly intimidated — but Ron, alias Ronnie, alias Veronica, turned a bright shade of pink and glared at her brother.) "See you later, then."
The door closed again, and Veronica turned back to Harry. She opened her mouth, then closed it again, and then took a deep breath. "One of these days, I'm going to kill them, I swear," she said.
"It's okay, they were joking," said Harry. "They were joking, right?"
"Yeah, but still," Veronica sighed. "My sister Ginny and I are the only girls in the family, and we're the youngest, so they think they have to play bodyguards for us. When they're not teasing us for being girls, that is. I hate it."
"I wouldn't know, I've never had siblings," said Harry, who wouldn't count Dudley as a sibling if his life depended on it. "Wish I had three brothers that were wizards."
"Five brothers, actually," said Veronica. "Bill and Charlie's left Hogwarts already, thank goodness, or I'd have five bodyguards at school. It'll be enough with Percy, Fred and George. And poor Ginny's going to be all alone at home..." She paused and blinked, as if suddenly remembering something. "You're really Harry Potter!" she blurted out.
"Er... yes, I think we've established that by now," said Harry, wondering how many times they were going to go through this.
Veronica's pink colouring had begun to fade, but now it came back, full-force. "I'm — I'm sorry," she said. "It's just that I've heard stories about you all my life, and — you probably have girls gawking at you all the time."
"No, not really," said Harry.
"No?!" Veronica looked dumbstruck, but then a look of understanding dawned on her face. "Oh, right! You were sent to live with Muggles, weren't you? Of course they wouldn't know — What are they like? The Muggles, I mean?"
"Terrible," said Harry. "Well, not all Muggles are terrible, but my aunt and uncle and cousin are."
"Oh." Veronica was silent for a second or two. "I'm sorry," she said.
"For, you know. Everything. Your parents dying. You having to live with terrible Muggles."
"But that wasn't your fault!"
"No, but —" She looked like she was grasping for words. "Everyone talks about you, you know? How if it wasn't for you, You-Know-Who would have killed us all. And, well, your parents died for it, and — that's terrible," she finished sheepishly.
An uncomfortable silence spread in the compartment, and Veronica, still that bright colour of pink, studied her fingernails.
"I don't even remember any of it," Harry finally said. "Just a flash of green light, and then — nothing. And now I'm supposed to be something special, and everyone knows my name, and I don't know anything. I bet —" he said, and this was something he'd been thinking of for a long time, "I bet I'm going to be the worst in the class!"
Veronica looked up again. "Oh, you won't be," she said. "Loads of people come from Muggle families, and they learn quick enough. Hey," she added, suddenly looking a bit happier, "why don't we go have a look at Lee Jordan's tarantula?"
"Er," said Harry. "You really want to?"
"Yeah, why not? It might cheer us up. You're not afraid of spiders, are you?"
"I'm used to them," Harry answered, thinking of the spiders in the cupboard back at Privet Drive. He looked over at Hedwig's cage, but the owl had fallen asleep and would probably not miss them if they went off for just a little while. "Yeah, all right then."
"Cool." Veronica raised herself, and then, after a moment's hesitation, held out her hand. "Might as well introduce myself properly," she said. "Veronica Weasley. Just call me Ronnie, or Ron. Everyone does."
Harry raised himself as well. "Harry Potter," he said. "Just call me, er, Harry."
They shook hands and smiled to one another.
"I think I'd like to have a spider as a pet," said Ronnie as she moved towards the door. "Just to be different, you know. Of course, what I'd really like is an owl, like Hedwig, but Percy got one from Mum and Dad for being a Prefect, and so they couldn't aff— I mean, there are owls at school, if I need to send a letter I'll just borrow one of those. Percy said I could have his old rat, Scabbers, but he doesn't seem to like me all that much, so I gave him to Ginny instead, that way she'll at least have some company while I'm gone —"
She kept talking as they made their way through the corridor of the moving train. As they moved past the compartments, students turned their head and looked at them — and in some cases, one of the students took an extra look at Harry, got very excited and began pointing at him. Harry wasn't quite sure how he felt about this, so he decided to ignore it.
"Here we are," Ronnie finally said, pointing to one compartment. Through the windows, Harry could easily make out Fred and George Weasley, and the dreadlock-haired boy he'd seen on the platform. There were several other students in there as well, mostly boys but also a couple of girls, all of them looking to be about the twins' age or older.
Ronnie walked up to the door and opened it. The students in the compartment all stopped their conversation and turned their heads to look at her.
"What's up, Ron?" said one of the twins. "Someone being mean to you?"
"No, you git," said Ronnie. "Harry and I want to look at Lee's tarantula."
The word "Harry" got the attentions of all the people present, and they all looked past Ronnie and over to Harry. Before he knew it, both he and Ronnie were inside the compartment, and he was surrounded by people who wanted to greet him.
It was like the Leaky Cauldron all over again, but as he found out, the students were a lot less inclined to tell him what an honour it was and a lot more inclined to ask questions.
"Is it true about You-Know-Who?"
"D'you remember anything at all?"
"Does that scar hurt?"
"What House do you think you'll be in?"
"Do you play Quidditch?"
Harry tried to answer all the questions best as he could, but the sad fact was that most of the questions were of the kind he didn't know the answer to. When he admitted he didn't know anything about Quidditch beyond what Hagrid had told him, this caused an explosion of disbelieving gasps, followed up by a torrent of explanations of the sport, the four balls, the broomsticks, the teams, the different players and their tasks, It was all very interesting, but when a discussion broke out among the Weasley twins and the rest about which player was the most important one, and which team had the best Seeker, Harry found that he couldn't follow it any longer.
Ronnie met his eyes, looking both guilty and annoyed, moving up to him and lowering her voice. "Sorry about this," she murmured. "Should have realised..."
Harry shook his head. "It's okay, it's just... weird."
"Quidditch is not weird!" said a tall, burly boy whose name, Harry remembered, was Oliver Wood. "It's the best sport in the world! I'm Captain of the Gryffindor house team, you know! The best Quidditch team at Hogwarts, which is just fitting for the best school house at Hogwarts!"
Harry nodded, adding "Gryffindor" to his mental list of school houses. He already knew about "Hufflepuff" and "Slytherin," so that made at least three houses.
"And Fred and George here, they're the team Beaters," Oliver Wood went on. "Brilliant players, the both of them, and of course there was their brother Charlie, could have made it professional if he hadn't quit the sport to focus on those dragons of his... What about you?" he added, looking at Ronnie. "Got any of the old Weasley talent?"
"Oh, she doesn't play Quidditch," said one of the twins (possibly Fred) dismissively. "She's barely even been on a broomstick."
"Much too busy with her dollies and her tea parties," said the other twin (who might be George).
"Shut up!" Ronnie snarled.
"Hear that, Oliver? Such anger, and towards her own brothers too." said probably-George.
"Not very ladylike at all." said likely-to-be-Fred.
"You just wait!" said Ronnie hotly. "I'll make the team, see if I don't!"
"Oh, but Ronnie-honey," said almost-definitely-George.
"Don't call me that!" snapped Don't-call-me-Ronnie-Honey.
"Ronnie-honey," George-until-proven-otherwise repeated. "You forget one vital thing. You may not even be in Gryffindor. "
"He's right," said almost-certain-to-be-Fred. "All Weasley boys end up in Gryffindor, but you're not a boy, are you? First girl born into the family for seven generations. You broke a long streak of boys only. Stands to reason you'll break an equally-long streak of Gryffindors only." He smiled innocently at her. "Hate to break it to you, but here's every chance you'll go straight to Slytherin."
Ronnie went green. "I — you — shut up!" she exploded, in a voice suggesting that she was close to tears. "You don't know anything! You don't —" and then, with a sound that could have been a growl, or a sob, she tore the door to the compartment open and ran out.
"That was mean, Fred," said one of the girls in an accusing tone, looking at the twin who had made the Slytherin remark.
"It was a joke, I thought she could take a joke..." now-confirmed-to-be-Fred murmured, but he did look rather guilty.
Concerned, and mildly surprised at himself for worrying so much about a girl he'd just met, Harry excused himself and exited the compartment as well.
He found Ronnie at the end of the corridor, leaning her forehead against the window, her shoulders shaking. When she heard him approach, though, she straightened herself and turned towards him.
"I wasn't crying," she said, even though her face was suspiciously red.
"Er, no, of course not," said Harry.
"I was just admiring the scenery."
"It's much more interesting from this window!"
There was a short pause. Then Ronnie took a deep breath. "What if they're right?" she said in a soft voice. "What if I'm not in Gryffindor?"
"Er, I don't know," Harry admitted. "I don't really know anything about the school houses. Er, except that Slytherin was Voldemort's old house?"
Ronnie gave a start and almost lost her balance.
"What?" said Harry, concerned.
"You — you said his name!" she gasped.
"Oh. Right," said Harry, suddenly remembering what Hagrid had said about wizards didn't like mentioning Voldemort's name. "Sorry, I forgot."
"Forgot?" Ronnie gaped. "Forgot that — well, you're sure to be in Gryffindor, then!"
"Because —" Ronnie wiped her eyes with her hand. "Well, Gryffindor's the house you go to if you're really brave, see? Gryffindor's the house of the brave, Ravenclaw's the house of the smart, Hufflepuff's for the loyal, and Slytherin —" She made a face and shook her head. "Dumbledore himself was in Gryffindor, and all my family's been in Gryffindor. Mum, Dad, my brothers... What if I'm not? What if I really do end up in Slytherin? I'd really hate that."
"I don't think I'd like Slytherin either," said Harry, stepping a little closer. "I wouldn't like to be in the same house as Vol— as the one who killed my parents," he corrected himself.
"Who would?" Ronnie swallowed. "But what if I am? Mum'll kill me."
Harry could only shrug. He'd like to comfort Ronnie somehow, but couldn't think of a way. "I — don't know. How do they decide what house you're in, anyway?"
"Dunno," Ronnie murmured. "Some kind of test, I think. Fred said something about wrestling a troll."
The voice came from behind them. Harry and Ronnie turned to see a girl their age, already dressed in her new Hogwarts robes and with large front teeth and a bushy mop of brown hair. She was accompanied by the round-faced boy Harry remembered from the platform, who looked at them both rather timidly.
"They wouldn't make us wrestle trolls!" the girl said in a voice that was turning increasingly shrill. "They wouldn't send first-years up against a troll, it would be completely irresponsible and, and dangerous! We're not supposed to learn the proper spells to deal with a troll until our third year, none of our course books for this year mention trolls, and I've read all of them, several times, and no, they wouldn't! Would they, Neville?" She turned to the boy for confirmation.
"I... don't know..." he answered. "My Gran wouldn't tell me..."
"Well, they wouldn't!" said the girl, though she sounded a little less certain of the fact than her words indicated. Then, her eyes fell on Ronnie. "Have you been crying?" she said, rather bluntly.
"No!" Ronnie snapped.
"Well, you shouldn't, I mean yes, it's strange to leave home like this, but it's ever so exciting to be off to study magic, and I'm sure we'll be so busy learning new things that we won't even have time to get homesick," said the girl, probably intending to sound encouraging. "Nobody in my family's magical at all, so it was a huge surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it's the very best school of witchcraft there is, I've heard, and I'm so looking forward to learn everything and my parents are ever so proud of me, and I've learned all our course books, of course, but I'm sure there'll be so much more to learn — oh, and by the way, my name is Hermione Granger. And this is Neville Longbottom, from a long line of wizards." All this came at a great speed.
"Hi," said Neville Longbottom, from a long line of wizards, timidly.
"We're looking for his toad," said Hermione Granger. "Have either of you seen it?"
"Er — no," said Harry. "Ronnie?"
"Can't say I have."
"Well, thanks anyway," said Neville, looking disappointed.
"We'd better continue looking then. Don't worry, Neville, we'll find him," said Hermione, taking Neville's hand and more or less dragging him along. She did, however, stop by Ronnie and give her an encouraging smile. "And don't you worry either, Hogwarts will be ever so much fun, and I bet that within a week — no, within a day — you'll have forgotten all about how frightened you were, and once you've found out what house you're in, you'll settle down and you'll think you were silly for crying."
"I wasn't crying!"
"Oh, of course not, don't worry, we won't tell anyone, will we, Neville? See you later!" And with that, Hermione dragged Neville off and vanished, leaving Harry and Ronnie standing there gaping.
"I think," said Ronnie slowly, "I think I'd like to go back to our compartment now."
"Yeah," said Harry. "Good idea. But you know, we never even saw that tarantula."
"I think I'll pass," said Ronnie. "I don't want to talk to Fred and George right now."
On their way back to the compartment, they passed a smiling, dimpled woman pushing a cart with all kinds of wizard-type sweets and snacks. As she'd apparently already passed their compartment, and as Harry for the first time in his life had lots of money in his pockets (and just remembered that he hadn't had breakfast), he grabbed the chance to buy as many different foods as he could. Bertie Bott's Every-Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, Ice Mice, and loads of other strange goodies he'd never heard of before.
Ronnie's eyes were huge as Harry carried off the huge load. "Hungry, are you?" she said.
"Starving," said Harry. "Want some? There's more than enough for us both."
"Well... No, thank you, Mum sent with me some sandwiches, I should probably eat them before they get too dry..." Ronnie murmured, though Harry could tell that she really wanted to say yes.
"Go on, I've got loads," said Harry, and discovered in that very moment how good it felt to have something to share... and even more importantly, someone to share with.
In the end, they ended up sharing the lot, and Ronnie's mood improved drastically as they sat in their compartment, making their way through the considerable pile of snacks and sweets, and chatting away like old friends.
Time flew as she told him all about what the different sweets were and what he could expect from them, and when Harry pried, she talked about her family, who were all wizards (except for one second cousin of her mother's that apparently was an accountant, but Ronnie had never met him), she told him stories her brothers had told her about life at Hogwarts, about wild pranks Fred and George had pulled, and about her sister Ginny, who wasn't going to start school until next year and had been very angry about that.
Harry, in return, told her about life in the Muggle world (though he decided to refrain from mentioning he'd slept in a cupboard for most of his life; somehow he felt mentioning such details would make it look like he was fishing for sympathy), and Ronnie seemed to find Muggle life just as fascinating as Harry found wizard life.
"You've got to meet my Dad sometime," she said. "He's wild about everything Muggle. Keeps bringing home all sorts of Muggle devices and trying to make them run. Drives Mum up the wall."
She was in the middle of telling him about a motorised lawnmower that her father had brought home, which he'd somehow managed to get going and lost control over, the result being that the carpet in the Weasley's living room now had a bare stripe on one side, when the compartment door slid open and Hermione Granger peeked in.
"Hello," she said. "I'm still looking for Neville's toad. Have you seen it since last we spoke? Oh, and how are you doing, are you feeling any better?" This last part was to Ronnie, who opened her mouth to answer, but then apparently thought better of it and just nodded. "Good, because I was thinking about what you said about wrestling a troll, and I think —"
But what Hermione thought, Harry never knew, because at that moment three boys appeared behind her, two of them large and hulking brutes not unlike a couple of junior trolls, who made even Ronnie look tiny by comparison, and the third a much smaller and paler boy that Harry recognised from before; it was the same boy he'd met at Madam Malkin's.
Hermione shrieked in surprise as one of the brutes grabbed her shoulder and pulled her away from the door to make way for the pale boy, who strolled into the compartment as if he owned the entire train.
"So," he said, looking at Harry with much greater interest than he had at Madam Malkin's. "It's true, then? They're saying all down the train that Harry Potter is in this compartment. That's you, is it?"
"Yes," said Harry, looking at him, and then at the two others, who were flanking him like bodyguards.
Another shriek came from Hermione, who poked her head back into the compartment. "You're Harry Potter?" she said excitedly. "Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry, I didn't realise, I've read all about you in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and —"
"Nobody asked your opinion," said the pale boy coolly, turning to look at her through narrowed eyes. "Who might you be?"
Hermione looked a little put out by his tone, but nevertheless answered in a reasonably polite tone: "Hermione Granger."
"I don't know any Grangers," said the pale boy. "Who are your parents? They're not —" (and here he made a disgusted face) "— Muggles, are they?"
"Not that it's any of your business," said Hermione stiffly, "but my parents are quite successful dentists, and —"
"Just as I thought. Stay out of this, Mudblood," the pale boy sneered, turning away from her to focus on Harry again.
Ronnie had gone white. She raised herself and glared at the pale boy. "You did not just say that!" she snarled.
If the boy was intimidated, he didn't show it. "And you're a Weasley," he said. "I know all about your family. Red hair and disgusting, Muggle-style clothes — not even new, disgusting Muggle-style clothes. Heard you were bawling in the corridor earlier. Can't say I blame you; if I belonged to such a pitiful excuse for a wizarding family, I'd probably cry too. Potter," he said, once again focusing on Harry as Ronnie sputtered and snapped for her breath with anger. "Take this as a friendly bit of advice. You don't want to get mixed up with riff-raff like these two. Look at them, they're not even remotely pretty by any standards - one looks like a beaver with a bushy wig, and the other's a beanstalk with red hair. If you want lady friends, I can introduce you to some proper witches, of good family. I assure you, they'll be a lot more stimulating company than —" (he looked at both Ronnie and Hermione with disdain) "— this."
Both Ronnie and Hermione exploded at the exact same time, though in different ways.
Ronnie let out a loud roar of anger and lunged for the pale boy, just as Hermione began yelling: "Oh, and you're one to talk, are you, I've met pigs that had better manners than you, you appalling, chauvinist, excuse for a human being —"
She didn't get any further, because one of the brutes grabbed her and, with an ugly expression, clamped a gigantic hand over her mouth, silencing her. The other brute, meanwhile grabbed Ronnie before she could even get close to the pale boy, hauling her off the ground and holding her tight.
The girls squirmed and struggled, Ronnie kicking and snarling like a wildcat, but the brutes were too strong for them.
The pale boy, completely unmoved by this, merely shook his head and looked at the struggling girls. "Pitiful. No class whatsoever, you'd think they were Muggles. Now, Potter —"
"Get out!" Harry commanded a— lot more bravely than he felt, because he was the smallest and skinniest person in the room and did not exactly have high hopes about his ability to fight off even one of these boys, let alone all three. "You just let those girls go, and get out!"
"Or you'll do what, Potter?" said the boy, his eyes narrowing. "You'll fight me? This is my last piece of friendly advice, and I do hope you'll take it: Watch your step. If you don't wise up and begin treating the proper wizarding families with a bit more respect instead of hanging out with scum like this, you'll end up just like those parents of yours."
Just then, there was a loud cry from the brute holding Hermione, who pulled his hand away from her face.
"Let me go or I'll bite you again!" she demanded once her mouth was free.
"Let me go or I'll kick your balls!" Ronnie snarled to the brute still holding her.
Hedwig, who had slept through it all, now woke up and started screeching indignantly.
Harry braced himself. It looked like it was going to come to a fight, and he was absolutely certain that he would lose, but seeing Ronnie and Hermione both in the grasp of boys the size of young trolls, he couldn't not do anything. Just as he was about to make his move, though, he saw four familiar figures appear behind the pale boy.
"What is going on here?" said Percy Weasley.
The three boys all turned to see the three Weasley brothers, plus Neville Longbottom (who looked completely terrified) standing in the corridor just outside the compartment.
The two brutes quickly let go of the girls, while the pale boy got just slightly paler. "More Weasleys," he sneered, obviously trying, and just as obviously failing, to keep the cool contempt in his voice.
"That's right," said one of the twins. "More Weasleys."
"Weasleys who don't like what they're seeing," said the other twin.
"And one of whom happens to be a Prefect," said Percy rather pompously. "You're Lucius Malfoy's son, aren't you? And these must be — oh yes, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. What do you think you're doing?"
Ronnie, who had fallen to the floor when she had been dropped, got rather unsteadily to her feet. "They came in here and began insulting our family, and they called her —" (she pointed to Hermione) "— an ugly word that I don't want to repeat, and then these two trolls attacked us!"
Percy's mouth tightened. "Rest assured, I will be speaking to whomever your Head of House turns out to be," he said to the three boys. "And I will keep my eye on you three from now on."
"And if he's too busy —" said one twin.
"— then we'll be more than happy to do it for him," said the other.
"You stay away from our sister!"
"Yeah, and her friends!"
"Or we'll make sure you regret it!"
"That's enough, you two," said Percy. "And you three, get out."
Seeing that they were outnumbered, and not prepared to risk getting into even more trouble, the three boys turned and slinked out of the compartment. Lucius Malfoy's son, however, couldn't resist glaring at all the Weasleys, and at Hermione, and last of all at Harry. "This isn't over, Potter," he sneered. "But don't say I didn't warn you!"
"Scram!" the twins chorused, and then both Lucius Malfoy's son and his two friends were gone.
All at once, the three Weasley brothers entered the compartment. One of the twins went straight up to Ronnie and brushing off some dust that had gathered on the girl's shirt after her unexpected trip to the floor. "Are you all right, Ron?" he said. "Look, I didn't mean that part about Slytherin, you know that, right?"
"Gerroff, Fred," Ronnie snapped, trying to twist away from him. "I'm all right!"
"What about you two?" said Percy, looking at Harry and Hermione. "Are you all right?"
Hermione nodded. She looked a little shaken, but unhurt.
"Thanks for the rescue," said Harry, going over to Hedwig's cage to make sure the owl was all right too. "I don't even know what that was about."
Percy's face darkened. "There are certain wizard families, the Malfoys among them, who insist on holding onto the outdated belief that the only thing that matters is purity of blood," he said.
"Pure wizard blood, that is," Fred-according-to-Ronnie explained when he saw Harry's confused expression. "No Muggles anywhere on the family tree."
"My parents are both Muggles," said Hermione, uncharacteristically silent and subdued. "Is that what 'Mudblood' means?"
"That's a nasty and dirty word," said Ronnie, looking at Hermione. "Anyone ever call you that, you just come to me, and I'll kick their arses for you!"
"Yeah, you were doing a really good job of that, dear sister," said George. "You can thank Neville here for the timely rescue." (Neville smiled nervously.) "He noticed that Malfoy and his cronies were up to no good and came to alert us —"
"— of course, we were already on our way over here," Fred added. "Just to see if you were doing all right. And Prefect Percy was doing his Prefectly duties and doing a bit of patrolling, so he was going the same way."
"Well." Percy cleared his throat rather pompously. "I was really just going around to see if everyone was changed into their robes. We'll be at Hogwarts soon. In fact, you two had better put your robes on," he added to Harry and Ronnie. "The first-years always take the scenic route to Hogwarts. You'll enjoy that, no doubt. Come on, Fred. George. There'll be carriages waiting for us."
As the three Weasley brothers left the compartment, a voice echoed through the train: "We will be reaching Hogwarts in five minutes' time. Please leave your luggage on the train, it will be taken to the school separately."
"Damn," said Ronnie. "Percy's right, we'd better get into our robes!"
"Er —" Harry wasn't at all certain that he wanted to take off his clothes with two girls around, but Ronnie caught this and grinned at him.
"Just put the robes on over your Muggle clothes," she said. "That's what I'm doing."
"Oh," said Harry, relieved. "Right, then."
As he opened his trunk and fished out his long, black robe, he heard Ronnie walk up to Hermione and say: "By the way, nice biting. I hope that git gets a nice big scar."
"I didn't really mean to bite him," said Hermione, sounding a little embarrassed. "I just got so angry... I mean, I've read about prejudices against Muggle-born witches and wizards, of course, but all the books made it out that it was a thing of the past."
"Not as past as it should be," said Ronnie.
"It looks like I still have a lot to learn about the wizarding world," Hermione sighed. "I knew I should have ordered more books, I was just afraid that if I got too many, I wouldn't have time to read them all before I got to Hogwarts."
"Well." Ronnie suddenly sounded a little awkward. "You know. Books are nice and all, but they don't tell everything."
"Oh, of course they do," said Hermione. "You just have to find the right book, that's all. And I must have missed one or two of them. I didn't know I'd have to face such... er... such..." she trailed off, uncertain what to say.
"Look, there are gits everywhere," said Ronnie. "But real, decent wizarding folks, they don't care about blood or anything like that. Er. The important thing is that you, you know, do your best and all that... Right, er, Neville?"
"What?" Neville sounded a little startled that Ronnie had addressed him, but managed to say: "Oh. Yes. Right. My Gran says that some of the best wizards and witches around are Muggle-borns."
His robes finally fully on, Harry turned again to see the three others standing by the door. Ronnie was now in her robes as well, though Harry couldn't help but notice that they were slightly too short for her.
The train was slowing down. It was getting dark outside; mountains and forests were silhouetted against a deep, purple sky.
Harry took a deep breath as the train finally came to a halt. "Okay," he said, hoping that they wouldn't notice how much his voice was quaking. "This is it, then."
"Off to school," Ronnie agreed. She had gone rather pale underneath her freckles. "Moment of truth. Never mind about Gryffindor, but if I'm in the same house as that Malfoy git, I'm going home! Wouldn't mind being in the same house as you three, though," she added, a little shyly.
"Let's hope we all manage the fight against that troll, then," Harry tried to joke.
"Well, you already have been fighting two trolls, haven't you?" said Neville. "Three if you count Malfoy..." He blushed as the other three laughed — more out of nervousness than because the joke was particularly funny.
"Right," said Hermione. "Let's go, then."
"I still don't know where my toad is," said Neville anxiously.
"Er, wait," said Ronnie, looking down at her feet. "This wouldn't happen to be him, would it?"
They all looked down to see a large toad sitting on Ronnie's foot. It looked back up at them with a rather confused expression.
"Trevor!" said Neville, bending over to pick his pet up. "Where have you been? Oh, thank you for finding him!" he beamed at Ronnie.
"Actually, he seems to have found me," said Ronnie, a little embarrassed. "I just now realised something was sitting on my foot, and, well, there he was."
"We're all set then," said Harry as Neville happily slid the toad into his robe pocket. "See you at school, Hedwig," he added to his owl, who hooted from her cage and shook her wings a little, in a way that he hoped meant that she agreed.
And so, Harry Potter and the first three friends he'd ever had walked out into the night and off towards the future.
Author's Notes: If you've read this before and think it looks a little different... it is. When I posted this story to Ao3, I polished and revised it a little, fixing a few typos and awkward phrases, adding and subtracting a few sentences, that sort of thing. I decided that you people here on Fanfiction-dot-net deserved the improved version too, so I'm posing the altered chapters. Don't worry, the changes are mostly cosmetic and don't affect the actual story.
On to my original thoughts about this chapter:
After reading the umpteenth "Harry as a girl" fic, I just felt like seeing what might happen if I changed the gender of one of the other main characters, and so I began writing my version of Harry and Ron's first meeting, with a female Ron. Before I really knew it, I'd written almost eight thousand words, so I suppose you can say I got carried away.
Now, Harry's life has been as in canon, as have Hermione's, Neville's and Malfoy's, but the Weasley dynamic is changed a bit with two daughters instead of one, and so the entire chapter took a different turn (partly because I didn't just want to do the canon meeting scene with a few changed pronouns, and partly because it just happened that way).
Veronica Weasley is very close to her male counterpart in personality; blunt, sarcastic, temperamental and liable to act before she thinks - with five older brothers, she'd turn out a bit of a tomboy - but she's slightly more sensitive and emotional, though she pretends not to be, and her hang-ups and insecurities are a little different, if similar, to Ronald Weasley's. She's had quite a few "you're just a girl" comments thrown at her over the years, and so she's a little pushier and more determined to prove herself, but with five older and massively talented older brothers she's still worried she'll never reach their level - and this is made even worse because she thinks everyone expects the first Weasley girl in generations to be brilliant. She's closer to Ginny, because they're the only girls in the family, and her brothers are a lot more protective of her, though equally prepared to cheerfully give her a hard time, in the name of sibling rivalry.
Also, she's not afraid of spiders, or at least not as afraid of spiders. Because in this universe Fred didn't turn her teddy bear into one. This universe's Fred didn't have the heart to do that to his baby sister, even if she did break his toy broom.