Welcome, welcome to Weasley Girl: Secrets of the Past! (I considered calling this story "Weasley Girl 2: Weasley Girl Harder," but decided that'd just sound like an unfortunate innuendo and the joke wasn't that funny anyway.)
For any new readers: In case you couldn't guess from the above statement, this is the sequel to my previous fic, Weasley Girl. I do suggest you read that before you read this one, but the premise is that Ron Weasley was born a girl, named Veronica "Ronnie" Weasley - and a different Weasley dynamic and slightly different relationships has led to a butterfly effect that made for a very different first year at Hogwarts for Harry and friends. Now, second year is about to start, and will probably be different too...
Just as a warning: I've decided to rate this one T rather than the K+ from Weasley girl; partly because most of it will be from Ronnie's POV, and the girl likes to swear... and partly because the story will be a little darker. There will be at least one character death this time around. *dramatic music!*
WEASLEY GIRL: SECRETS OF THE PAST
Based on the Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling
Just outside the village of Ottery St Catchpole, nestled in between rolling hills, trees and meadows - and so hidden that even the postman didn't know how to find it - stood a tall and crooked house. The few people who knew of its existence called it 'the Burrow.'
The Burrow was like no other house in or around the village, or for that matter, any other house in England. It looked like it had been put together (in an extremely slapdash and illogical way) by spare rooms from other houses, by someone who had only the faintest idea of what a finished house should look like, and a casual observer might very well expect it to tumble down at the first strong breeze.
The fact that it hadn't could be attributed to one very important factor: The Weasley family, who called the Burrow their home, were all wizards and witches, and knew how to magically make sure that the house with its many extensions didn't have to worry about pesky things like gravity or other physical laws in order to stay up.
Good thing too, because the Burrow was never what you'd call a serene and peaceful place. With a father who obsessed over Muggle contraptions, a mother whose voice could be heard for miles around, five teenage sons and two pre-teen daughters, the oldest of whom was always bringing home stray animals, there wasn't enough hours in the day for peace and quiet. Especially not when you added to the mix an attic ghoul, an impossible number of garden gnomes, several free-roaming chickens and of course all the useful if noisy things that tend to gather in a wizard home over the years.
Even when night had fallen and everyone were supposed to be asleep, you could never be quite sure that someone wasn't awake and plotting something.
Veronica and Ginevra Weasley, known to friends and family as simply 'Ronnie,' and 'Ginny,' were lying in their beds in the room they shared on the first floor, fully dressed under their covers, and waiting for everyone else in the house to go to sleep.
Ginny shifted in her bed. "It's been ten minutes since Mum went upstairs," she whispered.
Ronnie glanced at the clock on the wall, right above the cage where Ginny's pet rat Scabbers was sleeping. The hand had moved from BEDTIME to LONG PAST BEDTIME, and was slowly inching its way towards I MEAN IT, GIRLS, STOP TALKING AND GO TO SLEEP. "Give her ten more minutes to be on the safe side," she said. "She always takes some time going to sleep when Dad's not home."
"She sometimes takes a long time going to sleep then Dad is home too," said Ginny with a slight giggle. "You know, when they're -"
"Yes, I know, thank you!" Ronnie felt herself go pink. She knew her parents hadn't got seven children by holding hands, and anyone with such a keen interest in animals would soon be robbed of any illusions they might have had about where babies came from, but in the case of her parents she was perfectly happy not knowing the details.
Ginny cheerfully stuck out her tongue, but Ronnie ignored her and instead turned around to look at the small pile of letters on her bedside table.
It was all the letters she'd got this Summer, and on the top of the pile were the ones she'd got from Hermione and Neville.
Partly to signal to Ginny that any discussion about their parents and their, er, sleeping habits would be ignored, and partly to kill the ten minutes she had given herself, she picked one letter from the stack, rolled over on her back, folded it out and began reading. It wasn't too difficult making out Hermione's neat handwriting even in the relative darkness of the room:
Thank you for your letter (and for the Chocolate Frog! I hid it from my parents because they don't like me eating sweets in the middle of the week, but as long as I brush my teeth afterwards there's no danger!).
I hope you're still enjoying your holiday. I'm simultaneously enjoying it and being extremely frustrated by it. I love being back home with my parents, and you wouldn't believe how much I appreciate all the small Muggle things that I took for granted before. (Television, Ronnie! You've probably never seen it, and honestly I've never been much of one for it before, but I had no idea how much I would miss not being able to catch up on certain programs! I'm going to show you one day!)
At the same time, I miss Hogwarts, and I miss being able to use magic. I know it's against the rules to use magic outside school and in front of Muggles, but sometimes I wish I could do just a little in front of Mum and Dad. Just so, I don't know, they'd be able to see what I was learning. I can of course share my written notes or the Summer essays, but it's not like in primary school, when I could show them my school work and get their help and opinions. Do you ever get your parents' help with schoolwork, or maybe your brothers'?
That was a stupid question. You haven't even started on any of the Summer assignments, have you? Don't try to lie; I know you haven't.
What I miss most of all, however is you - you and the boys. Mum and Dad are great, but I can't talk to them the way I can to you. Have you heard from either Harry or Neville? I haven't heard anything from Harry, but Neville sent me a letter. Poor boy, he's come down with a cold and his Gran barely lets him leave his room. I sent him a letter telling him about various Muggle home remedies for the common cold, but I don't know if they'll work for him.
I'm really worried about Harry, though. He never seems to want to talk about it, but I don't think his Muggle relatives are treating him well. You'll let me know if you hear something, won't you?
Say hello to your family for me!
Ronnie read that paragraph about Harry again, and her stomach twisted a little. But ten minutes had not yet passed, so Ronnie grabbed another letter from the pile; this one written in Neville's slightly less tidy handwriting:
Hope you're well? Hope you're better than me, at least, because I've caught the worst cold I've ever had. And I discovered another drawback to being immune to potions: Pepper-Up Potion doesn't work at all, so now I have a sore throat, a stuffy nose and about a hundred coughing fits an hour.
Gran barely lets me get out of bed, but she does at least allow me to write in bed. I've been writing to quite a few people, and at least one of them should be of interest to Harry. I won't tell you who it is in case Harry wants to say it himself; I've written to him about it, so he should know.
If he even got the letter. I don't know. He promised to write, but he hasn't. Maybe the Muggles he lives with don't let him have letters? He hardly ever talks about them, but they don't sound like very nice people. Or maybe he's sick too? I hope he's all right.
Now I realise I'm just talking about myself and Harry in this letter. I'm thinking a lot about you too, and Hermione, of course. I'm getting a little tired, though, so I think I'm going to end this letter now. I'll write more later.
Your friend Neville.
Ronnie put the letter carefully down, once again reading the part about Harry and feeling her stomach twist a little more.
It was true that Harry never really went into detail about his Muggle life, but he hadn't exactly hidden that he didn't get along with his relatives. At first Ronnie had thought it was just the same kind of good-natured complaining that she herself indulged in when the subject of, say, Fred and George or Percy came up - but over the months, the comments and hints from Harry had added up.
What had they sent him to, for an entire Summer, and completely unprotected at that? July had come and gone, and Ronnie must have written at least a dozen letters to him, but none of them had received any answers.
It would have been easy to blame the family owl, Errol, who was old and confused and didn't always deliver the letters to the people he was supposed to, but even he had to have managed to get at least a couple of Ronnie's letters through. Something else had to be the matter. Ronnie had taken to watch the sky for long periods of time, hoping to see the familiar white form of Hedwig, flying towards the Burrow with letters from Harry... but no Hedwig ever showed.
And then, two days ago, shortly after Ronnie had sent what had to be her thirteenth letter to Harry, Dad (who after all worked at the Ministry for Magic) had come home from work and informed to everyone's surprise that Harry had got an official warning from the Ministry for using magic in front of Muggles.
In and of itself, this wasn't such a huge deal; according to Dad almost all Muggle-borns and kids who lived among Muggles ended up getting at least one such warning during one of the Summer holidays - but combined with the absolute silence from Harry otherwise it was unnerving. So Ronnie had decided that enough was enough. With Hermione in the Muggle world and Neville sick and bed-ridden, it had to be up to her to act.
She sent letters to them both, informing them of the situation and that she was going to get Harry, and after that had allied herself with Ginny to make plans. They already had Harry's Muggle address: Number Four Privet Drive, in Little Whinging, Surrey. Neither Ginny nor Ronnie had been to Surrey before, but they had been to London, several times, and Surrey was right next to London, wasn't it?
Ten minutes hadn't quite passed, but she didn't want to wait any longer. She threw her covers aside and sat up. She was dressed in a yellow tee-shirt and faded knee-length shorts; the perfect outfit to wear in bed when you have to get up without dressing. Placing her bare feet on the floor, she motioned for Ginny to get up as well. "Right," she said. "We're going. Get your socks and shoes."
Ginny lay still. Her face had gone red. "I'm not going," she murmured.
"The hell you're not!" said Ronnie, not managing to hide her surprise.
"Harry won't want me to come for him. He's - he's Harry Potter and I'm just a silly girl who squeaks and hides when he looks at me." Ginny pulled her covers over her head, hiding herself.
"Bloody hell, Ginny, we've been over this!" Ronnie groaned in exasperation. Ginny was usually a good person to have by your side in various adventures and misadventures, but when it came to a certain Boy Who Lived, she could be so.. silly. "Harry's not that incredible hero from the bedtime story. He's - he's just Harry! He's got messy hair and bad eyesight, he likes treacle tart, he named his owl after someone he read about in a book, he spent months thinking Quidditch was weird before he actually saw a game! He didn't know phoenixes are reborn from the ashes! He's got a dangerously good memory, but manages to be rubbish at History of Magic anyway -"
"But I kissed him! He'll remember that, and he'll think I'm stupid, and I'll die, I'll die!"
"Ginny." Ronnie fought to keep her voice calm. "Okay, he'll remember it, but he won't think you're stupid, and you won't die!" (Oops, so much for a calm voice.)
"You don't know what it's like!" came Ginny's voice from underneath the covers. "You've never been in love, unless we count all those animals of yours!"
"You're right, I haven't," said Ronnie, pulling the covers off her sister and throwing them to the floor. "And if this is how it makes you act, I don't ever want to! But Harry's a friend, and -" She paused. The memory of being Imperiused was lurking in the back of her head, but she repressed it. She didn't want to think about it. "I owe him a lot, all right? And if he's in trouble, I have to go and help him!"
Free of her covers, and dressed in her green tee-shirt and shorts, Ginny curled up into a little ball and hid her face.
"Fine, don't come then!" Ronnie sighed in exasperation - but then a thought struck her, and she had to suppress a smile. "I have to hand it to you, Ginny; I bet not many people can prove Professor Dumbledore wrong like you!"
Ginny uncovered her face and peeked up at her, confusion in her brown eyes. "What?"
"Well," said Ronnie, "after we'd faced You-Know-Who last Christmas, and Harry saved my life and all that, Dumbledore told me that love was the most powerful thing in the world. But you're living proof that love just makes you squeak and hide away when the guy you love needs your help."
Ginny sat up, the red color of her face darkening. "Shut up!"
"Well, do you call that power? Because I don't."
"Okay, fine!" Ginny snapped, sprung to her feet and placing her hands on her hips while looking up at Ronnie. "I'll do it! I'll bloody well come with you! Happy now?"
Ronnie let out a sigh of relief; she really hadn't wanted to do this alone. "Yep."
Silent as two Augureys on a hot and dry day in Summer, the girls sneaked down the stairs to the kitchen, careful not to tread on the creakiest steps, and past the fireplace and the owl perch, where the family owl Errol was going quite against his otherwise nocturnal nature by sleeping soundly, completely worn out after so many trips to Surrey with letters for Harry. He didn't so much as stir as the girls tip-toed past him and carefully opened the door that led out into the front yard.
It wasn't the first time the Weasley sisters had sneaked out of bed after everyone else had gone to sleep, but this time it wasn't about borrowing their brothers' broomsticks or getting up to mischief; this was serious.
The August night was pleasantly cool, and the landscape was silent in a way it never got during the day. Ronnie took a deep breath, partly because she liked the feel of the night air but mostly because she was steeling herself for what was to come, and followed by Ginny she hurried over across the yard and towards the garage.
"We're almost there!" said Ronnie loudly.
In the passenger's seat, Ginny awoke with a start. "Huh? Er, oh. What time is it?" She looked a little embarrassed that she had fallen asleep.
"No idea. I think we've been in the air for about two hours or something." Ronnie decided not to comment on her sister falling asleep - the poor girl was only eleven, after all, and it was long past midnight - and instead concentrated on the landscape outside. Clouds were drifting past them, and below them, lights from buildings and street-lamps spread out; marking that this was Little Whinging, Surrey, the town where Harry lived.
Of course, officially speaking, Ronnie wasn't anywhere near old enough to drive, but then officially speaking the Weasley family car wasn't supposed to be able to fly either.
Dad had bought it used; a cheap, rusty wreck of a 1963 Ford Anglia that he'd spent ages tinkering with, taking apart and putting together again, trying to figure out how it worked and how to make it run again. He loved Muggle contraptions of all kinds, especially vehicles and things that ran on eckletricity, and had a sizable collection of them in the shed that did triple duty as garage, chicken coop and workshop.
He'd enchanted a fair few of them too, placed spells on them to give them new and strange abilities - like for example turning the car into Britain's only flying car.
Strictly speaking, this was against the law; the Registry of Proscribed Charmable Objects was very clear that charmed or enchanted Muggle artefacts were liable to fall into Muggle hands and as such risk exposing magic and wizardkind to Muggles. But Dad had exploited a loophole in the law; if wasn't directly illegal to enchant Muggle artefacts, or own enchanted Muggle artefacts, only to use enchanted Muggle artefacts. A pretty fine line, to be sure, but since Dad himself was the head of the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office, he wasn't in much danger of being prosecuted by them.
At least not if certain children kept a low profile when they borrowed the car, only flew at night, kept above the clouds for the most part and made sure to use the Invisibility Booster when they had to get close to the ground.
"Better get out the map, Ginny," said Ronnie as she steered the car a little lower. "Harry lives in the suburbs, a street called Privet Drive."
It took Ginny a little while to find where they were on the map, and where to fly in order to reach Privet Drive, but after a bit of wavering back and forth she managed to point out the direction.
The streets and houses underneath them were quiet and peaceful; a few houses had lights on but mostly they were dark, the only lights coming from street-lamps and the occasional Muggle car driving through the night. The Ford Anglia soared above them all, silent and undetected, as Ronnie followed Ginny's directions.
"Er, I think this is Magnolia Crescent... or possibly Magnolia Road," said Ginny, peering down at the rows of houses gliding past underneath. "That means Privet Drive is in that direction... I think. Why d'you suppose they had to make all these houses and streets look so identical?!" she sighed. "It's impossible to tell where we are when everything looks alike!"
"Cheaper to build 'em that way, I expect," said Ronnie, who as the sixth of seven children knew all about not having much money.
"But it's so dull! I would have gone mad if I had to live in a place like this! Boring houses with boring gardens and yards, and boring cars parked outside..." Ginny cut herself off and gasped, staring out the window. "Ronnie, go back! Go back!"
"What? Did we pass it?"
"Yes, I think so - Ronnie, do Muggles usually have bars over their windows?"
"Er... not that I know. Why?"
"Because one house, and I think that was Number Four, has iron bars in front of one of their upstairs windows!"
"What?" Ronnie spun the wheel around and brought the car back to the house in question - and true enough, in front of one upstairs windows, around the back yard, iron bars had been fitted. Solid, forbidding-looking iron bars. She felt her stomach sink as she maneuvered the car in so that she could look inside. Hoping that she was wrong, hoping that she wouldn't see what she knew she would see...
Inside, in a small and messy room, filled up with all sorts of Muggle contraptions, most of which looked broken beyond repair, a familiar white owl was peering back at her from its too-small cage... and beside, on an untidy bed, a black-haired boy was lying, fully dressed and in a fitful sleep.
"Hedwig," said Ronnie. "And Harry! This is why we haven't seen any letters! They've been locked up."
Ginny fought to get beside Ronnie and look as well, growing red with anger as she saw the fitfully sleeping Harry. "We have to get him out of there!" she demanded.
"Damn right we do! Here, hold me steady, I'll see if I can knock on the window, get his attention -" Ronnie grunted and strained as she pushed herself halfway out the window and (with Ginny clinging to her so she wouldn't fall) stretched out and managed to grab the bars in front of the window with one hand, leaving the other free to squeeze in between the bars and knock.
At first, it didn't seem like Harry had heard. But then Hedwig, who seemed to have understood what Ronnie was trying to do, turned her head towards the boy and screeched several times. With the third screech, Harry opened his eyes.
For a few seconds, it didn't look like he knew where he was. Then, he must have heard the knocking on the window, because he looked straight at her, and his green eyes widened in surprise. He reached out to grab his glasses from his bedside table, put them on and blinked several times, as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"Hi, Harry!" said Ronnie, trying to smile.
Five seconds later, he was up by the window, pushing it up so they could talk through the bars. "Ronnie," he said. "Ronnie, how did you -? What the -?" He'd seen the flying car.
"Surprise!" said Ronnie. It was a silly thing to say, but it was the only thing that came to mind. She was starting to get tired, hanging halfway out the window too. "We're here to rescue you! Ginny, if you let go now, I'll hex your arse into next week!" she yelped when Ginny's hold on her loosened a bit.
"But what -" Harry still looked confused, but then grew concerned. "Ronnie, you're using magic!" He pointed to the flying car. "You can't - I've already got a warning from the Ministry for using magic in front of Muggles - they'll think it's me again -"
"We know about the warning," Ronnie grunted, trying to push herself back into the car. "Dad works for the Ministry, remember? Agh!" Helped by Ginny, she finally managed to get herself back into safety, and had to catch her breath before she continued: "Anyway, the car won't set off the Trace, we've used it lots of times in Muggle areas."
"The Trace!" said Ronnie, and was about to add 'you know' when she suddenly remembered that Harry had known nothing about the wizarding world when he grew up, and had had his first introduction to it by Hagrid, who may very well have forgotten to mention the Trace. "It's what they put on us to see if we do underage magic outside Hogwarts. Why'd you do that, anyway? What's been happening? I've written to you about thirteen times, and Hermione and Neville have written to you, and Dad came home and told us you'd got an official warning from the Ministry -"
"It's a long story." Harry sighed. "Look, I can't get out, and they won't let me out. Can you can you tell them at Hogwarts that the Dursleys have locked me up and won't let me come back? Maybe they can send someone."
"Bugger that!" said Ronnie. "We're getting you out of there, now!"
"But how? You can't use magic either!"
Ronnie had to think about it for a moment. This was one of the times when she wished Fred and George were here; they were clever and resourceful (and always had some joke items on them that probably wouldn't set off the Trace)...
"The rope," said Ginny suddenly. "We can tie one end to the car, and another end to the bars, and then pull them off!"
"That could actually work!" Ronnie beamed at her little sister. "You're a genius!"
It was the work of a few moments to find the rope, which was coiled up together under the passenger's seat (Dad insisted that all Muggles had rope in their cars in case the engine stopped running and they needed to be towed somewhere), and didn't take too long either to secure the rope to the car, and then toss one end to Harry and tell him to tie it around one of the bars.
"If the Dursleys wake up, I'm dead," Harry warned as he stepped back from the window.
"Not while I'm around," said Ronnie, who was starting to really hate these Dursleys. It seemed like everything she'd inferred from the small details Harry had given was true. "Stand back!" And with that, she stepped on the pedal. With a roar, the car shot up into the air, until a jolt and a crunching noise informed them that the bars had been yanked clean off the window by the sheer force.
Ronnie's heart pounded in her chest; so much noise, someone had to have heard it. But the seconds passed and Privet Drive was just as calm and peaceful as before.
"Right, Harry," she called softly. "I'll drive the car back to the window, and then you can get in."
"But my Hogwarts stuff - my wand, my trunk," said Harry. "They're locked up in the cupboard under the stairs."
"These Muggles of yours don't make it easy, do they," Ronnie sighed. "Hang on, then, I'm coming in."
Two minutes later, she had climbed in through the window, leaving Ginny in the driver's seat as the car hovered nicely outside. As soon as she set foot on Harry's floor, she threw her arms around him and gave him a big hug.
"Were you that worried about me?" said Harry, sounding oddly touched.
"Course I was, you arse!" Ronnie squeezed him a little tighter and then let go. "Looks like I was right to worry too! Have you been shut in here all Summer?"
"Nah, just the last three days," said Harry, as if this was nothing to mention. "There was a bit of trouble with a house-elf named Dobby - "
"What?" Ronnie couldn't believe her own ears.
"You don't know what a house-elf is?"
"I know what a house-elf is, but what was one doing in a Muggle house? They come with mansions and old wizard families, and - never mind," she cut herself off. "You can tell us all about it on the way. Hello, Hedwig!" she said, turning to the owl, which hooted joyfully in greeting. "First of all, let's get you out of that cage."
"It's locked," said Harry glumly. "Uncle Vernon has the key."
"Good thing that I don't need a key, then," said Ronnie, beginning to dig in the pockets of her shorts. She didn't usually have a whole lot in her pockets when wearing Muggle clothing, but... yes, there it was! She fished the hairpin out and held it up. "I've been picking locks since I was seven," she said proudly. "That's when Mum and Dad started locking the broom shed."
The lock to the birdcage was without question the easiest lock Ronnie had ever picked; a few strategic twists with the hairpin, and it clicked open. Probably whoever had made this lock hadn't bothered to make it very secure, figuring that a bird wouldn't be able to pick locks anyway.
Hedwig was out of the cage in no time, flapping her wings and landing on Ronnie's shoulder to gratefully nip her ear. It tickled more than it hurt, and Ronnie had to stifle a giggle.
"Thank goodness," said Harry. "She's been locked up all Summer. The Dursleys don't like owls, they've had enough of wizard mail after last year's avalanche of Hogwarts letters."
"So they kept her locked up in a tiny cage? Poor Hedwig!" Ronnie softly stroked Hedwig's feathers with a finger. "The sooner we get both of you out of here, the better."
"Can you pick the lock on the door too? And the cupboard?" Harry was starting to look excited.
"No problem!" Ronnie turned around, and Hedwig lifted up off her shoulder to land on the windowsill. "Start gathering all the stuff in this room that you might want to take, and I'll get right on it! Pick the lock, go downstairs, find the cupboard and pick that lock too! Easy as falling off a broomstick!"
"Okay, but watch out for the bottom stair. It creaks."
"Right," said Ronnie, though secretly she thought that if the noise of iron bars being ripped off a window hadn't woken the Dursleys, a little creaking probably wasn't going to do it.
But, though she felt she could rightfully pat herself on the back for dealing with unforeseen obstacles, Ronnie soon found herself facing another obstacle, one that upon further thought shouldn't have been so unforeseen: She couldn't lift Harry's trunk.
She could have kicked herself. Now that she thought about it, she remembered all too well how heavy the thing had been last year, when she had helped Harry get it onto the Hogwarts Express. That time it had taken the combined forces of herself, Harry, Fred and George to lift it the two steps up to the compartment. While Ronnie was pretty certain she was stronger now than she had been back then, the trunk was heavier too, and the staircase much longer.
Maybe if she got Harry and possibly Ginny's help - no, they wouldn't manage to get it up that long staircase, she was certain about that. Not without help, or magic. There was nothing for it; she'd have to unpack and carry the things and books up, a few items at a time. It'd take longer, but it was the only way.
She'd just picked the lock of Harry's trunk and lifted the lid, looking over all the various things and wondering which things she should get out first, when she heard footsteps silently coming down the stairs. Thinking it was Harry who came to see how she was getting on, she backed out of the cupboard... and found herself face-to-face with a boy she didn't know.
He was as tall as she was, maybe even a little taller, and about four times as wide, was wearing a blue-striped pyjamas, and had small piggish eyes that was currently wide open in total shock.
"Oh, bugger," said Ronnie. This had to be Harry's cousin - what was his name again? Had Harry even mentioned it?
"Who are you?" Harry's cousin demanded, taking a step back.
"Er," said Ronnie. The truth wouldn't do any good, she knew, but the only lie she could think of was: "I'm a house-elf, I'm here to do the washing-up, er, sorry, I thought this was the kitchen."
Harry's cousin narrowed his eyes. "You're one of those freaks, aren't you?" he said.
"Freaks?" Ronnie blinked in surprise. Of all the things she'd expected him to say, this was pretty low on the list.
"A girly freak!" Harry's cousin seemed to have got over his initial fright; maybe he didn't find girls threatening, or maybe he had just realized that he was bigger than her. "What are you doing here? We don't like freaks in this house!"
"Self-loathers, are you?!" The words just fell out of Ronnie's mouth without bothering to stop by her brain.
They were standing only inches apart now, glaring at one another. Harry's cousin was clenching his fists and raising them, apparently trying to look menacing. "Don't think I'll be nice to you just 'cause you're a girl," he said.
"Bring it on," said Ronnie, clenching her fists as well.
And Harry's cousin did - but not in the way she'd expected. With an evil smile he straightened himself and yelled at the top of his voice: "DAD! MUM! HARRY'S GOT A GIRL IN THE HOUSE!"
Harry appeared on the top of the stairs, a terrified expression on his face. "Dudley!" he cried (oh, so that was the cousin's name then), but this was all he had time to say before a loud and unintelligible exclamation interrupted everything.
A very fat man with a mustache and a skinny woman with a long neck appeared next to Harry, both wearing hastily-put-on dressing gowns and looking like they had just sprang out of bed.
"Uncle Vernon - Aunt Petunia -" Harry took a step back. "Look, this is just a -"
"What are you doing outside your room, boy? You're supposed to be locked up -" said the man, who was apparently 'Uncle Vernon,' and looked like he was about to grab Harry - but then he changed his mind and instead came charging down the stairs. "Dudley! Get away from her!" he yelled. "Don't you dare do anything to my son!"
Despite his vast bulk, he came at them so fast that both Dudley and Ronnie had to throw themselves aside to avoid a collision. Dudley stumbled into the cupboard, while Ronnie slid a few feet down the hallway, finding herself being towered over by the largest and angriest Muggle man she'd ever seen.
"Leave her alone!" Harry was speeding down the stairs as well. "She's my friend!"
"Friend?!" Uncle Vernon staggered and turned purple. "I knew you were depraved, boy, but having a girl spend the night - under my roof!"
"It's not like that!" Harry began, but his protest fell on deaf ears.
"I don't know what sort of perversions you people get up to at that school of yours, but I won't have it in my house, you hear me?!"
"You - you people are barking mad!" said Ronnie, feeling herself turn pink again. These Muggles were worse than she'd imagined, and she was completely losing control of the situation. "We're twelve!"
"Leave my sister alone!" It was Ginny, who had apparently heard the commotion and was now storming out of Harry's room with a furious expression on her face. She rushed past Aunt Petunia, shoving her as she leaped down the stairs to join Harry and Ronnie.
"Another one?!" Recovering her balance Aunt Petunia looked white. "How many girls do you have in your room?" she snapped at Harry.
But nobody answered her, because now Ginny was running up to stand defiantly in between Harry and Uncle Vernon. She seemed even smaller than usual next to the enormous Muggle man, but she placed her hands on her hips and looked so fierce that he actually pulled back for a moment. "We're here to fetch Harry," she said. "And take him somewhere where he doesn't have to be locked up!"
There was a long pause as Harry, Weasley sisters and Dursleys regarded each other.
Finally, Uncle Vernon spoke again, and turned to Petunia. "These people send children out in the middle of the night to break into the homes of respectable, law-abiding citizens. This is the thanks we get for having looked after one of their freaks for more than ten years!"
"That's Harry Potter you're talking about!" Ginny fumed. "Do you have any idea who he is - what he means to everyone in our world?!"
Uncle Vernon looked at her. The purple colour of his face was fading, and his voice was much calmer than before, but there was no warmth in it: "So why doesn't 'everyone in your world' take care of him? Why send him to us?! When his parents went and got themselves blown up, the precious people of your world didn't even contact us and ask if we wanted to take him! No, they just left him on the doorstep, with a message that we had to take him in! Had to, they said - not a thought as to whether we could afford him or had room for him!"
Ronnie's stomach twisted. She herself came from a large family with little money, but though Mum would occasionally sigh over lack of money, or lose her temper with her children, there'd never been any question that they were all wanted. Though she hadn't seen all of Number Four Privet Drive, but she would definitely classify it as 'posh.' She couldn't believe that the Dursleys had had too little room or too little money for two children, and hearing Vernon Dursley talk like this made her feel strangely queasy.
"There are many people who'd just have dumped him off in an orphanage and be rid of him!" Uncle Vernon continued. "But we of course had to be too kind-hearted for our own good! We took him in, and for ten years we've fed him, clothed him, made sure he had a roof over his head! And do we get any thanks? Do we get anything other than problems and freakish behaviour from him?!"
"I never asked to be put here either," said Harry.
"YOU CAN SHUT YOUR UNGRATEFUL MOUTH!" Uncle Vernon suddenly roared, his face going purple again. "We let you traipse all the way to a freak school, and what's the result? Filling the house with - with girls just as freaky as you are!"
Dudley, who had remained halfway in the cupboard and watching the events unfold, piped up: "Bet he's starting a harem! Like that Sultan on TV! Soon the house'll be full of girls who walk around in their knickers -"
"What?! Harem? Why would you even say that?" Harry yelped at his cousin, though Dudley's smile told Ronnie better than words that he'd only said it to get Harry into more trouble.
And it looked like it worked too, because it looked like his parents completely believed him. Uncle Vernon began yelling, louder than before: "SO THAT'S YOUR PLAN, IS IT, BOY?! CORRUPTING DUDLEY, DRAGGING HOME A BUNCH OF HALF-NAKED -!" He stopped himself, and then grabbed both Ronnie and Ginny by the shoulders. "You two are leaving! Now!" he demanded, pushing them towards the entrance door. "And you can go straight to that Headmaster of yours and tell him that the boy is never coming back!"
And that was when Ronnie kicked him in the groin.
She hadn't actually planned on doing it. She'd often enough threaten to kick the balls of any male who angered her, but she had never actually done it to anyone before now - and hadn't been completely prepared for the reaction; the man's eyes bulged out and he made a half-choked sound that sounded like "korrwumhphh" before he doubled over in pain and fell down.
Dudley and Aunt Petunia screamed and rushed towards him, momentarily taking their eyes off Harry and the Weasley sisters. Ronnie and Ginny seized the opportunity to scatter, with Ronnie rushing over to Harry, who was standing there in total shock.
"C'mon," she panted, grabbing his hand. "We're leaving! Ginny, run!"
They stormed upstairs and into Harry's room, where Hedwig flapped her wings and screeched excitedly against them from the window. About twenty seconds later, Ginny came storming through the door as well, slamming it behind her. "Hurry up!" she panted. "They're coming!"
Ronnie didn't miss a beat. Racing over to the window, she saw to her relief that the Ford Anglia was still hovering just outside. "Get in the car!" she commanded. "Hedwig -"
"Let her fly beside us," said Harry. "She hasn't stretched her wings in ages! Er, you girls get in front, I'll get in the back!"
Hedwig hooted and nipped his finger affectionately, and seemed to agree with this plan before taking to her wings and flying out the window, where she perched on the roof of the car and waited for them.
The Weasley sisters had just got into their places, Ronnie behind the wheel and Ginny in the passenger's seat, and Harry was on the windowsill and about to climb into the car, when the door to the bedroom was torn open, and all three Dursleys stormed in.
"STOP THERE! YOU'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE WITH THOSE HUSSIES!" Uncle Vernon screamed, sounding like he'd completely lost his mind. Harry was halfway in the car already, but Uncle Vernon had jumped forth with a roar and - Ronnie saw in the side mirror - managed to grab Harry's leg.
Ginny shrieked - but then, like a white streak of lightning, Hedwig had attacked Uncle Vernon, flying straight at his face and making him let go of Harry.
"Effing - owl!" He tried to hit at her, but Hedwig was too fast for him, and sailed elegantly away and into the night while Harry scrambled all the way into the car, and Ronnie stepped on the gas so the car took off and flew away.
"Come back!" they heard Uncle Vernon's voice grow fainter behind them as they sped up. "I mean it, Potter! If you leave now, we're DONE with you! As long as I live, you'll never set foot in this house again!"
"And good riddance," said Ronnie firmly, speeding up and flying higher, eager to put as much distance between them and Privet Drive as possible.
"I'm going to buy Hedwig a ton of owl treats." Harry sat up in the back seat - a little out of breath, but unhurt. "Of course, it helps that it was Uncle Vernon, she hates him... he was the one who made her sit in that cage all Summer..." Then, his green eyes filled with worry. "I think he meant what he said. I won't be able to go back there."
"Good!" said Ronnie. "I knew your family was horrible, Harry, but not that they were this bad. We'll manage somehow, you stay at Hogwarts for most of the year anyway - and in the Summer you can live with us; Mum and Dad already love you, I'm sure they'll say yes, you can have Bill's old room..."
"But my Hogwarts things." said Harry. "My wand and my Invisibility Cloak. Everything's still back with the Dursleys. I can probably replace most of it, but my wand... and the Invisibility Cloak..."
"Oh." Ronnie looked back at the vanishing Privet Drive. She didn't think it's do much good to turn around now; without magic there wasn't much they could do to retrieve Harry's things. Of course, Harry could get a new wand, and new Hogwarts things, he did have the money for it, but the Cloak was special. It had belonged to his father; just about the only keepsake Harry had after him. Nothing for it, then, they had to go back straight away, no way she was leaving it with those Muggles -
Ginny grinned triumphantly. And then, from wherever she had hidden it, she pulled out a familiar-looking bundle of silvery-gray cloth. It shone mysteriously in the moonlight as she wordlessly handed it to Harry - along with, another surprise; a long thin wand made of holly.
Harry's face lit up, his eyes widening in pleasant surprise and shock behind his glasses. "You - you got them! How -?"
"You clever little minx!" Ronnie exclaimed, feeling an immense sense of pride in her sister. "You grabbed them from Harry's trunk when we ran upstairs!"
Ginny nodded. "Only had time to grab those two things, but I thought they were the most important..." She slowly turned red as Harry stared at her.
"You're a marvel!" said Harry, and looked like he meant it, as he clutched his two most prized possessions.
This, however, was too much for Ginny. "Squeak!" she said, and curled up in her seat, hiding herself from him and blushing more fiercely than ever before.
Harry looked confused, but Ronnie just sighed. "Not again. And she's been doing so well too."
TO BE CONTINUED...
Author's Note: And that's the start of Weasley Girl: Secrets of the Past! There'll be adventure, excitement, maybe a little horror, and more deviations from canon!
This first chapter is actually one of the reasons for the switching of POV from Harry to Ronnie; I knew that Ronnie, like canon Ron, would get worried about Harry and stage a rescue, but that she'd ally herself with Ginny rather than Fred and George - and since Harry's Summer with the Dursleys would play out exactly like in canon, Dobby and all, it was much more interesting to look at the scene from Ronnie's viewpoint. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to write the Weasley sisters as a team.
Oh, and yes: Dudley's comment about a harem is a slight reference to all those Harry/Harem fics out there.