“I assure you Ginny, Ron had to do it too,” George said,
sounding very much like a used car salesman ready to drop a lemon on an
“In fact, we’ve all done it; its practically
tradition!” Added Fred dutifully, suppressing a snigger that was threatening to
crop up and ruin the night’s fun.
Ginny looked her older brothers up and down, searching
for any signs of untruthfulness. It was pointless. Fred and George were
notorious for their dishonesty and epic practical jokes, and had become so
skilled in trouble-making that it would be impossible for her to tell whether
or not they were lying. Unless…
She hopped of the red armchair in an avalanche of
parchment, and made her way toward the corner where Ron sat in a hushed
conversation with Harry and Hermione. Fred and George exchanged the same
fearful, wide-eyed look and followed their sister whom they had just
“Ron!” whispered Ginny, tugging on her brother’s
sleeve. “Ron, I really need to
talk to—” The fourteen-year-old turned around with all the ferocity of a raging
bull. Through the hole created by Ron’s shift in position, Ginny could see the
Golden Egg Harry had captured in the first task, a small mountain of ancient
looking spell books, and a doodle of what appeared to be a stick-figure Harry
complete with scar being skewered by an angry looking merperson.
“Well-er-” Ginny began still gazing at the contents of
the table. Ron, following his sister’s gaze, leaned so that his shoulder was
now delicately touching Hermione’s, closing the gap. Ginny cleared her throat.
“Is it true-” Fred and George shifted nervously behind her. She gave them a
disapproving look and leaned closer to Ron, whispering. “Is it true that when a
Weasley reaches third year she has to go into the Forbidden Forrest?”
“Why of all the rubbish I’ve ever-” He looked
reproachfully at his older brothers, both of whom mouthed the same word: please. After a moment’s pause, Ron had
considered the situation. “Of all the rubbish I’ve ever heard! Of course we go
into the Forest! It’s- it’s practically tradition!”
Behind Ginny the twins erupted into a fit of silent giggles. Encouraged, Ron
shot Harry and Hermione a look of distrust, and whispered urgently to Ginny.
“Look, I can see why you would hesitate. I mean hearing it from Fred and
George and all, but this is the real deal. I was supposed to tell you, but I’ve
gotten so caught up with Harry’s Triwizard thing that I just haven’t had the
time. They must have thought I’d forgotten, but I’d never do that to you,
“Do what to
me?” Ginny asked, a note of fear-induced tension in her voice.
“Well, when we say tradition, we mean it. This isn’t
some thing Fred and George thought up. Dad’s done it. I mean it goes all the
way back to our Great-great-great-great Granddad or something. It wards off
some kind of curse placed on us ages ago. See if even one Weasley fails this
test of bravery, the whole family will-“ He stopped at a loss for words. “Well,
it’s so awful I can’t bear to tell you even.” Ginny gasped, her eyes wide, and
whirled around to where Fred and George had assumed an unconvincing stance of
“I’ll do it,” she croaked; and, tripping on her
robes, she ran towards the twins and squeezed them tightly round the middle.
“I’m sorry I doubted you two,” she continued, a tear now rolling down her
cheek. “I’ll go. Tonight.”
It had taken
the better part of fifteen minutes for Ginny to travel from the Gryffindor
common room to the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Twice she had heard
footsteps, but there had been no sign of Filch, or of anyone else for that
“Lumos,” she whispered to her wand, and
immediately a thin jet of light illuminated the dense mass of trees ahead of
her. Somewhere to her left a loud bang erupted, and, judging by the small fire
now burning, Hagrid’s Blast-Ended Skrewts were very awake. Unconsciously, she
moved stepped backward, away from the Skrewts, past the border trees and into
It was like
being in a separate world. With only the pinprick of light issuing from the
tip of her wand, the dark of the wood loomed close, embracing her, and causing
an involuntary shiver to claim her body. Ginny took a deep breath. In and out
was the plan. Fred had made it clear that all she had to do was burn her
initials into an inner tree so to appease the curse, and book it back to the
castle. That would be easy enough.
The sound of
a large twig snapping in two froze the thirteen-year-old in her tracks. “Nox,” she whispered breathlessly and the
wand’s light faded leaving her in total darkness. She stood excruciatingly
still for what seemed like hours, but there was no sound except for the ramped
beating of her heart which sounded so loud in her ears that she wondered why
Hagrid wasn’t up out of his bed searching for the nutter with a kettle drum.
deciding it was safe to continue, her heartbeat had slowed from a near buzz
back to normal, Ginny felt for the nearest tree. She held the tip of her wand
to the rough bark, but as the first few sparks emitted contacted the tree, she
was enveloped in a hail of twigs, which proceeded to bite her mercilessly. She
had forgotten about the tree-guardians: Bowtruckles.
Ginny fell to
the ground, furiously swatting at the twig-like insects, and uttering curses
under her breath.
She had been
making too much noise. Something, or maybe a couple of something’s, was
approaching from somewhere behind her. Still flailing one arm at the mad
Bowtruckles, she cast the other, wand gripped tightly in fist, over her
She heard an
oddly familiar yelp. Beating off the last of the Bowtruckles, she turned to
see Fred desperately clutching to a tree as his feet danced uncontrollably
while George looked on with a look of surprise mingled with amusement.
“Well, it was a pretty good trick, sending me out
there,” Ginny admitted as she wrapped her bleeding hand with a bandage.
legs were still shaking feebly from Ginny’s hex, smiled.
couldn’t have done it without Ron.”
George grinned. “Who knew Ickle-Ronnie had such a nasty streak in him?”
“Maybe he’ll do us proud
after all, eh? Of course, this one shining moment won’t exempt him from a
couple of Canary Crèmes in his breakfast. What do you say, Gin?”
Ginny just smiled. Fred
and George had better learn to watch their backs, she thought. That hex wasn’t half bad, and I’ve got my own store
of Canary Crèmes I nicked from them last summer…