A/N: Many thanks to my beta
Zsenya for her attention to detail, and to the reviewers of my past stories,
for all your encouragement.
It was shaping up to be a glorious summer day. Clear
and hot, but not too stifling. Especially in the shade, which was where Arthur
Weasley found his two youngest children. They were sprawled on the ground next
to their brooms, red-cheeked and sweaty. Perhaps from practicing Quidditch, or
perhaps from the laughter that had them rolling around in the grass. He watched
for a moment before interrupting, noticing how tall Ron was getting and that
Ginny’s freckled face was leaner, showing almost no sign of baby fat.
“What’s all this?”
he finally asked, with a grin. It took a full thirty seconds before either Ron
or Ginny was able to respond.
“We were just
talking about that bat-bogey hex Ginny hit Malfoy with,” panted Ron. “Shoulda
seen it, Dad, it was brilliant.”
Ginny beamed and
Arthur tried to sound stern. “Hexing your classmates is not something to be
proud of. You are both very lucky that you didn’t get punished for dueling.” He
frowned a bit. “If your mother and I hadn’t been so glad that you came out of
“But Dad,” cried
Ginny, “I had to! Malfoy was going to hex Ron while his back was turned.” Her
face screwed up with anger at the memory. “Filthy coward,” she added.
It was sweet, that
anger for her brother, it made Arthur want to smile in spite of himself.
“Ahhh,” he sighed, suppressing his grin, “My little girl is all grown up and
defending her brother’s honor. It seems like just yesterday you were chasing
gnomes around the garden in your nappies.”
Ron let out a
snort and Ginny glared at him. “I don’t know what you’re laughing about. You
were out there too, without a stitch of clothing on at all!”
and Ron flushed. “That’s not true!”
“It is. Mum told
They both turned
to their father. Arthur shook his head at Ron. “I’m afraid it is quite true.
Your mother and I couldn’t get you to keep anything on for a while there.
Funny, really, none of your brothers did that.” Ginny laughed so hard she began
to choke. Arthur patted her on the back. “Perhaps you should go inside and get
something to drink.” Ginny nodded and headed off towards the house, giggling
“Oi! Bring us out
some pumpkin juice while you’re at it,” shouted Ron.
“You’ve got legs,
haven’t you?” she retorted, turning around to stick out her tongue at him.
“Now Ginny, you
wouldn’t make your tired old dad get up and go all the way to the kitchen for a
drink, would you?” Arthur shot a conspiratorial look at Ron.
dramatically. “Fine. You’ll get your pumpkin juice.” She turned back towards
the door. “Helpless, the lot of you,” she mumbled as she left.
Father and son
watched Ginny go inside, then Arthur settled himself down on the grass. He
stretched out on the ground, hands behind his head, and breathed in the soft
summer scents. Beside him, Ron stared at the door that Ginny had disappeared
through and plucked idly at the grass.
“She’s getting to
sound a lot like your mum.” Arthur smiled up at the sky.
me!” Ron flopped down beside him. “You should see her get hacked off. I doubt
there’s anyone at Hogwarts that would cross her if they could help it. Well,
except for the Slytherins, but they deserve what they get.”
his brow. “I hope you don’t encourage her, Ron. I am afraid that growing up
with you boys has taught her to be too quick to cast a hex. Ginny has got to
learn not to settle things with a wand.”
“It was one time,
Dad. Well, mostly just that one time, and it isn’t like we’re looking for a
fight. Malfoy starts it every time. We can’t just let him insult our family!”
Arthur sighed. “Do
you value Draco Malfoy’s opinion?”
“No way! He’s a
snarky little ferret.”
“So his insults
don’t mean anything at all, do they?”
“No,” agreed Ron,
sullenly. “But, why shouldn’t we defend ourselves? You went after Lucius Malfoy
in Flourish and Blotts that day and he barely even-”
“And that was a
mistake, Ron. I should never have done it.” There was the slightest of awkward
pauses. They both knew that Arthur was referring to much more than the
aren’t going to stop being gits because we ask them nicely.”
He turned to look
at his youngest boy. Ron was less and less a boy every day, Arthur knew that,
and yet he wished that he could hold off the world a little longer. Things were
changing too fast. He levered himself up on one elbow said quietly. “There is a
lot more than simple house rivalry involved now, I think you know that. What
happens in the corridors can have consequences. You can’t provoke the son of a
Death Eater and not expect that.”
Ron opened his
mouth, then closed it. He opened it again and said lamely, “But Lucius Malfoy
is in Azkaban.”
Arthur looked down
at the grass for a moment. Molly would definitely not like the direction that
this conversation was going. But, on the other hand, Ron was hard-headed by
nature and if he needed to hear the harsh reality to see sense then it was for
the best. He sat up and looked hard at his son. “How long do you think he will
stay there, Ron? The Dementors are gone. It is only a matter of time before the
Death Eaters escape, and they won’t have anything to lose now that everyone
knows who they are.”
Arthur could see the
redness creeping up Ron’s neck. “They won’t lay a finger on Ginny,” he said
Arthur’s usually kind
voice took on a hard tone. “No. They won’t get near any one of you if I have
anything to say about it.” Ron stared at his father for a moment, and then
looked away. He lay back on the grass, facing the house. The silence stretched
out for a long minute.
“They were going to
torture her,” Ron said quietly. “That LeStrange woman told Lucius Malfoy,
‘Torture the little girl, and let him watch.’ Harry, I mean.” His voice cracked
a bit, “They thought it would make him give up the prophecy.”
Arthur stiffened; this
was a detail no one had told him. His right hand tightened convulsively on the
grass. “What?” Arthur could feel the tension spreading through his body.
Ron didn’t seem to hear
him. “Ginny was brave, she didn’t cry or anything, but I was so scared. If
Harry hadn’t…they could have…” He couldn’t bring himself to finish the thought.
Arthur’s mind was
racing. He had known that the children had faced off with Death Eaters in the
Department of Mysteries. Madam Pomfrey had been frank about their injuries, he
understood that it had not been play fighting, but somehow this revelation tore
through him with tremendous force. That they would use Ginny, just hurt her as
a means to an end. That they would scar his baby girl without a thought. Again.
“Animals,” he bit out savagely.
Ron’s face was red with
anger, but he said nothing. The two sat in tense silence, then Ron spat out,
“Azkaban is too good for Lucius Malfoy.” Arthur’s head snapped up. “I wish he
Arthur stared at his
son, and for the first time in his life, he did not recognize one of his
children. The features were the same as they always were, the freckles, the shock
of red hair, but the expression made him cold inside. The eyes, his son’s eyes,
were dark with something unspeakable. “No,” he whispered, and the again, more
“He bloody well
“Don’t say that.”
“He tried to kill us! You
don’t get it Dad, in the Department of Mysteries-”
“I understand Ron,
believe me, I do, but it isn’t for you to judge-”
“Don’t you care?” Ron
was nearly purple with emotion. “He was going to torture her! And, and, he gave
her that thing! You Know Who was inside Ginny’s head for a whole year!
He hurt her and none of us knew it. None of us helped her. She was just a kid.
Lucius Malfoy did that!”
Arthur was stunned into
silence. For Ron to mention the diary- they never spoke of it. Ginny seemed
well enough when she came home that summer and there had been a tacit agreement
not to bring up anything that might cause her to be upset. He had always
wondered how much she kept from him, his fiercely independent little girl. Now
he asked himself if Ginny didn’t confide in Ron, perhaps she ran to him after
all the nightmares there must have been. Not for the first time his heart ached
at how profoundly he had failed his only daughter.
“Are you even listening
to me?” Ron was on his feet now.
“Yes!” said Arthur
quickly, getting to his feet too, and shaking away his guilt. There were more
important things at the moment. “Yes, I am listening to you. But, Ron, are you
listening to yourself? You want Lucius Malfoy dead? Do you have any idea what
“He’s a Death Eater!”
“He’s a man! Yes, he’s
a terrible person. He’s a ruthless, vicious person, he has hurt my children,
and I don’t have words to express my loathing for him. Certainly I want him
stopped and I would love to see him properly punished, but I don’t want him
dead. He is fighting for the way of life he believes in. It’s sick, and it’s
wrong, but I have to admit it isn’t that much different from what I am doing-”
Ron spluttered incoherently but Arthur pushed on, grabbing his son’s arm and pulling
him around so that they were face to face. “He’s a man, a living breathing
wizard. He has a family, a wife and a son. Who are you to take him away from
Ron glared at his
father, breathing heavily. Arthur looked into his eyes, watching, hoping for
some sign that his son understood. The breath hitched in Ron’s chest, and
suddenly the tension seemed to melt from his body. He turned his face away to
hide the tears in his eyes but Arthur pulled him close in a powerful hug. “Oh
Ron,” he whispered into his ear, “If we want them dead, we’re no different than
they are. You’re a better man than that. I know you are.”
“I’m sorry,” Ron sobbed
quietly into his shoulder.
Arthur nodded, and the
slightest of smiles appeared on his lips as he ran his hand over Ron’s hair. It
had been a long time since they had been in this position. Ron was getting so
tall and their bodies fit together awkwardly, but Arthur did not let go. The
stranger of before was gone, it was his son again in his arms and he wanted to
savor the moment. Ron was so full of passion, but he had a good heart. He
would be alright. They held on to each other until they heard the kitchen door
“Sorry it took so
long,” Ginny called, “Mum made me put up the laundry.” She came through the door,
three glasses of pumpkin juice held together in her hands. “I trust you didn’t
die of thirst in the meantime.”
Arthur took a breath
and adjusted his robes as Ron swiped at his eyes. Ginny approached and looked
at them quizzically. “Is everything okay?”
Arthur replied, accepting a glass and giving his daughter a kiss on the cheek.
Ron also took a glass, trying his best to avoid Ginny’s gaze.
“Are you sure?” Ginny
“Quite,” said Arthur
with a smile. “Now then, Ginny,” he put a hand on her shoulder, “Your mother’s
been telling me something about a boyfriend?”
Ginny choked on her
juice and blushed scarlet.
“Are you sure you’re
okay, Gin? You seem a bit flushed,” said Ron, catching on and throwing an
amused look at his father when Ginny turned away.
“I, er,” stuttered
Ginny, wiping juice off her chin, “You know, I think maybe I’ve been out in the
heat too long. I’d better get inside before I get sick. Cool off, you know?”
She began to back towards the house.
Arthur chuckled. “Yes,
perhaps you should. Wouldn’t want to worry Dean Thomas.” At the sound of Dean’s
name, Ginny tripped over her feet and fell to the ground, spilling juice down
her front with a shriek.
Ron let out a howl
of laughter, and Arthur couldn’t help but join him. Ginny sat up with a scowl,
but before long she was laughing too. They laughed together in the sunshine
until Molly came and shoed them inside, muttering about sun-blocking charms and
heat stroke. As he followed Ron and Ginny into the kitchen, Arthur hummed a
snippet of something he’d heard on the Wireless that morning. It was a comfort
to know that, with all the darkness around them, his family was still normal.
Ron and Ginny would have to grow up sooner than he would have liked, but not
just now. There would be some time together yet.