The Sugar Quill
Author: IsabelA113 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Father and Son  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

It was shaping up to be a rather glorious summer day

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 everything alright…”


“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!”


Arthur chuckled and Ron flushed. “That’s not true!”


“It is. Mum told me!”


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 and coughing.


“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.


Ginny sighed 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.


“You’re telling 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.”


Arthur furrowed 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 fistfight.


“The Slytherins 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 tightly.


            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 were dead.”


            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 forcefully, “No.”


            “He bloody well deserves it.”


            “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 that means?”


            “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 them?”


            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 open.


            “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?”


            “Everything’s fine,” 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 looked doubtful.


            “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. 

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