The Sugar Quill
Author: St. Margarets (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Magic Within, Magic Without  Chapter: Charpter Two: Into The Forest
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A/N Thanks to Jo Wickaninnish, Sherry and Julu for beta reading. Thanks to all of you for your reviews of chapter one. I hope this story will continue to satisfy. You will notice that I have devised quite the history for Ginny and the Weasley family. While not canon, I tried to stay within the realm of English history and legend as well as my understanding of JKR's magic.

Chapter Two: Into the Forest

Ginny stood in the middle of the room and assessed her situation. It was almost two in the morning after a harrowing day. She was in the tiny house of a distant relative and there was nowhere for her to sleep except for the bed in front of her - the bed with Harry in it.

Sighing, she sidled around to the empty side of the bed, looking longingly at the fluffy white pillow and the crisp sheets. She had to crouch since the sloping ceiling allowed only a narrow passage between bed and wall. Scuttling sideways, trying not to wake Harry, she slid in between the covers. "Nox," she whispered, putting her wand under her pillow.

She took a deep, relaxing breath and drowsily thought how glad she was that Harry was a quiet sleeper . . . when something heavy landed on her chest. Startled, her first thought was some horrible creature, like a heavy snake, had dropped on her. But then snakes didn't have bones . . . or fingers. It was Harry's arm, she realized. He had shifted in his sleep so that he was lying on his back, with his arms flung out on either side.

Gently, so as not to wake him, she picked up the heavy, relaxed arm by the wrist and placed it at his side. The steady pattern of his breathing never changed. Ginny curled on her side, pushing the soft pillow under her cheek. She was almost asleep again when the arm came back. This time, not so gently, she shrugged it off her shoulder. Thinking that was the end of it, she burrowed once again into the pillow. Ten minutes later, the arm thumped her in the ear.

That was the last straw. She flung the arm away, sat up and peered through the darkness at her nemesis. She was never going to sleep as long as this bed hog only gave her six inches of mattress. So she put one hand on his shoulder and one hand on his hip and pushed. Something must have gotten through his deep sleep because he snorted and rolled toward the other side of the bed. Exhaling a sigh of relief, Ginny settled on her back and tried to catch her breath after the exertion of moving Harry's dead weight. She was just drifting off, when he suddenly dropped back on to his back and flopped his leaden arm on top of her.

Ginny reached under her pillow for her wand. She was going to hex him: starting with the Full Body-Bind and finishing with the Bat-Bogey Hex. After the revelations and the dangers of the day, she never dreamed the worst horror would be the Arm That Wouldn't Sleep. Then he mumbled something. She couldn't see him, but the sound was . . . sad. She put her wand down. It wasn't Harry's fault that his arm didn't know bed etiquette.

This time she decided to lie on her back, close to him, and trap that arm between their two sides. It can't go anywhere now, she thought with satisfaction before sleep overtook her.

Sometime later, she heard rain pattering and then she heard Harry's voice directing the window to close. She snuggled into her pillow, feeling safe and contented . . .

When Ginny opened her eyes, the first thing she noticed was that the arm was gone, along with its owner. Wondering where Harry was, she sat up to see that the morning light was the watery gray of a cloudy, drizzly day. The room was dim since there was only one window, and it was at the head of the bed. Looking over the headboard, she could see the view out of the window: there was the kitchen garden below and further in the distance, the rolling fields and pastures that made up Hathaway Estate. Even on a gloomy day, it was a beautiful sight.

Ginny thought how nice it would be to have a lie-in on such a dark morning, but she knew that she'd never go back to sleep, now that she started wondering about her family and how long she was to stay with Aunt Martha.

She was untangling herself from the too-long nightgown when Harry entered. He had donned the same clothes from yesterday and his hair was more untidy than usual. Without his glasses he had the tousled, sleepy look of a small child, which almost made Ginny forgive him for being the worst possible bed hog. Almost.

"Did I wake you?" He stopped in his tracks at seeing her awake. "I just had to use the loo," he mumbled.

"No, you didn't wake me," Ginny said, feeling at a disadvantage wearing Aunt Martha's nightgown. She decided the best defense was a good offense. "But the Arm did."

He stared myopically at her. "Arm? What was it? Did something follow us here?"

"Yes - it did - your arm came along on the broom. And then it tormented me all night."

"Ginny," he said, hunching to shift around the bed to retrieve his glasses from the side table. "I didn't sleep very well last night, so none of this is making much sense."

"You didn't sleep well?" she fumed. "You hogged the entire bed!"

He sat on the side of the bed and put his glasses on. "No, I didn't." He looked over his shoulder at her. "You were practically sleeping on top of me."

She was flabbergasted that he wouldn't own up to his part in her sleepless night. "Short of hexing you in your sleep, which wouldn't have been very sporting- " She broke off because he was rolling his eyes. "What?"

"It wasn't easy to sleep with a face full of hair, you know."

"Face full of -" She felt inexplicably hurt. "This is the second time in as many days you've complained about my hair. Maybe I should just cut it off."

His mouth dropped open. "Don't cut your hair. I like to look at your hair, not eat it."

The absurdity of that statement, of their entire predicament, made her laugh. "It's perfectly edible since I used Strawberry Fields Shampoo on it last night."

"Is that what that smell was?" he asked, wrinkling his nose. "It reminded me of Potions class - no wonder I had nightmares."

"Potions class! What is wrong with you? It smells like flowers - because it said on the label they used all natural ingredients."

"All natural cauldron scrapings."

"You!" She whacked him with her pillow. "Why don't you try it on your hair? You're looking a bit scruffy."

He grabbed the pillow from her and held it in front of him. "I suppose I have no hope of going back to sleep?"

"You suppose right."

He sighed and got up. "Lotty already washed our clothes. Yours are out in the corridor in the basket."

When Ginny went to retrieve her clothes, she could hear the sunflower quizzing Harry about where he had sprung. That made her smile - that and the memory of Harry saying he liked to look at her hair. Ginny never thought there was much about her worth looking at - least of all her hair.

She dressed quickly, marveling that Lotty had been able to take the bloodstains out of her jeans. By the time she had the bed made, Harry was back, fully dressed, his hair still damp from the shower. "Look," he said showing her the Strawberry Fields label. "Look at the list of ingredients."

Ginny took the bottle and read, "Ingredients: aloe, rosemary, daisy juice, and cauldron scrapings." She giggled. "You changed that!"

"Nah."

"If cauldron scrapings can do all this for my hair like the label says, then what's Snape's excuse?"

Harry laughed. "He has to stop eating them and put them in his hair instead."

"Maybe that's his problem," Ginny said, "indigestion."

*

They found Aunt Martha at the breakfast table, presiding behind the teapot. "It's a dismal morning, but my elbow and Pamela - " She inclined her head toward the gray-striped tabby sitting in the middle of the floor. "Tell me the weather will clear by afternoon."

Lotty placed one plate filled with sausage and eggs in front of Ginny and one in front of Harry. There was a rack of toast and pitchers of juice and milk to chose from already on the table. Everything looked delicious.

"I wish I could spend time with you this morning, but I have a meeting with my accountant and solicitor in Stratford, and I simply can't miss it. Hathaway Estate is a business as well as a home, and I take my duties as guardian of these lands very seriously. I also want to consult with Biggs, my foreman." She paused so long that both Ginny and Harry looked up from their plates.

"I'm not sure . . ." Again she paused and pursed her lips as if afraid to give them bad news. "There are many witches and wizards who work on this estate. Most of them I know very well as their families have lived for generations on this land. And I would trust them with my life. However, I don't want to trust them with your lives, until I have more assurances."

Ginny felt a chill at these words. She glanced at Harry whose face had gone blank.

"Harry? May I call you that?"

Harry nodded.

"Excellent. You may call me Aunt Martha or Martha if you prefer. I don't like titles, especially in my own home. I'm going to ask you two to only venture into the woods - not to the fields or barns where anyone can see you."

They both nodded at her sharp glance.

Aunt Martha sighed and made a move to leave the table. But Harry stopped her. "There was only one bed in the spare room," he blurted.

Ginny's face burned. She wished he hadn't brought it up, because Aunt Martha was old-fashioned like her mother, and now they were in for a lecture.

Instead, Aunt Martha stared at Harry and then she chuckled. "Oh, no. I forgot all about that. You see --" she started to explain. "During the war with Grindelwald, Hathaway Estate was a refuge for magical children from London. There was a war going on in the Muggle world at the same time - and the Muggle Prime Minister thought it better for all of the children to be away from the violence. We had camp beds set up in the main house and here too. I just assumed that they were still in the spare room."

She gave another raspy chortle. "Won't your mother be vexed with Aunt Martha this time?"

"I don't think Ginny slept too well," he said firmly. Harry wasn't blushing; in fact he looked irritated. Ginny thought with a pang, that she must have been as distracting as scratchy blanket or a dog howling all night - more of an annoyance than a cause for embarrassment.

"I'm sorry, my dear." Aunt Martha still looked amused, but her tone was conciliatory. "I will have Lotty clean out the box room for you." She glanced at Harry. "I think he will have to take the bed. You are certainly small enough to fit on a camp bed in there."

Ginny nodded, knowing what was next.

"Ginny may have the Weasley coloring but she takes her stature from her mother's side." Aunt Martha shook her head and got up from the table. "The Weasley women have always been tall."

Ginny looked at her plate. She had been hearing about this for years and still didn't know how to answer such a comment.

"Try to enjoy yourselves today," Aunt Martha said with a gleam in her eye. "Although it's not a good sign if you can't get along in bed."

With a last cackle, she Disapparated.

Her face burning at that unfortunate last remark, Ginny plowed into her eggs. She was not going to look at Harry.

He didn't say anything either - which seemed to make Aunt Martha's insinuation hang in the air between them like very provocative smoke. Now Ginny remembered why she was reluctant to come here. Already Aunt Martha had commented on her looks - soon it would matrimonial prospects.

A clock chimed in another room. Then a worried voice said: "If the rain doesn't let up, we can't cut hay."

Harry looked up in alarm. "Is there someone else here?"

Glad for the change of subject, Ginny rolled her eyes and answered, "It's Aunt Martha's anxiety clock. On the hour every hour, it has a new worry."

He raised his eyebrows. "That's pleasant."

"Aunt Martha thinks it's funny - she says she likes to have the clock do all the worrying for her."

He smiled at this. "You know, I can't see your mum and Aunt Martha getting along too well."

"No, our visits are always a nightmare. Dad doesn't have a lot of relatives left - and he always loved to come here as a boy. Aunt Martha is quite indulgent toward boys, you know. But she teases Mum and Mum doesn't quite know how to handle it. Mum's always very polite - but when we get home . . ."

Harry laughed. "I can imagine what Aunt Martha says to Ron."

"She's happy he's tall - but she thinks he needs to adopt some confidence." Ginny imitated Aunt Martha's quivery voice. "A woman wants a spot of arrogance in a man - who wants these spineless, sensitive fellows?"

"Poor Ron."

"Poor Ron - what about poor me? I'm the first Weasley girl in several generations. I should be betrothed to a prince by now at the very least."

"Betrothed? You're only fifteen."

"Almost fifteen. And special - and small -"

"Don't feel bad about the small - I have an Aunt Marge," he began.

"Oh, is she the one you blew up?"

"Yeah."

Ginny couldn't help but giggle at his sheepish look. "And she thought you should look like that cousin of yours."

He looked surprised that she guessed. "Yeah - but it was more that she said all these terrible things about my mum and dad."

She could only look at him sympathy. Sometimes there weren't any defenses against adults who wanted to pigeon hole you. She had been fighting it her whole life . . .

Lotty came over and started to clear the table. "I reckon we should start writing our letters," Harry said. "Hedwig can take yours too."

Ginny wrote to her parents telling them about their escape from the Burrow, she wrote it as if it were an adventure story that happened to some other girl named Ginny. Somehow that helped her put it all in perspective.

Harry wrote quickly, his quill making a lot of noise as he scratched over several sheets of parchment. He was sending quite a few letters. Ginny wondered what he was up to, but didn't think she should ask. She could see one to Hermione and Professor Lupin and there was probably one to Ron . . .

He looked up and caught her staring at his stack of letters. "The more people I ask about what Voldemort or the Malfoys could want from you, the better chance I have of getting answers." Then he added grimly, "I'd better get some answers - I'm not letting you go through what I did last year."

The pain and anger in his voice was scorching in its intensity. Ginny knew better than to fan those flames or to try to douse them, so she observed in a casual voice, "You know a lot of people to ask."

He looked surprised at this. "Yeah, I reckon I do." He looked at Ginny's one letter. "Is that it?"

She felt silly having only one letter. But it wasn't as if she was going to tell her excitable friends any of this until it was all over - and Mum would show her letter to the rest of the family. "I didn't feel like writing anymore."

When Hedwig had been dispatched, there wasn't anything left to do except explore the tiny cottage. The only room Harry hadn't seen was the front room, which spanned the length of the house. It was a light airy room; its many windows looked out on the formal gardens and the main house. But Ginny had never been able to enjoy that view partly because of the anxiety clock and partly because of the figurines.

Aunt Martha collected figurines - of shepherdesses, ballerinas and ladies in ball gowns. There was a wall full of Toby mugs - cups shaped like men's heads. The mugs were a boisterous lot and always sounded like they had just come from the pub. Because Aunt Martha didn't receive a lot of visitors, they listened avidly to every conversation and then discussed it amongst themselves until the next Interesting Thing happened.

"It's the niece!" exclaimed the Toby mug shaped like a fat monk.

"Is a year up already?" said the porcelain lady in the purple ball gown. She fluttered her fan. "She only comes once a year."

"Martha usually tells us when there are visitors," chided a bewigged judge from the Toby mug shelf.

"Um, we're just looking around," Ginny answered them. "I'm sure Aunt Martha will tell you everything when she gets back from town."

"Is this your betrothed, then?" asked the lady selling balloons.

"No." Ginny tried to keep her voice even, but hearing Harry's low chuckle set off her temper.

"Don't know why she isn't betrothed yet," mused one of the Toby mugs. "What with those nice ankles."

This was enough for Ginny. She backed out of the doorway, dragging Harry by the arm. "That's Aunt Martha's sitting room - and as you can see it's a nightmare."

Harry was laughing. "No wonder you don't enjoy a visit to Aunt Martha's."

"Don't you start!"

He sobered immediately, which told Ginny she had probably spoken too sharply. "It looks like it stopped raining," she said in a more even tone. "Maybe we can go outside now."

Lotty stopped them before they left and handed Harry a basket. He turned to Ginny and said in amazement, "She made us a picnic."

Ginny didn't think a picnic in the soggy forest sounded very fun, but at least they would be out of the house. She was also hoping the fresh air would wake her up a little. She was tired after their late night.

As they walked through the kitchen garden, Ginny thought she heard a squeaky voice saying: "That cat is an Animagus!"

She stopped and peered at the dripping cabbages. "That cat is an Animagus!" it repeated.

"Over there," Harry said. Sure enough, between the feathery rows of carrot tops was a Jarvey. The ferret-like creature was staring at them as if to dispute his words.

"Isn't there something around here that doesn't talk?" Ginny asked, still annoyed from the figurines.

"The elf doesn't talk," Harry pointed out.

"Can't get a word in edgewise," she muttered.

The Hathaway Wood was a vast tract of magical forest that went on for miles. On such a gloomy day, it looked dark and foreboding. "Anything in here we need to worry about?" Harry asked.

"I don't think so. Although Mum would always make us stay inside and talk with Aunt Martha, so I haven't ever been there." She glanced at him worriedly. "She'd tell us if there was something dangerous - wouldn't she?"

"Or the Jarvey would."

The woods were dark and fragrant with the damp smells of earth and growing things. In different circumstances Ginny would have enjoyed the walk, but today the air was heavy with humidity, which was making her hair frizz. She didn't want to be outside on such a sultry day, but there was nowhere else to go unless she wanted to be scrutinized by Aunt Martha or a room full of figurines. The spare bedroom could be a sanctuary, but Aunt Martha had given it to Harry and she would have to wait for the box room . . .

She sighed. The silence was getting to Ginny. She felt trapped - trapped at Hathaway estates - trapped by her status as the seventh child and only girl of the Weasleys - trapped by her very nature, which was causing her to be hunted down by Death Eaters.

She glanced at Harry, transferring her annoyance on to him. Of all the people to be trapped with - no, she amended in her own mind, of all the people to be trapped with whilst in a bad mood; Harry had to be the worst possible choice. His moods were ten times worse than hers and so were his problems. He would never understand.

They kept walking, threading their way around the large trees, not finding any clear-cut path. Harry took out his wand and used it as a compass to get their bearings. There didn't seem to be anything of interest except the unvarying expanse of trees. Occasionally a drip of water would hit Ginny on the head or slide down her neck - but they saw no animals, heard no activity.

"Well," Harry finally said, "I think we've found the last peaceful spot on earth. Hagrid would hate it here."

Ginny stopped and looked around at the dark tree trunks. They were in a clearing where everything was gloomily green - even the light. She pushed her hair back from her hot face, noticing to her annoyance that is was practically standing on end in the humidity. She sighed in exasperation.

"Are you hungry? We could have our picnic," Harry said, watching her warily. "Maybe some ants could join us and liven things up."

Ginny had the grace to feel ashamed. Harry couldn't help it if this walk wasn't turning out so well. She would try harder to be more sociable.

He set the picnic basket on a fallen tree. "We have everything except something to drink," he said after rummaging through the basket.

"I can find water," she said, glad there was finally something she could contribute. She balanced her wand flat in her palm. As soon as she let go, it swung toward the large oak tree. Ginny walked to the tree, stopped and waited for the wand to move again.

"What spell are you doing?" Harry asked.

"It's not a spell, it's dowsing - you need to have the ability and you need to have the right stick to point you." She shrugged. "Even Muggles can do it."

"What kind of wood is your wand?" he asked, trailing behind her.

Ginny hated her wand - at least she hated how unusual it was. She sighed and answered him, "Rue."

"Rue - I thought rue was an herb. We use the leaves in potions all the time."

"It's an evergreen shrub," she answered briefly.

"Oh," he said, nonplused. "Rue is really powerful stuff."

"Right." Ginny cut him off, hoping he wouldn't ask any more.

"Your wand looks really old," he observed. "Is it from a relative or something?"

She smiled and kept walking. "You mean like the last Weasley girl had this one? No, Aunt Martha didn't bequeath me her wand. Mum and I bought it at Mr. Ollivander's before my first year."

He stopped. "That day you stood up for me in front of Lucius Malfoy."

"Oh, Harry, that was a long time ago. I don't think Lucius Malfoy arranged a Portkey just so he could get back at me for back chatting."

"No, he already had it in for your family, didn't he?"

"Right." Her wand was quivering. She looked up and saw a glowing blue light in the middle of a circle of white trees. "This must be it."

"What?"

"Don't you see it?" She pointed to the blue light.

"No."

Up close, Ginny couldn't see any water but she knew it was there. The round depression full of ferns must have been a well at one time. Surely it hadn't gone dry. She crouched down and moved the feathery leaves of the ferns aside, noticing the ground was soggy.

Harry stood perfectly still, not saying anything or asking annoying questions. She kept searching through the undergrowth even though she wasn't quite sure what she was looking for. Then she felt a stone. She tapped it once with her wand. Nothing. She tapped it three times, quickly.

There was a rumble.

She leapt back to the tree line next to Harry and watched as the ferns were pushed aside for a ring of stones to rise out of the ground. The stones heaved and plowed their way to the surface and then stopped. Then a fountain of water burst forth, rising high above the trees.

"Uh, oh," she said. What if she flooded the woods or the entire estate?

Harry gaped at the fountain and then grinned at her. "Thirsty?"

"What am I going to do?" she asked, still worried but not alarmed. She could see now that the fountain was not spilling over the stone sides of the well.

"Turn it off."

"How?"

"I dunno - tap that rock again."

"I don't know which one." She looked at the geyser. "Besides, I'll get soaked.

"Wave your wand around and see what happens. We can always try a Drying Charm or something."

Ginny took her wand and studied the height of the water column, and then she traced her wand from the top to the bottom, like she was lowering a flame in a lantern. It worked; the water dropped and became a gentle gurgle.

They walked to the stone circle and saw that it was indeed a well and a very deep one at that. On the side of the well, hanging by a leather cord, was a horn.

"Reckon we can use this to drink from," Ginny said, rinsing the horn under the bubbling water before she took a sip. The water was sweet and cold. Feeling better, she handed the white horn to Harry.

"It's a unicorn horn," she observed. "That means it will take any poisons out of the water."

"That's right," he said, looking at her in surprise. "I forgot that. Potions isn't my best subject." He sighed and looked away. Ginny could tell he was brooding - probably about Snape.

"What do you think we should do?" she asked.

"About what?"

"This well." She felt foolish. "I mean should we put it back or just leave it?"

He smiled and shook his head. "Can you put it back?"

She shrugged helplessly.

He looked at the circle of birch trees surrounding them. "I reckon these are the white women from the password and this is the well." He spread his hands. "I don't think you've done anything to worry about - it's one of those secrets of a magical place - like the passages at Hogwarts or something. It will probably sink back into the ground until someone else comes along with the right wand."

This made so much sense that Ginny ceased to worry about it. "Right."

Harry walked around the well, looking it over carefully. The stones were rounded and smooth as if shaped by water. "Good thing the ministry lifted the ban on underage magic. Even in a place like this, I'd think this would be noticed."

She giggled. "I found a spring once by the Burrow, but it behaved itself." She felt cheerful once again- maybe because she had done something right for once or maybe because the white bark and light green leaves of the birches lit up the gloomy forest. "We could have our picnic here," she suggested. "After we go back for the basket."

He nodded. "Hopefully nothing ate it while we were gone."

"Ha --" Ginny scoffed as they wound their way back to the fallen log, "there's nothing in the woods that would want our sandwiches."

But she was wrong. A red cow with white ears had her head in the basket and was chomping away enthusiastically.

"Hey!" Harry yelled. "That's ours!"

The cow started and backed away, staring at Harry with its deep brown eyes. When its eyes locked with Ginny's, the poor creature started to tremble. Suddenly it wheeled around and bolted out of the clearing.

"Harry, did that cow just look surprised to see me?"

He raised his eyebrows. "It did." He studied her a minute. "Let's follow it."

"Follow it?"

"There's something strange about that cow - and there's nothing left to eat anyway," he said, showing her the empty basket.

"Right - one wild cow chase coming up," she giggled, glad they finally had a purpose for wandering in the woods.

The cow was easy to follow since its red hide stood out between the dark trees. Even when they lost sight of it, they could hear it crashing through the underbrush. They managed to stay close behind until they came to the edge of the woods, then the cow picked up the pace, once the meadows and grazing lands were in sight.

"Hera! You stupid..." A sun-burned, dirty wizard hopped over the stone wall dividing the fields from the woods. He hexed the cow as he continued his scolding. "Run off twice a day - that's all I do with my time. I don't know why Lady Martha puts up with you . . ." He herded the cow with many stinging hexes. "So old . . . not good for nothin' but potion ingredients. "

Thankfully, the herdsman was so busy directing the cow back into the field that he didn't notice Harry or Ginny concealed behind two trees.

"Rogue cow," Ginny said with eyebrows raised. "There goes the intrigue."

Harry shrugged. "At least we're out of the woods. Reckon we should start back?"

"Yes," she said gratefully. She was starving. "The basket!"

"I'm not going back for it."

"Just Summon it."

"This far?"

"I'll help," Ginny answered impatiently. She really was hungry.

They both cried, "Accio" in the general direction of the woods and then waited in the heavy silence. Harry strained to see if their spell was working, but Ginny took the time to look around. In the distance she could see the river, a gray ribbon cutting through the green fields. An arched stone bridge crossed it - but there was no road. Ginny wondered why there was a bridge at that particular spot, so she stepped out of the woods for a better view. The bridge ended at the bottom of a steep hill. "Harry - do you see that?" she asked, pointing to the crest of the hill.

"Cool - a stone circle," he said. "I reckon you can see for miles from up there."

The basket came whizzing out of the woods. Harry caught it. "It didn't fill up on the way did it?" she asked hopefully.

"I'd like to know that spell if it did," he said.

They walked along the edge of the woods; always looking out to the fields to be sure they weren't seen. Ginny's stomach rumbled uncomfortably.

"So what's your wand core?" Harry asked so abruptly that Ginny knew he must have been thinking about the events around the well.

Ginny kept walking, wondering what he would do if she ignored him.

"Ginny?"

She sighed, knowing she'd never be able to snub him. "Promise you won't laugh?"

"I won't laugh. What could possibly be funny about a wand core?"

"Mine is . . . unusual."

"So's mine."

That was true, Ginny realized. Harry was stuck with a wand that matched Voldemort's. "Ok - no laughing. It's a feather."

"Right - from what kind of bird?"

"The Golden Snidget."

He laughed.

Ginny whacked him in the arm. "You promised not to laugh."

"I'm sorry - it's not funny - it's just -"

"Unusual." Ginny sighed.

He sobered and then frowned. "I thought Golden Snidgets were endangered. How could Mr. Ollivander make one with that feather?"

"He didn't make it," Ginny answered. "His father did. It's a really old wand."

"Just waiting for the right person to come along," Harry murmured.

"Yes, the oldest wand in the shop chose me," Ginny said gloomily. "Mum was so worried - she thought Mr. Ollivander would charge a lot more for it. But he didn't." She remembered the way the wand maker had stared at her as if she were some rare specimen in a zoo.

"A Golden Snidget feather must be about as long as an eyelash," Harry mused. He glanced sideways at her. "It suits you."

Ginny was stung to the core by his words. "Oh, does it?" she asked coldly.

"Hey," he said alarmed. "I didn't mean that as an insult."

She stopped and faced him. "What did you mean by it then?" All of her anger came bubbling to the surface. She had had enough of being teased about her height - from her brothers to Aunt Martha.

"That size doesn't determine power." Then he added hastily, "Fred said that too."

"He did?"

"Yes - both Fred and George were quite impressed with your Quidditch abilities and your Bat-Bogey Hex."

She felt warm all over thinking her brothers had complimented her to Harry. "Oh."

Harry seemed to think this an adequate answer. He shifted the basket in his hands and continued walking. Ginny kept pace with him, wondering what else this day would bring.

//
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