The Sugar Quill
Author: Starsea (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Watching for Wolves  Chapter: Part One: Ears
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Watching for Wolves

Watching for Wolves

 

Rated PG

 

An Alternative Point of View by Starsea

 

~*~

The small girl smiles

One eyelid flickers

She whips a pistol from her knickers

She aims it at the creature’s head,

And bang, bang, bang!

She shoots him dead.

 

A few weeks later in the wood,

I came across Miss Riding Hood.

But what a change!

No coat of red,

No silly hood upon her head!

She said, “Hello,

And please do note,

My lovely furry wolf-skin coat!”

Roald Dahl

“Little Red Riding Hood” from “Revolting Rhymes”

~*~

 

PART ONE: Ears

----------------------------------------------------

“Grandma, what big ears you have!”

 

“All the better to hear you with, my dear.”

----------------------------------------------------

 

It’s in the book, it’s in the book, he’s in the book-!

 

She walked along the corridor, watching her feet take one step after another. The carpet had once been red, but it was now dull and faded to almost raspberry pink. Dust was entrenched between the fibres, and holes appeared now and again, showing the old floorboards beneath. She looked up. The door was there. The door was always there. It was the only thing which was clean. Its wood was dark and shiny, the latch – why a latch, not a handle? – was polished so thoroughly that she could see her reflection in it, drawing closer and closer. There was a number on the door. Was she in a hotel? Was she in the Leaky Cauldron?

 

This didn’t feel familiar. This didn’t feel safe. She didn’t want to be here. She wanted to go home. But she couldn’t turn around. Her feet just kept on walking, walking towards the door, and there was no sound, no sound at all.

 

Someone was in there.

 

Someone wanted to see her.

 

Don’t go in.

 

She reached out for the latch. There was no light under the door, but someone was in there. He wanted to see her.

 

Don’t go in, don’t go in, no, don’t-!

 

The door opened, swinging inwards into the room, and her heart stopped as she saw what was in there. She opened her mouth, and began to scream, silent, her voice stolen, her will stolen, everything stolen–

 

She woke up, her mouth open, and sat up, her gaze travelling at light speed around the room. She knew this room. She’d slept here ever since she could remember. Up until last year, she had been sharing it with her elder brother, but now it was hers alone, because she was a big girl.

 

Big girl.

 

Ha.

 

Ginny put her hands over her face. Her throat was sore. She’d obviously been trying to scream but no sound had come. She’d been too scared. As always, she couldn’t remember what had been behind that door. She wasn’t even sure if there really was someone there, or if her mind simply reacted to the fact she’d opened the door, but she knew what the dream was about all right. That was one thing she couldn’t forget.

 

It’s in the book, it’s in the book, he’s in the book-!

 

Someone knocked on the door and Ginny almost leapt out of the bed, swallowing back a cry of fear.

 

“Ginny?” whispered an anxious voice. “Ginny, are you okay?”

 

Ginny remained frozen in her crouch for a moment and then recognition came. She got down and slowly opened the door. Ron stood there, familiar and deeply reassuring: pyjama bottoms showing his ankles as usual, the arms of the top nearer his elbows than his wrists, eyes almost shut, swaying slightly. Ron never woke up quickly.

 

“Hey,” he said, turning the word into more of a “hi” because he yawned so widely.

 

“What is it?”

 

“I heard you cry out.”

 

“Did I?” Ginny asked, as if this were news to her.

 

“Yeah… you sounded scared.” Ron looked worried.

 

Ginny shrugged. “I just woke up. Heard you calling my name. Wondered who it was for a second.”

 

Ron gave her a shrewd look. He didn’t believe her. Ginny was good at lying now, but Ron could still see through her sometimes, especially when they were talking about… this.

 

“So you’re okay.”

 

“Absolutely,” she said, both of them knowing she was lying. “Go back to bed, Ron. I’m fine.”

 

He nodded.  “Right,” he said. One word which somehow expressed all his disbelief and his sadness. Ginny wanted to tell him not to be so sensitive, but this was Ron. He always reacted with his emotions, just as Percy always reacted with his head, and the twins always reacted with humour.

 

“Go,” she repeated.

 

Ron nodded, but he still stood there, his mouth twisting. “Ginny…”

 

Ginny shut the door and wandered back to bed, collapsing onto the mattress. She buried her face in the pillow. The tears which she had kept back so easily after waking up from the dream forced their way down her cheeks. She never cried about her nightmare, but she did cry for Ron. She cried for the way he had immediately jumped awake on hearing her voice so early in the morning. She cried for the way he’d come running to her door to check on her. She cried because of the sadness in his eyes, because Ron hadn’t changed at all. He was still her sweet gangling elder brother, still the same. She cried because she was the one who had changed. She was the one who would never be the same again, and nobody knew how to handle it. Nobody knew what to do.

 

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Ron. I wish I could talk to you. I wish I could tell you the truth. I hate lying to you. But you can’t help me. Nobody can help me. Nobody can make this better.

 

All the vigilance in the world would not make up for the one time they stopped listening for her, listening to her.

 

And they all knew it.

 

Ginny got up, reached under her bed, and took out her old storybook. She’d read the old tales over and over this summer. Their simplicity and stark cruelty soothed something inside her.

 

Once upon a time, there was a little girl, so sweet that everyone who saw her loved her. Her grandmother had made her a little red cap, which she wore everywhere she went, and because of this, she was called Little Red Cap…

 

Ginny settled down against her pillows and waited for the sun to come up. Gradually, her grip on the book loosened and her eyelids drooped. She was fast asleep when Ron, the twins and Percy all peeped in on her, her head tilting towards her right shoulder. They all glanced at each other, and then Percy jerked his head towards the kitchen.  Ginny was so fast asleep that she didn’t hear the rumpus which erupted from there almost immediately as they found out that morning’s news.

 

When she eventually opened her eyes, the sun was already high into the sky. She estimated it was around ten o’clock, but nobody had come to wake her up. They’d all been very gentle with her this summer, careful and considerate, and sometimes their behaviour made her want to scream, and sometimes it made her want to cry. At that moment, however, she was just grateful they’d allowed her a lie in. She stretched and the book slid off her lap and fell onto the floor with a thump, the pages flipping over until they came to rest on the picture. Little Red Cap stood blinking up at the wolf, who leered down at her, tongue lolling out as he silently moved his lips.

 

Where are you going, little girl?

 

“Mind your own beeswax,” Ginny muttered, reaching down and slamming the book closed. “That’s what she should have said.” She closed her eyes tightly for a moment – What’s your name, little girl?

 

Ginny. Ginny Weasley. What’s yours?

 

Tom. Tom Riddle.

 

“Mind your own beeswax…” she repeated, squeezing her eyes tight. “That’s what you should have said, Ginny.” She put the book on the bed and grabbed her threadbare blue dressing gown, then slid her feet into her slippers. They were falling apart,  but they were also old and comfortable. She pattered down the staircase. The house seemed quiet, which meant the twins and Ron were probably doing all the homework they’d left in their trunks. Ginny sighed: August already. This time last year she’d been so excited about Hogwarts and the fact that Harry Potter was staying in the same house as her…

 

“Morning,” she murmured as she entered the kitchen. Mum was frying some bacon. Ron and Percy were playing a game of chess by the hearth, and the twins were poring over The Daily Prophet. They all looked at her.

 

“Ginny!” Ron said, his eyes widening. “Listen –”

 

“There’s no need to frighten her –” Percy began.

 

“Wait until you hear what happened to Harry!” the twins chorused, grinning at her.

 

Ginny stopped dead in the doorway, the smile wiped off her face. Her legs felt strangely cold and wobbly all of a sudden. “Harry?” she repeated blankly. “What’s happened to Harry?”

 

“Nothing!” Mum said sharply, taking her arm and making her sit down. “He’s fine, dear, just fine!”

 

“He blew up his aunt last night,” George announced.

 

“Apparently it took them three hours to get her down.” Fred grinned.

 

“And then he ran off!”

 

“All on his own!”

 

“Ran off?” Ginny said, panic choking her. “But – Sirius Black-!”

 

“Harry’s fine!” Ron said quickly, glaring at the twins. “He’s at the Leaky Cauldron. Dad found out.” Then he looked at her and grinned. “It’s all right, he hasn’t been expelled or anything, Ginny, you’ll see him again.”

 

Ginny deliberately ignored him and sat down at the table, waiting for her breakfast, knowing that her red cheeks probably gave her away.

 

“Blowing up his aunt is a serious infringement of the rules for Under Age Magic,” muttered Percy, prodding forward one of his knights. The white knight shuffled forward nervously. He was being eyed by his black counterpart on Ron’s team, who slowly and carefully drew his finger across his throat.

 

You’re dead.

 

“I bet she deserved it,” Ron objected. “If she’s anything like the Dursleys, she probably provoked him. Do you want Harry to get expelled?”

 

“No, of course not,” Percy snapped, watching as Ron’s knight smashed his own down. “And I’m just as glad as anyone that he managed to avoid Sirius Black, but honestly, Fudge should have known that Harry was safe for the moment. All Black knows is that Harry goes to Hogwarts. He has no idea of Harry’s whereabouts when Harry’s not there – we are the only people who know exactly where Harry lives. The rest of our world knows that he lives ‘with Muggles’ and that’s it. Fudge overreacted by having all those Aurors looking for Harry, and then he waved aside a basic and fundamental rule when he discovered the boy was safe.”

 

“Maybe that’s because last time they threatened him with expulsion simply because a house elf blew up a pudding in his lounge,” Fred remarked. “Fudge probably felt guilty.”

 

“Plus, it’s Harry Potter,” George added. “Even Fudge probably felt a bit awed in his presence.” He winked at Ginny, who couldn’t help grinning back. It was impossible to stay angry with the twins for long.

 

“The law isn’t supposed to have favourites,” Percy argued. “It’s supposed to be impartial, objective and, above all, fair.”

 

“Hate to burst your bubble, Perce, but that hardly ever happens, this is the real world, and Fudge doesn’t exactly have the best record when it comes to impartiality, look at the way he cosies up to Malfoy,” George pointed out, folding his arms.

 

“But Fudge is always asking Dumbledore for advice too,” Ginny objected as her mother put down a plate of bacon and eggs in front of her. “You make it sound like all he’s impressed by is power.”

 

Her brothers looked at her. Fred and George raised their eyebrows as if to say “well, obviously”, Ron made a rueful face and Percy sighed.

 

“Cornelius Fudge is a politician,” Mum replied, sitting down opposite Ginny with the latest copy of Witch Weekly. “He needs support and he tries to get it wherever he can.”

 

“I’d rather have no support at all than have the support of someone like Lucius Malfoy,” Ginny said fiercely, sawing a piece of bacon off from the main rasher.

 

Mum looked sad for a moment, then reached across and brushed back a lock of Ginny’s hair. “I know you would,” she said. “But not everybody’s as principled as you, Ginny. Especially if they’re involved in politics. A lot of politicians are wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

 

“Then why does Dad work at the Ministry?” Ginny asked with her mouth full.

 

“Because if we want the government to change, we have to work with it, not against it,” Percy answered, managing to take one of Ron’s pawns.

 

Ginny looked down at her plate, thoughts whirling in her head. It was all very confusing, but Harry hadn’t been expelled, and he was alive. That was the important thing.

 

DISCLAIMER: Ginny Weasley, the entire Weasley family and all things Harry Potter belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. They just tend to invade my head every so often.

//
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