A/N: This missing moment was
originally written as a gift for the lovely Bring and Fly. A special thanks to both Hyacinth Girl and Ara Kane for their beta-reading skills. Any further mistakes are my own.
Disclaimer: I profit nothing by this but my own amusement.
Ginny Never Shuts Up
"Any owls from Harry, Ron?"
Dad asked at dinner. He looked well rested, and was already dressed
in his Muggle clothes, ready to go to work for the Ministry of Magic.
"No," Ginny said, swinging her legs as she scooped potatoes
onto her plate. "Ron says that Errol probably passed out again. Do
you remember when he did that that one time, when we were so anxious about
Charlie and thought that he got killed by dragons because he didn't write back
"Hey, he asked me, not you!" Ron shouted. She responded
by throwing a piece of potato at his head the instant both of her parents
looked elsewhere. It landed squarely between his eyes.
"Mum! Ginny -"
"Never mind that," Mum said brusquely, clearly thinking that
Ron was just repeating
complaints. "Ginny, please pass the potatoes."
Ginny gave Ron her widest, most cheerful smile and passed the potatoes
to George. "Yes, Mum," she said politely.
"No letter, eh?" Dad
asked around a mouthful of cabbage. Ginny tried not to giggle - he ate
like Ron sometimes. Dad swallowed before continuing. "We ought to
do something about that."
Ginny felt a something like magic flutter through her
chest. Mum and
Dad do something about Harry?
"We should have him stay here," Mum said, which made the
fluttering feeling pass again. She reached across Fred to dump a heap
of boiled runner beans onto Ginny's plate. "A boy too busy to write
needs a good stay with friends in the country."
"He doesn't write because of the Muggles,"
Ron said, though his words were barely understandable with his mouth full of
"They shut him up in a cupboard," Ginny cut in, proud that
Ron's friend had
survived so long in a cupboard without turning up lost, or
getting strangled by one of Dad's inventions, or worse. Bill was always
going on about the odd things that Egyptians had left behind in their cupboards
- gold, food, and little sisters who tattled.
"Yes, Ginny, we know." Mum's voice hitched as she
spoke. Everyone grew quiet as a tear dripped from her eye and dribbled
down to her chin, where it then wobbled like a dizzy garden gnome.
Ginny knew what she was thinking about; they all did. Mum was imagining
her children being shut up in the cupboards of their Muggle accountant
relative's home and then forced to subsist on typewiper
ink and boxes of disused, numbered buttons from old arithmanculators.
The year before Ginny was born, Mum had lost many of her cousins and siblings
to You-Know-Who, and so she sometimes imagined morbid things like that.
"Don't worry, dear," Dad said, patting Mum's shoulder.
"If we don't hear from Harry by Friday, we'll fetch him ourselves."
When she saw the grateful expression on her mother's face, Ginny
quickly looked to her plate and scooped half of the green beans into her mouth even before
she had swallowed the first forkful. There were similarly busy eating
sounds from her brothers. George caught Ginny's eye and winked just
before Fred nudged her elbow on the other side and whispered, "You'll be
able to get that picture you brought to King's Cross autographed after
Her mouth was too full to respond, and Mum's vacant stare was turned
their direction, so Ginny was forced to glower in silence.
Later that night, after Mum went to bed, Ginny snuck up to Ron's room,
and the two of them snuck across the hall, to where the twins had blown up things
all summer. Ginny wrinkled her nose when she opened their door, as she
always did. Their room smelled like fouled-up potions, unwashed socks,
unwashed boys, and gunpowder.
She looked up. There were singe marks along the ceiling, from the
places where their firecrackers had spun out of control. Ginny
had seen them spinning one night, booming, waking up the household while she
herself was flying out to the orchard. One of the
firecrackers had twirled and fizzed out the window, spun its way across the
yard, and drilled a signed hole through the roof of the chicken shed before it
finally hissed into the pond and died. Mum had been
"What's this?" Ginny asked, poking her finger towards
a potion. Fred knocked Ron to the ground on his way to prevent her from
"Ouch!" Ron shouted.
"Don't touch that!"
"I wasn't going to!" she lied.
"Will you lot shut up?" Ron said sullenly, getting up to sit
on George's bed. "We have to think about Harry."
"Poor kid," George said. "But Mum and Dad already
said that they'd fetch Harry if he doesn't write."
"He could be dead by
then," Ron said glumly. He looked pale and, for a
moment, as careworn as Mum, as though he believed his words. Ginny felt a sudden fear that reached beyond things like Harry
never noticing her, or Dad losing his job. Would Muggles truly lock children in cupboards and let them die?
Fred rolled his eyes. "Idiot. You
spend too much time listening to that ghoul."
But George looked sympathetic. "We'll think of
"What, like some exploding dust that transports
us clear across England?"
Fred looked interested. There was mischief in his distant
"Anything's possible," George said.
"Yeah, that's what you said when Charlie's letter went missing and
Mum thought he'd been attacked by werewolves, and I think we remember how that
Ginny donned Mum's saber-toothed-tiger face and said,
"Ginny, shut up!" her brothers said.
And Ginny did, even though she was about to tell them about Dad's
newest experiment. She let them flounder about for a long time,
determined not to say anything about what she knew until they spoke to her
again, but they never did. Meanwhile, she listened to their useless ideas
(riding across the country on brooms so worn out they rattled when
accelerating?) and imagined poor Harry as a small boy, alone in his cupboard,
and she felt sad. Maybe Harry didn't live in a cupboard anymore, but his Muggles didn't take care of him.
"Been in Dad's shed lately?" she asked.
Ron and George stopped bickering about whose broom was worse and all
three of her brothers turned to stare at her. For a moment, Ginny thought
that maybe Fred had transfigured her nose into Scabbers's
tail. She gave her nose a surreptitious swipe.
"What's in Dad's shed?" Fred asked.
The interest in Fred's face faded. He knew about the car, though
he didn't know what Ginny knew. "They run on some Muggle fuel, and
we'd have no way to buy it - and Mum would notice we were gone before we could
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Idiot, Dad's been working on
it. It flies."
"Yeah." She had
caught it hovering in the shed one day, when she took Dad his lunch. Mum
had been off in town, shopping for dinner. Dad had tried to explain it
away, to claim that some other wizard had already enchanted it, but Ginny knew
"Anything's possible." Ron grinned.
"If you've got the nerve," George agreed. He stared up
at one of the singe marks on the ceiling for a while. "We'll get
him," he said. "This'll work."
"I'm coming too," Ginny said, standing.
Ron sneered at her. "Of course you're not, it's too
"Yeah, well, it was my idea!"
"She just wants to come because she wants to get that autograph
from Harry," Fred teased.
"I do not!" Ginny shrieked, and suddenly she was tackling
Fred, and Ron and George were trying to tear them from each other. They
were loud, the four of them, far louder than they had intended.
It wasn't long before Mum's louder voice hollered over all of them:
"WHAT'S GOING ON? IT'S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! YOU SHOULD ALL BE
IN YOUR BEDS, ASLEEP!"
Ginny ran out of the room.
Mum slipped into Ginny's room and perched on the edge of her bed.
By that time, Ginny had already soaked her pillow through with tears.
"Were they teasing you about Harry, dear?"
"I don't want his autograph," Ginny sobbed.
"Poor dear," Mum said in the voice that she'd lately reserved
for Harry, and
wrapped her arms around Ginny while she let the last few tears out. When
she had finished, Mum had Ginny change into her nightgown, and then sat behind
Ginny on the bed with a brush in hand. It had been years since Mum had
brushed her hair.
"I don't want his autograph," Ginny repeated, calmer
"I know, dear." Mum sighed. "Neither do I."
Ginny lay in bed a while after Mum had gone, but when she heard Mum's
door click shut, she got up and opened her wardrobe. She dragged a jumper
over her long nightdress and padded barefoot down to the kitchen. Sockless, she donned her Wellingtons
and slipped outside. After a squelching walk across the yard and a nip
into the broom shed, Ginny was on George's broom and far beyond the house where
everyone drove her mad. She tried to think about Harry, and the fact that
he would probably be here, at the Burrow, soon.
The smell of sausage and greasy eggs woke her. Ginny was still
half-asleep when she stumbled down the stairs and into the
kitchen. She was surprised to see Fred and George already awake, but was even
more surprised to see Ron up and sitting next to the
handsomest, most rumpled looking skinny boy she had ever seen. Ron just
wasn't that handsome.
He was watching Mum butter bread as though no one had ever buttered his
Ginny didn't know what to feel: mortification because Harry saw her in
her nightgown was foremost, but beneath that was anger that her brothers had
fetched him without
telling her, and sadness that no one had woken her up when they arrived.
She raced upstairs, unable to look at any of them. All day, she
sat in her room while the others laughed in the yard. She didn't mean to
watch them, but she couldn't help it. That boy, that handsome boy who made
her skin tingle,
had defeated You-Know-Who when she was just a few months old. Now he
stood in the garden and spun garden gnomes over his head. He had eaten
sausages and eggs in her chair, and had looked at her mother while seeming to
believe, as Ginny did, that Mum was the best mum in the world.
"YOUR SONS FLEW THE CAR-" Mum shouted from
below. Ginny opened her door to eavesdrop. When Dad asked if
all had gone well, she cringed. Lies had to be kept up with Mum or never
started; Ginny had learned that over time. But a new voice caught her
ear: Ron standing at the end of the kitchen passageway, saying that he would
show Harry his room.
Ginny tried to withdraw; she meant to. She meant to wait just
until she saw the top of Harry's hair, or saw his and Ron's shadows on the
stairwell walls, but she didn't. Instead, she met his gaze for the first
time, and chose that moment to slam the door shut. Ginny
crouched where she was, still seeing Harry's bright green eyes while Ron
incriminated her further by saying that she usually never shut up.
She could already tell: it was going to be a long school year.