Ginny closed the cupboard door sharply, setting the glasses inside rattling. Hermione glanced at her sympathetically as she said, “Because it’s none of your business, Ron!”
Her brother glared at her as she poured a glass of pumpkin juice. “Just explain to me,” he said, “how it is, you’re going out with Dean when you only broke it off with that git Corner five minutes ago.”
Ginny took a long sip of her pumpkin juice, smacking her lips appreciatively; she knew it annoyed Ron, and it was either that…or hex him. It would be none of his business if she had a torrid affair with…Mundungus Fletcher (unpleasant an idea as that was), let alone if she was going out with a boy from school. He had no right – no right – to start fiddling in her life, not when… Ginny didn’t need anyone to tell her what to do, so Ron could just bug off.
“I dumped Michael four months ago, Ron, and why do you care anyway?”
Ron glared at her, but said nothing; it was too much to hope he’d realised how unjustifiable his prying was. Ginny didn’t know what was the matter with him – just because he’d never had a girlfriend of his own didn’t mean there was anything wrong with her. Especially as the only reason he didn’t have a girlfriend was his own stupidity. Anyone with an ounce of sense could see that Hermione, poor girl, was destined to be Ron’s wife. Not that Ginny was particularly keen to gain a sister-in-law – Fleur’s less than harmonious introduction to the family had thrown cold water on Ginny’s dreams of having another woman in the family.
Ginny sat down and begged a sheet of parchment from Hermione, determined to ignore both him and Harry – who seemed unusually interested in this discussion.
“What are you doing?” Harry asked.
She grinned at him, thankful for this distraction. “I’m thinking of name for my Pygmy Puff.”
Ron, however, was not so easily deterred. “Well,” he said, “are you going to tell me?”
“You know what Ron, you should just DROP IT, all right?”
Hermione jumped, and she and Harry looked at each other uncomfortably. Ginny stared down at her parchment, but her mind remained stubbornly blank. Part of her wanted to storm out of the room or give Ron his much deserved Bat Bogey Hex, but another part was damned if she was going to be driven out by his sheer and utter stupidity.
It was three or four minutes, during which all that could be heard was the scratch of Hermione’s quill and the wind outside, before Ron said, “You should let me name it.”
“What?” Hermione seemed confused. “You want to name Ginny’s pet?”
Ron was grinning. “Well, I let you name Pig.”
“Pigwidgeon, Ron. Pigwidgeon.”
“Fine,” he said, waving a hand dismissively, “whatever. Just let me name him.”
“Well,” she said, inwardly thankful that she didn’t have to think of a name, “what did you have in mind?”
Ron leaned back in his chair. “You could name him after your favourite brother.”
Ginny affected an innocent expression. “I don’t think Bill would like that.”
Ron kicked her under the table. “Not Bill – your other favourite – the big stupid lug of a brother who helps you win at Quidditch.”
Harry snorted. “Like beating Hermione is anything to be proud of!”
Hermione looked stung and Harry made haste to convince her that he was only teasing – Ginny ignored them, though she did think it was sweet the way the two of them were such obvious siblings under the skin. She couldn’t help herself: “You’re not my stupid brother,” she said. “I don’t have any stupid brothers. Well, maybe Percy.”
Ron looked puzzled for a moment, and then, suddenly, the truth dawned, and he smiled at her, that wonderful beaming smile that she barely ever got to see any more. He’d remembered.
Harry and Hermione probably had no idea what they were talking about, but Ginny didn’t care. This was their code – it was her and Ron’s way of speaking to each other, and even though they hadn’t been getting on all that well lately, even though there were times she just wanted to snap his head off, because he was trying to control her life, he was trying to make her decisions for her, and how dare he, he still wasn’t her stupid brother.
She liked spending time with the three of them, for all that there seemed to be a bit of a rift between her and Ron at the moment. She didn’t know when it had started or why, but lately it seemed as though they were jumping all over each other for the smallest things. Ginny wanted to think that it was just a phase, but the truth was she and Ron hadn’t been close in a long time, and she had a feeling that he thought that, in being friends with Hermione and Harry, she was somehow intruding on his space.
Or maybe she was just crazy, and Ron really didn’t mean to be such an interfering git, and she should just let it slide. It was hard to tell some days.
“So,” she said, “you want me to call him Ronald.”
Feeling a sudden urge to giggle, Ginny said, “You want me to name a small ball of purple fluff after you? Don’t you think that might…give the wrong impression?”
Ron goggled at her. “What do you mean ‘the wrong impression’?”
“Well, you know, might seem a bit…effeminate … girly, maybe. I mean…if that’s the case Ron, I’ll support you, I don’t care, but you might want to give Mum a bit of warning.”
He made as if to slap her head, but Ginny ducked. “You can be a right brat, do you know that?” Ron groused.
Ginny rolled her eyes. “I tell you what,” she said. “Why don’t I call him Arnold? It’s all the same letters.”
She held Arnold out to him teasingly. “Look – it’s Daddy! He came up with your name, and he loves you very, very much.”
Ron knocked her hand away, and she pouted at him, feeling slightly giddy. “How could you be mean to Arnold, Ron? He’s just a little ball of fluff.”
“Ginny!” he said warningly, and she shut up. Harry, however, grinned at her, and she grinned right back.
Standing up, Ginny said, “Can I borrow Pigwidgeon, Ron?”
He groaned. “Why do you always ask me?”
“Because you said I could.”
He shook his head, as though waking himself up, and said, “Oh yeah, I did. Go ahead. Why do you need him?”
Gunny sighed at this typical nosiness, but said, “I’ve to send Louise her birthday present.”
Ron looked at her sharply. “Wasn’t her birthday yesterday?”
Ginny gaped at him. “How did you remember that?”
“Because you told me…God, Ginny,” Ron said, looking mildly exasperated. “It’s not as if you haven’t mentioned the life story of every single friend, enemy and doll you’ve ever had at some point.” Ginny blushed slightly at this – it wasn’t her fault she’d been a chatterbox – and noticed that Harry’s mouth was twitching.
“Anyway,” Ron said, “What’s your excuse for being late?”
Ginny glared at him. “I’m not good with birthdays, you know that.”
“You remembered Harry’s.”
“Well, it’d be a bit hard to forget, what with Mum talking about it for three days before hand, and sending me down to the village for treacle, and cream, and this, that and the other – not that I minded, Harry.”
Ron shook his head at her, and giving in to an impulse, Ginny hugged him lightly from behind, saying, “I’m going to bed.”
Ron smiled at her and said, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
“Ssh!” she hissed at him. “You know you’re not supposed to say that round here – who knows when the twins will be around.”
“Sorry. Goodnight Ginny.”
She kissed him lightly on the cheek, half expecting him to moan and groan about how disgusting it was, and said, “Night Harry.” He nodded absently, and Hermione smiled at her significantly – they would be up half the night talking, Hermione trying to convince her that Ron really didn’t mean to be so stupid about her boyfriends.
But what Hermione didn’t know, was that Ginny had never thought Ron was stupid – that was the problem.