The Sugar Quill
Author: Harpinred (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Ties That Bind  Chapter: Chapter 1: Brooms and Dress Robes
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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.

 

Note: Many, many thanks go to both Imogen and B. Bennett for their tireless Beta efforts to keep me grammatically and structurally correct! Extra special thanks go to B. for keeping me in line and letting me borrow Della J

Chapter 1 - Brooms and Dress Robes 

September 18th. 

Ron Weasley stood nervously at the edge of the Quidditch Pitch at Hogwarts. In front of him, five other students stood in line. Their faces showing varying degrees of determination and terror as they all waited their turn to try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. There were two open positions. The old team captain and Keeper, Oliver Wood, had finished up two years before in a blaze of glory when the Gryffindor team had won the cup for the first time in five years. Alicia Spinnett had decided to concentrate on her NEWTS so that she would have a better shot at being accepted in to Auror training so the position of Chaser was also up for grabs. Ron would be happy with either position, but what he really wanted to be was the Keeper, because of the tactical challenges involved. He didn't expect to be made captain, of course, but finally being on the team would be simply amazing. 

Looking down, he clutched the smooth handle of his broom. HIS broom. He still couldn't believe it! No one had owned it before him, it wasn't a hand-me-down, and it was fast. He shook his head and looked to the stands where Fred and George stood cheering him on with great enthusiasm. Ron remembered quite vividly how the twins had cornered him in the common room on the second day of term. 

"Gerroff! What do you think you're doing you great prats?"

Fred sadly shook his head. "Listen to this ungrateful wretch! I don't think he deserves this at all." 

George grinned and pushed Ron up against the wall. "It's hard having such an ungrateful sod of a brother, but life's difficult." Looking at his twin, he raised his eyebrows.

"Do you have it?" 

Fred nodded, and with mock solemnity, he withdrew a very long, slender and  somewhat lumpy package from behind his back. George took it and waved it in front of Ron. 

"We have a present for ickle Ronniekins, so I suggest you show the  appropriate degree of abject thankfulness."

 Surprised, Ron grabbed the package from his brother. He examined the odd shaped brown parcel, then looked suspiciously at both of his beaming brothers. "What is this for?" Ron had learned the hard way that it was wise to use utmost caution when opening any kind of package from his explosive-obsessed twin brothers.  

Fred and George gave him identical smiles that made Ron shudder.   

"Consider it an early birthday Christmas present for the rest of your ruddy life," replied George. 

Ron gingerly raised the package to eye level and gently shook it. He was very curious as Fred and George didn't usually have this particular expression of satisfaction on their collective faces when they were up to no good. Biting his lip, he gently ripped off a corner of the brown wrapping paper and saw a wad of dark green material. He beetled his eyebrows and ripped off a larger portion of the paper. Looking closer, his jaw dropped as he saw what appeared to be dress robes. Totally surprised, he shook his head. "You got me new dress robes?" 

George nodded vigorously. "Yeah, and if you'll notice, there isn't a scrap  of lace on them anywhere." 

Fred shook his head. "Sometimes I have to wonder about Mum." 

Ron still couldn't believe his brothers had done this. "So you just decided that you didn't like my old dress robes and got me new ones?" 

Rolling his eyes, Fred pointed impatiently to the rest of the wrapping that was still on the package. "If you'll use your obviously poor powers of observation, you'll notice that there's something else in there."  

Looking down once again, Ron pushed the rest of the paper away and unrolled his new robes from around a long and slender object. Part of his brain registered the fact that the robes were really nice. No lace as mentioned and the color looked like it wouldn't clash horribly with his hair. When he got to what was underneath, however, he gasped in surprise. "A Broom!" 

George draped his arm around Ron. "Not just any broom, you simpleton. This is a Nimbus 1500! He glanced at Fred and winked. "We…um, have a 'friend' in the industry that happened to have this in backstock."

Ron held his new broom reverently, running his hands up the smooth handle and over the neatly and aerodynamically trimmed twigs of the tail. Looking up, he vaguely realized that his mouth was still hanging open but didn't care. "Why?"  

Fred and George shared what Ron privately called their 'twin look' and narrowed his eyes at them as they shuffled their collective feet for a moment. "Well? What'd you do, rob a bank?"

George put his hands on his hips and tried to look hurt. "No, we did not rob a bank, you ungrateful prat! We…um, had an investment come though for us."

Ron raised his eyebrows. "Investment?"

The twins nodded in unison and Fred let out a great sigh . "Yes, and we were expecting you to be a bit more pleased with the situation instead of giving us a formal inquiry!"

Ron tried to be angry at that comment, but he was still overwhelmed by his brothers' uncharacteristic generosity. "Why the broom, though?" Pausing slightly, he looked at the twins uncertainly. "I didn't really need it." 

Fred crossed his arms in front of his chest and tried to look important. "Of course you need it! How else are you going to make the Gryffindor Quidditch team? You aren't exactly going to make it on that old Comet of Percy's, are you?" 

"Qui-Quidditch team?" Ron stuttered back, hoping that the acute desperation in his voice wasn't that obvious. 

Taking pity on his younger brother, George laid his hand on his shoulder and gently squeezed. "We know you've wanted to try out for the team but didn't because of your broom." Brusquely pulling back, George  blustered on. "Besides that, you're bloody good at tactical maneuvers and with

Oliver gone, I think you'd be perfect as Keeper. We can't let the slimy Slytherins take the cup this year, now can we?" 

Nodding, Fred grinned evilly at Ron. "And just keep in mind that if for some reason that you don't make the team, we will have to kill you." 

Ron rolled his eyes at his brothers but couldn't keep a huge grin off of his face. Holding his prized possession up for another inspection just to make sure he wasn't dreaming, Ron looked at the twins and sobered.  

"Thank you," he said quietly. "This means a lot to me." 

The twins just nodded at him in response. Then Fred leaned in close.   

"You can't tell Mum where you got the broom or the robes. She and Dad don't know about the money." 

George looked grim. "She's determined that we go into the Ministry, but we're not going to do it. We figure that if we start up quietly - you know, get all of the paperwork and permits off the ground first then she would see that we're serious and maybe take us seriously. "

Ron looked between the two determined faces of his brothers and gave them an encouraging smile. "I won't say anything, I promise." Feeling very grown up all of a sudden, he held out his hand. "And if I can help in any way..." 

Both of the twins grabbed Ron's hands. "We'll let you know," they chorused in unison.  

"Weasley, Ronald! "

Snapping back to the present, Ron gulped as Madame Hooch strode forward and motioned him to walk out on to the Pitch. He had been practicing nonstop for almost two weeks now and he knew that he was good, very good, but his knees felt like jelly. Taking a deep breath, he mounted his broom and waited for her signal. He vaguely heard the cheers coming from his brothers, Ginny, Harry and Hermione, and glanced quickly behind him. His eyes caught Hermione's and he saw her mouth 'good luck'. He smiled at her and then blinked in surprise as she blew an exaggerated kiss at him. Simultaneously laughing and blushing at her antics, he felt the tension ease and he once again faced the Quidditch instructor. 

Madame Hooch gave him a small smile and walked over to his side. "Now Mr. Weasley, like the others, you will be put though a series of tests. The first test will be to try and score as many Quaffles though the goal posts as possible while our Keeper defends it. Secondly you will try to keep the Quaffles out of the goal posts while our chasers try to score. Each test will last a total of five minutes. It is up to you to show that you have the skill and the brains to win either position." 

Ron nodded his understanding and waited with a focused concentration for the whistle to blow. Hearing it, he jumped into the air and zoomed towards a Quaffle that was slowly drifting towards the ground. Scooping it up, he headed towards the goal posts where the Keeper was waiting for him and let his tactical instincts take over. Several minutes later, he had managed to score two times with a series of dips and feints that had left the Keeper somewhat annoyed at him. Hearing the whistle blow, he slowed his broom and drifted over to exchange places with the Keeper. Holding out his hand, he smiled winningly at the Slytherin student. Pursing her mouth, she gave him a rude once over and flounced off the field on her broom. This made Ron grin and he took position as the three Chasers headed toward him.

The whistle blew once again and Ron sped and darted in between the goal posts. Catching the Quaffle again and again before it went though a hoop, he was exhilarated. This was what he was made for! He felt the adrenalin rushing though his system and he used it to his best advantage, letting it sharpen his reflexes until he felt like he was one with his broom.

It took him a moment to realize that the five minutes must be up as the three Chasers backed off and started towards the other side of the field. Breathing heavily, he struggled to catch his breath. And then it hit him. The Chasers hadn't scored. Not once. Looking toward the far end of the field, he could see his group of friends and family madly jumping up and down in celebration. A huge grin split his face and he urged his broom in their direction.

Touching down next to the motley group, he was tackled by the twins. Fred and George crushed their younger brother in between them, still jumping up and down. "Not one bloody score. Not one!" George shouted.

 

Fearing for his life but still grinning ear to ear, Ron pried himself away from the twins. Not two seconds later, Ginny, Harry, and Hermione surrounded him, shouting with excitement. Harry pounded him on his back, and Ginny was so excited that she actually kissed his cheek. Hermione had just flung her arms around him when Madame Hooch approached.

"Mr. Weasley, a formal decision on who will fill the position of Keeper will not be offical until tomorrow." Pausing, she looked down at him and smiled. "But I think it's fairly safe to say that Gryffindor will be adding another redhead to its team. "

Madame Hooch reached out her hand and Ron shook it vigorously. "Thank you!"

She winked at him and smiled. "Like I said, it's not official until tomorrow." She leaned in closer and her eyes twinkled at him. "Try to act surprised, okay?"

Laughing, Ron nodded his head. "I promise."

"I don't think I've ever seen you move that fast!"

Surprised, Ron realized he had an arm around Hermione. She was beaming up at him and he felt the tips of his ears go red. He ducked his head but returned her smile. "Thanks, it was nice of you to skip class to watch me."

Blushing herself, Hermione debated for a second and then stood on tiptoe and kissed his cheek. "Congratulations Ron. You worked hard and deserved to get this position." Noticing that there were some very interested onlookers, her blush deepened and she stepped back. "I guess I should get to the library and pick up those books I ordered. See you later." At that, she turned and dashed from the Pitch.

Bemused by the kiss, he put his hand up to his cheek.

"Ahhww, ickle Ronniekins got a kiss from his girlfriend!"

Ron glared at George but then dissolved into laughter as his brother grabbed Harry and passionately reenacted the scene all the way down to the kiss on the cheek.

Harry pushed George away and wiped his hand roughly over the offended area. "And to think I always wanted brothers."

Fred and George both snorted at this but Harry ignored them. "Congratulations Ron," Harry said seriously. "It will be great to have you on the team." A sly look crept over his face. "Although, I don't know if you've thought though how those Quidditch robes are going to look with that hair…"

Ron rolled his eyes but laughed. "Somehow, I think I'll manage."

 

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