PART II: LETTERS
Ginny Weasley lay face down on her bed
at the Burrow, her head buried in her pillow, trying not to think about
anything in particular. She was wondering if she should have sent that
letter. Her stomach felt as though Cornish Pixies were flying around inside.
The end of summer had been particularly
boring for Ginny. Her brother Percy was working, Fred and George spent
all of their time developing plans for a joke shop, and her youngest brother
Ron had gone to spend the last two weeks of the holiday with his friend
Hermione, in order to learn more about the Muggle lifestyle. The only
companion for Ginny was her mother, whom she loved very much but could
hardly tell about things like boys. Ron's tiny, annoying, and hyperactive
owl, Pigwidgeon, hardly served as any sort of sympathetic companion.
Ginny had begged Ron to let her hold onto
Pigwidgeon for the rest of the summer. She didn't have her own pet and
Pig loved her nearly as much as Ron. He had agreed, figuring that an owl
would not be much use amongst Muggles anyway, but now Ginny was sorry
that she had kept him. Pigwidgeon's cage was empty - he was off delivering
a letter for her - a letter that she wished she had never sent.
Ginny sighed and flopped onto her back,
her red hair splayed behind her on the pillow. Her room was very tiny
and suddenly seemed extremely childish and frivolous to her. A bookshelf
in the corner held her schoolbooks and a number of other books that she
had loved throughout her childhood, but had not looked at in years. Some
of them were so old that they had originally belonged to Bill, her oldest
brother. "The Adventures of Captain Gamgee" was one such volume. An entire
shelf was filled with comics, "The Adventures of Matilda Miggs, Muggle
Maiden." Matilda was sister to Martin Miggs (the Mad Muggle) and the stories
weren't very good, but Ginny's father was obsessed with Muggles and religiously
purchased a new issue whenever released. Ginny didn't have the heart to
tell her father that she didn't want them anymore.
The dresser was littered with half-used
candles in various shades of green, yellow, and blue; various hair notions,
a bottle of perfume given to her by one of her mother's sisters, several
necklaces and bracelets, and a special lock box in which she kept precious
items. Inside that box, hidden under the lining, was a newspaper clipping
from the Daily Prophet, showing a small, skinny boy with unruly
dark hair and a scar shaped like a lightning-bolt on his forehead. Harry
Potter. Ginny had been in love with Harry since the first time she saw
him at age ten on Platform nine and three quarters at King's Cross Station.
In truth, she had been fascinated with his story long before that, and
as a child, had often wondered where Harry Potter lived and what he was
doing. Until she had met him in person and found out that he spent his
summer holidays with cruel and abusive Muggle relatives, she had imagined
him hiding out in a grotto in the forest, surrounded by fairies and wood
nymphs, dressed like a prince.
Although the images of the real Harry
Potter had replaced the mythical ones in her head, and although she now
felt comfortable enough around him not to blush every time he entered
a room, Ginny's heart still pounded a bit faster whenever he was near.
In many ways, he'd lived up to her fantasies about him - after all, he
had gotten the better of a dragon the year before. He was always
polite and friendly to her - why shouldn't he be? He was Ron's best friend
after all. She suspected that he knew how she felt about him and was especially
considerate around her in order to make her feel at ease. This just made
her like him all the more.
So, she had rationalized to herself that
it was perfectly acceptable to write him a letter. She was only doing
it because Ron would have done the same if he were around. The European
Cup was being played this year in Belgium. Spain and Serbia were competing.
An article in the Daily Prophet that morning had given the
latest details on the game, which was now on its tenth day. Harry liked
Quidditch - he played the position of Seeker on the Gryffindor house team
at school. Ginny expected that Harry didn't get much news of the wizarding
world living with those awful Muggles. So, after her father read the paper,
she carefully clipped the article and sent it off to Harry with a short
letter that read:
Hello! How are you? I hope your
summer isn't too bad. I wish that you could have spent some time at the
Burrow, but Mum says that Dumbledore won't allow it this year. I thought
you might like this article about the European Cup. It looks like Serbia
is going to win, but it's still impossible to tell. The score is 1150
- 1120. Can you believe it?
Ron is at Hermione's for the rest
of the summer, but I expect you knew that. I'll see you on September 1.
It had taken her three hours to compose
the letter and even then she had stared at it another hour before sending
it. She hated her handwriting - it was so girly. She also hadn't been
sure how to end the letter. "Sincerely" seemed too cold, "Your friend"
seemed to imply a bit much, she wasn't really his friend was she
- she was his friend's sister - but "Ron's sister" sounded extremely dumb.
After all, Harry knew who she was. Finally she just decided on "Yours"
but now that she'd sent it off, she wished that she'd just written her
name and left it at that.
If only she'd been invited to Hermione's
house with Ron. Hermione was her best girl friend, despite being a year
older. She knew, of course, why Hermione had not invited her. Ginny knew
all about Hermione's crush on Ron. It was Ginny who had persuaded Hermione
to invite Ron in the first place. There had been no word from Hermione
since Ron arrived a week ago and Ginny wasn't sure if that was a good
sign or a bad one.
"Ginny! There's a letter for you!" Ginny
sat up and shook her head vigorously at the sound of her mother's voice.
It couldn't be - already? No. She doubted if Pigwidgeon had even made
it to Privet Drive yet. It must be from Hermione. Ginny jumped off the
bed and headed down the rickety stairs.
Mrs. Weasley was in the kitchen preparing
dinner. When she saw Ginny, she pointed to the scrubbed kitchen table,
where several letters and a package were lying. Ginny saw that a rectangular
package that looked like a magazine was addressed to her. She also recognized
Ron's untidy scrawl on a letter addressed to Fred and George. She scooped
up the parcel and ran back upstairs with it.
Back in her bedroom, Ginny sat on her
bed and ripped at the paper. A pretty girl with blonde hair stared up
at her, the words Seventeen sprawled across the top of her head.
A note was taped to the girl's sleeve.
Hello! I thought you might like
to look at this Muggle magazine, since you sent me one of your copies
of "YW" Of course, the pictures don't move, but it's got some interesting
articles. I felt a bit bad sending it with Errol, but he's been resting
up at our house for a while, and Ron said that it was okay and he would
be offended if I didn't use him. So far, Ron's visit has been very nice.
We've only had two arguments, and they were last week. We talked to Harry
yesterday on the telephone. Ron really likes it now that he knows how
to use it. Harry sounded very bored - of course he'd rather be at the
Burrow. I hope you're not too bored yourself! I guess I'll talk to you
very soon at Diagon Alley.
p.s. There is an article on page
73 that I found very interesting.
Ginny read the letter twice, wondering
what exactly Hermione meant by "very nice" and feeling grateful for Hermione
mentioning Harry. Only Hermione knew that Ginny still had a terrible crush
on Harry, or, at least, Hermione was the only person she confided in.
She supposed everyone in her family just assumed that it had never gone
away although Ginny made a conscious effort not to say Harry's name in
front of them.
She put down the letter and reached for
the magazine. It fell open to page 73, and Ginny gave a little laugh as
she saw the title of the article "In Love With Your Best Friend? How to
Make Him Like You Back!" Trust Hermione to send the letter in a sort of
code - Ginny assumed that Hermione was wise to Fred and George's (not
to mention Mrs. Weasley's) tendency to read other people's mail.
There was a piece of parchment spellotaped
to the bottom of the page. Ginny carefully peeled the paper from the page
and skimmed the list of "helpful hints." They didn't seem all that useful
to Ginny. "Want him to notice you? Don your sexiest dress and go out for
a night on the town!" Ginny laughed outright at suggestion number seven
"Ask him to help you study - he'll feel confident and smart, and you'll
get to be close in the library!" Ginny doubted whether Hermione had ever
asked anyone for help studying, and Ron would probably look at Hermione
as if she'd gone starkers if she asked him.
Chuckling, Ginny picked up Hermione's
note. On it, she had written
#11: Make sure he's around when
you get post from Bulgaria
#12: Ignore him J
Still smiling, Ginny flipped onto her
stomach to read through the rest of the magazine. She was sure that she
and Hermione would have quite a lot to talk about in Diagon Alley. For
a little while, she forgot about Harry and relaxed.
Ginny was wakened in the middle of the
night by a squeak and felt something light and fluttery land on her chest.
She opened her eyes and focused on Pigwidgeon dancing around on her bed
and hooting happily. There was a note attached to his leg.
Trembling, Ginny sat up and untied the
letter. Pigwidgeon flew around her head, and then headed for his water
dish. "Thanks very much Pig," Ginny whispered appreciatively. She ran
her fingers over the piece of parchment and then pulled her knees under
her and hobbled on her bed over towards the window, where the light of
the moon was illuminating everything.
The letter was addressed very simply.
The front was blank except for the word
Ginny stared at it for a long time and
then finally broke the seal and opened it. Her first letter from Harry
Potter read as follows:
Thanks ever so much for the article
about the European Cup. I wondered where it would be held this year. I
can NOT wait until school starts. I'm going barmy here with my relatives.
I expect I'll see you tomorrow at Diagon Alley, if Uncle Vernon keeps
his promise to drive me to London. Hope you had a good summer.
Ginny read the note over and over again,
her finger sliding along the parchment as she read. Of course, in her
heart, she'd known that Harry would write back - he was considerate that
way - still, she was a bit surprised that the letter was here in front
of her. She had been preparing herself for disappointment all afternoon.
After a while, she just sat near the window, enjoying the warm summer
breeze, and holding her letter in her lap. Finally, she yawned, crawled
back over to her pillow, slipped the letter under it, and went to sleep
with a small smile on her face.