The Sugar Quill
Author: Madhuri (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: A Special Sibling  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: Everything belongs to JKR except Mr. Bombadil, who is seriously miffed at being thrown around by Ginny. As always, thanks to my wonderful beta-reader Zsenya.

***

Ron frowned at his robes as he folded them up as carefully as he could and stuffed them in his trunk. They were far too small for him, and rather ratty looking as well. He looked around for his textbooks and scowled even more when he spotted them- every single thing in his possession had belonged to someone else first, and it was frustrating. Here he was, about to embark on the biggest adventure of his life, and he didn’t even have a wand he could truly call his own.

He gingerly picked up his cracked and faded copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi and set it down in the far right-hand corner of his trunk. All the bad stuff had to go in first, he decided. He quickly put in all his textbooks, one after the other, and then his parchments, his quills and his inkpots (which his father had charmed earlier that day to make them unbreakable). At the very top went in his treasured 1964 Edition of Flying With the Cannons, the latest Cannons poster, bright orange socks with cannonballs emblazoned on them and an ancient, tired looking Snitch that Charlie had bestowed upon him as a good-luck charm. Ron scowled at it. It was thoughtful of Charlie to think of him, he supposed, but this Snitch was so old it couldn’t even flap its wings anymore. He wondered if it were by some chance a Weasley family heirloom.

He shut the lid of his trunk with a sigh of relief and not without a trace of smugness. He had actually packed the entire lot himself, without any help at all. That’ll show Mum and Percy and everyone else who thought he wasn’t responsible enough to be living on his own, thought Ron. True, he wouldn’t technically be on his own, Percy and the twins would be there, but still, he could survive by himself if he had to. In fact, he rather preferred to be at Hogwarts without his brothers crowding him…

The door burst open and Ginny flew in. "Mum wanted me to remind you to pack your underwear," she said breathlessly, leaning against his glass tank containing frogspawn.

 Ron groaned and banged his head on the trunk. Now he’d have to pack all over again. "Don’t do that," Ginny reproached, and knelt down beside him to open his trunk.

 "I can’t believe you finished packing already, although you did forget your underwear. You should have let me pack. I’m always good at that you know, and folding clothes and everything. And where are your spare shoes? They should always be at the bottom. And you might as well give me your underwear now, we can stuff them in. You know, I don’t think you have enough quills… Why haven’t you got the Eagle Feather quill Dad got you last year? You never used it and it still writes great," said Ginny as she sifted through her brother’s trunk.

 "Ron," she scolded. "I can’t believe you forgot your telescope. That’s the most important you know. They’ll never let you in at Hogwarts if you don’t have your telescope. And where are your gloves? How can you be without gloves? What if your Potions ingredients spill all over you and your fingers become numb and swollen and they fall off one by one leaving you writhing in agony like how George said happened to that boy in Slytherin who bought his cauldron from that Tall Man in the village Mum always tells me not to talk to-"

"Dinner ready?" Ron interrupted.

Ginny took a deep breath. "Yeah, but don’t eat too much. Mum made

treacle fudge for you as a treat."

"Really?" said Ron, looking pleased. He got up, yawned, and left his room. Ginny could hear his big feet thundering down the stairs.

She smiled to herself and set about gathering Ron’s underclothes from his drawers. It was too bad everyone was so busy right now- her dad or mum or Percy could have enlarged Ron’s trunk for him, and she wouldn’t have to re-pack the entire lot… but then she expected the trunk wouldn’t fit into the train if Ron wanted to take everything he possessed to Hogwarts. Granted, he didn’t posses much, but still…

She was very, very excited. The next day, for the first time, she’d be seeing the Hogwarts Express. She’d heard all about it, of course, and wondered if it really did have hidden dungbombs in the seats that went off when somebody sat on it. Ginny couldn’t wait until she’d see it for real.

 She hummed to herself as she removed all the contents of Ron’s trunk and began packing it again. Mum was right; it was really only a woman who could do these things properly. She threw all of Ron’s Quidditch stuff into his cauldron, and carefully set down his (or rather Percy’s) brass scales at the corner if his trunk. She then set about folding his robes right, all the while thinking about Hogwarts.

Ron was so lucky, she mused, to be going off by himself to that wonderful place. It just had to be a wonderful place, she knew it, despite what Fred and George said. And she was sure that everyone had a lot of fun there, despite what Percy said. She’d heard that it was huge, much bigger than the Burrow, and maybe even bigger than the church in the village. She knew that all the girls in the same year slept in the same dormitories, and that the four Houses had their own common rooms. The best part about Hogwarts, she concluded, that it was a place where people made friends and had fun and learnt fascinating new things everyday. But it wasn’t that she didn’t have friends or fun at home. And she definitely learned something new everyday. Why, Ron’s colourful vocabulary was a lesson in itself.

Ginny leaned back on her heels and surveyed her finished work proudly. The trunk was neatly and concisely packed, and she’d set apart the best Hogwarts robes Ron owned for him to wear tomorrow. She wondered if Ron would be carrying his wand with him or if he wanted to keep it safely in his trunk. She picked it up from his nightstand and studied it curiously. It was very old and battered looking, with bits of Unicorn tail hair almost poking out at odd places. She bet that Charlie had done a lot of wonderful things with it during his Hogwarts days. And Ron would probably do even better things with it at Hogwarts…

Ginny felt inexplicably sad. Ron would be going off to Hogwarts the next day, she thought, looking around at his room, which seemed bare already. Ron was her favourite brother, and she wouldn’t see him again for a whole year. He’d probably be off making new friends and playing Quidditch and forget all about her.

She sighed and sat down on the edge of his bed, swallowing a lump in her throat.

Ron had to get the Quaffle through the hoop, he just had to… The Falcons were in the lead and he desperately needed to even the score. He clutched the Quaffle tightly in his hand, and maneuvered

his broomstick like a pro, dodging under a shower of Bludgers and a very harassed looking referee. He was nearing the goal, he was getting towards it… he swung his arm back to throw it into the hoop… and the Keeper suddenly morphed into Percy.

 Percy was riding a Twigger, Ron noticed, and read out aloud from a huge red book. "According to Section Five Paragraph Eight Sub-Clause 22 of the Three Hundred and Forty-Third Revision of Quidditch Qualms and Quirks, the player in possession of the Quaffle is not allowed to ride the broomstick while wearing knickers of a colour which does not prescribe to the appropriate hue selected by the team manager who…"

Far down below, he could see his father cheering for him and his mother waving her handkerchief frantically at the referee. But the piece of cloth in his mother’s hand had become a large iron Bludger which torpedoed straight towards him and knocked the Quaffle out of his hands. He cried out in desperation, and Percy reached him quick as a flash. "Why did you drop the Quaffle?" Percy yelled, shaking Ron by the shoulders. "You shouldn’t drop the Quaffle! We’ve never dropped the Quaffle! Honestly Ron-"

"Honestly Ron, are you on a Sleeping Potion or something? Get up, you big prat!"

Ron opened one eye blearily and was able to make out the outline of a small figure in a frilly nightgown standing over him. "Ginny," he groaned. "Go back to your room."

But his sister sat down heavily on his bed and hugged Mr. Bombadil, her raggedy old stuffed unicorn, closer to her chest. "Ron, you have to help me," she declared.

 It was pitch dark in the room, illuminated only by random flashes of lightning from the thunderstorm that was raging outside. "Can’t this wait until morning?" he mumbled, pulling his bed covers up and over his head. Ginny tugged them off him.

"No," she stated fiercely. "You have to help me convince Mum and Dad that I’m old enough to go to Hogwarts. I just have to go this year. I’ve already read all your books, and we can visit Diagon Alley again before we leave for the train station. I have nothing to do here anyway and-"

"Ginny, shut it," Ron said shortly, getting up. "We’ve already been through this. You don’t go to Hogwarts until you’re eleven. End of story." He then flopped back onto his bed, face down.

 "But Ron," Ginny whined, hitting the back of his head with the hapless Mr. Bombadil, "you have to help me. I just can’t not go. Come on you git, get up and lets go talk to Mum-"

 Ron turned over on his back and faced his sister. "Just shut up and go back to sleep Ginny. There’s no way I’m saying anything to anyone so stop being an idiot and go to bed. I have to get up early tomorrow."

A flash of lightning illuminated Ginny’s white face, showing off the cluster of freckles that most prominently occupied the bridge of her nose. For a second she didn’t react, but then suddenly got to her feet and yelled, "Well then fine, Ronald Weasley! I never want to speak to you again! Goodnight!" She threw Mr. Bombadil at Ron and stalked out of the room, slamming the door loudly behind her as she left.

 Ron sighed and pushed the dusty doll off his bed. He turned over onto his stomach and tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. Drat Ginny, he thought, waking me up like that. Now it’ll be ages before I can doze off again.

He sighed and lay still on his bed, listening to the rain lashing out side and the thunder rumbling and the wind blowing… Even at night the Weasley household seemed to be determined not to allow silence to reign for a while. He was still surprised that he hadn’t heard anyone wake up, what with Ginny yelling like that and all. Idiot girl. What was her problem anyway?

As far as Ron was concerned, Ginny was just too spoiled. She was the baby, and so she was treated like a princess. Even Fred and George did something nice for her to make up whenever she was the target of one of their stupid pranks. Percy was never curt to her like he was to Ron, Bill and Charlie always made sure of sending her presents each time they wrote, Mum and Dad adored her, and she was the one who was friends with almost every single Muggle down in the village.

She was the Baby. And he was… well, he didn’t know who he was.

He sighed again and shut his eyes tightly, trying to imagine Quaffles being thrown through a hoop. One Quaffle… Two Quaffles… He wondered if he’d be able to play Quidditch at Hogwarts. Maybe in the second year, when-

Ron’s train of thought stopped abruptly. He was sure he’d heard something in the corridor outside his room… a cat? Cats were rare visitors to the Burrow, although his mum adored them. Ron wasn’t much of a cat person, however. He didn’t trust them, with their glowing eyes and their long claws and their whiney meows…

But this… this didn’t sound much like a cat. Ron listened carefully, trying to block out the noise of the storm outside. It sounded like someone was… crying. Crying? Who was crying at this unearthly hour? Not unless-

"Ginny?" Ron called out. "Ginny? Are you there?"

The door burst open and Ginny stood in the doorway, visibly shivering. A flash of lightning lit up her face once again, and Ron noticed that her eyes were red-rimmed, her cheeks stained with tears. "It’s d-dark," she stuttered, "and the loud noises… with the rain and the thunder… and I’m all alone in my room… and… I’m so sc-scared," she broke down, sobbing.

Ron felt lower than the pondweed at the bottom of the lake behind the Burrow.

Ginny might be a sodding brat sometimes, but she was his only sister, and he couldn’t stand to see her cry.

"Come here," he said, patting his bed.

Ginny rushed over to Ron and threw her arms around his neck. "Please don’t go to Hogwarts," she whispered, hugging him tightly.

"What?" asked Ron, now completely shocked.

"I don’t want you to go," sobbed Ginny. "Please don’t go. Then I’ll be all alone and I won’t see you for so long-"

"I’ll be back soon, Ginny," said Ron, patting her head awkwardly. "It’s not like I’m going away forever. And you’ll be coming to Hogwarts too, in a year…"

"But I’ll miss you," Ginny protested, untangling her arms from around Ron’s neck and wiping her nose. "And you’ll be off having a wonderful, wonderful time, and you’ll be playing Quidditch, and you’ll be having snowball fights, and you won’t even come home during Christmas because I’m going with Mum and Dad to see Charlie, and you won’t want to come back during Easter because you would have forgotten all about me and I-"

"Ginny, I’m not going to forget you," said Ron.

"But you’ll not be here! And I’ll be all alone! And I won’t have anyone to talk to, or play with…"

 "You know plenty of kids down in the village."

"But they’re Muggles! They’re boring. And you’ll be at Hogwarts, doing magic and being with people like us and having the time of your life-"

"Ginny, will you calm down for just a minute?"

Ginny folded her arms and sniffed. "I want to go with you and George and Fred and Percy and use a wand and make new friends…"

"You’ll get to do all of that, Gin. You’ll just have to wait."

Ginny looked more forlorn than ever.

"I’ll tell you what, I promise I’ll write to you every week, okay? No matter what," said Ron, trying to cheer his sister up.

Ginny sniffed. "Promise?"

"Absolutely."

"You swear by the corn on Merlin’s big toe?"

Ron held up his right hand. "I swear by the corn on Merlin’s big toe," he said solemnly.

Ginny grinned widely and hugged Ron again. "You’ll miss me too, right?"

Ron rolled his eyes but smiled. "Yeah, I’ll miss you too… Are you going to stop strangling me now?"

"I’m afraid to go back to my room," Ginny whimpered into Ron’s shoulder. "It’s dark in there… and Fred said that the troll in my closet is hungry."

"Well, maybe just for tonight you can sleep here… Leggo of my neck, Gin," he choked.

"Thanks Ron!" said Ginny, letting go of her brother, and crawled into his bed picking up Mr. Bombadil along the way.

"Ron?" said Ginny after a few minutes.

Ron grunted something unintelligible.

"What House are you going to be in?"

"I dunno."

"Are you going to make a lot of friends?"

"I dunno."

"Are you going to get detention?"

"Dunno."

"You don’t know anything. No wonder you have to go to Hogwarts."

Ron chortled. "Go to sleep, Gin."

Ginny squirmed around under the covers, trying to get comfortable enough to go to sleep. Her bare foot brushed against something soft and furry and she gave a small yelp.

"Ron?" she asked quietly. "What’s that against my foot?"

"Just Scabbers," muttered Ron.

Ginny wrinkled her nose. "Don’t you think he’ll suffocate to death because of your smelly feet?"

"That’s what I’m hoping for, actually. Now quiet, I’m trying to sleep."

Ginny remained silent for a while, not even squirming much, before turning over to Ron and asking "Will you have a girlfriend?"

Her brother sputtered indignantly. "A girlfriend? Why would I want one of those?"

Ginny shrugged. "Mum and Dad were boyfriend and girlfriend in Hogwarts. It’s really sweet."

"I don’t even like girls," muttered Ron.

"I’m a girl," said Ginny, slightly hurt.

Ron yawned. "Well, I guess you’re not all that bad. Go to sleep, will you?"

"Will you be a prefect like Percy and Bill?"

"I don’t want to," said Ron shortly. "Now go to sleep or I’ll pull a Percy and sing you a lullaby."

Ginny squealed and dived under the covers. But another question came to mind and she poked out of the sheets cautiously. "Do you think Harry Potter will be in your year?"

 "I dunno," muttered Ron.

"I think he’ll be in your year. I think he’ll be in Gryffindor. He must be very brave, mustn’t he, to defeat You-Know-Who and all? I think he’s brave. I think he’s really nice too."

She yawned.

"Maybe you’ll meet him. Maybe I’ll meet him when I come to Hogwarts. And I bet he’s really smart and good and nice and we’ll be friends. And he’ll carry my books and sit with me during meals and talk to me…I’ll make a lot of friends. And I’ll learn all sorts of stuff, and have a whole lot of fun… Hogwarts will be brilliant, I just know it. I can feel it."

Ron snored.

Ginny sighed contentedly. She looked over at Ron, sleeping with his mouth open as usual, his arm flung over his eyes. She wondered why he wasn’t as excited as she was. After all, Ron would be the one going to Hogwarts the next day, not her. Maybe he was afraid. Ginny could tell when Ron was afraid. It made her feel better, somehow, that her big brother was sometimes scared too. She knew that it was stupid to be scared of the thunder and the dark… Ron would never be scared of silly things like that, but then Ron was scared of going away from home for the first time.

Ginny knew that Ron didn’t have to be afraid. He would probably make loads of friends on his first day. How could he not? For as long as she could remember, Ron had been her absolute favourite brother. Ron was the one who dove into the lake to save her that one time she’d almost drowned. He was the one who always agreed to play School with her, and always let her be the Professor. He was the one who helped Ginny get back at the twins every time they played a trick on her. Ron was so nice, he even taught her his top-secret three-move checkmate strategy. And although he always teased her, she knew that he was the only one she’d ever be able to really talk to.

Ron would go to Hogwarts, he’d be in Gryffindor, he’d make friends with Harry Potter, and by the time she got to Hogwarts, she’d have a nice older brother there to look out for her. He would help her with her homework, and teach her how to play Quidditch at the big Quidditch Pitch, and show her all the secret passages, and…

 Ginny yawned again. A streak of lightning lit up the room for a brief second, and was followed by the deafening roar of thunder. Ginny snuggled closer to Ron, feeling safer immediately. She inhaled a bit of dust from Mr. Bombadil and sneezed, causing Ron to snore even louder. Ginny giggled. He sounded like her dad’s Muggle car when it got stuck in the swamp near the woods.

Ginny closed her eyes, completely at peace, despite the slight uncertainty she was feeling. It was nice to think of her family being there for her and protecting her, especially Ron.

He would always be her favourite brother, she resolved. Always.

 

 

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