Harry Potter. PG.
Ginny Weasley, making of. (Pre-series—PoA)
Author's note: this is, I believe the start of a Ginevra Weasley triptych. It felt like this could be bigger, and it could have been, of course it could have been, there is more. It's coming, though. I want to write other things that focus on the relationships, and I will. This is just—Ginny, in history and in pieces, for Ginny's sake.
The twins tell her this story too many times to count (that laugh in their throats, always, but Ginny, little Ginny, she takes it to heart before she learns not to), and her mum does too, with a different brand of warmth of her voice. The closeness of her words, her hand in Ginny’s hair, they somehow don’t do much to smooth Ginny down when she listens; she’s heard it again and again. How Arthur leans in, awkward, as he always was with newborns (you’d think after seven, her mother tuts with her hands on her sturdy hips and Ginny, young, gulps with abstract physical terror, you’d think he’d be used to it, but no, all elbows as always, and Molly’s mouth curls with affection that Ginny is too young to quite understand): “She’s a pretty one, isn’t she? Looks a bit like Charlie, he was a lovely baby—”
“She looks like Ginevra,” Molly’d replied sternly, “our daughter,” but the damage is done.
Ginevra Molly Weasley: named for a queen and a legend and then for her mum, too, who holds her too close when she brings her home and for weeks afterward, like she’s a part of her, a new-grown limb of Molly Weasley the first. Ginevra Weasley, burdened with syllables in a way that none of the boys know, florid after a string of stolidly English short-and-perfunctories. She learned how to say everyone else’s name first, long before she could handle her own. First girl in generations, she grows sharp enough to figure out that there’s a legacy of syllables that are meant to honor her, celebrate her—but when she’s two and learning the weight of words on her tongue, she stumbles in circles around it until she weeps with frustration.
(She will grow up to be best with Charms, with defense spells: swift ratatat of incantations ringing out extra clearly and half the work’s already been done.)
She inherits a few of Charlie’s things when she grows up—broomsticks, mostly, always broomsticks, splintering and fingerprinted but never broken and carefully saved (this is a family that knows how to save; she has the sense—even at six and spiteful, trailing it behind her and knocking it against doorjambs—to try not to break it). Some of Bill’s. A scant few of Percy’s, clean near-new-looking plastic wands and toy owls and, later, pressed oversized white shirts whose source her mum always tries to skirt around when Ginny asks.
She flies. She’s quite good at flying—she likes being up in the air, untouchable. Out of reach of her brothers’ sticky hands—for Fred and George’s hands are often sticky long past the age where you’d expect it (what’s that then? she asks once; nothing, Fred says, and pokes her in the nose, and a tree-green fingerprint rests there for days even though she scrubs herself pink in the face) and they’re the most liable to grab. Just for a larf, course, and thing is, sometimes it is a laugh, it really is, she’s no Percy, tight in the voice and squinting at anything past his nose, but they do keep coming back to her: she’s a girl, and she shrieks over it until she realizes that’s what they’re expecting. Then she stops.
The first time she’s rescued it’s their fault: she’s a chubby toddler with pink starfish hands grabbing at the sweet they offer her until she trips into a Floo-powdered fireplace and stumbles off into somewhere nebulous and ashy (perhaps it was brighter at the time, but memories fade).
Minutes, hours pass—her father grabs her, lifts her two feet off the ground, where she was drawing spirals in the dirt; she presses her cheek, muddy and tear-salted, to the frayed edge of his jacket, and then her mother whisks her back and clamps her between her arms, warm and too close for breath.
“We di’nt know,” says George, six and a half, scuffing his feet.
“Of course you bloody didn’t,” says Molly, and swats him so sharply that Ginny’s small head jostles with it.
“She’s your sister, boys,” her father says, “you’re meant to protect her.”
It’s not so much they fail that as—well, they don’t much try.
She thanks them.
No, they’re jesters, they gave up playing with knights long ago (someone play wizard chess, Ron pleads at least twice every day, and sometimes it’s her who plays but it’s never them) and that’s better than good enough, especially when compared to the rest: mostly she trips over Ron’s things and Percy doesn’t talk much to children and Bill and Charlie are brilliant and flash and exciting but they can afford to be, can’t they, because then they’re gone.
Then it’s Mum asking for help in the kitchen and she comes back to knocking on their doors—
“Buzz off, Gin.”
“What, you don’t want to go for a fly around the tree?”
“We’ve better things to do.”
“Like what then?” and her eyes sparkle, and they let her in.
She’s eight and picking locks; she’s seven with matches, she is a bloody child prodigy, isn’t she, then, and she’ll take this first and best any day of the year.
The worst is when she’s nine and they’re gone and Ron’s not even there to match in chess or Exploding Snap, to trip her with his big feet. The house that’s barely a Hippogriff’s wingspan is big, bare; it echoes. In the center of it—her father in and out, in in the evenings to kiss the top of her head and tell her stories about mailboxes with teeth—she sits, surrounded by books she’s too moody to read for any decent length of time, surrounded by her mother’s arms, her mother’s appraising gaze.
She sulks, pointy-jointed, in robes worn to comfort and inches too small. “We’ll need to get you something new to wear” her mother says, and she glowers.
“What do I have to look nice for?”
Her mother’s dress is worn, grease spots from fresh-baked pudding on the collar, her cheeks go pink and her mouth turns down and Ginny’s shamed though she doesn’t quite know why.
“Sorry, Mum,” she says with an awkward tongue.
“Not to worry, dear.” Her mother shakes her head, puts a hand on Ginny’s shoulder—Ginny can feel her palm against the blade of the bone; she is not tall, not even a little, but her bones sometimes seem to be growing out of her skin. She is forgiven; her mother’s palm is warm and rubbing in brisk little circles against that bony expanse. “I’ll take in one of my old ones, they’re up in the closet somewhere,” and Ginny regrets.
They come back for Christmas hols and she demands a bout of Quidditch in the snow. They pack on robes over robes under jumpers atop jumpers, they wind their scarves over their goggles: they complain with laughter in their voices, already moving even while they protest. The house moves when they are there, firelight reflecting off the walls and the door slamming open to let in snowy wind as a pack of fools in tattered wool rushes outside waving broomsticks over their heads.
“Bloody hell, Gin, you’re got faster than any of us,” Fred sputters as she whips rings around the hawthorn tree outside.
“I’ve had time to practice,” she says, glaring.
“Nah,” George replies, “I think you’re just short.”
She whips around and Fred aims a charmed Christmas orange at her head (Mum won’t let them even have play Bludgers in the house, Ginny’s heard the story about Bill’s left elbow and can't really blame her); when she ducks, it explodes onto the snow in a starburst of jammy foil.
“You’re nearly as fast as Harry,” Ron starts, and the twins turn in.
“Oh, yes, we’ve nearly gone half a minute without mentioning the Chosen Chum—”
“Ickle Ronnie’s bosom friendie—”
“Stuff it,” Ron says, pointing his wand at the orange with a wobbly upward flick—it skyrockets up past the top of the tree, and Ginny turns in a loop on her broom to watch it, not eager to see it come down near her.
He’s mentioned Harry Potter twenty-seven times just today, too. Well, not that she’s counting.
She meets Harry Potter herself (h-h-harry potter, she can’t think his name without stuttering down to her impressionable heart), and she can’t speak: she never thought she’d have patience for knights, but she’d never met one before. And he is a knight, he’s got stories on his back, and he fills up the space—space she made long before she met him; her brothers gave her the makings, the stories in hushed-to-raucous voices year after youthful year, but she won’t think of that, not now, having met him, their voices and legends are drowned out by his presence, the sheer fact of his existence. He’s Harry Potter: he plays the role of himself, that grand and glittering role, without trying a bit, down to his hands splayed on the wooden table or fiddling with his wand. When he says things, she can’t quite hear them at first over the roar of him. He doesn’t speak all that loudly. Sometimes he sort of—mumbles, his words caught inside the sloppy collar of his shirt; she looks at those collars and wants to correct them, like a tic she borrowed off her mum and forgot to give back, but she can’t imagine touching him, putting her hands that close to his skin (which goes pinkish back there around the neck when she talks to him for too long, he’s not very good at looking right at her but that’s all right because nor is she at him). He is a knowing twelve to her uncertain eleven and he’s not like her brothers at all—he tucks his limbs in so as not to jostle people when he walks by—and he saved the world, he saved the world, he saved the world and he’s just walking around with rumply black hair and rumply shirts and bright, bright green eyes (even if he’s not using them to look at her, she’s astonished with their color, has mesmerized it for potions and poems with—with metaphors and things like that) and her life could probably be laid at his feet in any case.
And then—then it really could. And then she wakes up with blood on her hands, or paint; paint on her hands, or blood. Filthy feathers in her hair and grey spaces in her memory. Basilisk blood on the floor and cold, cold urges and edges coursing in her veins.
He puts his arms around her and picks her up, pushes her onto her feet, keeps a hand on her elbow until she’s in the hospital wing.
He rescues her.
There is a blank space stretching out long before that moment.
(He inherits, fills, far more room than, she thinks—just once, resentfully—he ever deserved.)
She wakes up night after night with blood coursing high in her veins: pure flashes through her mind as she looks at the lines running stark blue beneath white skin, and that more than anything makes her feel filthy from the inside out.
The first time—dreaming of slow smiles and eyes that flash red in the iris, of that voice too close in the back of her mind whispering potential truths she wishes she didn’t already know—she screams. She screams, and the whole family rushes in (to save her, save her from the monsters), too many bodies crammed into the small space of her room, framing her bed. “I’m fine,” she says ten times. Her mother forces warm milk into her hands; she cups it to hide her fingers, which are cold and shaking. “I’m fine.”
After that, she bites her lips.
There’s a summer’s length of time for the dreams to go away, she thinks. Looking hard into the mirror before she goes to bed, she presses her palms to the glass and stares hard into her reflected eyes. “You’re Ginny Weasley,” she says. “I’m—Ginny. No one else.”
At the end of the summer, there are nailmarks on the inside of her palm and bitemarks on the inside of her lips, there are shadows circling her eyes, but she’s a quiet sleeper.
What was it like? Winnie Ellsworth one bunk over asks, and Ginny blinks hard—teeth to lips—for one silent second before she recovers.
“It was like being saved from the greatest Dark Lizard of our time,” she forces out sharply (the twins would like that one—you’re doing fine, she thinks), “what do you bloody think it was like?”
What was he like? another girl asks, and Ginny draws the curtains around her bed immediately.
The dementors billow in dark bursts through the train cabinet, and when she feels her heart beat faster and faster, something sibilant and dark caught in the back of her mind reminds her what pristine blood it’s beating. Beneath her cooling skin, her veins twist like she could throw it out of her; behind her ears, the same voice whispers dark and intimate things to her—she’d nearly called that voice a conscience, once. A soul, given voice.
Not hers. Never hers.
She watches Harry Potter fall for the first time on that train, and she keeps her fists curled in against her breastbone, so close she can feel the race her heart is running.
No one will save you.
Don’t wait around next time.
She watches him with open eyes, watches him brush himself off and sit back in his seat; she supposes she might as well learn.
First girl in generations, in this family. She knows, she’s been told and told again—still, girls are harder than anything. Most of them don’t have brothers. The ones who do don’t have six. Girls are difficult—Hermione, an only child, leans close to Ginny and laughs with all intended comfort, and sometimes Ginny can’t help but chafe at it.
“You’re shaking,” Hermione says once, as if second year isn’t bloody difficult enough without her deciding to be perceptive all over the place. Ginny crosses her arms, fiddling with the fraying elbows of her knitted jumper.
“It’s December. It's cold.”
“Oh,” Hermione says, sweet and sad, flattening expressions on mouth with a twist of her lips, and leans in to wrap her arms around Ginny’s shoulders. Her hair is close, a cloud that smells like soap and book-dust, and Ginny leans in for a moment too close before Hermione’s gone again and off with Ron and—well, off, just like you’d expect, and out of reach.
Girls are impossible and her brothers look at her like she’ll break, now.
The year is silent and slow; the year passes.
She sits alone in the emptying common room one day in the middle of finals week, mired in her scribbly Transfiguration notes in a squashy red armchair, and she realizes she’s listening to the clock tick, to the echo of it inside her head, and she sits bolt upright, clenching her hands into the fabric; there is only so much quiet one head can take. First thing to learn, she thinks, is how to drown it out—or go batty completely (again, she thinks, before she can remember the refrains of not you, wasn’t you; she's always a moment behind it).
“It’s bloody gorgeous out,” she stands up and says, and the room—maybe—starts. Good, she thinks, and stands up on the chair’s flattened seat, shaking off stillness and stuffiness. “Who fancies a game outside?”
“I’ve got to study,” Agustina Pimm says from the nearest table, “we’ve all got to,” and Ginny leaps down.
“Well,” she says, “sod you all, then,” and leaves.
It feels brilliant to move. It’s a thousand times clearer than waiting around, she thinks wordlessly as she tromps up to the boys’ common room (when in doubt of a game, there’s always at least one brother waiting to join in).
Looking down at gnomehills on the Burrow lawn, she surveys the world from high up with no tower beneath her.
“Hey,” Fred shouts, “are you bloody well playing or not? Come down.”
“I can see better from up here,” she says and sticks out her tongue, gone blue today from Droobles Best. “No.”
“Ginevra Weasley,” her mother calls up from the window, and Ginny grins at the sky with her bluish-stained teeth, far out of reach. She flies higher than ever that summer—she thinks she’ll make a habit of it.