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Chapter Three: Brotherly Concern
Ginny, Hermione, Ron and Harry spent most of the next weeks playing two-a-side Quidditch in the Weasleys’ orchard. Ginny and Ron against Harry and Hermione, which made the teams somewhat even, although Hermione was truly dreadful at it. But Ginny couldn’t stop thinking that she would like it a lot better if she were Harry’s partner.
The day before Harry’s birthday, the four of them spent the afternoon in the sitting room. Hermione was reading, Harry and Ron were playing wizard chess and Ginny was simply watching the match. They were interrupted, however by the arrival of Bill and Fleur. As soon as Ron saw the beautiful blonde enter the room, he tipped over the chess board, startled. Game over, thought Ginny rolling her eyes.
Bill greeted the teenagers and continued on his way to the kitchen. Fleur, however, went straight to Harry. She always greeted him as if she hadn’t seen him in ages, something that Ginny found particularly annoying.
“Oh ‘Arry! Is so good to see you!” she said in her throaty voice at the same time she kissed both his cheeks.
His face burned red –as it usually did- and he muttered something indistinct. Fleur marched to the kitchen without acknowledging the presence of the other three.
As soon as she was gone, Ginny flipped her long hair and said, in a very good imitation of the French girl, “Oh ‘Arry! I’d rather marry you than Bill!” Hermione and even Ron burst out laughing while Ginny closed her eyes and started making smooching sounds. She kept doing it until a pillow hit her square in the face. She gasped surprised and opened her eyes to find Harry snickering.
“You didn’t!” she exclaimed throwing him back the pillow. But he had pretty good reflexes (damned Quidditch! Ginny thought) and dodged it easily.
“You started it,” he said picking the pillow from the floor with the obvious intention of throwing it back at her. But this time Ginny was ready. She had grabbed a pillow herself and was about to throw it at him when…
“Ginny,” Bill said, standing in the doorway. Both Ginny and Harry lowered the pillows with which they were about to attack each other. “Can I talk to you for a second?”
“Sure,” Ginny said, feeling a bit uneasy. She had been expecting Bill to lecture her for making fun of Phlegm for ages. He probably heard her before.
Ginny followed her older brother to the porch and sat next to him on the steps.
“What is it?” she asked, doing her best to look innocent.
“What is this I hear about you dating another boy?” he asked bluntly.
Ginny was taken aback. She certainly hadn’t expected that.
“Who told you?” And then it hit her. “Ron told you! The little weasel.” She could feel her temper flaring.
“Well,” said Bill visibly amused, “you could have told me yourself.”
“It’s just that it’s only starting,” Ginny said defensively. “We started dating on the last day of classes and we haven’t seen each other all summer. What was I supposed to say?” she looked at Bill frowning.
“Don’t get all worked up about it, Gin,” he said passing an arm over her shoulders. “It’s just that I was wondering…” his voice trailed off.
“What?” Ginny asked mechanically, although she had a pretty good idea of what he had been wondering. He was the only person in the world with whom she had talked about it.
“What about Harry?”
“What about him?” she asked moving away from him and looking straight into his eyes, defiantly.
“Well,” he said conciliatory. “I sort of liked the idea of you two.”
“I know you liked the idea,” Ginny snapped. “Ron likes the idea. I’m sure Fred, George and Charlie like the idea. And I know Mum and Dad like it too.” Bill opened his mouth, but Ginny forestalled him. “I used to like the idea myself, but guess what? Harry doesn’t.”
An uncomfortable silence settled. Ginny took a deep breath, trying to regain her composure. After a while, Bill spoke again.
“So,” he said in a would-be-casual tone, “how about this boy you’re dating? Is he a nice guy?”
Ginny raised an eyebrow. The honest answer was “He’s not Harry,” but she decided to go a different way.
“It’s not like I’m going to marry him,” she said sardonically. “And I don’t remember you asking my opinion about Fleur,” she would rather steer the conversation away from her love life.
To her surprise, Bill didn’t get angry at her comment. He actually threw his head back in laughter.
“Gin,” he said. “You don’t like Fleur because you haven’t given her a chance.”
“But you should marry a girl that’s smart, and funny, and…”
“And a Metamorphmagus, I know,” he said shaking his head. “Ginny, I’m not marrying Tonks. I like her a lot, but I’m in love with Fleur.”
Ginny crossed her arms over her chest and pursed her lips, but didn’t say a word.
“If you really want Tonks in the family,” continued Bill playfully, “you should have this conversation with Charlie.” Ginny looked at him inquiringly. “You know they were in the same year at Hogwarts, right?” he asked and she nodded. She had heard many stories about how that pair used to get in all kinds of trouble. “But what you don’t know is that they dated for a while?”
“Really?” Ginny’s mouth fell open.
“Really,” said Bill. “They have been best friends ever since.” His lips curled up a bit. “Although I think that won’t work either,” he said enigmatically. “I know for a fact that Tonks is interested in another fellow.” Ginny opened her mouth to ask who, but Bill held out his hand to stop her. “I won’t tell you. It suffices to say that, surprisingly enough, he’s not a Weasley.”
With that, he stood up and entered the house, leaving Ginny to wonder who this mystery man was.
Ginny was still fuming when they got back from Diagon Alley. She would have hexed Ron into a pulp if only she wouldn’t get in trouble with the Ministry of Magic. She wanted to hurt him very much, but it was not worthy risking expulsion from Hogwarts over it.
How dared he talk about her, about her love life, with Fred and George? She still hadn’t forgiven him for tale-telling with Bill, but the twins? That was low even for him.
And they had confronted her in front of Harry. They had treated her as if she were a tramp. A scarlet woman, as her mother called them. What would he think about her now?
“Moving through boyfriends a bit fast,” Fred had said.
All she wanted at that moment was to hex them all. She still didn’t know how she had been able to restrain herself.
She really needed to get back at Ron. She would need to think about something truly horrible to do to him.
She grunted in frustration and decided to start packing her trunk, just to keep her mind busy. It was not working the way she had expected, though. She was taking everything out of the trunk and throwing it aside with such a fury that soon enough the floor and bed were covered with scattered robes, books, quills, empty ink bottles, and pieces of parchment.
Ginny looked at the bottom of her trunk and saw that the only thing left were the Gilderoy Lockhart books she had used on her first year at Hogwarts. She sat on the floor and took one with a small smile on her face. Wandering with Werewolves. She ran her fingers over the cover and started flipping its pages distractively.
She had carried these books with her every year. But that had nothing to do with Gilderoy Lockhart himself or with she having a particular interest in Defense Against the Dark Arts. She had carried the books to and from Hogwarts for four years because Harry had given them to her.
She remembered the day like it was yesterday. Lockhart had given Harry the books, announcing it importantly to the crowd gathered at Flourish and Blotts. Harry gave them to Ginny and bought his own. She could have died at that very moment. He chose to give her the books when he could have very well given them to Ron or Hermione. She had felt so special. But she knew better now. He had done it because he hated the attention and because he didn’t want to take the books from someone as obnoxious as Lockhart. But he also did it because he knew the Weasleys had to buy five sets of Lockhart’s books that year. Ginny knew now that she had been the last thing on his mind when he gave her the books.
“Well, it’s time to move on,” Ginny sighed. She stood up, gathered the books and put them on her bookshelf. Her trunk was now completely empty, an emptiness that seemed to have crept all the way to her heart.
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