Chapter 3 : Chapter 3 Fireflies and Gin-bugs in June
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“I don’t like her,” she grouched.
“You just don’t like the fact that she’s taking Bill away from you.” Charlie chuckled.
“That’s just a happy coincidence, my not liking her is a bonus.”
They sat in the tree-house that their father had made for her when she was eight, their feet dangling over the sides of the platform, their arms on the railing and their chins resting on their folded hands.
It was just as crooked and haphazardly put together as the Burrow. It looked as if the only thing holding it together was Ginny’s force of will and maybe a little bit of magic. Ginny called it Burrow-South and she loved it. There were two places at the Burrow where Ginny could be found when she was brooding and that was her beloved tree-house or lying on her stomach on the branch of the gnarled tree that hung like a hammock over the River Otter.
How they managed to end up discussing things where she decided to indulge in her sulks was still a mystery to him.
“Well, if I want to indulge in a full blown out sulk, I sit in the tree-house,” she told him.
“And why is that?” he asked, puzzled.
“Well, if I’m in a pouting mood, it’s almost certain that a Weasley was the cause of it. I don’t just sulk for the sake of sulking, you know?” she had given Charlie a quelling look when he couldn’t stifle the snort that escaped his lips.
“Don’t look at me like that, you wanker. I only indulge in non-Weasley related sulks every 28 days and that is to be expected. I am a girl you know,” she grumbled.
“Anyway, as I was trying to explain, a Weasley-related-all-out-no-holds-barred sulk manifests itself in the form of ranting and raving, indulging in the use of a few choice words that consist of only four letters, and usually ends by me screaming my bloody head off. I want to enjoy my sulk to the fullest in plain view of the Burrow so that the instigator of my infamous sulks, namely Fred, George and Ron, are well aware that I am sulking, thus giving them the opportunity to grovel at my feet and plead for my merciful and gracious forgiveness.”
By the end of her exposition, Charlie had a glassy look in his eyes and he shook his head as if to shake off the cobwebs “You know Gin-bug, that actually makes sense. Does that work for you much?”
“Well no, but after a while Mum calls me in to wash up for dinner and by then I’ve had enough time to come down from my sulk-induced rage and have already planned a deviously clever revenge.” She smirked at him mischievously.
He laughed. “Oh, of that I have no doubt. Okay, so you come here to sulk for the pure unadulterated indulgence of sulking, but what about the river then?”
“I go there for the serious brooding; the kind of brooding that requires serious thought. I can lie there for hours in meditative contemplation, or I go there whenever I need to make an important decision, or if I just want to sit quietly and let my mind go blank, taking in the sound of the rushing water and the wind in the leaves, the buzz of the insects around me, the wet smell of the grass so clean and fresh after the rain. I think that’s what heaven must be like.”
Charlie smiled at her indulgently. What could a soon to be fifteen year old possibly worry about?
“Wipe that smile off your face, Charlie, I’ve had enough condescension hurled at me from Lots of Phlegm. Just because I have to tolerate it from her doesn’t mean I’ll tolerate it from you.”
He bit his lip in an attempt to stop the smile from turning into outright laughter. Ginny however, was not amused. Charlie’s reaction ignited her temper.
“You think I don’t worry about Da, Mum, Bill and the Twins working for the Order. You think that because I am the littlest Weasley and I’m stuck up in a castle like bloody Rapunzel that the war doesn’t touch me or affect me in any way. We almost lost Da last year Charlie, or have you forgotten? Not to mention Harry’s now traditional end-of-year reunions with dear old Tom. Oh, and let’s not forget our little field trip to the DOM this year, that was loads of fun too."
"I worry about you, too, do you think because you're so far away that out of sight is out of mind, you condescending self-absorbed prat!” She looked away from him for a moment.
Charlie remained quiet, waiting for her to continue. He knew from past experience not to interrupt her. She needed to release her worries and fears or they would fester and grow inside her like a cancer.
"Do you remember Cedric, Charlie? He and his family used to sit at our table for Christmas pudding, you and the boys used to play Quidditch in the paddock afterwards. Wars are fought by the young, Charlie, while grey-haired men sit around tables and scheme their tangled webs. How many young lives will be lost before this is over?
“When all is said and done, and Tom is nothing put a pile of ashes blown away in the wind, will we, as a family, have come out of this unscathed? Which Weasley son will be sacrificed on the funeral pyre of war? We’re Weasleys, blood-traitors and if by some horrible twist of fate, Tom manages to win this war, we might as well dig our own graves and lay down in them with a lily in our hands and wait, because we’ll all be as good as dead.”
“What about Percy? Do you think my mind doesn’t go round in circles over that stupid git? Yes, he’s an odious, arrogant, self-absorbed wanker, but he’s our wanker and… and I miss him. I actually miss his pompous lectures and know-it-all looks. His desertion didn’t just hurt Mum – oh, she’s the most vocal, I’ll give you that – but Da… Da grieves for his son in silence. The Twins want to maim him permanently for making Mum cry. Ron just turns every shade of red in the color spectrum and refuses to even say his name.”
“Did you know that Bill goes to visit him at the Ministry once a month to invite him to lunch? Percy just sits at his desk and refuses to acknowledge his presence, as if he’s the injured party. But Bill, loyal steadfast Bill, ever the elder brother still trying to keep us all in line, told me he’ll keep going until, and I quote ‘the bloody pompous wanker gives in or the hexes start to fly.’” She laughed at that, but then sobered quickly.
“And you, you refuse to acknowledge that he ever existed. As if you don’t have the same blood coursing through your veins, as if you weren’t raised in the same house, shared scraped knees and hand me down clothes and punishments that were doled out by the same woman that bore you both.” Her tone was reprimanding and Charlie took offense.
“He left us Gin, we didn’t leave him. Why shouldn’t I turn my back on him? He turned his back on us and over what? A bloody fucking job!” He raised his voice at the end, his Weasley temper getting the best of him. Percy was a sore subject.
“I don’t dispute that, Charlie and that’s what makes it so difficult. To abandon his family over his convictions or over a cause he believes to be true and just, I could probably accept that. But to betray those who would never betray him is a bitter pill to swallow. Rage against it if you must, Charlie, but don’t bury him as if he were dead or as if he never existed.”
He was quiet for a while, contemplating her words and then he gave an awkward sort of chuckle. “I think we’re sitting in the wrong brooding spot for this conversation.”
She gave him a small smile. “Yeah, I guess we are at that.”
“What about you, Gin-bug? How do you cope with your feelings for Percy?”
“I write him letters. Long, heartfelt, emotion-riddled letters. The first letter was a short but sweet Howler. The second letter I wrote him was a ten-pager, calling him ten kinds of fool eight ways to Sunday. Now I just write him letters letting him know how everyone’s doing. I tell him trivial, insignificant things about my day. I tell him about my grades and classes, how Snape is still a greasy git, but I aced my Potions exam in spite of him. I sent him a copy of my final exam scores – I must say I did exceptionally well – he should have been proud. But I don’t’ know that for a fact, because he never writes b..baa..ack…” She paused, trying to regain her composure before continuing.
“He loves me Charlie, I know he does, but his pride is more important to him than my love, our love. How can he just set me aside like that, how can he just ignore me, as if I meant nothing to him? I will never understand that, there is nothing he could say to me that would ever excuse or explain that, and yet if he walked through our door asking me to forgive him, I don’t think I could deny him absolution. I don’t think things could return to the way they were before, but maybe, just maybe, we could build on that and make a stronger bond. I don’t know, I just don’t know for sure.”
In an attempt to change the subject and end the uncomfortable enigma that was Percy, he asked, “What else do you think about?”
“Everything and nothing. Silly things, really. I think about Hermione and Ron and if those two will ever get a clue and realize they’re nutters for each other.”
And then hesitantly, “There’s this boy in Ron’s year…” she trailed off trying to gauge her brother’s reaction.
Out of all the Weasley males, besides Percy, Charlie was the most even-tempered and practical. He was the only one she could start a conversation with the words, ‘There’s this boy’.
His lips curled into a smile. “Oh?”
“Don’t ‘Oh?’ me, Charles. You know you’re the only one I can talk to about this. Bill and Ron would go all big brother on me, Percy would lecture me first, bring out a scrap of parchment and make me write down the pros and cons of dating at my age. Gred and Forge would tease me unmercifully and prank the poor unsuspecting bloke. Now I love you all to pieces, but why do I have to have six, strapping over-protective brothers! I might as well wear a chastity belt and be locked up in a castle tower!”
“The poor bloke that asks for my hand in marriage will probably have to wade through thorny nettles, fight off a fire-breathing dragon, battle an evil wizard and finally chisel his way through my chastity belt! Poor sod.”
“No, love, just six fire-breathing brothers, and one very over-protective father.”
“Thanks. That just makes me feel loads better.”
“About this boy…” he prompted, “what seems to be the problem? You fancy him don’t you?”
“Yeah, I fancy him well enough, I think.” She didn’t sound very enthusiastic.
“Okay, so let me see, you fancy him in a lukewarm, milk-toast toast sort of way and my guess is that he fancies you.”
“Yeah, he does. He asked me to be his girlfriend after the Leaving Feast.”
“Okay, so did you say yes and now you’re regretting it?”
“Well no, I told him I would think about it over the summer and he’s been writing me.”
“And…?” he said, patiently.
“There’s this other boy…”
And they were back again to the ever-painful subject of one Harry James Potter, the Boy-Who-Didn’t-Know-She-Existed.
Over the years, Ginny had confided in Charlie about her hopeless love for Harry. She had written letter upon letter detailing her heartache and disappointments. He could probably wallpaper his flat with the rolls of parchments dedicated to the subject of Harry Potter.
Ginny had come to confide in Charlie because he didn’t treat her feelings for Harry as puppy love or superficial infatuation. She said she loved him, that she had always loved him, that she would always love him, and he believed her. She believed it with all her heart and mind and that was enough for Charlie.
That she had a serious full blown crush on him when she was eleven years old for the entire world to see and ridicule was still something that she didn’t like to discuss with anyone for many complex, varied and painful reasons. She associated that time in her life with the incident in the Chamber of Secrets. She had told Tom every painful little detail about her unrequited love for the ‘Hero of the Wizarding World’ and he had used that against her.
She would never allow anyone that kind of power over her again and she decided her pining over Harry would end. She vowed to bury her feelings, but that was easier said than done. The heart wants what it wants; you can’t reason with it or use logic to persuade it to stop loving, anymore than you can ask it to stop beating. “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”
She suffered and obsessed over it all through second and third year, finally giving up on him after the Yule Ball incident and Ron’s thoughtless comments about Harry asking Ginny to the Yule Ball as a last resort since all the ‘pretty girls’ worth having were already taken. She had resolved to get over him and before the dust on her newfound conviction had settled, she met Michael Corner at the Yule Ball and started dating directly after.
He was dark haired and blue-eyed and did wonders for Ginny’s self-esteem and her powers of speech and interaction around Harry improved dramatically. For the first time since she’d laid eyes on him on Platform 9 ¾, Ginny was acting like Ginny in Harry’s presence.
Things didn’t end well with Michael; he was a bit of a controlling, know-it-all sulky Ravenclaw. Charlie had told her she should never have dated outside her house; it was doomed from the start.
“So what are you going to do, Gin-bug?”
“I can’t put my life on hold waiting for Harry to notice me,” she said defensively.
“That’s true, you shouldn’t put your life on hold,” he answered carefully.
“I mean if he hasn’t noticed I’m a girl yet, he really needs to renew the prescription on his glasses. I sprouted breasts two years ago, for Merlin’s sake!” She puffed out a breath of air in exasperation.
“And mighty nice breasts they are too, I might add. If you weren’t my sister and I was five years younger, I’d be all over that,” he teased wiggling his eyebrows at her.
“Eww Charlie! That’s just…Eww…that’s just gross. Incredibly flattering but totally disturbing.”
“So what are you going to do about this boy?”
She sighed. “I really do fancy him, Dean's sweet and an incredibly talented artist, he drew a lovely penciled sketch of me. I had it framed and gave it to Mum. She gushed over it and started crying and saying what a lovely young woman I’m turning out to be. He’s perfect boyfriend material. I mean, really – he’s tall, dark and handsome. What more could a girl ask for, right?” She looked at Charlie hopefully as if she wanted him to convince her that dating Dean was the right decision.
“But he doesn’t have green eyes, round-rimmed glasses and messy black hair. He’s not moody and sullen. He’s not the youngest Seeker in a century. He’s not your brother’s best mate and he’s not being chased by a mad wizard intent in ruling the world, is he?”
Her shoulders slumped and tears pooled in her eyes. “No, he’s not.”
Charlie put his arm around her shoulders, drawing her close to his side.
“Well, my advice to you is this. Date the poor bloke and put him out of his misery and then proceed to snog him cross-eyed. He’ll fall deeply in love with you and when you finally break it off with him, you’ll have someone pining over you for a change.”
She laughed at him through her tears. “Thanks, Charlie. If I’d had this conversation with Bill, he’d be halfway to buying that chastity belt by now.”
They sat there in companionable silence, watching the sunset through the gnarled trees of their orchard.
“So, what are you going to do about Phlegm, I mean, Fleur?” he asked suddenly into the silence.
“Absolutely nothing. I trust Bill. If he loves her and wants to marry her, there must be something to her I’m just not seeing.”
“Loosely translated, you’re going to sic Mum on her aren’t you?”
“Yep. I sure am.”
The warm June breeze rustled the trees as twilight settled over Ottery St. Catchpole. The fireflies began their nightly ballet of twinkling lights; the crickets could be heard in the thickets, a lazy yellow moon hung low in the sky and his Gin-bug had her shoulder tucked under his arm and her cheek rested on his shoulder, as his rested on the crown of her head. They sat in silence enjoying the moment. When the moon rose higher in the June sky and they could not longer see each other for the darkness that held settled in for the night, they descended the rickety ladder and strolled arm in arm back to the Burrow.
If he could freeze one perfect moment in time to keep tucked away in his memory, It would be this moment of fireflies and Gin-bugs in June.
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