In The House of the Quick and the Hungry by Laura Laurent
Summary: The finer aspects of Ginny Weasley's life, all entwined, in their own way, within the story of how she wound up with Harry Potter.
THIS STORY IS NOW COMPLETE!
Categories: Post-HBP, Buried Gems
Series: Between the Lines and Beyond the End
In The House of the Quick and the Hungry by Laura Laurent
Chapter 1: Bill Was Always ThereAuthor's Notes:
This was dedicated to my father,
Who couldn't hold up his end of the deal.
Bill Was Always There
It was always pretty common knowledge among the families in question that Weasleys were generally tall and lanky, and Prewetts were shorter and, as my roommates so sophisticatedly dubbed them: really dishy. There’s nothing remarkable about this, and no one particularly cares as to how the combination of Arthur Weasley and Molly Prewett manifests itself in their children, but I for one find these things rather interesting.
Firstborn Bill, the lucky prat, got the cream of the genetic crop: he’s both tall and really dishy. But five kids and thirteen years later it was slim pickings in the gene pool and I wound up short and just plain skinny. The general characters are harder to judge, and harder still to pigeon-hole into family stereotypes, but on the whole, Weasleys tend to be adventurous, wise, and slightly quirky, with steady, almost removed emotions that rarely get the best of them. Prewetts, on the other hand, are far more unstable–the life and soul of the party for the most part, but with the very real capacity to become murky vacuums of light and happiness.
Character-wise, Bill is a Weasley through and through, and everyone seems bent on thinking he’s my favorite brother, as he is so intent on us being "kindred spirits." Maybe we are, but Bill still isn’t my "favorite brother." I love him dearly, and I trust his judgement above all others, but the next time he tells me we share a thirst for adventure or a sixth sense about people, I might scream. It’s not that I'm so offended by those assumptions, because maybe I am what he says I am. I just don’t feel that he, the almighty globetrotter, has the right to say that about me.
All my life he’s had this vision of me as I was when I was four years old, as I was when I was his little Ginny. I was, he always said, the cutest, the smartest, and, from the time he was thirteen on, his best friend in the whole family, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I rarely had any idea what he was talking about.
"You’re like me, Ginny, we can smell the creeps a mile away," he’d say as I sat on his lap for the traditional Bill-and-Ginny storytime. "It’s a sort of sense we’ve got."
I used to be really chuffed when he told me that, but ever since my first year, you know–when I found myself a friend in a deranged mass murderer, I’ve been a bit more skeptical of this alleged sense. But Bill never mentions my possession. In part, I’m grateful–I’m glad he doesn’t treat me differently just because I was once possessed with the soul of Voldemort...
But lately I’ve been wondering if perhaps he’s repressed the memory altogether.
I don’t know how to tell him, either, that he doesn’t really know me for me. Many years ago, when Mum and I were still really close, I tried to explain it to her.
"He always says we’re kindred spirits!" I said, resting my chin on the countertop as I watched her peel the potatoes for supper. "He says all these things that we have in common, and all these things- like how I understand him and-"
"And this is so awful because..." she prodded, her eyes trained on the task in front of her, though I knew she was listening carefully.
"It’s not!" I insisted, "I mean, I’m glad and all but-"
Mum nodded sagely. "But it’s not who you really are."
There was a small beat.
"Well no, it is." I bit my lip and tried to remember what exactly my point was as Mum gave an exasperated sigh.
"Well then I’m afraid I don’t understand."
After that I decided to just let it be, and let him go on favoring me and spoiling me rotten. It was Bill who taught me the Bat-Bogey Hex after my first year when we went to Egypt, by the way. He had been telling us about the curse for years, and all of us, even Percy, were dying to learn it. He gave me very specific instructions for it's use.
"If any boy ever makes you cry," he instructed, "you threaten him with this. And if he ever tries to do it again, you use it on him."
I nodded, dumbstruck and amazed at my good fortune in having obtained something so coveted as the legendary Bat-Bogey Hex.
"I had a little talk with Fred and George the other night," he told me, "I don't think they'll be teasing you so much anymore, but feel free to hex them anyway–just so they don't forget who's boss." He punctuated this with a wink, before adding in a more serious voice, "But other than that, use it sparingly, or it'll lose its power. Right then, you got all that?"
He would write me all the time with stories and cool things he’d learned, and when he visited he brought me loads of little souvenirs from all his adventures, and I was so proud that I already knew the inside jokes and the history behind them that the tiny wrinkle of misunderstanding in our relationship went blissfully ignored, aided in that I couldn’t even put my finger on the problem in the first place.
But now I’ve grown up a bit, and my perspective on everything has changed. I don’t know how or when exactly it happened, but it did. The truth is that I am a lot like Bill–in both blood and spirit. Even he has always had enough sense to know that there are a few key differences of course, but for the most part his assumptions about me are correct. The problem is that it seems he decided all this very early on and has taken it for granted ever since. The fact that he was right is completely irrelevant.
People change, and what if I had? Bill wouldn’t have known the difference, because he never took an honest look at me to see who I was. Not that he did so intentionally; I feel confident that if Bill had lived here with me all my life, he would have gotten know me without any preconceived conclusions.
But he didn’t live with me. He was never home if he had the choice. Even before he left Hogwarts, he never passed up an invitation to spend the holidays somewhere else. As soon as he graduated he moved out and practically ran to Egypt on foot: I remember the day he left.
"Are you going now?" I asked miserably as I stood in the doorway drinking my little bottle of Pumpkin juice.
"Yeah," he said, giving me a half-apologetic smile as he emptied the last few items from his bureau. "Sorry Ducky, but I’ve got to go raid some tombs now."
"I want to go too!" I said, knowing he’d decline.
But instead of saying no, he brightened at this. "Oh yeah? Come here–my trunk’s almost full but let’s see if you’ll fit in the suitcase."
For one wild moment I thought that maybe he was serious, and I was a bit apprehensive at the thought of leaving the country in a piece of luggage, but he was joking, so I set my sippy cup down on the writing desk and crawled easily into the suitcase as Bill zipped it shut. And as I lay nestled in the dark, crammed in there with all his T-shirts as he carried me down the stairs, calling to Mum that he was all ready, I got a rush of adrenaline at the thought of what it would be like in Egypt. I indulged in the fantasy as he said his good-byes to everyone in the kitchen and then headed out to the entryway. The idea of running away with him was just beginning to grow on me when he set me down and unzipped the suitcase.
"Come on Bill, let’s go!" I said with a wide grin.
"Are you sure?" he asked, looking at me like an eighteen-year-old often looks at a five-year-old, even if they’re not meaning to be condescending, and I felt my heart begin to drop involuntarily. "You sure you won’t miss Mum?"
I shook my head, but I knew my heart wasn’t in it. He sighed.
"Come on Ginny, you’ve got to stay here."
Knowing the game was over, I nodded mutely and clambered out as I felt that aching in the back of the roof of my mouth while he re-zipped the suitcase and straightened. I stared at his shoes and my jaw began to tremble with the effort of keeping the tears at bay. I wondered why he wasn’t saying anything, and when I looked up and saw that he was also trying not to cry, I lost it completely.
"I hate being left behind!" I sobbed as he picked me up effortlessly. I sobbed so forcefully that I got that feeling where your muscles seize up and you can’t breath even though your mouth is wide open. I sat there shaking in his arms for several moments as I tried to open my throat, and all the while I kept thinking that I was wasting the precious few moments I had left with him paralyzed with tears. When my little fit had passed, I took a deep breath and I felt him do the same.
"I’m gonna miss you so much," he said quietly, which only succeeded in making me cry harder, "but I’ve got to go now."
I took the hint and loosened my grip around his neck as he put me down. He gave me a fake glare, as I dried my eyes and sniffed.
"Don’t you dare tell anyone I almost cried," he admonished.
I let out a small breath of laughter and smiled, blinking furiously.
"Bill dear, are you ready?" Mum bustled into the living room looking rather frantic, "Come on, the train will be leaving soon."
"Yeah," he said, and he picked up his trunk and suitcase as the rest of the boys began to gather round to see him off.
"Alright, Ginny," said Mum, addressing me, "I’m just going to drive him to the station, and then I’m coming right home. Listen to Charlie, I’ll be back soon."
She bent down and kissed the top of my head, before straightening and grabbing a few extra things of Bill’s.
Bill gave a general nod of his head as he turned and opened the door, and headed out to the car.
Thinking about that day always makes me feel like crying, both for the way we used to be, and for the way things changed and made us grow apart. I wonder if this is what people mean when they say that growing up is painful. A part of me hopes that Bill will never find out that I don’t actually have his sixth sense, and that he sort of missed out on most my childhood. Not only would he be deeply saddened, but he’d feel guilty that he was never around to realize it before. I don’t ever want him to think that he wasn’t there for me: he was there– to tell me a story, tell me I'm cute, to tell me not to worry, or make me laugh–Bill was always there.
He just wasn’t ever here.
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