word count: 3,495
era: Next Generation
posted: November, 1, 2016
This is written for the Russian Roulette Gift Fics Challenge on the Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges Forums. I'm dedicating this to deant33 (ID 4045949), who was my assignment. Don't forget to comment below, thank you!
Simon Thomas was an only child, and had been for eleven years. Sure, he had his cousins, but seeing them a couple of times a year was not the same thing as having a younger brother or sister. Then Simon met Lily Potter on the train to Hogwarts, a girl who had grown up with two big brothers and a slew of cousins too large in number to keep track of.
"You're lucky," she told him while they were alone, after being bullied by one pair of cousins, abandoned by another, and then threatened by a brother. "Big families are annoying, and easy to get lost in. You can get away with almost anything, but you also get blamed for almost everything. And then we all look alike."
"But you never get bored," Simon argued.
"But you can never just do nothing," Lily countered.
"And you don't have to worry about making new friends,"
"Just worried about keeping them."
"Well, I always wanted another kid in the house."
"And I wanted to get rid of them."
For a moment, Simon and Lily glared at each other, annoyed their point didn't seem to be made. But then Simon's nose twitched just so, and a corner of Lily's mouth seemed to jump, and the pair burst into giggles.
"If we're sorted into the same house," Lily proposed, "you can have all of my assorted cousins as your siblings. I'll even give you two extra brothers and myself as your adoring sister for free. I'll have to be your older sister, of course." Simon frowned slightly, feeling a bit wary of the deal. His mum had warned him that the Weasleys, even Weasleys disguised as Potters, were a tricky bunch, but Lily Potter couldn't be that bad. Certainly not as bad as his mum promised Fred and Roxanne Weasley would be.
Simon put out his hand. "And in return, you will never have to worry about losing me as a friend."
They shook on it. Simon didn't feel any better.
Simon and Lily were sorted into Gryffindor, sitting amongst a sea of redheads and a boisterousness no other house presented. Simon found it overwhelming. Lily found it typical.
"Sunday dinners at the Burrow," was all she said.
When Lily promised Simon her cousins and brothers and even herself, Simon didn't take the deal nearly as seriously as he probably should have.
There were nine Weasleys in Gryffindor alone. Simon knew the name "Weasley" was notorious, but he didn't quite realise just how notorious.
By the end of Simon's first week, he had learned not trust anything Fred Weasley said, nor accept any food he offered. Lucy was an alright girl, but her older sister Molly was completely mental and a bit of a nightmare. Louis was Fred's partner in crime, and therefore just as trustworthy, and James Potter was… well, there was no other way to describe him than James.
Lily's normal-ness was strange in itself.
"Still enjoying the big family life?" Lily snorted at Simon one night as they searched for counterspells in the library. Simon made a face at the obnoxiously violet color of his skin. He could swear that he didn't accept any food or drink or even a quill from Fred or Louis Weasley, but they managed to do something to him. Simon had begun to think that he had a good handle on navigating those two after two months of living with them in Gryffindor Tower, but clearly he had more to learn.
"How do they do it?" Simon's voice came out faint, a testament to his amazement. "I don't understand…"
"Fred is the son of Weasley Wizard Wheezes, remember?" Lily told him unsympathetically. "His namesake was one of the founders and inventors of half their products. Did you really think a mere first-year was going to outsmart him?"
"Roxanne is nowhere near this mischievous and they're siblings," Simon countered. "But yes, I did think I was getting better."
"You are," Lily agreed, still lacking a particular kindness. "But they're Weasleys. No one does pranks like a Weasley. Even if Roxanne's a Hufflepuff, just wait. Weasley trumps all."
By December, Simon Thomas had also learned that no one got pranked quite like another Weasley either. With Lily's declaration of Simon being "property of the Weasleys," her family treated him like one of their own, and that the school treated him with the same sort of respect (that was to say, none).
Simon was beginning to think that his initial friendship with Lily Potter in itself had been a prank.
That wasn't to say that he didn't believe they were real friends. Simon knew they were real friends. One couldn't duel four Slytherins or land detention together six times without forming a real friendship. Then there was the arguing. Simon had never met someone who frustrated him so much in his entire life, not even his younger twin cousins Meher and Aditi who bullied him every chance they got (Lily said he was pathetic for being bullied by his younger cousins, but she didn't know the twins like he did).
No, Simon and Lily were certainly best friends. He just couldn't shake off that uneasy feeling he'd gotten on the train, when Lily smiled that easy smile at him, and he'd begun to wonder if shaking her hand would be a mistake.
"Oh, it was definitely a mistake," Hugo Weasley sniggered one night, while Simon was lamenting his status as a Weasley. "She's a Weasley."
"She's your cousin."
"And she's the scariest out of all of us," Hugo provided. "She's Harry Potter's daughter, and you haven't met my Aunt Ginny. She has each one of her older brothers wrapped around her finger and none of them even know it. That's what I heard Aunt Fleur tell Uncle Bill, anyway."
"And Lily's calling herself my little sister now."
"You're stuck with her, you know," Hugo grinned. Weasleys always seemed to take pleasure in each other's misery. "You're stuck with all of us."
Simon went home for the Christmas Holidays. He'd grown to love Hogwarts with its beautiful grounds, moving staircases, and eccentric ghosts, but there really was nothing like being home. London was noisy, but it was a noise he'd missed in the silence of the Scottish castle. He also missed his personal space. Sharing a dorm in Gryffindor Tower with his classmates was as close to privacy as he ever got at Hogwarts and Simon missed being alone.
"I wanted to get rid of them," Simon remembered Lily telling him on the Hogwarts Express.
"Of course, she's right," Simon sighed. "She's always right. That girl is scary."
"What girl is scary?" Simon's father, Dean, knocked on the open door and walked in. "You have girl problems already? I thought your mum said to wait until fifth year for that? I thought I told you to wait until third year for that?" Simon snorted a laugh.
"Lily Potter. Harry Potter's daughter. I wrote that we're friends, didn't I?"
"Right, you did." Dean agreed. "Dated her mum when I was in school. Scary woman."
On Christmas day, Simon opened a package labelled, "From the Weasley Family." Simon frowned at the soft, lumpy package, then looked up at his parents. Both of them seemed to be suppressing amused grins.
"What?" Simon asked. "What's it?"
"Open it," his mother, Parvati coaxed. "I'm sure it's lovely."
Inside was a homemade, knitted sweater.
"They've lost quality over the years, I see," Parvati mumbled.
The sweater was a deep blue color with a large violet S across the chest. It wasn't exactly well-knit, but it looked warm and he was kind of touched that someone had gone through the trouble. Beneath the sweater, Simon found a note in a familiar script.
Mum made this for you. Grandma normally does the Weasley sweaters, but mum insisted this year. At least pretend to like it, would you? Grandma also wants to see you for dinner tomorrow.
Simon wore the Weasley sweater to the dinner party.
Lily wore her Weasley sweater to the dinner party. Hers was violet with a deep blue L. The exact same colors in Simon's ow sweater, in fact.
"Albus told mum that I found my long-lost twin brother," Lily offered in explanation. So we get twin sweaters now.
"As long as mine isn't the violet one," Simon grinned in reply. "And at least they aren't maroon."
"Simon, let me read your Transfiguration essay,"
"You used to,"
"I also used to be scared of you,"
"You still are."
"So what's your point?"
"That you let me read your essay."
"I'll tell your mum."
"You can't tell my mum,"
"Why not? I have your address."
"You just don't do that,"
"You also don't read other people's essays, but you're asking for mine."
"I'll let you look at my Defense essay."
Simon weighed his options.
Dear Mum and Dad,
I've been invited to the Potter's for Easter Holidays. Do you mind if I stay with them? Lily's promised to invite the three of us to dinner if I'm told no, and I think, mum, that you had a big enough headache after Boxing Day dinner. Either way, I'll see you soon.
Go. We'll see you for the weekend before you return to Hogwarts. I refuse to be surrounded by so many Weasleys again so soon.
Simon shared a bedroom with James and Albus when he stayed with the Potters. Neither boy was ever home, so he and Lily pretty much had the run of the place during the day, as long as they avoided Ginny Potter and her various knitting projects.
"I don't know why she tries," Lily sighed. "She only frustrates herself. My mum and knitting is like the Fat Lady and singing." Simon hadn't meant to, but he laughed at that one, because the Fat Lady really could not sing.
"She can get better," Simon tried. "How long has she been knitting?"
"Since before James was born. James hides his baby blanket because he's ashamed of it, actually."
"That's… that's bad."
Everyone was home for dinner in the evening. Simon witnessed James' attempt to get out of it one night. To say that Ginny Potter's hair burst into flames was probably an understatement. Simon was starting to realise that Ginny's emotions were never subtle, whatever she felt she felt it indulgently.
On Friday, before Simon left to his parents' house, Ginny smothered him in a tight hug, reminiscent of the one Grandma Weasley had given him when they met.
"I'm so glad Lily has you," she told him. It sounded like she wanted to cry, but Simon wasn't sure. Beside him, he could hear Lily huffing, probably embarrassed that her mum was making a scene. "Hush, Lily, I'm serious," Ginny released Simon and he could see that she really did have tears in her eye. "In my first year, I didn't really have anyone. I was alone, even though I had four brothers in the same house, they didn't pay me any attention. I turned to… well, I didn't make very good choices. I'm just glad you have a friend. It's the very least that I wanted."
"It's a good thing he's promised not to ever leave me then, isn't it?" Lily reassured her mother.
Simon burst through the doors of the infirmary, way ahead of Roxanne the Hufflepuff Weasley. There was only one occupied bed, all the way at the end of the long room, with the curtains wrapped around its perimeter. He just shy of ran up to the bed, the reminder of "no running," from the Matron keeping Simon from using as much speed as he wanted to.
In true Weasley fashion, Simon pulled back the curtain with a blatant lack of care for Lily's feelings.
"What happened?" He breathed. "You said you were going to return your books to the library."
"I didn't lie to you, did I?"
"Where was fighting Slytherins in those plans?"
"Just after pranking the Headmaster, but I figured I wasn't ready for that one yet."
"Lily," Simon warned.
"What? I returned my books. That prat Bulstrode started in on me, and I couldn't just let her get away with the stuff she said! How was I supposed to know that it would turn into five-on-one?!"
"Because it's always five-on-two!" Simon argued. "When does Bulstrode ever fight fair? You keep forgetting that Albus Potter is the exception, not the rule."
"Oh, no, he's not an exception, he's just smarter than the rest of them," Roxanne pointed out. Simon and Lily both spared a second to glare at her before they returned to arguing.
"I'm not even injured very much," Lily tried to reassure Simon.
"Really? Is that why there's blood in your hair, and your arm's in a cast? That also looks like a scorch mark at the top of your socks, and your skin is pink like it had to be regrown."
"It did," Roxanne agreed. "It had been all black and - "
"Roxanne." Lily growled. Roxanne became fascinated with the tiled floor. "Why are you even this worked up? Not like we haven't gotten in scrapes before."
"Yeah, we got into scrapes. We have each other's backs. We are twins, remember? Property of Weasley, remember? You can't go getting yourself killed by Slytherins unless I'm there with you."
Lily scoffed. "So you're mad I got into a fight without you then?"
"I'm mad that you got this hurt and I wasn't there to protect you."
"I don't need protecting."
"That's besides the point."
"The point is that you can't tell me what to do, Simon Thomas. If I want to go off fighting Slytherins, then that's what I'll do, and you won't stop me."
"No, the point, is this," Simon reached out and poked Lily hard in the stomach. She gasped much more sharply than she should have, and clutched her middle with her good arm. "You shouldn't be in the Hospital Wing, injured like this, and if you were going to be, it shouldn't've been by yourself. But whatever. I don't have any right to worry, right?"
With that, Simon yanked the curtain back closed around Lily's bed and stomped out of the Hospital Wing. What good were sisters? Hard-headed, obnoxious, and stupid. He didn't need one, especially if she was going to throw him away first.
A shadow fell over Simon as he lay sprawled on the school lawn, wishing he didn't feel so angry at everything. The sun and air were little help, what he really wanted was to hit something, to destroy. It was too bad that first-years could keep their own brooms, or Smon might have gone chasing bludgers.
Simon opened his eyes to find Albus Potter standing over him. Sitting up, he found Roxanne the Hufflepuff Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy standing some distance away. Simon fought a chill; the three of them together was actually kind of scary.
"I set your classmates straight," Albus told him. Simon blinked.
"Those dunderheads who thought it was a good idea to attack our sister. I set them straight."
"Um. Okay. Good." Simon nodded. This was becoming increasingly awkward and he had no idea how to fix it. Simon didn't know Albus very well. Even when he spent the Easter holidays with the Potters, he'd spent a lot of his time at Malfoy Manor with Scorpius, and assumably, Roxanne.
"So go make up with our sister before I have to set you straight." Simon flopped back into the grass.
"I didn't do anything," he corrected the older boy. "All I did was be worried. Lily got jumped by five kids and I was wrong for being upset about it.
"She's a Weasley, we stand up for ourselves."
"And I understand that. But she basically disowned me for it."
"And you're going to let her?"
"I'm not even her real brother." Simon grumbled. "Can I really keep her if she doesn't want me? Lily was right, it is easier being an only child." There was a silent moment, and Simon thought that Albus might finally leave. Simon wanted to sulk alone, not deal with Weasleys. Then the air cracked and something tugged him into the air by his ankles.
"The fact of the matter is that you aren't an only child anymore. You're a Weasley. And Weasleys fight, and we prank, and we have tempers, but we don't abandon one another. The last time that happened, one of us died, so we don't do it." Albus slowly advanced on Simon, the look in his eyes intense. "So you either go up there and make up with OUR sister, or your next six years at Hogwarts will make you wish you did."
"Albus took care of those Slytherins who attacked you."
"It wasn't an attack, It was a duel," Lily argued.
"Anything more than two-on-one is an attack, not a duel," Simon disagreed.
"Albus already told me, anyway." Lily shrugged, turning away from him. "Why are you here?"
"I wanted to keep you company, of course." Simon forced some cheer into his voice, but when Lily snorted, he opted for the truth instead. "And Albus threatened to make my life miserable if I didn't come see you.
"I'm not apologising to you," said Simon. "I'm not sorry. I'm not wrong."
"Then you can leave," Lily concluded. "I'm not apologising either."
"I wasn't going to ask you to."
"I'm not wrong."
"I'm just saying."
The pair sat silently together.
"I'm not sorry," Lily told Simon. "But if I was going to apologize, I'd tell you thanks for being concerned. And maybe I could have tried to ignore Bulstrode."
"And I'd tell you that I appreciated it. That I didn't mean to imply that you were weak, but I just prefer that we get our butts handed to us together. It wouldn't be an apology though."
"I might mention that I didn't want you to think that, like, I didn't want you to be a Weasley anymore or anything. If I was apologizing."
"I would have to mention then that Albus threatened me because I almost disowned you. If we're making lists of things we aren't apologizing for." There was a long pause then, the two friends reflecting.
"I think that sums it up then," Lily cheered.
"Yeah, I think that's all."
"Dinner starts in a few minutes," Lily mentioned. "Mind bringing me up some treacle tart?"
"I'll think about it."
"And your Herbology essay?"
"How about I bring our books and we can write our essays together?"
"What good are you if you don't have the essay done already?"
"I'll bring you the whole pie if I can."
"That's why I love you!"
"Did I ever tell you that you were right?"
"You tell me I'm right about a lot of things, Simon, dear." Lily sniffed, sorting through a box of Every Flavor Beans. She stole it from their cousin Dominique, "as punishment for ignoring them all year."
"Do you know how many times I asked her for a bar of chocolate from Honeydukes?" Lily ranted. "Everyone else got me one! Louis and Fred got me one! Even Scorpius bought me one! But did Dominique? No. No, she didn't." Just like on the ride to Hogwarts, Lily and Simon were harassed by their cousins and siblings all day long.
"Remember when I said that I wanted a big family?"
"Oh, that?" Lily nodded, examining a bright green jelly bean. "I remember."
"You're right. Big families are a pain. I am so glad to be going home alone."
"You won't be for long," Lily popped the bean into her mouth, smiling at the flavor. "I'm inviting myself over. And mum insists that you stay for at least two weeks. Then there's grams, she just adores you, you know -"
"And I bet the rest of the Weasleys want to see me too, don't they?" Simon groaned.
"Victoire's dying to get her hands on your hair," Lily's grin was absolutely wicked. "And Fred is pretty fond of you too."
"Of course he is."
"You love us,"
Simon blinked at the parchment envelope is mother thrust into his face.
"Notice anything wrong here?"
"Er… " Dean searched the envelope for a clue, and almost missed it. "Oh."
"Oh?" Parvati raised an eyebrow.
"When were you planning on telling me that your name is Simon Weasley now?"
"... That's a long story, mum…" Simon hedged, hoping to avoid this altogether. The memory of his mother telling him to stay wary of Weasleys sprang up for the first time in months, and he felt just a little guilty.
Parvati pulled out the chair across from Simon's at the dinner table. "Oh, I have time."