A/N: Happy October! This was written for Round 9 of the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition Season 5. The theme of the round was Quidditch.
My prompt was "Broom: write about a witch or wizard gaining freedom," (I snuck in a lot of brooms, as well) and my optional prompts were:
1. (setting) Diagon Alley, 3. (object) gumboot, 14. (colour) lime green
It was October. It was raining. Ginny was wearing the lime green gumboots which had been passed down from her older brother Ron. She hated them. She was also wearing a pretty green dress, with frills and bows all over it. She hated that, too.
"Come on, Ginny," Mum said irritably, tugging Ginny's arm.
Ginny scowled. She thought she hated Grandmother Cedrella most of all.
There wasn't anything particularly wrong with her – she was just very old, Ginny was only eight, and they didn't understand each other at all.
Ginny's one consolation was that Mum didn't particularly like Grandmother Cedrella either. In fact, that was why she was irritable. Dad was supposed to have lunch with his mum, today, but something very interesting ("And dangerous, of course, Molly. You know I wouldn't ask you to do this if it weren't for the good of the Wizarding World.") was happening at work, so Mum had to go instead, and Ginny had to go with her.
Ginny didn't even allow herself to have fun when they took the Floo to Diagon Alley. She was much too angry. She didn't even try to brush the leftover Floo powder off of her dress. However, Mum soon turned to her and patted her dress perfunctorily before hurrying off in the direction of the café where they were meeting Grandmother Cedrella, Ginny in tow.
"I'm so sorry, Cedrella," Mum was saying as she sat down at an outdoor table protected by a charmed umbrella. She patted the seat next to her for Ginny. Ginny was hardly paying attention. She had spotted the Quidditch supply store across the alley, and before she could stop herself, she ran all the way across the alley by herself, dodging other witches and wizards, and ducked into the shop.
"You know how it is working at the Ministry," Molly was telling her mother-in-law. "Arthur got called away on some very important business, and he asked me to come instead. And of course, I couldn't leave little Ginny alone at the house, so I brought her to see you. I hope you don't mind." Molly gestured to the seat next to her.
"Where is she?" Cedrella asked, peering through her spectacles.
"Why, she's right he—" Molly turned to look at the seat next to her. It was empty. She gasped. "Ginny!"
Ginny grinned. For the first time in her life, she felt really free. No Mum to tug on her arm. No older brothers telling her what to do. No Dad trying to show her how the Muggles lived. Just Quidditch. Quidditch everywhere. To her left, there was a row of brooms. Some were familiar-looking, like the kind her brothers had, but some were incredibly sleek with absolutely no twigs sticking out! On her right, there was a rack of armor: knee-pads, shin-pads, chin pads, elbow pads, and every other kind which Ginny had never thought of.
She moved further into the shop, and began to notice that she was the only one there. As she looked around, she could see sets of balls displaying the latest in Bludger confinement techniques. Then there were the Quaffles, and a whole birdcage full of Snitches. Giggling, Ginny jumped, reaching for the Snitches. She fell just short of the bottom of the cage. She tried again, and then again, feeling like she was a little closer each time.
And then, suddenly, the shop was full to bursting with witches and wizards holding books, and balls, and brooms. Everyone was talking excitedly, and no one noticed the little girl who was being squished to the sides of the shop. Ginny fought valiantly against the ever-moving legs and feet, but she kept being pushed back, and back, until finally she fell backwards onto the floor, just under the broom display she'd seen when she'd come in.
She gasped, and thought about calling for Mum, before realizing that Mum had no idea where she was. A sniffle escaped her, and tears pricked at the corners of her eyes, but before she could even start to cry, the shuffle of the crowd drew closer and tighter. Somebody bumped the display of brooms, then bumped into somebody else who swayed against the display, holding onto it to maintain their balance. Brooms began to fall randomly from the jostling, and Ginny put her hands over her head as broom after broom landed on top of her.
Then she did start crying. Where was Mum? Why had she left? Who wanted freedom anyway? All she wanted was her mum to come find her and save her.
As the shop finally emptied, Ginny found herself stuck in her prone position, under a mountain of brooms. She let out a sob.
"Sorry about the crowd, Michael," a woman was saying somewhere in the store, "Do you want some help cleaning up?"
Ginny sniffed. There was someone left! Maybe they could help her! It wouldn't be Mum, but Ginny didn't much care, as long as she didn't die there under a pile of brooms.
"No, no, Gwen," Michael chuckled. "Occupational hazard. I'll be all right. Besides, as I hear it, you're late for practice already."
"Am I?" Gwen asked, looking at the clock which hung above the register. "Merlin, I am! I'll see you later Michael."
Gwen began to come closer. Ginny shifted, trying to get a good look at who was going to save her, but the tall woman didn't stop. She went straight past the pile of brooms, and opened the door. Ginny heard the bell ring, and began to cry again in despair. She was going to be there forever. No one would ever find her. Not even Mum.
However, before she could really get to peak despair, someone said, "Hello?"
It was the same female voice that had been talking before.
"Hey, Michael!" she said, "I think there's someone under here!"
"Blimey!" said Michael, hurrying over.
Together, they picked up the brooms and revealed a small red-haired girl dressed all in green. Ginny was so surprised to feel the weight lifted off her that she had stopped crying, and was looking up in wonder at the people who had come to her rescue.
"Where'd she come from?" Michael wondered aloud. "And where are her parents?"
Gwen knelt down until she was face to face with Ginny. "Hello," she said, "What's your name?"
"Hi Ginny," the woman said, "I'm Gwen."
"No, you're not!" Ginny blurted out, recognizing the face in front of her and forgetting her terror, "You're Gwenog Jones! You're my favorite!"
Gwenog Jones chuckled. "Well, thank you, Ginny!" she said, "It's nice to hear that. Do you like to play Quidditch?"
Ginny's eyes widened. "Oh, yes! I love to!" she confessed. "But my brothers say I'm too little to play with them, so I have to play by myself when they're at school."
"That's too bad," said Gwenog, "I'm sure you're a great player! What position do you like?"
Gwenog and Michael both laughed at how emphatically Ginny had declared her favorite position.
"That's impressive," said Gwenog. "So, what are you doing here alone, Ginny? Were your parents at the signing, earlier?"
Ginny shook her head. "I ran away from Mum because I don't like Grandmother Cedrella. I like Quidditch!"
"I can relate," said Gwenog, nodding. "I did something similar when I was your age. I wanted to be free of my mum and her boring errands. But I got lost, and realized I'd rather be with her than on my own."
"Me, too," Ginny said, "I miss Mum." She was determined not to cry in front of Gwenog Jones, but tears slid silently down her cheeks anyway.
"I know," said Gwenog with a smile, putting a hand on Ginny's shoulder. "Do you know where she is now, your mum?"
Molly Weasley was at her wit's end. She was on the verge of tears herself. She'd canceled lunch with Cedrella. How could she have lost her little girl? What if someone had taken her? What if she'd gotten lost? She'd circled around Diagon Alley twice, and was just coming back around to the café. She'd decided to wait there, since it was the last place Ginny had seen her. She had to hope that Ginny came back.
When she turned the corner, though, she found Ginny right where she'd left her, sitting on a chair at the table Cedrella and she had been sitting at. There was someone with her, as well.
"Ginny!" Molly cried, rushing over to hug her little girl. She turned to the woman who was also sitting at the table. "I don't know how to thank you…" she said, squeezing Ginny tightly.
"Gwen," the woman told her, and reached out a hand to shake, "And you needn't thank me. I'm always glad to help out. I was much like her when I was small."
Molly smiled widely, thinking she'd seen the woman somewhere before. "Well, thank you," she said, "ever so much."
"Not a problem!" Gwen smiled, "I'd love to chat, but I'm afraid I'm late for—"
"Of course!" Molly said, "Go ahead! And thank you again!"
Gwen turned to Ginny. "It was nice to meet you! I'm sure you'll be a great Quidditch player! Don't forget about the Holyhead Harpies, when you're trying to decide what team to join!"
And with a wink, she was gone.
"Mum," said Ginny when they got home and they both had had some tea and calmed down, "I think I know what I want for my birthday."
"What's that, dear?"
"A Gwenog Jones poster!"