Despite the warm day, little Ronnie Weasley shivered as he huddled against a solid pole, huge tears rolling down his cheeks. The witches and wizards streaming past him didn't notice the six-year-old boy tucked just out of the stream of traffic.
He had been looking forward to this day all week, and now it was ruined.
It all started when the Hogwarts owls arrived.
"A Prefect! That's wonderful, Bill!"
At his mother's exclamation, Ronnie Weasley looked up from the small toy figure that flew around on a miniature broom. He caught it and it immediately settled, the bristles tickling his hand.
His mum took the message from Bill's hand and read it though as Bill looked at the shiny pin in his hand. The owl had come during breakfast, although his mum had already given Ronnie his breakfast an hour before. He got hungry a lot earlier than his older brothers. Bill and Charlie slept too late… if Ronnie had to wait for them to get up, he'd starve!
His mum passed the message to his dad, resting a hand on his shoulder as she stood behind him, reading it again. "We have to celebrate! Oh, and we should get you something nice. Prefect! Our Bill is a Prefect! Do you see that Arthur?"
"That is good news, Mollywobbles. Bill, what do you want to do to celebrate?"
"I don't know. Let me think." Bill took the letter back from his dad and looked at it, thinking. "Do you think we could we all go to a Quidditch match?" His voice had that faint hope they were all familiar with, knowing the answer was probably no, but having to ask anyway.
His mum hesitated. "Arthur, do you think we could? Maybe a regional match?"
Ronnie looked at his dad eagerly. He'd seen his brothers flying around outside, playing one on one, but he'd never seen a real match.
His dad turned through the pages of the Daily Prophet. He ran his finger down the page, a sad look on his face. Ron's heart plummeted. He knew that look. It was the look that said they'd be going to the second-hand store for his shoes, or they couldn't get the toy he wanted. "Molly!"
Ronnie's mum looked over his dad's shoulder as he pointed to a spot on the page.
"Bill, what do you think about going to the home game for the Cannons next week?"
"All of us? Are you sure?"
"The tickets are marked down. We all can go."
"That would be great! Who are they playing?"
"The Kenmare Kestrels."
His brother was awesome. Bill got to go to Hogwarts, along with Charlie, while Ronnie had to stay home. He was too young even to do lessons with his mum, like Percy, Fred and George.
Bill never made fun of him for it, and always told the best stories of Hogwarts! He told of getting to do magic, and he made Charlie's Quidditch games sound even more exciting than Charlie did.
And now, because of him, they all got to go see a Quidditch match!
The day of the match was a clear August day. Ronnie was so excited he could barely hold still. They all got to go, even Ginny, who was practically a baby! He had awakened just as the sun was coming up, but had to wait for them all to have breakfast, and get ready. Why did they have to take so long?
The Quidditch stands were in a clearing in the woods south of Chudleigh. His dad told them that the woods were large enough that the Muggles didn't see the brooms flying overhead, although Muggle maps showed the woods to be smaller. There were Muggle repelling charms around the edges, and charms in the air to hide the edges so Muggles only saw the sky. His dad knew a lot about Muggles.
They got a Portkey with their tickets, so when the time came, they appeared near the stands. Ronnie fell down on his bum as soon as the Portkey dropped them. His face turned red as the twins laughed, each taking turns falling down with great drama, but his father just pulled Ronnie back up and brushed him off.
They made their way into the woods and queued up to show a wizard in a tall orange top hat their tickets and then, after the wizard cast a small mark on his hand with an interlinked CC, they climbed the stands surrounding a clearing. Their seats weren't very high, so the action would be a ways above them for most of the game, but they were here! They would get to see a real, live Quidditch game!
There were people in orange robes selling all kinds of food, from sandwiches with some kind of roast meat that smelled delicious, to sweets, to bread rolls shaped like brooms. Ronnie looked on hungrily as they passed, and his dad relented and bought them all chocolate Snitches that had a double C on them in orange icing. Ronnie held his in a tight chocolaty fist while he ate, after Fred's (or George's) escaped, flying straight up, then buzzing several people in the crowd before someone several rows away caught it. Percy had impaled his on a stick and carefully ate the lacy sugar wings first.
Across the pitch, the stands were filling with people as well, mostly in green, and they waved green banners with harps on them around.
After awhile, an orange-clad wizard strode to the middle of the pitch and shook hands with a witch in robes greener than the grass on the pitch. Ronnie didn't know what to watch! It was all so exciting! There were the team managers in the centre of the pitch and the referee announcing some rules. There was all the food, and the two teams near their brooms, waiting for the signal to take to the air. He couldn't see the orange team very well, since they were just under the area of the stands where he sat, with the stands blocking his view, but the green team across the way was just outside of a doorway to what was probably a room under the stands. The referee brought out a big heavy box and opened it, inspecting the contents. When he stepped back, Ronnie could see they were the Quidditch balls! It was about to start!
"Ronnie, Fred, George, don't lean so far over the railing. Come, take your seats," his mum ordered him. Ronnie hadn't even realized he was standing, but it was so exciting, how could he just sit still? He squirmed in his seat, trying to get as good a view as he could while still sitting, stretching his back and neck as tall as he could. Some day he would be tall and able to see everything!
A bell sounded and the teams took off. Their brooms were so fast as they swooped back and forth, the players crossing each other and never once running into anyone, in a display more acrobatic than his brothers' flying ever was. After some amazing flying, they hovered in a kind of circle at the centre of the pitch. The referee released the Snitch, and then a few minutes later tossed the Quaffle up in the air. The Bludgers rose on their own and the bell sounded again.
All at once, all the players were moving. One of the green Chasers caught the Quaffle, and tossed it to another, darting in another direction only to catch it again. The crowd cheered and someone commented on the plays, but Ronnie just vibrated in his seat as he watched. It was magical. It was the best thing he'd ever experienced!
An hour or so into the game, Ronnie realized that the pumpkin juice his parents brought for them to drink was making him need to pee. He didn't want to leave while the game was still going, but he knew he had to. There was no way he'd risk what Fred and George would say if he had an accident.
He tapped his dad on the arm.
"What is it Ronnie?"
He whispered his problem.
"Molly, Ronnie and I will be right back. Does anyone else need to go to the loo?"
Ron felt his face heat up with a bright red flush. Did his dad have to announce it to everyone?"
Sure enough Fred and George snickered. "Does ickle Ronnikins have to go wee wee? Shall we tell the referee to call a timeout?"
"I see you two have to go as well. Come on."
"What, no, we're fine! Really!"
"You will both come now. I'm not making any more trips than necessary."
They grumbled but, seeing their dad's face, they knew there was no arguing. "Fine. Just 'cause ickle Ronnie can't hold it."
"He did what he was supposed to. He told me. You will not tease him."
They climbed down the stairs and found a tan-coloured tent with the word "Wizards" on it above a tent flap. Inside there were lots of doors, all different. He picked a wooden one with an orange broomstick on it and went in to relieve himself.
After he had left and washed his hands in one of the sinks, he looked around. He didn't see his dad or the twins anywhere. Maybe they had left the tent and were waiting outside. He didn't think he had taken that long!
Suddenly, there was a bunch of wizards coming into the loo tent, talking loudly to each other about the game. "Excuse me, the game's not over, is it?" he asked an older wizard with a short grey beard.
"No, they're just taking a break, son. They'll be up and flying again in no time. You'd better get back to your seat."
Ronnie looked around but only saw more wizards coming in. It was crowded. He wormed his way through them to a tent flap – he could see a tree on the other side.
When he got through, he faced the woods. There must be more than one way into the loo tent. He didn't want to go back in with all those people in there, and his dad would be looking for him. He started to walk around the tent. "Dad! Dad!" he called over and over. There were too many people. He could barely hear himself calling! It was fun seeing all of the people when he was with his family, watching the game in their seats, but this was too loud.
He wasn't scared, he told himself. Six-year-old boys didn't get scared being around a bunch of strange witches and wizards. He nodded to himself and walked faster. His dad would be worried. He needed to find him as soon as he could!
He found another tent flap that looked a bit like the one they had come through, but he didn't see his dad or the twins. A bunch of wizards left the tent, jostling him back toward the stands. That's what he should do! He should go and find their seats. His dad would have to come back eventually! His dad would bring the twins back to watch the game before coming to look for him again, so if he were already in their seats, his father wouldn't have to look for him!
The crowds were getting thicker and he was so small they didn't see him as they jostled him. Twice he fell, but had to scramble to his feet so he wouldn't get trampled. There were so many people!
As soon as he got close to the bleachers, he ducked underneath, crouching down near one of the poles.
So there he was, shivering as he huddled against a solid pole, huge tears rolling down his cheeks. This wasn't what it was supposed to be like!
He didn't notice at first how the crowds were thinning. When he did, he realized it looked safe enough for a boy his size to head toward the entrance. He wiped his face on the sleeve of his robes, so no one would notice that his face was wet and think he was a baby. He wasn't! It was really scary, with all the people so much bigger than him. Anyone would have been scared. And he had only been a little scared, he told himself.
He crawled out from under the stands and trotted back toward the entrance a little faster, now that he had a plan. He knew his family was on the orange side, so once he got in, he could find the rest of the family!
When he got to the walkway into the stands, he showed the mark on his hand to the witch standing guard.
It was huge! He didn't remember it being so big. He reminded himself that he'd had no trouble seeing the players, so how difficult could it be to see a redheaded family in the stands?
But people kept moving as they came back to their seats in time for the game to start up again. He knew which side they were on, but it seemed everyone on that side was wearing orange, and every time he thought he saw his mum's hair, it turned out to be a hat, or some orange robes. He'd just have to wait until everyone was sitting again.
He sat on a bench near the ground.
"You can't sit there, son." He looked up. The man looked official, so he probably should do what the man said, but now he didn't know what he'd do!
"Okay," he said, getting up slowly and searching the stands, hoping to see a cluster of red hair. He couldn't find them!
"Geordie, look at him! You can't send him off like that!" A woman in orange came up to them. "You lost, sweetie?"
"I can't find my parents. They're somewhere in the stands. They're ginger like me, but with all of the orange..." Ronnie trailed off, blushing.
"What's your name, Sweetie?"
"Ronnie. Ronnie Weasley."
"Well, Ronnie, with hair like yours, you might as well be on our team. I have to get in the air in a few moments, but why don't you sit on our bench and watch from there? I'll have them announce where you are, and after the game, we'll find your parents. How does that sound?"
Ronnie suddenly realized why she was wearing orange. She wasn't a fan, she was a player! And she was talking to him!
"Really? That would be great! Thanks, ma'am!"
"You can call me Ellie. My parents saddled me with a much longer name, but my friends call me Ellie, and so can you."
They walked over to a bench where a bunch of other players were standing, and soon the whole team was around him! "Alright everyone. This here is Ronnie. He can't find his parents, so I said he could watch the game from here. That alright with you?"
A few moments later, he heard his name sounding throughout the pitch, announcing that he had been found and was safe. The twins were going to tease him so much for this! His face turned hot with embarrassment at the thought.
"You good here without your parents, lad?" one of the wizards on the team asked.
Ronnie nodded, a bit shyly.
"Well, alright then. Team, mount your brooms, let's win this!"
And they all took off, so fast that Ronnie could feel wind on his face from the movement.
The game was even better from the bench. Sure, he wasn't as high as he could be, and the players were way above him, but the reserve players were all sitting around him, and they explained the plays to him!
"You see Rudy?" one of them asked. "He's a Chaser. He and Ellie have this thing going tossing the Quaffle back and forth. They get so fast, so regular, and then right when the other team thinks they've got the pattern, the switch it up! See, they did it just there." Ronnie didn't see, but that was okay. "Just when they think Ellie's going to toss it to Rudy, she swipes it over to Marla. That witch has some arm!"
Ronnie learnt more about Quidditch in that one afternoon than from all of the stories his brothers had told him. He loved Quidditch. It was great!
The Cannons didn't win, but that was okay with Ron. After the game, Ellie gave him a Cannons scarf and hat, and an ice cream to eat. By the time he had finished that, the stands had cleared quite a bit, and he could hear the amplified voice of his mum using a Sonorus charm. "Ronnie!"
"I think I'm in trouble," he told Ellie.
"I'll take you to them and explain matters."
Ellie was great.
"Oh, Ronnie, we were so worried!" His mum crouched down and wrapped him in a hug, her hair clinging to his face. She then held him at arm's length to look at him. "Where were you? Your father waited by the doorway, and when you didn't come out, he went back in to look for you but you were nowhere to be found! We were about to send for the Aurors, until we heard the announcement! Ron Weasley, you do not just wander off, especially not in unfamiliar places!"
"I didn't! I tried to find him, but he wasn't there!" Ron protested. His mother looked about to start scolding him again, but Ellie spoke first, explaining what had happened.
With Ellie telling the story, his mum listened, and Ronnie was even able to add information, like how he went though the wrong exit in the loo tent, and about the crowds. When his mum understood that he couldn't find his dad, and that he hadn't wandered off on purpose, she fussed over him. He flushed with embarrassment, but then his mum hugged him tight. "We're so glad you're alright. Anything could have happened!" The twins were going to take the Mickey out of him for weeks for this, but at least his mum wasn't mad anymore.
As they walked from the stands to the spot where their Portkey would activate, Ronnie regaled them with his adventure.
"I got to see the game from the players' bench, and they explained all the plays, and Ellie gave me these!" He pointed to his hat and held out his scarf, which he was wearing even though it was much too hot.
He bet the twins had never had an adventure like his. Maybe they wouldn't tease him after all.
Ronnie pulled his covers tight over his head that night and smiled. The Cannons were the best team ever. He decided they would be his team, no matter what. He would be a loyal Cannons fan forever.
First, thanks to Badgerlady for correcting my Typos and German-influenced punctuation, as well as catching a realism issue. You have my appreciation!
While I've been struggling with the next chapter of Something Past Survival (which I am still working on!), this little plot bunny came to my mind. Why does Ron Weasley love the Chudley Cannons so much? Well, now you know.
I haven't written kidfic before, but I hope my characterization for a kid that age feels true. Some of the nuances (such as what the Weasley parents and older siblings experienced) are in the background when writing from a young child's point of view. I can't imagine that adult concerns or the consequences for his actions (except for "I'll get in trouble!") would be in the forefront of a six-year-old Ron Weasley's mind!
Hope you enjoyed the story! Please leave comments letting me know what you think, as well as any constructive critiques!