"Fine!" shouted Mrs. Weasley. "Fine! Ginny — BED!"
Ginny did not go quietly. They could hear her raging and storming at her mother all the way up the stairs, and when she reached the hall Mrs. Black's earsplitting shrieks were added to the din.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter Five.
This chapter is Ginny's PoV of the above scene. I hope you enjoy it. I don't own Harry Potter, and I'm not making money from this. Warning for a brief allusion to eating disorders.
We're told we have to do what we're told but surely,
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.
Just because you find that life's not fair it
Doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it,
If you always take it on the chin and wear it,
Nothing will change.
Even if you're little, you can do a lot, you
Mustn't let a little thing like 'little' stop you.
- Matilda The Musical, Naughty.
The Second Yet
Mum grabs you by the elbow and yanks you out of the room.
"Ow! Mum!" you protest. She isn't usually rough, "Mum, get off. I want to stay, I want to know-"
"You're going to bed," Mum declares. She's hauled you out on the dining room now and is following you down the hall, blocking your route back to the action in the dining room.
"I'm always left out!" you wail, wheeling round on her, "Why don't I get to stay? Ron isn't even of age and he's allowed. It's not fair!"
"It isn't a question of fair, or being left out. I don't want Harry in that room either, but you heard Sirius and Remus. They believe that if it's about Harry he deserves to-"
"Ron isn't of age for a year and a half! If him and Hermione can stay I should too!"
"Upstairs now," orders Mum, "I'm not going to argue with you any-"
"Blood traitors! Screeching, recalcitrant urchins- look at this snivelling girl!" shrieks a raspy voice. Mrs Black has awoken. Mum glances over her shoulder at the noise. With the Seeker reflexes you've honed on the boys' broomsticks, you dart past Mum and down the hall. You make it close to the door when Mum grabs the back of your top and tugs you backwards.
"Ginevra Molly Weasley! You are not sitting in on that meeting!" she yells.
"You wait till I'm seventeen," you snarl, "I'll show all of you. I'll join the Order, I'll fight You-Know-Who, I'll remember this moment and I'll hex you to Transylvania for treating me like a baby!"
You stomp up the stairs, kicking the skirting board every few steps while Mrs Black crows on in the hall. Mum scurries behind you.
"Hermione's going to tell me everything anyway, you know," you tell her loftily, "You think she'd never break the rules, but-"
"Ginny," says Mum, changing tack by using what she believes is her patient, compromising voice. Actually it's the most patronising tone in the world and makes it you want to strangle her, "I know you want to be in on the excitement-"
"Excitement? What is this, a firework display? We're fighting, Mum, You-Know-Who is back and my whole family are trying to stop him, and you're saying I want to be there for excitement?"
"I understand that you want to be included. Remember, my older brothers were in the Order-"
"While you stayed at home and had seven children! That's not what I want. I want to fight, not be a good girl and stay out of the way like you did," you growl. You've reached the door of the bedroom you're sharing with Hermione. You boot it open.
"I fought You-Know—Who and the Death Eaters my own way, says Mum in a dignified voice, "Wars aren't only won in battle. Wars are won in loving families, in getting on and moving forward, in feeding and caring for-"
"-In shutting up and doing what they tell you because you're a girl," you interrupt disdainfully, wheeling round in the doorway to face her, "That's not what I'm doing. I want to help properly, not kid myself that wiping noses and baking bread is helping to win a war. You keep telling Sirius that Harry isn't James. When are you going to realise that I'm not you?!"
"I didn't suggest-"
"And you're forgetting that I've been possessed by You-Know-Who. I know what it's like in his head even more than Harry does. I could tell you-"
"Ginny, it's time to calm down and go to sleep,"
"Calm down?!" you yell, "I'm telling you about when You-Know-Who was in my head, possessing me, making me kill animals and their paint blood on walls, I'm telling you that I have as much reason to want him dead as Harry does and as any of you do, and you're telling me to calm down?!"
You're shaking with indigence now. Rage gives you strength, and you wonder if it's enough to dodge past Mum again. But what would be the point? If you got downstairs, the others would only send you back up to bed. Tonks might be on your side, but she wouldn't get her way against Mum, Dad, Lupin and the others.
"Goodnight, darling," says Mum. She doesn't try to kiss you, which is a relief because you suspect that you might tear her head off if she tried.
Mum switches the light off, and softly shuts he door behind her.
"I hate you!" you scream, "I hate all of you! Just because I'm the youngest it doesn't mean that I'm permanently four years old!"
You give the wall a solid thump.
"Temper temper, dearie," sighs the mirror
You throw yourself onto the double-bed you share with Hermione. You lie still for a moment, then fury spasms through you and you grunt, biting the pillow and flailing your limbs.
"It's not fair! It's. Not. Fair!"
Mum was swayed about Ron and the twins, and about Harry and Hermione even though they aren't even her children. But when it's you, Strict Mum comes out. Everybody else can stay but not Ickle Ginnykins. You flip onto your back and cross your arms. Everybody underestimates you. Everyone belittles you. Your family and the Order remember what happened in the Chamber, but they forget that you understand how You-Know-Who strategises and manipulates. The Order are too proud to admit that they need your help. You are trapped in the role of The Youngest Weasley while your brothers are allowed to grow up.
Normally, you love your position in the family. Being a Weasley girl is like being a four-leaf clover, or a goose that lays golden eggs. Having six brothers is awesome. Loud, messy, smelly, rough boys. You smirk at the surprise on people's faces when you say, "I've got six big brothers," (often you slip it in casually, because acting as if it isn't a big deal shocks people more. You get a kick out of that). You have a ready-made gang. You enjoy challenge of proving yourself against the boys, and showing that you can be as rowdy and mischievous as they are.
You love how different your brothers are. Bill is in charge of course, but he isn't bossy. He's got a friendly authority, and he can be fun at the same time as being the responsible one. Unlike clueless Ron, the troublesome twins, know-it-all Percy and your micro-managing Mum, Bill's helpful when it comes to school. He gave the best advice when you were choosing your OWLs, and when you write to him about schoolwork his answers are actually useful. Ron and the twins are infuriatingly nosy about your romantic life, and they get all cringily protective. But you can talk to Bill about boyfriends without him getting defensive or pushy.
Strong, reserved, outdoorsy Charlie. When you were younger, he'd take you on hikes to get you out of the packed house, piggy-backing you for miles. You helped him catch fireflies, and he taught you about his pets. You've never told him, but Charlie's your conscience. If you say something which comes out nastily, you imagine him being disappointed. If you realise that you're taking over a conversation with your friends, your inner Charlie tells you to back off, shut up and let someone else talk. Our of all your brothers, you reckon Charlie is the one you should aim to be more like.
Before the Big Fight, Percy was the taskmaster, although he'd soften around his baby sister. He would grumble to you about how unambitious Dad is, how you don't have to be poor, and how you should expect better for yourself because not everybody lives like this. Everything you just yelled at Mum is stuff you only realised because Percy's made you question your family's history and ideas about itself. Now he's buggered off, you're trying to understand why Percy would do and say what he's said and done. You haven't told anybody that you sort of see where Percy's coming from, although of course you disagree. Percy makes you uncomfortable, Percy challenges you, Percy makes you think.
Once they stopped using you as a Quaffle, the twins were fun to get into mischief with. You learnt sarcasm at a young age thanks to Fred and George, and you share their nose for trouble. You love climbing trees with the twins, playing pranks and going exploring. They're fun to be outside with, because they're careless enough to let you wander off and do what you want. At school, Fred and George have set the bar of outrageousness high. You like having that target to beat.
Ron's your best friend. He's not even eighteen months older than you so Mum treated you almost as a second set of twins. She taught you together, so you learnt to count and read with each other. The rest of your brothers would run off to play big boy games, but Ron was always there to play with you. You'll never admit to anybody how much you hated the year when he was at Hogwarts and you were at left at home. Nowadays, Ron's got Harry and Hermione, and you've got your friends and your boyfriend at school. Because you and Ron were close growing up, the drifting apart was hard to stomach at first, though you're used to it now. And no matter how annoying and dumb he can be, and whatever changes next, you and Ron will always be a special little team.
Despite your toughness, being the only girl means you're spoilt. Your brothers forget each other's birthdays, but they always remember yours. Mum'll run through everyone else's names before she remembers which of the boys she actually needs downstairs, but nobody ever gets you mixed up with them. Professor Flitwick is kind to you, and even Professor McGonagall once muttered, "I don't know how you manage, Miss Weasley". And as the two females in a testosterone-filled home, you and Mum have always been close. All your brothers are flippant about you being her favourite. The boys' jokes about it make you uncomfortable, because you know that Mum treats you differently to them. While the boys wore each other's hand-me-downs, Mum made you pinafores and gingham dresses. By the time you were three you'd decided that you hated them and would prefer to wear your brothers' cast-offs, but Mum still tried (recently you've decided that you want to dress more girly again. You're both pleased and embarrassed by how your body's changing. Your hips are getting too wide to fit into your brothers' old jeans, and baggy t-shirts look silly when it's obvious that you've got breasts growing underneath. But you're too old for pinafores and dresses, and while Hermione dresses girlier than you, you don't like her style. You've started wearing denim skirts, rolled up a couple of times to make them shorter. You've bought tighter tops which show off your figure. Boys like that. You've found you like it when boys notice you).
You enjoyed how much of a fuss Mum made of your hair. She'd plait it every morning until you were old enough for her to teach you to do it yourself, and by the time the twins were at Hogwarts you'd mastered French plaits, fishtail plaits, waterfall braids and more. Knowing plaits was useful for tying your hair up when wrestling with your brothers or flying. Nowadays, you're the hair expert for the girls in your year. You were hair stylist for all your friends at the Yule Ball and even Tonks, who goes through about four different hairstyles every day, says she'd let you do hers.
Mum always made sure that you got special time alone with her at home- baking or sorting photographs, or cuddling up on the sofa to talk or listen to the radio. When you teamed up with the twins for a practical joke, Fred and George would get in much more trouble than you did. Mum was more impatient with Ron when he struggled with his letters than she was when you couldn't do your sums. Hermione is intense and wired; she's the most focussed and ambitious person you've ever met. The older both of you get, the more you begin to suspect that that's because Hermione has no siblings. She's her parents' only child, so she feels she has to be the best to make them happy. You doubt that Mr and Mrs Granger, who seemed very nice when you've met them, would tell Hermione that they'll be disappointed if she isn't the best in every subject. But perhaps that's an impression that only children infer from their parents. Especially clever only children like Hermione. Or maybe the idea has come from Hermione herself- she imagines she's inferred it, so she believes that she needs to be the best to make her parents happy. Parvati, one of the girls in Hermione's year, once told you in passing that Hermione's a swot because she's insecure. She works hard to prove to herself and everybody else that she has worth. You've never felt that way. You doubt that anyone as indulged by their mother as you are would carry the insecurity that Hermione does.
The older you get, however, the less you enjoy being Mum's special girl. It isn't fair that the boys get into more trouble than you're if you're all in on the prank. You've bought your own clothes, because you want to look like a proper teenager, not a tomboy in her brother's cast-offs, or a cute kid in gingham. And Merlin's beard, baking? You're not going to spend your life in a kitchen. Bill and Percy were more interested in learning to cook than you were, but Mum never noticed that, and sent them off to de-gnome. You like being spoilt by your brothers, but with Mum it's as if she's trying to turn you into a 1950s housewife. Is she trying to turn you in to her? Fat chance that's going to work.
She infantilises you like mad. She'll still sees you as her baby girl, even though you had your fourteenth birthday a couple of weeks ago. Now something truly matters- Cedric Diggory is dead, You-Know-Who is back and this is a war- being special Princess Ginny is unfair and humiliating. It makes you patronised and powerless. You're a blood traitor, your friends are blood-traitors and Muggle-borns, and Harry Potter is part of your family. This is your war.
"You need all the people you can get!" you shout, "And I'll find out anyway. You're an idiot if you think everybody's not going to tell me everything!"
Fred and George will spill for certain. Hermione almost definitely (you've got plenty of blackmail material if she refuses). They'll explain what happens in the meeting, Mum and Dad and all the stupid up-themselves Order people can't do anything about it.
You sit up from the bed and rest your chin in your hands. You don't know how long it'll be until they're finished. Hermione would recommend distracting yourself by reading or swotting up on spell theory, but you know you won't be able to concentrate. Michael sent a letter on Tuesday which you haven't got around to replying to yet, though there's no point now because you're not allowed to tell him what you're angry about. You haven't even been able to say where you are, so Mike still addresses his post to the Burrow. Thankfully, owls don't need an address to know where to find people. Dear Michael, you imagine writing, I can't say anything apart from that I want to kill my mother. So that's nothing new. Love from Ginny. Dear Mike, Professor Lupin is much less cool as a grown-up than he was as a teacher. Hope you're having a better Summer than I am. Love from Ginny. Dear Michael, I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate every single person in this house, even Harry special-pants Potter. You roll onto your stomach and beat the pillow with you fists, bite it, kick the mattress. It's much better to get angry than to cry.
After a hundred years, you hear footsteps on the stairs and whispered voices. You sit bolt upright. A moment later, Hermione comes into the room. She looks thoughtful and apprehensive.
"Hi," she says timidly. It's not Hermione's fault that she got to stay in the meeting and you didn't, but you're pissed off at her about it anyway.
"If you don't tell me Fred and George will, so you might as well save me the trouble of asking them," you tell her bluntly.
"Of course I was going to tell you," Hermione answers reproachfully. You ignore your inner Charlie's disapproval for snapping at her. Hermione drops onto her side of the bed and leans her back against the wall.
"Sirius explained that You-Know-Who wanted to kill Harry in the graveyard at Little Hangleton. Except he didn't, obviously, so now we know that You-Know-Who's back, Dumbledore's rebuilding the Order, and Fudge is denying it all,"
"I know that," you mutter bitterly.
Hermione ignores you and adds, "Bill suspects that Dumbledore could end up in Azkaban,"
"I agree with your brother. I considered it a few weeks ago, and since he was removed from the Wizengamot I reckon it's possible. Legally, the Ministry are more powerful, and Fudge is scared enough to use that power,"
"So everything they talked about at this meeting was stuff you knew about already," you huff.
"I read the newspapers," says Hermione snobbily, "Dumbledore is You-Know-Who's greatest fear. He's a protector and a deterrent, and we'll be in a considerably more vulnerable position if he goes to Azkaban,"
"They won't do that," you mumble. Dumbledore won't go to Azkaban. The Ministry are useless, but they know that locking up Albus Dumbledore would be risky, unpopular, and stupid.
"You-Know-Who's trying to get a bigger following, like we are," Hermione continues, "Sirius said he uses jinxes and blackmail. Probably the Imperio curse too. But he said that gaining a bigger following is only one of You-Know-Who's aims, because he's also after a weapon,"
"Your Mum wouldn't let Sirius tell us,"
"What do you mean, a weapon?" you demand.
"Sirius said it was something You-Know-Who didn't have last time. Harry started to ask what could be worse than the killing curse, but your Mum came in and wouldn't let him finish,"
"That was it, then we had to go to bed," Hermione concludes.
"That's all you talked about?"
"It isn't much new information for us, but Harry needed to be brought up to speed. Your Mum's right that it was better he heard it from Sirius. He trusts him," Hermione explains in a patient, patronising tone. You're pleased that it turns out you didn't miss much news at all, but the lack of new information is infuriating.
"What kind of weapon is it?"
"I don't know. It could be a physical weapon, or a curse, or a potion, or a specific type of magic that's rarely used by normal witches and wizards,"
"So it could be anything?" you grumble, exasperated by the vagueness. The worst part is that the Order seem to enjoy keeping you out of the loop. They're smug about what they know and the fact that you can't know it.
"Not anything," Hermione insists, then concedes, "But it could be a lot of things,"
"That's fan-bloody-tastic," you glower, "That's a help to us all,"
Hermione doesn't respond. Instead, she stands up and starts changing into her pyjamas. You frown, digesting the information, or lack of it. Dumbledore might be sent to Azkaban and You-Know-Who wants a weapon to beat you all. It sounds a catastrophe.
"Does You-Know-Who know where to find this weapon? How close is he to getting it?" you press. The Order could at least give you a time-frame.
"Sirius didn't say," Hermione responds.
"What about Professor Lupin?"
Sirius was the keenest to let you stay in the meeting. He seems the likeliest to spill. However, you reckon Lupin's information is more reliable. He was teacher and he hasn't spent thirteen years in prison, so he knows what he's talking about more than Sirius does.
"He didn't say anything. Sirius could only get a couple of sentences in before your mum sent us to bed,"
"Typical. Mum ruining everything," you growl.
"It is frustrating," commiserates Hermione, although you notice that she says "it" not "she". She's taking off her blouse now, and her bra, and you're too cross to pretend to avert your eyes. You don't remember what Hermione's body looked like last time you and her she shared a room (a year ago at the World Cup) so you're not sure how she's changed or grown since then. You're unqualified when comes to girls' bodies. You're so used to your brothers getting muscly and sweaty, having voice-cracks and leaving the remnants of their beards in the sink, that female puberty seems very separate and almost alien. Your brothers probably think so too, which explains why Ron's in denial about you growing up. You've always known what happens to girls of- when you spent time alone with Mum, she'd often bring up periods and blackheads and boys. Now you're a teenager you and your dorm-mates compare bra sizes, squeeze each other's spots lend each other period-pain potion. But your friends in your dormitory are your own age. Hermione's nearly two years older. She'll be sixteen in a few weeks. You've seen six boys go through puberty, and you wish you'd watched it happen to at least one girl. Hermione is the closest person you have to a big sister, but the two of you don't talk about that kind of stuff. Hermione's quite private; she doesn't talk about periods or shaving or having a figure, and you have to choose your moment carefully when you ask her about her love life. She snogged Viktor Krum a few times, but they weren't in a proper boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. She's more keen and helpful when talking about your romances; she's given you advice about Harry and Mike. You suspect that you've gone further with Michael than Hermione has with a boy. There might well be a boyfriend she hasn't told you about, but as far as you know she's only been involved with Krum, and that was only kissing. The fact that you and Mike have done more makes you feel empowered, and proud that you know about stuff which Hermione doesn't. Although that's also a little intimidating.
A couple of times, you've tried to ask Hermione if she's going to see Krum again, but Hermione bats the question away. She doesn't talk about her family much, either. Hermione must prefer to keep her lives separate, which is understandable; being Muggle-born must be disorientating enough, even without everything Hermione's involved in. You've chatted briefly to Mrs and Mr Granger when you've met them at King's Cross and Diagon Alley, but you don't know what they're properly like. Does Hermione get angry with her Mum the way you do with yours?
"What's your Mum like?" you ask.
"Oh," says Hermione, puzzled by the question. She considers, then says, "She's a dentist,"
She's dodging the question, the way she does about Krum. "That's not what she's like,"
"She's nice," Hermione concedes.
"Do you fight with her?"
"Sometimes. Less nowadays because I don't see her and Dad as much,"
"Lucky you," you mumble.
"Not lucky. It's a choice," Hermione answers brusquely, "I'd like spend all Summer with them, but I know I'm needed here,"
"You're lucky they let you come," you insist, "I only get to be here because my family are. If I asked to come on my own Mum would go nuts,"
She'd refuse to let you go, and no matter how much you begged her answer would be the same. Dad would side with Mum, and you'd storm off to your room and sulk in there for the rest of the week.
Hermione looks away pointedly and admits, "I don't always keep them in the loop about everything that's happening in our world,"
"Yeah, you told me when you arrived. You're such a sneak!" you cheer, smirking. You're equal parts impressed and envious.
Hermione starts brushing her hair and doesn't reply. She's got a reputation for being a goody two-shoes, but she's not. She breaks school rules all the time with Harry and Ron, she answers back to teachers and she's told heaps of lies to keep herself out of trouble.
"How much do they know?" you push.
"They know about the Triwizard," Hermione concedes. You raise your eyebrows- a lot more's happened in the last few months than the Triwizard.
"I told them that Harry had an accident in the final task and I've come to keep him company," she elaborates.
"Do they think you're at our house?"
"No, they know I'm here. They know about Sirius, and I told them that he had a house and that's where Harry's staying. It's mostly true. I've got the Prophet delivered every Summer holiday, so Mum and Dad weren't suspicious about that when I was at home,"
"They sound much less interfering than my parents," you say. She is lucky that she's from a Muggle family. She can omit and edit information and her family will be none the wiser. It's freedom.
"You still haven't told me what they're like," you continue. You've seldom been curious about Mr and Mrs Granger, but now you want to know more about them and how Hermione is in her own family. She's so bossy and grown-up that it's funny to imagine her being mothered.
Hermione sighs. "My mum's not much like yours. She's can't cook and she doesn't like little cildren,"
"'Cos she's got a proper job fixing teeth," you point out. Hermione comes from a family where women do real work and make their own money. Her parents probably expect the same from her. That doesn't sound like pressure- it sounds reasonable, a decent expectation when raising a person. You hate the fact that, to you, that seems lucky.
"I wish your mum could have a word with mine about actually doing something in the world," you grumble.
"Your mum does things," says Hermione.
"Don't tell me you of all people believe that baking cakes and fussing over everyone's clothes counts as a job," you scoff.
"It's not what I'd want," Hermione concedes, "And I'm sure your mum's capable of-" she cuts herself off.
"Exactly!" you cheer, "Mum could do loads more. Maybe she resents me 'cos I want to do more,"
There are women in the Order- Hestia and Emmeline and Tonks, whose an Auror for Merlin's sake. Professor McGonagall. The twins claim that Bill's working with and interested in Fleur Delacour, the Beauxbatons champion. She's pristine and elegant and girly, and she's brave and quick-thinking and athletic. With all those women in front of her, it's crazy for Mum to insist that cooking and dusting matters in the fight against You-Know-Who. Perhaps she doesn't truly believe it, but she tells herself that it matters because she regrets not doing more. Does Mum reckon that letting you be involved in the Order will give you the freedom and the power she hasn't let herself have?
Hermione shrugs. Then she says, "My mother's from Nairobi. She didn't grow up poor, but it's one of those places where being poor lurks around the corner. She had to get qualifications and a job to ensure she'd be financially safe. It's different to your parents,"
You want to retort that it isn't, because one of the reasons the Weasleys are poor as dormice is because Mum doesn't have a proper job. Although as a point of pride, you never mention money out loud or whinge about it self-pityingly the way Ron and Percy do.
Instead, you say, "You're lying to your family so you can be here and be involved,"
"Well, yes," Hermione concedes.
"I can't lie to mine. But that won't stop me," you resolve, "Once we're back at school I won't have Mum keeping an eye on me. The twins let me do what I want, and Ron's too thick to notice anything,"
"We can't do much from school," Hermione counters, which is ridiculous coming from her of all people.
"You-Know-Who's come to school," you tell her stonily, "Twice. And one of those times he came for me,"
It was two years ago, though it seems longer. You're getting better at dealing with it. Firstly because you think about it less. Time and friends and schoolwork and boys, the Triwizard and now the war, have meant that you have less space in your head for what happened in first year. Sometimes you can manage nearly a whole day without remembering. Secondly, because you understand what happened more now. Because you'd been possessed and you'd been hurt so badly, in the aftermath you didn't understand fully what had happened. You often felt disorientated, or sad or scared or furious, and you didn't know why. Or you felt terribly bad about yourself. You were a bad person. You were stupid. You had let everybody down. You were as evil as Tom, you were the next You-Know-Who. Some days you tried not to eat, even though you didn't like feeling hungry. You bit your nails until they were raw, but that upset you because when you bit them too much you'd bleed, and you shuddered to see blood on your hands. You went to lessons and you did your homework, but you didn't make much effort. Some days you tried to speak as little as possible. You were ashamed for anybody to see you. You wanted a cloak like Harry's so you could be invisible. You wished you could disappear.
Your brothers looked after you. Bill and Charlie sent presents upon presents. Percy was busy with his NEWT work, but he would find you in the common room to check you were okay, and if he noticed you weren't eating he would fill up your plate and stay with you, demanding that you eat at least a few mouthfuls. The twins promised that if anybody tried to blame to you for what had happened or asked to many questions, they would get revenge. That year, Ron had been busy falling out with Hermione and finding out about Sirius for Harry, but he always bought you sweets from Hogsmeade.
Professor Lupin invited you to his office for cups of tea. He said he understood what it was like to see yourself as unclean, though it was only later that you realised what he meant. Hagrid found you wandering around alone one day, and said you could come to his hut to meet the family of baby rabbits he was nursing. Professor Burbage, who you didn't even know back then, lent you Muggle books she promised would cheer you up. Malory Towers. Tom's Midnight Garden. A Little Princess. You took the books from Professor Burbage, gave them to Percy, and begged him to shut them in his dormitory cupboard. You didn't want any books from anybody else anywhere near you. And you definitely didn't want the one about the boy called Tom. Professor McGonagall called you into her office one day, and told you that you'd have to buck up your ideas if you wanted to stay in school. When you murmured that you weren't sure if you did want to remain at Hogwarts, Professor McGonagall barked that didn't you suppose you'd given your mother enough to worry about? At the time you had been shocked, but you knew she was right. You worked a little harder after that, and you stopped refusing to talk.
As the months went by, you began to understand what had happened. You worked out your movements an your actions when you'd been possessed. Knowing what you'd done made it less overwhelming, and at least it gave me concrete reasons why you knew you were a bad person. You thought more about the fact that Draco Malfoy's dad had given you the diary. Harry told you that he'd fallen into the diary, and in the Chamber he'd believed that Tom could help him. That meant that Tom had fooled Harry, too. You didn't stop blaming yourself, but you began to accept that it wasn't all your fault. Realising how close you'd been to dying frightened you. You knew that if you'd died you would have missed your brothers. And Mum and Dad, and the chickens in the yard, the Gryffindor classmates who you were getting to know, and flying and muddy puddles skipping and jam roly-poly. And if you were frightened of dying, and if there was so much you'd miss, that meant you were relieved to be alive. You began to feel more comfortable about life.
The older you get, the further away you are away from being the Ginny who was possessed and nearly died in the Chamber of Secrets. That's a relief. On the way back from school in July, you met Barbara Beaumont's brother at King's Cross. He was about to turn eleven, the same age you were when it all started. He was and silly and cute. You knew he couldn't understand about dark wizards or ancient diaries or mind-control. And you knew that you were a little kid like him when it happened, and you didn't know about any of that stuff either.
You're fourteen now: you've chosen your OWLs, you have mates and a boyfriend, you get detentions and you make people laugh. You like that about yourself, and you're proud of it. But "recovered" isn't a category you decide anybody can decide they're in. Nobody wakes up one morning, suddenly Totally Fine. Although plenty of people around you assume that, or they overlook what happened, or they forget about it. Hermione just did, and that's Hermione.
"I know," she says, in a low voice, and you can tell she's remorseful for forgetting. You're used to that. A strange part of you gets a kick out of reminding people.
"I understand what's happening better than anybody," you intone. You're not jealous of your brothers for getting to go to the meeting. You're not trying to make a point. You're afraid for your friends and your family. You don't need protecting anymore. You can help protect them. You can stop more children getting hurt like you did.
Surprisingly, Hermione lets you have the last word. She sets her hairbrush on her bedside table, climbs under the covers and picks up her book. The silence as Hermione starts reading makes you feel awkward, so you get up and change into your pyjamas- very short shorts which made Mum's eyes almost fall out the first time she saw them, and one of Charlie's old Quidditch jerseys (wearing the boys' cast-offs is still okay if it's for pyjamas, especially if you pair something baggy with something skimpy). You've been at Grimmauld Place for a couple of weeks now and haven't properly unpacked, so you shove your clothes back into your trunk. You have enough experience sharing a room with Hermione to know what it's best to bring a book. The one you're reading this holiday is part of the Topaz Toads series, a collection of mystery novels which were popular when Bill and Charlie were growing up. They're for kids younger than you- another way you're infantilised, another way you are trapped being Little Sister. Baby Ginnykins. A Weasley Girl, Really? Percy's Sister. Charlie's Sister. George's Sister. Bill's Sister. Ron's Sister. Fred's Sister. Arthur's Daughter. Molly's Daughter. You resent Mum for being known as Arthur's Wife and Bill's Mum and Charlie's Mum and everybody else's Mum. You will not become Michael's Girlfriend or Barbara's Friend, or be defined by anybody else. You absolutely won't be defined by the Chamber of Secrets either. You're not The Girl In The Chamber. Poor Her. The Victim. You refuse to be any of those. You're not entirely certain who Ginny Weasley is yet, and you've less idea about who she's going to be. But you know who you aren't.
When you watched Hermione change for bed, you felt more curiosity than envy about the fact that she's becoming a woman. Now, you realise that you should be jealous, or at least impatient. You want to be an adult. You don't want to be held back by you age or your gender or your family. You don't want to have the regrets Mum does. You don't want to spend longer in the infuriating limbo between child and adult. You want to make your own choices and live by your rules, not Mum's. You want money and a job and independence. You know what this war is, and you want to walk bravely into it. As a Weasley, and a woman, and a warrior.
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