None of Ginny Weasley's brothers knew of their youngest sibling's exploits to quench her passion for Quidditch.
It all began two years ago, when their mother got so furious at Fred and George for putting multicolored spots on all their father's robes. Ginny could very well remember how her mum's face had gotten so red from shouting at the twins—boys of their age were not supposed to do magic yet, and besides, their father's wardrobe was already too dismal for further damage to be imposed on them. Percy, she also remembered, had been a right elder brother towards Fred and George. Bill and Charlie had been more amused than sympathetic, though.
Needless to say, there had been a lot of commotion in the house, and little Ginny had just wanted to escape from the racket inside. Without Molly Weasley's overprotective eyes on her youngest and only daughter, Ginny had quietly gone outside and found herself standing in front of the broom shed.
An idea suddenly formed in her young, adventurous mind. She had wanted to get away, hadn't she? Luckily for her, the broom shed had not been locked. She stole inside quietly and seized Charlie's battered Cleansweep Seven.
She had seen Bill and Charlie do it: they had simply stuck their hands out, palms down, over the broom and said, "Up!" Then, they climbed on the broom and kicked off from the ground. Excitement coursed through Ginny's veins. She wanted to do this; she knew she could do this.
But could she do it?
Ginny had held the broomstick on both hands. It was easily too large for her small frame. She had also seen her brothers get nasty cuts from flying too close to trees, scratching themselves on the branches. "You shouldn't fly, it's stupid enough with you lot getting hurt," Percy had chided Charlie and Bill.
But what was getting hurt to the incredible feeling of soaring through the air she had always imagined? What were cuts and bruises to the flushed, grinning faces of Fred, George, Bill and Charlie, who always landed on the ground seemingly exultant beyond words? Deep inside her, at such a young age of six, Ginny Weasley had known that she was meant to fly...and even if she had to hide from her family (because they obviously wouldn't let her), she'd fly whenever she could.
Resolutely, Ginny had set the Cleansweep Seven on the ground. Behind her, inside the Burrow, her mother had given a sharp yell obviously meant for the twins. She hadn't heard. She had stuck her hand out, palm down, said "Up!" clearly, and the handle of the broomstick rushed to her hand....
* * *
Eight-year-old Ginny now looked sullenly at Bill, Charlie, Fred and George, who were flying in the orchard just a few minutes' walk from the Burrow. Charlie, who had been the Gryffindor Seeker in Hogwarts when he was still studying there, was now persuading Fred and George to try out for the team once announcements were made. The twins' invitations to study in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry arrived this morning, and Quidditch was the first thing they talked about—even before the reprimands that were especially reserved for them. Now, a few hours later, at dusk, her brothers had set out to practice.
Ginny was sitting on a slope near where her brothers were practicing, wondering what it would be like if her brothers knew she could also fly. She was never taken seriously by the elder ones; she and Ron were usually shunted on one side whenever the elder ones talked. Well, Percy rarely ever joined them in their talks and he rarely ever flew, but he never took her seriously, either; in fact, Ginny suffered being little sister most whenever she was with Percy.
In other words, if she told her brothers she wanted to fly, they would probably laugh at her. Her mother would be horrified—Quidditch wasn't so bad, but her brothers made it look dangerous! Perhaps, Ginny thought, for her mum, Quidditch was only for the boys. Ginny's parents had talked of buying Ron a second-hand broomstick, after all.
And she, Ginny, was left to break into the broom shed and practice in secret.
Ginny lay on her stomach and propped her chin on her right hand. Her left arm remained limp beside her; she had a nasty bruise on her left elbow that she had gotten two days ago, when she fell about eight feet to the ground from her broom. A sparrow that seemingly came out from nowhere had suddenly appeared in front of her. She had closed her eyes momentarily and the next thing she knew, she was hurtling down and she wasn't able to pull herself up until it was too late.
The bruise wasn't so bad to keep her from flying, though; she would never let her injuries interfere with her practice. She would get up at five tomorrow and practice in the orchard for maybe an hour, way before her mum or dad woke up. Fred's broom would be her victim; she would make the most of it in the hour she would have alone.
Ginny suddenly became aware of someone calling her. Twisting around, she saw Ron climbing up the slope, looking bad-tempered.
"What?" she asked him.
Ron scowled at her. "You were playing with my chess set, weren't you?" he said accusingly.
"No, I was not," Ginny shot back hotly. "Why are you always blaming me for things you lose?"
"I didn't lose my chess set, it's the pieces who won't play—they say someone twisted their necks and stuff just because they lost—"
"Well, don't look at me. It's only Fred and George who'd do that to your chess pieces."
Ron seemed to consider this for a while; he regarded Ginny thoughtfully, and after a moment sat down beside her.
"I'd get those two," he muttered, looking up at their brothers as they flew.
Ginny didn't say anything. She knew it was useless to argue. Instead, she sat up and voiced out what was bothering her.
"Why's Dad buying you a broom?"
"Because," said Ron, puffing his chest out proudly, "Dad reckons it's about time I had my own, because I'm nine already."
"Well, I'm eight, and that doesn't make a difference."
"Well, you're a girl," Ron pointed out.
"So what?" Ginny yelled. She always hated it when boys, particularly her brothers, made out that girls are helpless. "Andrea Holmes and Patricia Hirst are from Chudley Cannons and they fly better than Terry Allen!"
"No they don't!" Ron protested loudly. "Allen is the greatest Keeper in the world!"
"The Cannons could have won against the Magpies yesterday if Allen weren't so bad at blocking—"
"Hey, shut up, Ginny!"
"Sore loser," Ginny muttered, wanting to annoy Ron as much as she can. "The girls in the Cannons are so much better than the boys—"
"Girls fall off their broomsticks all the time!" Ron snapped.
Ginny suddenly turned red; she clapped her hand on her left elbow. "No, we don't!" she screeched.
Ron started to laugh loudly. "Yes, you do! Didn't you hear yesterday? Hirst had to be replaced—"
"Shut up, Ron!" It was Ginny's turn to be aggravated.
Ginny glared at Ron. Seeing Ron's laughing, taunting face made her angrier than she already was—but behind the annoyance she felt towards her brother, she felt something else: a deep, gaping sadness, an emptiness she couldn't find anyone to fill. Ron had always been the closest brother to her, but even he couldn't understand.
When Ginny stood up and wheeled around to go back to the Burrow, Ron stopped laughing and tried to dissuade her from leaving, but Ginny took no heed of his words.
Just because I'm a girl and the youngest—just because I fell off a broom—it doesn't mean they should stop me from flying, Ginny thought miserably.
She walked on, wondering for how long her secret would remain with her, wondering when someone would see how much she loved every minute of flying...wondering if there really was someone who'd understand....
Ginny looked up. The first star had appeared. Ginny thought all stars twinkled, but this one didn't—she'd have to ask Bill about it later, but anyway, it still looked like a star fit for wishing things on....
Ginny closed her eyes and wished with all her might. I wish...I wish...someday I can play Quidditch with all my brothers happy for me. I wish someone would just understand...and when he catches me when I fall off my broom I'll know he'll really understand....
As she opened her eyes, Ginny realized that she had more than one wish. But then again, the girls she knew wished for new toys and such, and the things she wished for tonight weren't too much to ask.
NOTES: I would like to thank my accomplices, Mea (coffeebean) and Jesser (Alcarcalime) for sending this fic back and forth between them, and Cai for wanting to read this before anybody else. The names of the Chudley Cannons players are actually those of real-life British record-holders for...gymnastics. :)