Disclaimer: Harry Potter is owned by JK Rowling. This story is written purely for entertainment purposes and makes no claim to any of Rowling’s work.
The stone fireplace flared green, and Arthur Weasley stepped into the kitchen of The Burrow. It was late, and a single candle was burning on the kitchen table. A plate of food rested in front of his normal chair. Rolling his shoulders and rubbing the bridge of his nose in exhaustion, he placed his bag under the table and sat down to his dinner.
The food was still warm even though it was hours past Molly’s normal bedtime. Her warming charms were the envy of many witches, and the shepherd’s pie and the roasted onions were still delicate and flavorful. He ate the meal with an unhurried pace. He was due back at the office in a few hours, and there was little point in retiring for the night.
He loved his job almost as much as he loved his family, but on nights like this, Arthur wondered why he still went to the Ministry every day. With every raid that saved one Muggle, another two Muggles ended up in St. Mungo’s. The paperwork was suffocating in his cramped office, and the head of the MLE had slashed his budget again, meaning that he would not receive a pay increase this coming year. With his two eldest nearing the end of their Hogwarts’ careers and Percy only a month from completing his first year, a spare Knut was a luxury in the Weasley household.
Of course, it was nights like this that also reminded him of why he stayed. Four Muggle children would wake up to their parents in the morning because of a lucky break in one of his cases. It was surprising how often he found a pearl among the wharf-side offal he often dealt with in his investigations. Only a chance slip of the tongue on the part of Mundungus Fletcher, a less than savory wizard with a tendency towards larceny, had tipped him off about a missing juicer a vampire had nicked before it was destroyed. With its penchant for draining people of their blood, the juicer was dangerous to wizards and fatal for Muggles.
For two days, Arthur had tracked the vampire with help from the Department of Magical Beings and Creatures. In the end, the vampire had been cornered and the juicer removed from a family in Surrey just before their yearly May Day party kicked off. So despite the long hours, lousy pay, and time away from his family, Arthur took comfort in the belief that he was making a difference.
Sopping up the last of the gravy with a slice of his wife’s homemade bread, Arthur popped the morsel in his mouth and took the dishes to the sink. With a wave of his wand and a muttered incantation, they were clean and stacked next to the rest of the dinner service.
Glancing at his watch, he decided that a few hours of sleep would be preferable to none. After leaving the kitchen, he climbed the stairs to the second floor, but paused outside of his bedroom door. After a moment of indecision, he turned away and climbed the stairs past the third floor and up to the fourth. He had been a father for eighteen years and had dealt with many late nights at the office. But, even on those nights he came home tired and despondent, he never once missed kissing his children goodnight, even if they did not remember him doing it.
The floor boards on the fourth-floor landing creaked as he stepped on them. They had always creaked, no matter how many times he tried to fix them. He figured it was because his own father had passed away in the middle of helping him add the fourth floor to The Burrow. After Ron was born, both Molly and he decided that they needed more room. The boys were growing up, and the older ones needed their own space. Bill, his oldest, had just turned ten and was less than subtle in his bid for privacy, going so far as to remove all the doors to the bedrooms until Arthur and Molly relented. As punishment, the boy had spent a month changing Ron’s nappies.
With the help of his father, they had added the fourth floor, but before it was complete, his father had been killed protecting a neighbor’s family from a Death Eater attack. Although Arthur had finished the job himself, without his father’s aid, the floor had always remained rickety, and a ghoul had taken up residence in the attic during the delay caused by the funeral.
A set of stairs continued up past the fifth landing to the attic, but Arthur pushed open the partially closed door at the landing and stepped into his youngest son’s room. The room was a blaring orange that glowed in the moonlight streaming through the window. Since Bill was spending the coming summer in an apprenticeship with Gringott’s, Ron had been moved into the upper bedroom. As an early birthday present, Arthur had painted it Chudley Orange in honor of Ron’s Quidditch team.
Ron himself was asleep in his bed, his unruly red hair framing his face as he snored and muttered about Quidditch. He was wrapped tightly in the Chudley Cannons bedspread that his brothers had chipped in to get him for his birthday. A black cannon ball zoomed endlessly over the bright orange comforter. Eventually, the magic would fade, but Ron loved it. Arthur stepped to the side of the bed and brushed aside his son’s fringe and kissed him on the forehead. “Goodnight, son. I promise tomorrow night I’ll be home in time to play you a game. Maybe you’ll finally win.“
Ron smiled a bit in his sleep and rolled over. Arthur patted the boy’s shoulder and stood up and made his way out of the room. He had not been home early all week and so had missed his weekly chess game with Ron. They had been playing since the boy was four, and Arthur was now struggling to win. He had not lost yet, but it was only a matter of time before the eight-year-old figured out his end game.
Leaving the door open a crack, Arthur descended to the third landing. He padded past the door to his second-eldest son’s room and over to Ginny’s door. Ginny was his youngest child and only daughter. While he was proud of all his children and loved each one as much as the others, like any father, he had a special place in his heart for his only daughter.
Bill was the most determined of his children. Smart and athletic, he was not content to take the easy road, and every time he forged his own path he broke through the jungle with both success and new experiences. Charlie was the most adventurous. Although he never got the best grades, he was well-liked, and Arthur was certain that he would not be content to remain in England for long.
His third son, Percy, was as different from his older brothers as a nest of Fwooper eggs. Studious and intelligent, Arthur had been very surprised when Percy was Sorted into Gryffindor. Although his son was brave, and had proved it numerous times when he had stood up for Ginny and Ron and protected them from the twins at times, there was a drive about him that Arthur knew would have him following in his grandfather’s and eldest brother’s steps as Head Boy, and possibly into an excellent position at the Ministry.
Still, the first year at Hogwarts changed many kids. Maybe Percy would succumb to the lure of the castle and the mischief that could be had there, but Arthur was certain that, if anything, Percy would come back more disciplined. The boy despised his younger twin brothers’ pranks with all the subtlety of a rampaging erumpent.
The twins, Fred and George, were a problem that had no solution. Arthur was not looking forward to his next day off as he had a stack of letters from his wife about the trouble his ten-year-old boys had caused in the last week. From turning the chickens bright red with lurid green polka dots to hiding a dozen spiders in the twigs of Ron’s broom, which had led to a broken arm in the middle of a Quidditch game, the terrible two had been on an unmitigated slew of mayhem in the last two months that had both Molly and him at their wits end. They were seriously considering drastic measures, including sending the boys off to live with Arthur’s distant Muggle cousin, Frederick. At least it would get the boys away from magic.
Arthur hated to do that, but there was a difference between mischief and the dangerous stunts Fred and George had fallen into. The boys were creative and exuberant, and Arthur did not want to stifle them. He would just have to sit them down and have a long talk once his schedule cleared up. And if it remained as it was… well, he decided that he would have to make time. His family was more important than work.
Opening the door to Ginny’s room, Arthur wished that Fred and George would take after Ginny. She might be a bit of a troublemaker, but her heart was in the right place. Besides, she never . . . Arthur frowned.
The small, pale lavender room was neatly cluttered. A group of dolls sat around a small table in the corner, eagerly awaiting the next tea party. Several books were propped open in front of a nest of blankets by the closet door. Next to the books, a corral of wood blocks held a small wooden unicorn and her foal as they endlessly circled while the stuffed dragon Charlie had bought her for Christmas circled lazily in the air, occasionally puffing a cloud of smoke. Above the bed, next to the open window, were several childish drawings of a dark-haired boy with a lightning bolt scar, but the bed itself was empty, the covers thrown back.
Worried, Arthur stepped out of the room and walked down the small hall to his own bedroom. Glancing inside, he saw his wife sleeping but no sign of his daughter. Beginning to panic, Arthur hurried from the room and rushed down the stairs. The Burrow was well protected. Muggles could not see it, or if they did, only saw a ruined shack in an overgrown field. The wards around it were basic, but effective. Nothing had alerted him to any danger, but even the best magic failed.
The kitchen was just as he left it, with the Weasley family clock hanging on the wall. Arthur had been against the clock when Molly first saw it. He did not think the expense was worth the limited capabilities of the clock, but over the years he had been converted. With as many children as he had, the clock proved an invaluable tool in keeping everyone organized and safe. Now, he stopped in front of it and did a quick check of the hands. Other than his three children who were at school, all the hands, including Ginny’s, were pointed to home.
Relieved, Arthur sank into one of the worn kitchen chairs. Ginny was safe, but where would a six-year-old girl go at four in the morning? “Probably swimming,“ he muttered to himself. Since the last snow melted, she had been asking daily if the nearby pond was warm enough to swim in. And Molly had caught her two days ago sneaking down to the pond. Grumbling, Arthur stood up and headed outside.
The early May air was chilly but comfortable. It was a partly cloudy night and the full moon hung ponderously above the tree line, illuminating the yard in a pale blue glow. Dodging through the cluttered garden, Arthur skirted the coop where a few polka-dotted chickens slept and ruffled their feathers at his passing. Stepping outside the fence, Arthur sprinted up the hill toward the paddock where his children played Quidditch. The pond was past the grove of trees behind the paddock. He had to slow as he neared the top as the moon slipped behind some clouds, throwing the hillside in darkness.
As he crested the hill, he picked his way carefully over the dilapidated fence that enclosed the paddock. As he dropped into the field of grass, the moon reappeared, and there was a glitter of light off to the side. Surprised, Arthur scanned the paddock and the sky where he had seen the flash of light. Unfortunately, the clouds made it difficult to see as they kept blocking the stars and the moonlight. Then he saw it again, a black shape dipping and weaving just above the tree line.
For a moment he thought it was a large bird, but then the creature flashed through a beam of moonlight, and Arthur saw the flash of a white face and streaming hair that shone like muted fire in the moon-lit night. It was Ginny, and she was riding a broom above the paddock. Terrified that she might be hurt, Arthur began to gather his breath to yell at her, when she dropped toward the ground and the still night was broken by her exuberant laughter.
His heart in his throat, he watched her pull out of the shallow dive and whip into a spiraling climb, her hair flashing like the tail of a firefly in the silvery spotlights cast by the moon and clouds. She leveled off and circled the paddock before swooping downwards again, grabbing at the tops of the bushes along the far side of the paddock.
A group of grouse burst into flight after Ginny tagged one of the bushes, and the little girl took after them with a vengeance, laughing as she chased and tagged one bird after the other. Sinking into the wet grass, Arthur watched his daughter fly with the carefree abandon of his son Charlie, who had just earned a spot on the Gryffindor team the previous year as the Seeker. Arthur knew how good Charlie was. He was a natural on a broom, and here was his sister, doing things with a broom that were impressive in a Quidditch game, and much more so at home on an ancient Comet 360 that tended to always pull to the right.
For an hour, as the moon disappeared and the sun began to rise, Arthur watched his youngest flit and flutter above the paddock in her private game. She had talent, and Arthur regretted giving in to Molly that first time Ginny had been on a broom and took a tumble, breaking her wrist. After that, Molly had decided that Quidditch was not for girls, and that Ginny could do other things instead.
Arthur sighed as Ginny descended to the ground and dismounted from the broom. Slipping back into the trees, he headed back to the house. The broomshed was on the other side of the garden, so it would take Ginny longer to return the broom and lock the shed, especially if she was trying to be secretive.
Once he was back into the kitchen, he sat down in the corner and considered what he wanted to do. He did not want to tell Ginny she could not fly anymore, but he also did not want her flying at night by herself. Even the best fliers made mistakes. If she was hurt and he could have stopped it, he would never forgive himself. At the same time, if he told Molly, she would just charm the broomshed closed, and then Ginny would never fly again.
He was still mulling over the problem when the kitchen door opened and Ginny slipped inside on mouse-quiet feet. Making a decision, Arthur shifted in his chair and said, “Morning, Princess. You’re up early.“
Ginny froze for a moment, her eyes darting before she sighed and forced a smile. “Morning, Dad. Couldn’t sleep,“ she said, biting the inside of her cheek.
“Oh really? Why not?“ Arthur asked, patting his lap. She was not lying, but she was holding back the truth. Even if he had not seen her flying, the biting of her cheek gave her away. However, before he could respond further, the forced smile disappeared, and Ginny grinned as she scrambled over to him and into his lap, cuddling close to his chest. Arthur instinctively wrapped his arms about her and inhaled the dewy scent of the paddock that lingered about her.
“I didn’t get my story,“ Ginny said.
“Why not?“ Arthur asked. Even if he was late, Molly would step in to tell Ginny the story of the Boy-Who-Lived.
“Fred and George turned Ron yellow,“ Ginny explained. Arthur sighed. He would have to talk to the twins today. It was getting out of hand. “Why’re you up?“
“I was investigating,“ Arthur teased, tickling her slightly.
Her eyes lit up as she brushed aside his hands. “What? Is it dangerous?“
“No, not dangerous. But it does fly.“
“Really!?“ Ginny exclaimed. “Like that teapot Mrs. Daly found?“
“Yes, but it isn’t a thing, sweetheart. It is a creature.“
Ginny frowned. “But you don’t deal with creatures. You make Muggle things Muggle again.“
“Oh this wasn’t part of work,“ Arthur said, slipping into his storyteller voice. “You see, I had just got home from work and decided to go check on the chickens. Of course, the chickens were still red with polka dots, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw something in the air. It was as big as you are, and flying through the air, diving and dipping.
“I could not figure out what it was. It was too small to be a person but too big to be a bird. Then part of it glowed pale red and went out before glowing again a few minutes later. Running up the hill, I found it flying over the paddock, lighting up like a giant firefly.“
“But I didn’t see anything when I was . . .“ Ginny’s eyes went wide, and she dropped her head.
Lifting her chin, he looked directly into her tear-filled brown eyes. “Do you want to tell me something, Ginny?“ he asked, putting as much kindness and encouragement as he could in his voice.
“I . . . I . . . I’m sorry, Dad,“ Ginny sobbed, burying her face in his shirt. “I just wanna fly. They d-d-don’t let me, and M-m-mu-mum won’t let me. It’s not fair.“
“Shh, sweetie,“ Arthur said, rubbing Ginny’s back. “I know. I know. Mum’s just scared you’ll get hurt, and if you keep sneaking out and flying in the middle of the night, you will get hurt. Flying is not a game, Ginny. You need to be responsible.“
“I know, but . . .“ she argued in a watery voice.
“Sweetheart, even the boys aren’t allowed to fly by themselves. Do you understand?“
“Yes, Dad. I-I . . . I promise I won’t fly anymore.“ As she spoke, her shoulders slumped and her eyes dulled a bit. Pulling free from his grasp, she slid off his lap and started to walk away, but Arthur grabbed her hand and pulled her back.
“I said you couldn’t fly alone,“ Arthur said softly. “But, if you want, you can help me look for that giant firefly this weekend.“
His daughter spun around in his arms, her eyes wide, searching his face. He smiled at her, and she squealed and threw herself into him with the force of a Bludger, kissing his cheek and holding him tight. “I love you, Dad.“
“I love you, too,“ Arthur responded, standing up with her in his arms. He could not deny her much, and he would not hold her back from flying. She was gifted, and he desired to hear her laugh again as she soared over the paddock. Eventually, he would have to tell Molly, but not right away. This was between him and his daughter, and that made it special. “Why don’t we go put you to bed, and I’ll tell you a story.“
“Of course,“ Arthur responded, wondering if she would let him tell a story of her flying side by side with Harry Potter. He doubted it, but he could always try. Kissing her forehead, he headed upstairs, whispering, “Anything for my little Firefly.“
AN: This is based on the story The Meaning of One AU by Sovran. I would like to thank Sovran for allowing me to play around in his story. This story came about in the discussion of Ginny’s nickname in chapter 7. Just another note, in canon, Bill would have been Head Boy during Percy’s Second Year; however, in Sovran’s AU, Bill and Charlie are both older.