Make mud pies. Stick pins in voodoo dolls.
“Aunt Ginny, Aunt Ginny!”
Ginny raised a exhausted hand and waved wearily at the flood of small children barring her way to the front door. Maybe coming here after a six hour practice with the Harpies wasn’t the best of ideas, but Ginny hadn’t seen her family for nearly a month, and she hated missing the weekly Sunday dinners at the Burrow.
A tired smile stretched across her face at the sight of her two nieces, adopted nephew and- were those Katie Wood’s twin boys? They were all slathered brown after playing outside all day. May had rolled in with an entourage of early spring showers, and the front lawn of the Burrow was a virtual wonderland of grass stains and mud puddles. She suppressed a laugh at the sight of Victoire Weasley encrusted with dirt and grinning cheekily as she shoved a wad of mud into Teddy’s face. That little girl looked like a tiny replica of Fleur with her long blonde hair and glowing skin like porcelain, but not a single speck of lady-like propriety resided in her little body. Ginny’s sister-in-law clung desperately to the hope that this tomboyishness was merely a stage- “she is ‘oung, zair is still time!” Ginny was of the opinion that Fleur should simply bow to the inevitable and begin investing in Quidditch jerseys.
She knelt down to greet the hoard of muddy children who skidded to a sloppy stop right at her feet, spraying water into the air and splattering mud onto Ginny’s robes. She sighed. Ah, well, that’s what cleaning charms were for, right?
“Look Aunt Ginny!” exclaimed one of the Wood twins, holding up a grubby, white worm a third of an inch away from the tip of Ginny’s nose.
She stared cross-eyed down at the poor little bug. “Wow, Ollie, that’s quite…impressive. Almost like the blind monster worm from ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune,’” she managed to sputter out, smiling awkwardly as she bent her head back, trying to get away from the writhing worm. The little boy beamed back at her.
“Aunt Ginny! Here! Pay attention to me!” came a chorus of other impatient voices, all jockeying for her attention. Ginny bit back a grin.
After receiving five extremely squishy hugs and a set of ten new brown handprints on her robes, Ginny wandered inside the house, the sounds of their laughter mingling in the spring air behind her. She smiled, quietly, to herself. The Burrow was beginning to fill with children again.
Later that night, Ginny sat on the floor of her old room, leaning a drooping head against the side of the old bed. Tired of the awkwardness between her and Harry, and obvious stilted conversation of her family at dinner, she had volunteered to put the children to bed while the rest of the adults cleaned up downstairs. It wasn’t the first time she had seen Harry again- with him practically a Weasley, she had run into him at the Burrow only two days after their breakup- but that didn’t make it any less awkward. Her family was trying hard to be normal about it but it was obvious things were more tense when they were both around.
Teddy and the Wood twins that Molly was babysitting for the week were already fast asleep in Percy’s old room. (Katie and Oliver were off on some sort of romantic vacation at an exotic somewhere, though the Puddlemore United team was neck deep in heavy training for the playoffs. Who knew that Oliver Wood could be swayed away from playing Quidditch simply by the bat of an eyelash from his wife?) The two girls, however, were proving much more difficult to tuck into bed.
“Can’t we just play for ten minutes, Aunt Ginny? Pleeasseeee?” Victoire was barely three years old, but she was better at wheedling and whining than Ginny ever was in her entire life. Molly, Percy’s daughter, didn’t say anything but bobbed her head furiously in agreement, eyes wide and fist stuck firmly in her mouth.
Ginny was too tired to protest. “Fine. What would you like to do?”
“Paper dolls!” Victoire squealed, pulling out a large carton box from the corner of the room. Percy’s wife Audrey was a Muggle-born and had introduced the concept of paper dolls into the Weasley family, something that Ginny was sure she now regretted, as Victoire and Molly would no longer as much as glance in another toy’s direction.
As Victoire happily began dressing her chosen dolls in "their" favorite clothes (Ginny couldn’t help but note that they were all boys and that they were all wearing Quidditch uniforms), Molly tugged Ginny’s sleeve and pointed to some blank sheets of parchment. “Boy,” she said simply, removing a sticky fist briefly. Ginny understood and began tracing the shape of a little man into the parchment.
After cutting out the basic shape, Ginny pulled out her wand and began performing various little charms to color and animate the doll. “What color should I make his hair?” she asked as she added tiny little fingernails at the tips of his fingers.
“Green.” It was her favorite color.
“Molly,” Victoire interjected, looking annoyed at her cousin, “you can’t have a doll with green hair. He would look weird. Unless,” she added on, looking skeptical, “you wanted to make him Teddy.”
Molly shook her head vehemently, arm waving wildly in the air as her fist moved with her mouth. “No Teddy. Green.” Her bottom lip began to tremble. Victoire crossed her eyes at her little cousin, mouthing Teddy! menacingly. Molly began to wail and she shoved her fist further into her mouth.
“Victoire, stop scaring your cousin!” scolded Ginny, scooping up Molly and rocking her back and forth, a bit worried that she was about to choke on her own fingers. “Here honey, how about I make his eyes green?” The two-year-old sniffed, but nodded mutely.
“And make his hair black,” instructed Victoire bossily from her spot on the threadbare carpet, “we don’t have enough black haired dolls.”
Ginny shot Victoire a look but complied and performed the spells, Molly clinging to her sleeve the entire time. The two of them looked down at the green eyed doll with a mop of jet black hair on its head. Ginny’s brow furrowed.
“Shirt,” commanded Molly, removing a soggy green sweater-shaped parchment from her mouth and waving it in her face.
Ginny complied, but she couldn’t help but jab her needle a tidbit too violently into the little paper doll’s body as she sewed on the bottle green shirt.
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