The last time Ronald Weasley was this nervous walking up the steps to the Burrow was the time he and his two brothers had borrowed his father's flying car, flown halfway across the country, broke into the Dursley home and came home with his best friend.
"Just relax. What's there to worry about?" Aubrey grinned.
"Plenty." Ron felt himself turn a different shade of green.
"Ginny tells me that your parents are wonderful."
"Mum can be a bit…..pushy."
"So, mums can be that way."
"And my brothers….."
"I loved Fred and George, for my part, and I'm sure your older brothers are simply smashing. Now relax."
"They'll take the mickey out of me!"
"So what? That's what brothers do. You were just fine ganging up on me with my older brothers."
Ron grumbled to himself as Aubrey opened the kitchen door, a satisfied smirk on her face. He did admit that the first few days at Aubrey's home in Harwich had been more fun than he had expected.
"Ronniekins! Oh you're home! And this must be Aubrey! Splendid to meet you dear." A brighter even than usual Molly Weasley took Aubrey into a tight embrace and whispered quite loudly over her shoulder to Ron. "See? I always told you you'd find a right lovely young woman didn't I?"
"Mum…." Ron went from green to scarlet.
"Oh hush now, there's nothing to be embarrassed about. Why don't you join the others in the orchard while I finish up in here?"
"We'd love to." Aubrey summarily shoved Ron out of the door. "See? That wasn't so bad now was it?...Ronniekins?" she laughed at the now maroon face on Ron.
"Don't you start calling me that too!"
"I'll call you what I like and if you know what's good for you, you'll let me." Aubrey smiled and gave him a small zap on his leg with her wand.
"Ronald is here." Drifted a dreamy voice as Aubrey and Ron reached the orchard.
"Hi Luna." Ron and Aubrey answered in unison. Luna, Hermione, Harry, and Ginny all came down from where they had been flying. "You've come a long way since your "hating flying" days Hermione." Ron smiled.
"Well, you do get somewhat used to it after a while."
"He's at the shop mate." Harry answered, "Left first thing this morning without a word to anyone."
Ron stood mouth agape. "You're joking?"
"Ironically no." Ginny added, "Mum was in tears."
"Well now at least I know why she's so cheery." Ron chuckled. "I bet Angelina is glad to have him back."
"If she has the time. She's been swamped without you around. She came over last night."
"We should drop by later today." Aubrey took hold of Ron's arm.
"Yeah, it'll be fun." Ron and Aubrey each grabbed brooms and Ron kept goal as the other five played a laid back free-for-all game, everyone trying to score passed Ron. He paid close attention to his sister. He saw that face that meant she was keeping it cool when really she wanted to hex someone. He had been the cause of that face one too many times not to recognize it and he had a good feeling he knew what it was about.
"Hey Harry, mind taking goal?"
"Sure Ron." Harry pulled up next to him in midair, "Something up?"
"I'm just going to go swing by the shop and see George." He looked over at his sister, "Hey Ginny, want to come with?"
"Sure." Her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"We'll catch up later." Aubrey took the quaffle from Luna, "I've got a new game we can try while they're gone."
Ron and Ginny put their brooms in the broom shed before strolling out of the garden to their usual apparition spot. He took his sister by the arm and turned on the spot, the Burrow disappearing in favor of the crowded pavement of Diagon Alley. They strolled towards the violent purple Weasley premises at the end of the row.
"What's wrong sis?" he kept his eye on her, occasionally bumping into rather grumpy shoppers.
"I'm fine Ron."
"Now come on Gin, I know better than that."
"What do you want me to say?"
"You wanted this right?"
"Of course I didn't. You think I wanted to break up with Harry?"
"No, but you did. Mind you he was being a prat, but you broke up with him."
"Harry obviously doesn't feel the same way about me than I do about him. What else was I supposed to do?"
"I'm agreeing with you Gin, I'm just wondering why you're sulking. You've never handled your other breakups like this."
"Yeah, well they weren't Harry."
"I know you really liked him for a long time…."
"It's not that Ron." Ginny came to a stop in front of Madame Malkin's.
"Then what is it?"
"It's just…" Ginny took a deep breath, "You don't know what it's like to have people have these expectations of you that you're just supposed to fill."
"Really? Because I'm pretty sure we have the same mum."
"Please Ronald, you have no idea."
"No, I don't suppose having Bill, Charlie, Percy and Fred and George to live up to couldn't possibly compare to being precious little Ginny." Ron felt his voice rising of its own accord.
"Oh grow up Ron!"
"Me grow up? Listen to yourself! Feeling all sorry for yourself and frustrated. Because life as the daughter that mum always wanted must be so hard."
"It is." Ginny's eyes filled with tears, "You don't get it Ron. I may have been a girl, but I had older brothers to live up to too. Not only Bill and Charlie, but I had another older brother who was the best friend of the most famous wizard in Britain and who got to go on all these wonderful adventures with him and be a hero. All the while mum is having dreams of having Harry as her own son and guess who the only person who can make that happen is? Yes I did like him and yes I did fall for him, but I was also never allowed to forget that mum's fondest dreams of this perfect family were riding on my relationship."
Ron was too stunned to answer and his silence was apparently not enough to stop the loud crack of Ginny disapparating back to the Burrow. Unsure of what to do next, he resolved to finish his trip to the shop.
The doors were bursting with traffic as he squeezed into the crowded joke shop. There seemed to be a buzz in the atmosphere and he distinctly heard several people in the crowd wondering where the returned Weasley twin was. Angelina was helping customers behind the counter next to a mousy haired wizard Ron didn't recognize.
"Oh hi, Ron. Looking for George?" Ron chuckled to himself at how she was able to carry on conversation while waving her wand to bag items as the mousy haired wizard took payment.
"Yeah, seen him?"
"He's in the back. When you planning on coming back yourself?" Angelina winked at him, "That is, if you have had your fill of chasing after dark wizards."
Ron just laughed as he pushed open the door that led to the back room. There were cauldrons of bubbling fluid everywhere and there was the distinct smell of gunpowder. A loud pop came from the back of the room and alerted Ron to George's presence. He was leaning over a cauldron of what looked like pine tar.
"Hey little bro." George turned a huge smile on his face. "What brings you by?"
"Just wanted to see if the legends were true and you really had come back." Ron clapped him on the back.
"Yeah, well it was time." When George didn't seem inclined to elaborate Ron let the subject drop, "Say where's this girlfriend of yours? I'm dying to meet the woman who's snagged our ickle…"
"She's at home." Ron cut across him, "I brought Ginny with me but we got into an argument."
"You never have been the best with her mate." George shook his head, "Better leave it to a real expert. I'll talk to her when I get home."
"I'll leave it to the expert then." Ron chuckled. "I'm glad you're back."
"Yeah, me too."
Ron wove his way back out into the busy street, his mind wandering back to his fight with Ginny. He really had meant to help, but then again he could say that about most of his fights with her. He had spent so much of his time growing up focusing on his own problems that he had never long considered what it must have been like being in Ginny's shoes. The least he could do was apologize.
After George talks to her. After all, he didn't particularly relish having a face full of bat-bogeys.