|SIYE Time:4:59 on 17th January 2022|
A Very Important Secret
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Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Fluff, General
Summary: Ginny Weasley loves attending the muggle primary school in Ottery St Catchpole. There she befriends a boy named Harry. AU
Hitcount: Story Total: 7934; Chapter Total: 1959
Awards: View Trophy Room
Written for the Valentine's Day challenge on Tumblr, reddit and discord.Enjoy this little bit of fluff.
Story is set in Feb 1987. Ginny is six and a half and Harry, seven and a half.
It was a typical Thursday at the local primary school in Ottery St Catchpole. Ginny Weasley liked going to school with her big brother Ron, although her biggest brothers were actually at Hogwarts. But she couldn't tell anybody here about Hogwarts, it was a Very Important Secret.
Ginny liked having a Very Important Secret; that she was part of a magical family, and Hogwarts was a special school for young wizards and witches, but sometimes she wished she could tell one of her new friends, maybe Sally or Joanne, they were nice. But Mum and Dad had been most adamant — she was not to share the Very Important Secret with anyone.
The bell rang for lunch. “ Children, you may leave your art supplies on your tables, we'll continue after lunch. Please grab your lunch boxes and move quietly to the yard. Andrew, I said quietly! Harry, please get your lunch and return here,” said their teacher, Mrs Bartlett.
Ginny joined the queue to leave the small classroom; ignoring the bustling of the others. She was used to being the smallest in the group, she was the youngest and only girl in her large family. While she was waiting, she spared a sympathetic look for their newest student, Harry Potter, a boy who had joined their classroom just last week.
She giggled to herself; this boy Harry had the exact same name as Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, from her magical world. Only this Harry was different from how she imagined her hero, Harry. This Harry wore clothes that were too big for him, and was quiet, even seeming sad at times. When he had first joined her class outside for lunch, he didn't have any food. He was nearly a whole year older than Ginny, but was put into her first year class, instead of the second years, like her brother Ron. She had overheard Mrs Bartlett suggest he may need new glasses, as his were broken, and she would send a note home to his guardians. This made Ginny wonder where his parents were.
Ginny sat with Sally and Joanne, half listening as they ate their lunches, as they were trying to come up with a game to play. It was a brilliant day for flying, and Ginny couldn't wait till the weekend, and sneak out early to take Fred's broom and fly by herself again. She had done it the last three weekends, and couldn't believe she had gotten away with it. Another Very Important Secret!
Flying was something she really loved to do, and flying all by herself was the best. The twins, Fred and George, and even Ron, wouldn't let her fly with them, so it was only when Billy or Charlie were home that they would relent and take her up with them. She couldn't wait to show them she could fly all by herself!
“What do you think about the new boy, Harry?” Joanne asked the question.
Ginny blinked, coming out of her musings to look at her friends. Not her best friends, mind, that was Luna, who lived close by to her home, the Burrow. She could tell Luna anything, and Luna always understood. Luna was a witch like her, so she already knew the Very Important Secret. Luna's dad said she didn't need to go to muggle school, when the two girls had asked if Luna could join Ginny. Sad about being separated, the two had pinky-promised that, no matter what, they'd be best friends forever.
“He's weird.” Sally responded after giving the matter some thought. “His clothes don't fit, he doesn't bring any lunch and he's so quiet.”
Something flared in Ginny; indignation, hurt for someone who wasn't there to defend himself. She had been called weird by some mean boys in the village, while she waited for her mum at the grocer's. She didn't like it, and she wasn't about to let the other's get away with saying it.
“He's not weird, he's just...sad. Lonely.”
“Sad?” asked Joanne. “ Does he cry?”
Sometimes Ginny thought he nearly might, especially when someone was nice to him, which she thought was strange. “No,” she replied, “but he's not loud or rough like the other boys.” Harry was nothing like the other boys at all, even her brothers.
“ Ooh, has Weasley got a crush,” teased Gavin, overhearing. He was one of the biggest boys in her class. “Weasley loves Potter. They're gonna get married and have babies with red hair and really bad eyes.”
“Stop it,” snapped Ginny. “You're being silly.”
“Or maybe they'll have messy black hair and freckles everywhere,” he continued.
Gavin stepped closer. “Make me, little girl,” he taunted.
“Oooh,” cooed the other members of their classroom, gathering round.
Ginny could feel her face getting red. She curled her fingers into her palm, remembering her brother's advice. Tuck your thumb in.
Someone close to her gasped. “She's gonna punch him!”
Gavin swallowed; like all bullies, he was all talk. Ginny narrowed her eyes and pulled her arm back.
“Teacher,” hissed someone, and the group dispersed quickly. Gavin raised his eyebrows at Ginny, claiming some sort of victory. She lowered her arm, still seething. Never had she wanted to hex anybody more in her whole entire life!
She kept a close eye on Gavin and the boys he hung around with, but it seemed they had now moved on to throwing stones at a bird in a tree. Luckily the teacher saw them, and moved them away.
Harry hadn't come out of the classroom with the teacher. While she was waiting for her turn at the skipping rope, she ran to the teacher's side. “Please, Mrs Bartlett, where is Harry?”
The teacher looked down at her, smiling. “Harry has a bit of work to do to catch up, so he asked if he could stay inside for lunch.”
“Did he have lunch today? Because my mum always gives me lots, and sometimes, like today, I can't eat it all. Maybe Harry could have it,” suggested Ginny.
“That's very kind of you, dear, but I brought Harry some lunch today myself. I had sent a letter home to his guardians, but Harry said he lost it on the way home,” mused the teacher.
“Maybe his cousin Dudley ate it,” said Ginny.
The teacher snorted, then pulled herself together. “Now Ginny, that's not a very nice thing to say,” she reprimanded.
Ginny shrugged. “It's the nicest thing I could think of to say about Dudley.” Dudley Dursley had already made his presence felt, in the few days they had been at school since the family had moved from London to Ottery St Catchpole for Vernon Dursely's work.
“Hmmm.” Privately, the teacher tended to agree, but she couldn't let the little girl know that. “You know, Ginny, Harry really needs a friend right now. His parents died, you see, and I don't think he and Dudley get along very well. Dudley says strange things happen around Harry. I don't see it, though, he seems a very gentle boy who wants to learn. He could certainly do with a friend.”
The bell sounded; lunch was over. “Hurry along children, wash your hands, then back to the classroom. We're going to finish off our Valentine's so they're ready to hand out tomorrow,” she called, encouraging them to pick up their litter and hurry along. She supervised their toileting and hand-washing before they all went back to class.
“ Please go on with your Valentine's quietly,” she instructed, motioning Harry to bring his reader over to her.
Ginny had worked hard on her Valentine's; she wanted to take them home tonight. One for her dad, one for her mum, one for Billy and Charlie (Mum had said they'd send their new owl Errol with them, so they'd receive them at breakfast), one for Fred and George, and one for Ron. She also made a sparkly one to give to Luna when they played together after school the next day.
She finished early and took a moment to look around. Everyone was still working on theirs, and she was sure she had the most people to make a special card for. She had drawn a big airy-plane on her dad's card, it sprinkled love hearts over the whole world. On her mum's she had drawn a jumper that said 'Mum' , with a big heart under it. Billy's was a broom, because he was the best flyer in the family. Charlie's, of course, had a dragon on it, and Percy's she had copied the big 'M' for the Ministry of Magic, where Percy wanted to work after Hogwarts.
She had drawn wands and fireworks on Fred's and a beater's bat for George, his favourite position when the brothers played quidditch. Ron's was all covered in orange, for his favourite quidditch team, the Chudley Cannons. When Mrs Bartlett had glanced at them all, she had praised Ginny for her imagination.
Satisfied, she put them in a stack. She still had some parchment left. She looked around, her gaze settling on Harry, who was now writing out numbers and doing some maths problems with Mrs Bartlett. He was trying real hard, she could tell, and in an instant she knew what she would do.
She sharpened her pencils (they still felt so strange to use, instead of quills). She got to drawing Harry himself, although she was really drawing her hero, Harry Potter. It was true, they both had the same messy black hair and bright green eyes that was in the stories she had been read ever since she could remember. And her Harry smiled all the time, not like this Harry. But she gave this Harry a smile on his face; she hoped he would smile when he opened it tomorrow.
But then she had another thought. She wondered when Harry would have time to make a Valentine for somebody special to him. She watched him rub his eyes, getting frustrated with his maths. No parents, no brothers or sisters ( she wondered what that would be like), and just his mean cousin. It sounded very lonely, and she wondered if that was why he was so sad.
“Children, it's nearly home time. Time to pack up all your art supplies and tidy your desks,” said Mrs Bartlett, clapping her hands to get the children's attentions.
“Wow, that's a lot of Valentine's,” noted Sally, looking at Ginny's pile. She had also made some for her friends at school, which she was going to leave at school overnight. Each student had a cubby hole where they placed their bags every morning. Tomorrow, all the students could go and place Valentine's day cards in their friend's cubby holes.
“ I have a big family,” grinned Ginny. They walked to their cubby holes together, both grabbing their bags.
“You coming?” asked Sally. Sometimes the girls walked a little way home together with their mothers, before they parted at a fork in the road. Then her mother would Apparate herself, Ron and Ginny home, when nobody was looking.
Ginny noticed Harry moving slowly, almost like he really didn't want to go home. “You go ahead. I need to ask Mrs Bartlett something,” she said.
Sally shrugged. “Okay. See you tomorrow. I hope I get lots and lots of Valentines,” she giggled.
Ginny waved goodbye to her and deliberately took her time packing away her lunch box, drink bottle and all her Valentines.
“All right, Ginny?” called Mrs Bartlett.
“Yes, Ma'am. I just thought I'd wait for Harry,” she replied, smiling at the boy.
Harry looked up, startled. “F-for me?” he stuttered, completely surprised.
Ginny nodded. “Want to walk out together?”
He flushed. “Sh-sure. Okay.” He hurriedly grabbed his old bag from his cubby hole.
“Harry, are you sure you don't want to take the reading books home with you? I really don't mind,” said Mrs Bartlett.
“I have a lot of chores to do when I get home, Mrs Bartlett. I probably won't get time to read them,” he said apologetically. But the way he looked at the books longingly, Ginny guessed he really would like to.
“I have chores to do at home, too,” said Ginny.
He looked startled. “You do?”
Ginny nodded. “I have to set the table for dinner; and after dinner I bring the dirty plates to the sink for mum to wash.”
“ That's all? You-you don't help cook, or clean, or garden?” asked Harry, as they walked out together.
Ginny giggled. “I'm just six and half, I'm still learning.”
He looked glum. “Yeah, me too,” he lied.
“Ginny? Ginny dear, over here.” They both looked over to see Molly Weasley waving at her.
“That's my mum,” Ginny told him. She looked around. “Do you have someone to pick you up?”
Just as Harry shook his head, his cousin Dudley came along. “Hurry up, Freak,” he snarled. “I don't want to be late, there's a show on the telly I want to watch.”
“Telly?” asked Ginny, looking between the two boys. “What's telly?”
“Television,” explained Harry, quietly, his eyes downcast.
“Oh! My dad's told me about them,” cried Ginny.
“You don't have a telly? Are you a freak, too?” sneered Dudley.
“Stop it, Dudley...please,” said Harry, quietly. “ Leave her alone.”
“Why are you so mean? Just because I don't have a telabision? Well, I don't even want a telabision, so there,” said Ginny, vehemently.
“Ginny!” called her mother. Ron was at her side; the twins were too rambunctious for the muggle school and so they and Percy were being home-schooled, the latter to prepare him for Hogwarts.
Ginny waved to her mum, then looked back at Harry. “See you tomorrow, Harry. Don't forget, we're handing out our Valentine's tomorrow.”
Dudley laughed loudly. “Who'd give Harry a Valentine. Nobody will ever love him.”
Harry hunched his shoulders over. “Bye Ginny.” He began to walk home alone, although Dudley hurried after him, to continue his taunting.
Ginny watched Harry leave, as she herself walked over to her mother. “Mum, why are some boys so mean?”
Molly sighed. “ Sometimes it's for attention, sometimes its because they are spoiled. Has someone been bullying you?”
Ginny shook her head. “No Mum, not me. I think Dudley bullies Harry, his very own cousin. They just started here last week.”
“Well hopefully their parents put an end to it. Being a bully at this age can lead to worse things down the track. Now, did you bring your Valentines home to send to your brothers at -” she lowered her voice - “Hogwarts?”
Ginny nodded. “And I'll put Percy's, Fred and George's, and Ron's under their door on Saturday morning. I'll leave dad's on the table, so he can read it while he has breakfast.”
Molly hugged her. “You're a good girl, Ginny love.”
Ginny smiled, but her thoughts were still with Harry. “Mum, can you make me an extra sandwich for Harry tomorrow please? He hasn't brought any lunch at all this week, and even Mrs Bartlett brought him some today.”
“We'll see, love, now come along,” urged Molly, still somewhat unsure around the muggles. “ Come on, Ronald.”
That night, after dinner and her bath, Ginny came downstairs and rummaged through her school bag, pulling out pencils and paper. “It's nearly bed time, love,” reminded her dad.
“I know, Dad. I just have something to do before I go.” She had thought a lot about Harry since school ended, particularly about his Valentine card. With that in mind, she set to work to make yet another card for Harry, in the hope he really did have someone special to give it to. Perhaps his aunt? She put her very best work into it, and because she wanted it to be the best, she drew wands and brooms and pygmy puffs and nifflers on it, giggling that the muggles wouldn't even know what they were.
She couldn't wait to get to school the next morning, even hurrying Ron along so they would arrive early. She slipped the card for Harry in his cubby hole, and the extra one she'd added a little note explaining she had made it so he could give it to someone special. She then quickly added cards to cubby holes for her several other friends.
She sat and waited for Harry; he was one of the last to arrive, looking scuffed and dirty, his hair all a mess. “Sorry Mrs Bartlett,” he said, trying to tame his hair and dust his clothes. “I-I fell down.” Ginny saw a rip in his pants.
Mrs Bartlett's frowned, but she nodded at Harry. “Put your bag away and take your seat, Harry,” she said kindly.
Ginny watched him put his bag away, but not before he found her cards. His gaze swung to her after he had read them and she smiled in what she hoped was a friendly way.
After the teacher had done the role call, she handed out some paper. “ Okay, today we are doing a fun quiz. You have two minutes to write down as many items as you can that start with the first letter of your name. For example,” -she looked around - “Sally, you could perhaps write, Sunday, Saturn, sunshine, Spring. Do you get the idea?”
All the students nodded. “And — go,” said the teacher, walking around the room as they wrote. She smiled at some of the answers she could see. “And- stop, pencils down. Exchange your paper with another class mate and go over your work.”
Ginny didn't bother to see if Sally or Joanne wanted to swap, she got up and went straight over to Harry. “Hi. Want to swap?”
Harry nodded bashfully. “Here.” He thrust his paper into her hands and took hers.
She slid into the seat next to him and began to read. “Happy. Home. Healthy. High. Harrod's, hair, hand, hard, heart, hospital, hot. Wow, you've done loads! House, Halloween, hungry, headache, is this word hallow?”
“No, hollow,” replied Harry.
“Hamburger, hate, hell, hot dog, honey, Heidi. Who's Heidi?” asked Ginny, wondering if she was Harry's special someone.
He shrugged. “I began a book about her once. It was in the dentist's office, Dudley had to have a check up. They had loads of books, said they were their daughter's but she outgrew them.”
“Well, you've done loads more than me,” said Ginny, as she handed him her list. He began to read - “Gringotts, George -”
“That's my brother, he's a twin,” interrupted Ginny.
He nodded, continuing to read down the list. “Galleons, Gryffindor, wait, are these even real words?” She felt a sudden pang that she may have given away her Very Important Secret.
“I wrote down some of your words too, look,” she said, defensively. “ Green, guy, grass-”
“Ginny, why did you give me that Valentine's day card? The blank one?” he clarified, interrupting her.
“You've been working on your lessons real hard this week. I didn't think you had time to make one for your special someone, your Valentine,” she explained quietly.
He looked sad but said nothing for a bit. Then he smiled. “I liked your poem.”
Ginny giggled. “Roses are red, Violets are blue. Wanna be friends? Happy Valentine's Day to you.”
“Do you really wanna be my friend, Ginny?” he asked, as if unsure.
“ Of course I do,” said Ginny.
“Okay, class, return to your seats and take out your readers,” instructed Mrs Bartlett. Ginny smiled encouragingly at Harry, and returned to her seat.
Harry had slid her card into his reader, so while he should have been reading, he was actually looking at Ginny's cards. The one with the poem was nice, with lots of strange drawings on the front. But it was the lovely words inside that filled his heart with joy.
She wanted to be his friend. Finally, he had a friend of his very own.
The day passed quickly, and to Ginny's disappointment, Harry stayed in at lunch again. She had slipped her extra sandwich into his bag at recess, and she knew their teacher saw and would hopefully let Harry know.
When the bell rang to signify the end of the day, Ginny knew she couldn't linger, for her mother dropped her to the Lovegood's home so she could play with Luna every Friday afternoon. She hurried to grab her bag and was surprised to see the card she had made for Harry to give away was in her cubby hole.
At first she thought he had returned it, and felt a bit hurt. But then she saw he had added a drawing of a cat on the cover. Curious, she opened it and read. “To Ginny. I like your hair, you're always fair, you're very pretty and you always share. Happy Valentine's Day to my friend. From Harry.”
Ginny spun around to see Harry watching her nervously. She grabbed her bag and went to him. “For me...really?”
He nodded, nervously.
She looked at him curiously “Do you really like my hair?” she asked.
He looked at it and nodded. “It's all sorts of colours, all golds and reds and shimmery...and it smells real good.”
She couldn't help it, she had to hug him. “Oh, Harry.”
He tentatively hugged her back. “You even drew my scar on my card. I didn't think anyone had noticed it.”
She drew back. “Pardon?”
He pulled his hair away from his forehead, showing her a lightening bolt scar.
“Ginny dear, your mother is waiting for you,” said Mrs Bartlett gently. She had witnessed the exchange between the two and was touched.
Ginny grimaced. “I have to go. Happy Valentine's day, Harry.”
And she kissed his cheek.
She hurried away, but called over her shoulder. “I'll bring you an extra sandwich again on Monday, we'll eat together outside, okay? Bye.”
And she was gone.
Harry raised his hand to his cheek, still feeling the lingering pressure of her kiss.
“All right, Harry?” asked his teacher.
Harry nodded, numb.
“So I guess you won't be staying in at lunch any more,” guessed Mrs Bartlett.
Harry flushed. “Is that okay?”
“It's fine, Harry. You're doing really well in your lessons, you know,” she told him.
“I am?” He frowned; he wasn't supposed to do better than Dudley at school.
She nodded. “Harry, I want you to know that if anything is troubling you, anything at all, you can talk to me. Or Ginny. It's nice to have a friend, a special friend, isn't it?”
He nodded slowly. Mrs Bartlett wasn't the first teacher to ask him if he had any troubles, but really, what could they do? Take him away from his family? Who knows where he might end up. And then there were all the strange things that always happened to him. His aunt cutting his hair and having it regrow overnight. His cousin and his friends chasing Harry, and he suddenly found himself on the roof of the house. And then there were the nightmares of a green light, of a flying motorbike...
No, best to leave things alone and plod on. But one day he'd leave the Dursley's, that much he knew. One day he'd have friends and a family, a real family that loved and cared about him.
It was what he wanted most of all, more than just about anything.
So he did what he always did. “Thanks, Mrs Bartlett, but I'm fine. See you on Monday.” He swung his bag over his shoulder and departed.
His teacher sighed; she had been sure he was about to confide in her. Still, it would be interesting to see what would happen now that Harry had Ginny Weasley on his side. She was a fiery one, that one.
As for Harry, he did indeed plod on. But something had changed in him, for no matter how nasty it got at the Dursley's, whenever he escaped to his tiny cold attic bedroom, Ginny's card was hanging up, reminding him that he did have a friend, that someone did see him, that he was worthy of friendship.
In time, circumstances would force the Dursleys to leave the small village and they moved back, this time to Surrey. He hated to leave Ginny, for their friendship had only gotten stronger. Ginny promised to write, but the Dursleys had gotten funny about letters addressed to him, especially after his tenth birthday.
And on his eleventh birthday, a giant broke down a door to tell Harry a Very Important Secret.
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