Disclaimer: The Harry Potter world and characters are not mine. No money is made, no infringement is meant.
Even the sparkle of Diagon Alley could not raise Ginny’s spirits. She had gotten used to the fact that her books were hand me downs and her robes were often used. Bless the twins who had bought her dress robes the year before, she and her mother had chosen to purchase a pretty robe that was a little large, and they fitted it to Ginny’s smaller frame with tailoring charms. If she was careful, she could let it out little by little as she grew and she wouldn’t need a new set while at Hogwarts.
This year, however, she had completely outgrown the medi-witch robe that she received in her third-year when Madam Pomfrey and Professor Snape recommended her for the advanced Medi-witch classes at Hogwarts. Usually, the classes were reserved for fifth and sixth years. This year, she was assisting Madam Pomfrey in teaching the course and working in the infirmary. She needed a new robe.
Molly and Arthur were thrilled that their daughter had been singled out by two very important Hogwarts instructors and had scraped and saved for some of the more exotic potions ingredients that Ginny needed, but they hadn’t expected the expense of a new robe this year. Ginny had, however, and she had saved what she could from working at the twins shop over the summer.
“Come, Ginny,” Molly said in a kind gentle voice slipping her arm around her daughter. They had been looking at medi-witch robes all morning. There were none in the used stores, so they had slipped into Madame Malkin’s dress shop. There were wonderful robes with a multitude of pockets for vials and medical instruments as well as stain deflecting charms. Some even fit Ginny, however, even with what she had saved and what her mum had in her budget, they were just too much. “I think maybe we can go over to the fabric store in Ottery St. Catchpole and pick out some nice white. We can whip up a robe. It will be fun.”
Ginny smiled wanly at her mother before giving the older woman a hug. She handed her mother the few galleons that she had and looked back wistfully one last time at the wonderful robes hanging in the corner of the shop.
“Why, if it isn’t the Gryfflette?” a familiar voice asked, “Out shopping for school things?”
Two tall young men had come up behind the Weasley women. Ginny let go of her mother and with a small squeal threw herself into the arms of the taller one. “Cass!” Molly’s eyebrows flew up. She did not know these men. She thought she knew all, or most of her children’s friends.
Cassius Warrington just sniffed as Ginny released him and stood in front of him with a great grin on her face. He narrowed his eyes at the little red-headed witch, “Now look what you’ve done. My robes are horribly wrinkled. Decorum, Gryfflette, decorum.”
Terrence Higgs smirked, “Yes, sorely lacking in manners. You haven’t even introduced us.”
Ginny just grinned at him as well, “Mum,” she said, “This is Cassius Warrington and Terrence Higgs. Cass was my partner in Advanced Medicine. Cass, Higgs, my mum, Molly.”
Terrence nodded politely at Mrs. Weasley and Cassius extended a hand. “If it hadn’t been for the Gryfflette, I wouldn’t have made it past the potions portions of Advanced Medicine. She tells me that most of the potions variations she learned were from you.”
Molly took the hand and smiled wanly, not knowing quite what to say. “Pleased to meet you,” she managed. Warrington and Higgs. She knew those names. Pureblood families that considered the Weasleys blood traitors and looked down on them for their large brood and lack of wealth. How was Ginny so familiar with them? “Actually, we were just leaving,” Molly said, taking Ginny gently by the arm and starting to steer them around the two men.
“Didn’t find anything?” Terrance asked and then was stunned when he saw the Gryfflette’s grin fade, before she rallied with a shrug and a shake of her head. He looked over as Cassius.
“We quite forgot, you know,” Cassius said halting Ginny and her Mother. “You had been with us two years. We quite forgot that you wouldn’t be graduating with us. I didn’t even get you a thank you gift.” With a kind smile to Molly, Cassius took Ginny by the shoulders and turned her to the robes, “You deserve a present for putting up with me the past two years. Pick one. Which ever you like, and if it’s not in your size, Madame will tailor one for you.”
“Oh,” Molly said, “It’s too-“
“Ma’am,” Terrence said, taking Molly gently by the arm and leading her away, “I never thanked the Gryfflette for fixing my broken arm during the last Slytherin-Ravenclaw Quidditch match. Would have had to set out the rest of the game if she hadn’t healed me and Slytherin would have completely lost the chance for the cup. Quite a talented witch you have there. She must need some new robes for the school year. I’m sure they have some in her size.”
“S-Slytherin?” Molly asked, stunned. Molly looked back at her daughter who was touching one of the robes reverently. There was pride and there was the genuine affection that these two men had for her young daughter. Well, she thought, pride could be swallowed this afternoon.
“You don’t have to, Cass,” Ginny said softly as she fingered a soft robe that she had looked at earlier. It was on the less expensive side and she knew Cass could afford five or six robes. Putting that from her mind, she pulled it firmly from the rack.
“I want to, Gryfflette,” Cass said over at the robe then at her. “I have an account here. I wouldn’t have made it into Saint Mungo’s program without you and you and I both know it. I didn’t realize you wouldn’t be there until we were partnering off and I looked for your red hair.” He tugged at a bit of red.
Ginny shook her head batting at his hand. She knew Cass was used to the most expensive and the best. He had shared a number of priceless little gifts with her over the past two year, quills and a beautiful herbal medicine text that she knew she could never afford. She had done her best to work with him on his potions study and always brought home baked goods to their study sessions. “This one,” she said firmly.
Cassius took it from her and they turned to see that Terrance had two new school robes and her mother in hand. “Gryff, if you need anything else, you owl me.”
Ginny smiled, “This is too much already, Cass.”
“You never know,” he said grandly taking the robe from her, “If I get into a potions pickle, I may just have to floo up and meet you.”
Ginny rolled her eyes and shook her head in despair, “I never knew how a Slytherin should be so bad at potions.”
“Bite your tongue, little girl;” Higgs said coming up to her and pulling a bit of her hair as pay back, “No Slytherin ever failed potions.” He handed her a bag as Cassius moved to the counter to pay for the robe in his hands.
Ginny just snorted and wrinkled her nose at Higgs before sobering. “Thank you, Higgs.”
“Don’t mention it, Gryfflette.”
Cassius returned and handed his purchases to Ginny. “Owl me, promise,” he said flatly with a bit of flint in his gaze.
Ginny sighed and rolled her eyes, she intoned in a nearly insolent tone, “If I need anything, I will owl you, I promise. Same goes, right, Cass.”
Cassius grinned and said airily, “Could go for the chocolate pumpkin muffins, a dozen or two wouldn’t hurt.” He laughed as Ginny poked him in the side. “Thanks, Cass.”
He touched her bright hair. “Anything for you, Gryfflette.” Then with a bow to Molly, the two boys swept from the store.
“You ever going to tell her you’re half in love with her?” Terrance asked Cassius as they continued on their way down Diagon Alley. They had pressing business at Gringotts.
Cassius snorted, “Love, like that has anything to do with it.”
“She’s a pure-blood, powerful, the only Weasley born female in generations. Her mother’s a Prewitt. So they sided against instead of stayed neutral, costly error, but think. She’d make a hell of a breeder when the time came. Mother popped out how many ten, twelve?” Terrance said.
“Seven,” Cassius growled. “Her brothers and Potter would never let me get close. She has two more years of school.”
“Lots of the old families got married right out of Hogwarts, most of our parents had arrangements, you could petition for a Pure-blood Contract.”
“Father would never agree.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Leave it, Terry,” Cassius said as they continued down the Alley. Although, she had said she would help him if he needed it. Maybe he could arrange something. “Look, there’s Malfoy. Let’s go have a chat.” And the two Slytherins wandered off to see their old Quidditch team mate.
Molly and Ginny left the store carrying two packages. They walked quietly to The Leaky Cauldron. Finally, Molly spoke cautiously, “Best not tell your brothers where these came from then, eh, Gin?”
“Mum,” Ginny said with a grin, “I know better. They had fits all through the past two years when Cass and I had to study and work together. Thank you, though, for not protesting. Not that I like Cass and Higgs buying my clothes, but, it was awful nice of them.”
“It’s good, you know,” Molly said, “For my little girl to have her own friends.”
Ginny ducked her head, knowing that her mother was accepting that she had made friends with the two older Slytherins. “Thank you, Mum.” Ginny said with feeling.
“And don’t be telling your father, either. That man can’t hold a secret and no telling what would happen if he let slip to the boys,” Molly tapped the wall with her wand letting the two of them into the back alley of the Cauldron. Giving her daughter a quick squeeze, Molly said with a smile, “Let’s go home, Gin. I think we have a couple of dozen muffins to bake.”