Title: Dragons and Toads
Characters/Pairings: Neville/Ginny
Genres: Fluff, Friendship story
Rating: G
Word count: 1550
Summary: Ten-year-old Ginny searches for a pet, but finds Neville Longbottom.
Beta: Bookofsecrets

Ginny doesn't understand shopping. It shouldn't be complicated. You go in the store, pick up what you came for, pay for it, and then leave. Her mother, though, can spend hours agonizing over two piles of identical looking unicorn hairs or walk from one end of Diagon Alley to the other to save a Knut on parchment. Ginny thinks that what she saves in money she loses in time. There are so many things to do that are so much more interesting than browsing in musty old stores. Quidditch, for one.

Still, when her dad announced plans to take her brothers on a fishing trip in Scotland "while I still have some of them at home," her mum decided that that was as good a day as any for her and Ginny to do some mother-daughter bonding. Unfortunately, Mum's idea of mother-daughter bonding seems to consist of visiting every magical shop and street vendor in London in search of an ever-growing list of items.

They are in Abalan's Animals For All Ages, searching for treats for Scabbers. Well, her mother is. Ginny has done the sensible thing and sneaked off to look at the animals. A brown and white kneazle mewls pitifully at her from its cage.

"Poor kitty." Ginny sticks her fingers through the bars and is rewarded by a rough tongue licking her. She laughs. "That tickles, you silly goose!" The kneazle gives her a haughty look, as if it knew it was being silly and didn't much care. She respects that. "Are you trying to charm me so I'll get you out of that cage?"

She checks the price tag: eight Galleons. There is no way that her mum will let her spend that much on a pet. She sighs and withdraws her hand. One of these days she's going to be a professional Quidditch player and have lots and lots of money, and she'll be able to buy all the pets she wants.

"I think he likes you."

Ginny turns. A round faced boy is watching the kneazle with interest. He tentatively reaches through the bars to pet it, only to have to beat a hasty retreat when it hisses at him. "I don't think it likes me though."

"He's probably just shy. I'm not getting him anyway. I've got better things to spend my money on." She holds out her hand. "My name's Ginny, by the way."

He shakes it. "My name's Neville. My gran and I are here looking for a toad."

"A toad?" Even she knows that toads aren't popular right now and haven't been for years. Everybody who's anybody gets an owl or a kneazle.

Neville flushes. "It's kind of a family tradition. Everyone in my family has had a toad at Hogwarts. I wouldn't want to let them down."

"Yeah, I guess not." Ginny knows a little about that. Fred and George have already threatened to disown her if she's not in Gryffindor, even though it will be another year before she goes to Hogwarts. Percy told them to shut up and that it didn't matter what house she was in, she was still their sister. Fred and George didn't listen, as usual.

"Looking at things you can't afford?" Ginny turns to find a blonde boy with a pale, pointed face staring at her, his arms crossed. "I know who you are. The red hair and freckles give it away. You're a Weasley." He chuckles. "Tell the truth. You can't afford a thing in the store, can you?"

Rage, white-hot and wild, courses through her. She trembles from the force of it. The only thing that stops her from slapping the little twit is the presence of a witness. "Of course I can! Just as soon as my mum gets back, I'm going to get myself a pet!"

"My Dad's getting me an owl. What are you getting? That is, if you're actually getting anything."

"A...a..." Ginny's rage cools by the smallest fraction, enough for her to know that she's got to come out with something that her mother might actually get her so she could show the boy up properly. She can't afford a kneazle, and she refuses to get on owl on principle -- if that braggart gets one, she definitely doesn't want it. "A toad," she says at last. That ought to be cheap enough for even her mum to afford.

"Ha! You can't even afford that, I'd wager. You Weasleys are all the same: poor as church mice, and mudwallowers besides. I don't know why you're even allowed to attend Hogwarts with decent wizards. The whole lot of you are worthless.”

This time she really is going to slap him, witness or no witness. Before she can do anything though, Neville speaks, "Leave her alone." He’s so quiet that she almost thinks she imagined it. His lips are moving, though, and he looks like he's about to vomit.

"What did you say?"

Neville squares his shoulders, though he still looks like he would like nothing better than to run at the moment. "I said to leave her alone. You aren't being very nice."

"And why should I care what you think? I bet you're as common as she is." He turns on his heel and stalks off. Just before he disappears from view, he turns back to look her in the eye. "Let me know how the toad works out, Weasley."

"Can I faint now?" Neville asks when the boy has gone.

"Why would you faint? I thought you were brilliant."

He smiles weakly, as if he can't believe he's been complimented. "Thanks. I hope you get your toad, by the way."

"Ginevra Molly Weasley! Where have you been? I've been looking everywhere for you!" Her mother appears as suddenly as if she'd Apparated and grabs Ginny's arm. "I was so worried."

Ginny deftly extricates herself from her mother's grip. "I was only looking at the animals."

Her mum visibly relaxes. "Is that all? Just tell me next time."

Ginny thinks for a long moment. Her mother had been frantic, but she isn't angry. She might be able to parlay her mum's relief that her baby girl hasn't been abducted or murdered into something tangible. She gives her mum a sickly sweet smile. "Actually, Mum, I was wondering if maybe I could get a pet. Not a really expensive one but maybe a toad or something like that. I could even name it after Great-Uncle Trevor. He loved animals."

Her mum shakes her head sadly. "I'm sorry, dear. Ron's books cost more than I thought they would. We just don't have the money to spare right now. Perhaps we can get you something later when money isn't as tight."

Ginny whines, pleads, and begs as best she knows how, but to no avail. She isn't getting a pet. As she turns to follow her mother, Neville mouths "Sorry." His pity makes her feel even worse and she turns her face away.

After temporarily misplacing her daughter, Molly is extremely vigilant in watching her. Ginny dutifully follows behind her and tries to resist the urge to knock over the shelves. Why can't she ever have nice things? That awful boy will find out that she didn't get a toad, and he'll laugh at her to all his rich friends. She'll show him some day, when she has money of her own, but that day seems a long way off.

"I'm going to pay for this. Don't run off again." Ginny nods. Where would she go? She's lost all interest in the animals now. She spends the next several minutes staring into the distance, looking at nothing in particular. It's safer that way.

The sound of a throat clearing startles her from her reverie. Neville is standing in front of her, holding a cage containing a small toad and looking even more petrified than when he told off the other boy. "What do you want?" she snaps.

"I -- I've got a toad."

"I see that. If you've only come here to gloat, you can leave right now."

"No!" He clutches her wrist with his free hand. "I was thinking maybe you'd like to name mine. My grandfather says that if you name something then you own a piece of it. If you named my toad, it would be almost like we were co-owners. That way, if that boy ever came back, you could tell him you did get a toad, and it wouldn't be a lie."

Several moments pass before Ginny trusts herself to speak. "Why would you do that? You barely know me."

"I know that you wanted a pet and that the boy was a real git. That seems enough to me."

Ginny still can't quite believe it. It's perhaps the nicest thing that anyone has ever offered her and from a near-total stranger, no less. She doesn't dare say that out loud, though. "I think Trevor would be a good name for a toad."

He smiles. "Trevor the Toad? It has a nice ring to it." He looks to his right, where a stern-looking woman is motioning frantically for him to join her. "I've got to go. I suppose Trevor and I will see you..."

"Next year. I'll be going to Hogwarts next year."

Neville looks down at Trevor and smiles fondly. "We can't wait."

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