Roxanne Weasley stood at the train platform, one hand on her trunk and the other clutching Flagrant Flames: A Complete History of the Dragons of Europe.
“Now, those braids should last you the whole time, but make sure you use that potion I packed for you once every two weeks — it’ll clear out any build up and keep your hair soft,” Angelina said, pushing Roxanne’s long ginger braids off of her shoulder.
“I know, Mum,” Roxanne said, fighting the urge to roll her eyes. She got the hair care lecture whenever she stayed more than a day away from home. When she was at Hogwarts, she could expect care packages from her mother containing potions, salves, and spell instructions to help keep her hair healthy. Roxanne looked forward to those packages but hated that her mother somehow thought she still needed instructions when she’d been taking care of it on her own for the five years she’d been in school.
“Why does Rox get to go visit Uncle Charlie and I don’t?” Fred complained.
“Because she got eight O.W.L.s,” Angelina told him, “When you pass your exams, you’ll get something too.”
“Fine. Well then I want to go to work with Uncle Bill,” Fred said.
“You will not,” Angelina said, “Your father and I aren’t sending you to Hogwarts so you can desecrate the tombs of people’s ancestors.”
Fred looked to his father, as though hoping he would stand up for him. George shrugged, “Your mother’s right.”
“You have plenty of time to figure out what you want to do, Freddie,” Roxanne said, “Maybe you’ll come around to how awesome dragons are and then you can help me set up my conservation center.”
Fred frowned, “No thanks.”
Bells started ringing, signaling the final call for passengers. Witches and wizards scurried up and down Platform 6 and ½, hurriedly hopping on the train as steam billowed into the air.
“It’s time to go,” Angelina said, pulling her daughter into a hug. “Have loads of fun and don’t get any serious burns.”
“I’ll do my best on that last one,” Roxanne joked before slapping her brother on the back and saying, “Stay out of my room Freddie.”
She turned to her dad. He had been uncharacteristically quiet from the time they’d left home that morning. He smiled sadly.
Roxanne embraced him, “Aw, don’t look like that, Dad. I’ll write to you every day.”
“No, you won’t.”
“No, I won’t,” Roxanne said as she pulled away with a grin, “But I will send you Uncle Charlie’s toilet seat.”
George helped his daughter pull her trunk onto the train, pulled her in for a quick kiss on the cheek and stood back to wave goodbye with the rest of her family. Roxanne smiled and waved back, sad that she was going to spend an entire summer away from them for the first time, but excited that she was traversing on a path that would determine the rest of her life.
The train pulled up to Platform 6 and ½ as the sun set behind it, casting an orange glow on everything. As it screeched to a halt, Roxanne stood and grabbed her things — a large scroll and extra bag accompanying her trunk.
Her father stood waiting for her on the platform, a grin plastered on his face.
“There she is!” he called, hurrying over to help her with her things.
“Here I am,” Roxanne said with a smile.
“Your mum’s at home baking.”
“Baking?” Roxanne frowned. While her mother was a wonderful cook, she often got frustrated with the exacting nature of baking. She could innovate when making dinner, but there was more mathematics involved in baking that she didn’t have the patience for.
“Ok, that might have been a bit of an exaggeration,” George said, “She’s at home watching my mum bake.”
“Well, she had to come see you since you didn’t come to the annual Weasley bash. Something about making sure you weren’t burned to a crisp. She said she’s sent about a thousand letters to your uncle this summer, checking in on you.”
Roxanne grinned, remembering the letter Uncle Charlie had shown her in which her grandmother had worried about the qualities of one particular strain of dragonpox she’d read about that apparently was rampant among young witches and wizards. The entire article had been a hoax, but it had been fun reading Molly Weasley’s demands that both Charlie and Roxanne go to St. Mungo’s immediately to get themselves checked.
“Well, she’ll be sorely disappointed,” Roxanne said, rolling up a sleeve to reveal a burn the size of a Galleon.
George grabbed her arm, eyes widening, “Ah Rox, what happened?” Roxanne could tell that for all his teasing of his own mother, he had been quite worried as well.
“Burned myself on Uncle Charlie’s stove, wasn’t paying attention,” she said, laughing at the look on her father’s face.
“A stove? A stove?” George said, shaking his head, “You’re with dragons every day for four weeks and you get burned by a stove?”
“Well not once I get back to Hogwarts I don’t,” she said, “Everyone loves a daring tale of dragons on a rampage with only one sixteen year old to stop them while making sure they’re unharmed.”
“Oh, is that how you’ll try to get dates this year?”
Roxanne shrugged, “It can’t hurt. Anyway, with this potion Uncle Charlie gave me, you won’t even notice it’s there in a few months.”
“Good, well don’t tell your grandmother. She’ll have me by the ear for letting you even think of going.”
“Ha ha, Dad. Good one,” she said dryly.
“I’ll admit, it wasn’t my best,” George said, leading the way back into King’s Cross station. Roxanne smiled at his back as she followed. She was glad to be home.