Neville to the rescue!
It wasn't often that Neville Longbottom had visitors of his own age. The Longbottom mansion was a huge, empty house, devoid of any children besides himself--well, most of the time, anyway. But today was a special day for little six-year-old Neville. He was going to have visitors--playmates, even!
He didn't know the Weasleys very well, but he'd met them before. His favorite part about them was that there were just so many of them. With a family like that, Neville figured, you would never be bored or lonely. He overheard his Gran mumbling that they lived in a house much too small for their size, and Neville wondered why they couldn't move into his house. There was plenty of room, after all, and he reckoned that maybe he wouldn't jump at every little sound at night if there were someone fast asleep in the room right next to his.
Maybe then his Gran would stop saying that he needed to grow some backbone.
When the Weasleys finally arrived, it came as no surprise to Neville that his Gran forbade him from playing Quidditch with the older boys (never mind Ron was only a few months older). He saw her whisper something to the mum, and he reddened with the knowledge that his Gran was probably telling the lady that they thought he might be a Squib.
Mrs. Weasley, who was currently engaged in trying to stop the little girl whose hand she was holding from running after her brothers, laughed nervously and said that the little girl wasn't allowed to play Quidditch with the boys, either. Ginny, she said, was her name. And apparently Ginny was always into some mischief or other, or so said her mum, so she couldn't let her out of her sight for very long, lest one of her brothers turn up crying for some unknown reason again.
So he was stuck with the little girl. He didn't mind much, though. Any company was good company, in his opinion.
As soon as their guardians were thoroughly distracted by conversation, Ginny tugged her hand free of her mother's grip. She walked over to him, circling him a few times as if inspecting him (something like a hawk, he thought). "You'll do," she said, as if the whole world had been standing still in anticipation of her assessment.
And before he knew it, he was being tugged all over his own front yard, despite the fact that she was much smaller in comparison. He stumbled along after her, trying his best not to fall over and damage his brand new outfit.
Ginny was so energetic and talkative that he found himself unable to keep up with either her feet or her speech, and after a while just gave up on it altogether, opting instead to listen for key words or the times that she would pause for a moment, waiting for a response.
She seemed so utterly intrigued by virtually everything in the yard that Neville would scarcely have time to answer her questions before she was dragging him off again.
When they reached the section of his Gran's garden that he knew was off-limits, though, he put his foot down (or feet, as it turned out he needed to plant both firmly in the ground before she stopped). "We're not allowed in there," he said quietly, and he was quite proud of the fact that his voice didn't waver at all.
Ginny, however, seemed to be having none of this. Releasing his left arm (she'd been using it to drag him along this whole time), she put her hands on her hips and said, "Oh, come on, grown-ups only want to keep us out of things because they don't want us to have fun." It sounded like a plausible enough argument to Neville--after all, it seemed to him that whenever he was having fun (/real/ fun, the kind that makes you spend your days plotting how to have it again), a grown-up always ruined it.
Still, he reasoned, he'd much rather be bored than have his Gran angry at him again.
"Let's go back," he insisted, though even as he spoke, she was attempting to climb over the small fence that surrounded the garden. To his chagrin, there didn't seem to be any wards keeping her out, and before long, she had succeeded in making it over the fence (and also in ripping her skirt).
She began tottering about, making excited noises whenever she found something that she deemed "pretty." Neville hesitated. On one hand, he could follow her and attempt to bring her back out. On the other hand, was it really his fault if she got herself into trouble? He'd tried to stop her, after all. Sighing, he decided that he'd get into trouble, regardless, and began trying to make his way over the fence.
When he had finally made it to the top, Ginny squealed with fright, and Neville promptly tumbled the rest of the way over, hitting the ground rather harshly.
He looked up, noting that she didn't appear to be injured at all, and wondering if she were only trying to trick him. (Little girls did those sorts of things. He knew from experience.) Then she squealed again, apparently tripping over something, and Neville rushed over to see what the matter was.
Nothing appeared to be wrong, at least not at first. But upon more careful inspection, he noticed that a vine had wrapped its way up one of her legs. Ginny was trying (to absolutely no avail) to pull it off, but it only seemed to tighten its grip, judging by the pained sounds she was making.
Neville froze momentarily, realizing with a tight throat that he had absolutely no idea what to do. If he went any closer, the plant might get him, too. But he couldn't just leave her, either.
What would Dad have done? he thought, closing his eyes in concentration. Then a picture swam in front of his eyes; his Gran, stepping on the plant harshly the very day she had received it. The plant had immediately retracted, its vines slipping back into the basket that contained it. Neville felt himself tense--he knew what he had to do.
Trying to remember which particular spot she had stepped on that time, he made his way towards Ginny, careful not to be caught by the vines himself. She was crying now, still attempting to tug herself free of the vines. She looked at him pleadingly; Neville felt his chest swell with an unfamiliar emotion.
He repeated the scene in his head as best he could, kicking the plant square in the center (which was rather difficult to reach, as it was a good three feet from where Ginny was on the ground) with as much force as he could muster. To his utter relief, he felt the vines begin to whip by his legs, returning to their place of origin. He helped Ginny from the ground, and together they ran toward the fence.
Ginny required a little help to make it over, as her leg seemed to be still recovering, but eventually, they both made it.
"Please don't tell mum," she said, wiping at her face with her sleeves. He nodded silently and she smiled at him in response. Neville thought his heart might burst with pride.
When they finally made it back to the house, Neville's sweaty hand gripping Ginny's shaky one, Mrs. Weasley commented on how oddly subdued Ginny was acting. Gran commented on the disheveled and filthy state of Neville's new outfit.
Neville received the criticism without response, thinking that maybe he wasn't really a failure, and maybe his dad would've been proud, even if his shirt was a little dirty.