GINNY WEASLEY'S SIXTH YEAR
This story is a work of fanfiction. Anyone who hasn't read the Harry Potter series will not understand this story very well. Oh, and any new characters, scenes, elements, etc are figments of my imagination.
GINNY WEASLEY'S SIXTH YEAR
FROM THE WORLD OF HARRY POTTER
"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve."
- Ginny Weasley
To all those who love to read and have read and are still reading.
- Adeen Ahmed
It takes a lot of work to bring a story into the world, and I've got some people to thank.
Thank you to my best friend, Rania Malik, for motivating me to brandish my quill and write another story. I'm so grateful for your appreciation and humor and heart. By the way, maybe I will come to Erbil one day.
My aunt, Javaria Said, lovingly makes wands to connect people together. Thank you, for lending me a few spells of writing from your book. By the way, we must eat pizza together at some point.
J. K. Rowling is a book writer extraoridinare! Thank you for writing the brilliant Harry Potter series.
- Adeen Ahmed
To all the ones who stuck with Dumbledore and Harry
until the very end.
Ginny Weasley's 6th Year
Let us start by saying that she, Ginny Weasley, was simply furious that Severus Snape had killed Albus Dumbledore and the mere thought of Voldemort prowling around in England made her shudder....
"Ginny? you alright?"
George was shaking her. "You seem lost."
"No, it's nothing," she said, while thinking of horrific scenes which included Death Eaters and her classmates. "I was just - thinking that..." she searched her mind for an excuse to offer her brother. "I was thinking that why you won't pull off some tricks at this wedding."
"And get murdered by Mum?" said George, shaking his head. "You must be insane."
"Oh... right..." was the only thing she could think of saying. Trying to avoid George's suspicious looks, she stalked off to where Luna was sitting.
"Oh, hi, Ginny," she said, in her usual dreamy voice. "Why aren't you with your brothers?"
"Oh... I just fancied your company," said Ginny.
"That's nice of you," said Luna, shaking back her blonde hair. "I can see you're a bit glum."
How on earth Luna knew what she was feeling, the solution was out of her mind. But I guess she was always like this, she thought. Ever since I met her.
"Oh - never mind," said Ginny, though she did mind.
"What subjects are you taking this year?" asked Luna, displaying her knack for changing uncomfortable subjects to more lively ones.
"Well, my O.W.L. results haven't come yet."
"Neither have mine," said Luna. "But I think I will get an Outstanding in Care of Magical Creatures."
"Oh," said Ginny. She would have to take Care of Magical Creatures too, so as to not let down poor Hagrid, who was already suffering from the death of Dumbledore.
"Isn't Hagrid teaching them again?" asked Luna.
"Yes, he is," she replied.
"At first I thought he wasn't a very good teacher," she said Luna. "But he's qiute good actually, you know."
"Yes," she replied. Then something caught her eye. Great-auntie Muriel was debating with Elphias Doge, one of the most trustiest Order members. She propelled her eyes even further at the red-haired boy sitting next to Doge - Harry, of course, disgiused as a Weasley cousin.
"Luna, can you excuse me for a minute?" she said, hastily.
"Oh, of course," she said cheerfully.
Ginny got up, and silently sidled near the pillars where Doge and Harry were sitting. Muriel was droning on and on about the Dumbledores, while Doge was trying to contradict her.
"Ariana was delicate!" said Doge desperately. "Her health was always too poor to permit her - "
" - to permit her to leave the house?" cackled Muriel. "And yet she was never taken to St. Mungo's and no Healer was ever summoned to see her!"
"Really, Muriel, how can you posibly know whether -"
Harry was looking deep in thought. Was he thinking that Muriel's words were possible truth? Surely not!
"Now, if Kendra hadn't died first," resumed Muriel, "I'd have said she was the one who finished off Ariana -"
Leaving them in their furious discussion,she came back to where Luna was sitting.
"Were you talking to Harry?" she asked, with a slightly amused look on her face.
"No, I was just listening to what Muriel and Doge were debating on," she replied.
At that moment, something large and silver came falling through the canopy. Graceful and gleaming, the lynx landed lightly in the middle of the astonished people. Heads turned, as those nearest it froze absurdly in mid-talk. Then the Patronus's mouth opened wide and it spoke in the loud, deep, slow voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming."
There was never such a humdrum in Ginny's life. People were screaming, Dissaparating right and left. The protective enchantments around the Burrow had broken, and there was a ring of fire around the banquet. Drawing her wand, Ginny ran towards Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but before she could grab Hermione's hand, the three of them had Dissaparated.
Desperate, she whirled around, taking in the scene around her. Dad, Bill, Charlie, Lupin, Tonks and George were fighting some black-hooded men - which, as Ginny knew, were Death Eaters - and Mum and Fleur were huddled together, their eyes wide with fright.
Suddenly, Fred came lunging out of nowhere. Grabbing her hand, he ran across the banquet, past Muriel, who was trying to Apparate, past Tonks, who was duelling a Death Eater, past Madame and Monsuier Delacour, who were shrieking for Gabrielle, and past Charlie, who was trying to estunguish the fire.
Fred, what's going on?" she asked, her eyes as wide as saucers.
"I don't know!" he shouted back, narrowly missing a jinx set straight for us.
"Where's Harry? and Ron, and Hermione?" she asked, flashing a Bat-Bogey Hex at a Death Eater called Crabbe.
"No time to tell!" he yelled, sending a hex down one of the Death Eaters. "Here - "
And suddenly there was a flash of light, and the sound of Fleur screaming, and Dad, duelling the Death Eater Macnair, and a strip of blazing fire, and then I had a feeling of being thrust through a wall of glass...
The Shock About Snape
The first thing Ginny felt was the floor of a soft velvet carpet.
She opened her eyes. She was in somebody's sitting room which was lavishly decorated with frills and puffs. Three cats sat mewling and streching on one of the sofas. She vaguely remembered being here.
Then she felt the warmth of someone beside her. She looked to her right, and sure enough, Fred was standing next to her.
"Fred, where are we?" Ginny asked, trying to remember the place.
Fred sat down on one of the sofas. "Muriel's house," he said.
"Muriel's - "
"It was the only place I could think of," said Fred. "I did Side-Along Apparation."
"Oh," she said, sitting down next to him.
There was a sudden crack and Great-auntie Muriel Apparated right into the room.
"Good Lord, Ginevra," she said, her eyes wide. "What are you doing here? Surely you didn't learn to Apparate?"
"I bought her, Auntie Muriel," said Fred defiantly. "Dad told me to."
"I see," she said, plopping herself down in an armchair. "And I suppose you thought of my house all by yourself, did you, Frederick?" she added maliciously.
"Yes, I did, Auntie Muriel," said Fred.
Before she could say anything more, there was a crack and Mum and Fleur Apparated into the room.
"Ginny!" said Mum, rushing towards her. "I was so worried -"
"Yes, well, Molly, my house isn't a restaurant," said Muriel a bit crossly. "All I can hope is that - "
There was another crack and Dad, Bill, Charlie, George, Lupin, Doge, Monsieur Delacour, Madame Delacour, Gabrielle, and Tonks Apparated into the sitting room.
"Oh!" squealed Muriel.
"Your house is safe," said Lupin, scurrying towards Mum. "Nothing to worry about."
"What I want to know," said Tonks, taking a seat next to Lupin, "Is that how come the Death Eaters tracked Harry here."
"He still can't have the Trace on him!" Ginny said despairingly.
"No," agreed Dad thoughtfully. "Unless... unless they found a way of putting it back on him?"
"Can't, Trace breaks at seventeen," said George.
"Yes, and unless the Death Eaters made a Marauder's Map of the whole of England, I can't see how they tracked Harry," said Lupin, smiling faintly.
"Or perhaps there was a Death Eater among the guests," suggested Doge.
"I vould not allow any Deat' Eeaters in my vedding," said Fleur crossly.
"Yes," said Monsiuer Delacour, in his rich, throaty voice. "I check ze wedding list."
"They might have come disgiused," said Fred darkly.
"Never mind about that," said Ginny impatiently. "Where'd Harry go?"
"Oh, yes!" said Mum. "Where is Harry? and Ron, and Hermione?"
"Well... you know, Molly," Dad started.
"Oh, yes, I do know, Arthur," said Mum. "That poor Harry is on some mission set by Dumbledore, where a hundred dangers face him!"
"It was Dumbledore who set him that task," said Lupin consolingly. "We can trust Dumbledore."
"Absolutely!" said Doge.
"Yes, and he will be safe, Molly," said Tonks.
"Let's get back to the Burrow," said Dad.
Ginny drew the curtains, looking out in the orchard where the sorry remains of the tent-like banquet lay burned. Fleur had been moaning ever since they got back from Muriel's.
"Oh, why does it hav' to 'appen to me?" she had said despairingly, as soon as they had entered the Burrow.
Ginny sighed. It hardly seemed as if thirty-six hours ago she was playing two-a-side Quidditch with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
"ferme la lumière!" came Gabrielle's voice from her bed. "ça me passe dans les yeux!"
"Huh?" said Ginny, turning around. "What did you say?"
"tirez les rideaux, s'il vous plaît," said Gabrielle, rubbing her eyes, pointing towards the curtains.
Ginny sighed, shaking her head. At that precise moment, Fleur drifted into the room.
"Good mornin', Ginny," she said, in her throaty voice. "I 'eard Gabrielle sayin' something."
"je lui disais d'éteindre la lumière!" said Gabrielle crossly. "j'ai même dit s'il te plait!"
"oh, chérie, elle ne comprend pas le français," said Fleur,in rapid french. Ginny watched in astonishment.
"She is sayin' to shut ze curtains," Fleur added to Ginny.
"Oh," said Ginny. "I - I had no idea."
"Maman dit de venir déjeuner, Gabrielle," said Fleur.
"Oh," said Gabrielle. She flounced out of the room.
Watching Ginny's looks of astonishment, Fleur said, "I was tellin' 'er to come down for breakfas'."
"I see," said Ginny, somewhat dumbly. She trudged downstairs.
Mum was making fried bacon and eggs for the Delacours, along with tomatoes and onion and parsley and big, fat sausages.
"I wish you could make such fancies for us every day, Mum," said Fred, tucking in.
"Well, I just don't have enough time," said Mum, setting down the sausages. "Care for some more, Camille?" she asked, pushing the plate closer to Madame Delacour.
Ginny took out the milk from the cabinet, shuddering at the shivering cold from the cabinet. Long-Lasting Freezing Charms, she thought.
"Ginny, tu ne vas pas avoir certaines de ces saucisses?" asked Madame Delacour. Then she reddened and corrected herself. "Ginny, aren' you goin' to 'ave some of these sausages?"
"No, thanks," said Ginny qiuckly. A conversation with the Delacours was the last thing she wanted.
"Look at this!" said George incruedously, waving The Daily Prophet. "Looks like old Snapey's done it again, hasn't he?"
Ginny's head shot up from her cornflakes. "Snape?" she said, unbeilevably. "Has he killed someone? Again?"
"No," said George. "Even worse - oh, am I glad I'm not going to Hogwarts this year - I would've run away, that's what."
"Why, what's wrong, George?" said Mum, sitting down at the table.
Fred grabbed the Prophet from George's hands, his eyes widening as he read the contents. "No.." he said.
Ginny seized the paper out of Fred's hands. Her eyes moved up and down the contents.
SEVERUS SNAPE CONFIRMED AS HOGWARTS HEADMASTER
"No!" she said loudly, holding the paper up so that everyone could see it.
"Impossible!" said Mum.
"Just listen!" said Ginny, smoothing the paper out.
"'Severus Snape, long-standing Potions master at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was today appointed headmaster in the most important of several staffing changes at the ancient school. Following the resignation of the previous Muggle Studies teacher, Alecto Carrow will take over the post while her brother, Amycus, fills the position of the Defense Against The Dark Arts professor.
"'I welcome the opportunity to uphold our finest Wizarding traditions and values -' like commiting murder and cutting off people's ears, I suppose!" she finished furiously.
"Is the Ministry in their right mind?" said Mum. "Appointing a murderer in Dumbledore's place?"
"Actually, the Minister is a murderer, too," said Bill. He had not spoken at all.
"Who is it?" said Charlie in a worried voice.
"It's Pius Thicknesse under the Imperius Curse," said Bill, with a troubled look on his face.
Suddenly, there was a crack and Remus Lupin appeared into the dining room.
"Goo'ness!" said Madame Delacour.
"Have you heard the news?" he said fervently. "Snape!"
"Yes, we have, Lupin," said Ginny. "And about Thicknesse, too!"
"Yes," said Lupin. "One of Vol - I mean, You-Know-Who's Death Eaters."
Mum shuddered. "You-Know-Who's inner circle?" She asked.
"Yes, I think so," answered Lupin.
"Why doesn't You-Know-Who declare himself as Minister of Magic?" asked George.
Lupin laughed. "Voldemort is the Minister of Magic, George," he said. "But he doesn't need to sit behind a desk and wear a suit and tie. His puppet, Thicknesse, will take care of that... With that out of his way, he can focus on more important things.."
"What about Scrimgeour?" asked Charlie. "Does anybody know he's dead?"
"The official verdict is that Rufus Scrimgeour resigned," explained Lupin. "Of course, Voldemort wouldn't want the truth getting out to the Ministry, even though he does like to flaunt his murders."
"I don't think anybody knows about Scrimgeour except us," said Mum. "And the Order, of course."
"It's all friends together at Hogwarts, isn't it?" said Ginny. "Death Eater pals having fun."
"I suppose the other teachers will have to stay," said Lupin. "Minerva told me so. She said that if they don't it'll be a nice ten years in Azkaban - and that's if they're lucky."
"Just like Snape, threatening teachers," said Bill. Ginny thought of Hermione and her reaction at the fact of someone threatening teachers.
"The teachers are also staying at their own account," added Lupin. "To protect the children."
"It's likely that the Slytherins will be favoured," said Charlie.
"Why am I seeing visions of Malfoy being awarded a hundred points?" Ginny groaned.
"Yeah, the top in year will be Malfoy, I suppose," said George.
"I suppose because his parents are Death Eaters and everything," said Ginny bitterly.
It had been three days since the news of Snape had come, and the effects were still very hot and fuming.
"Qiute," said Mum, knitting six rows of garters up. "I can't wait for Remus, Tonks and Kingsley to come, there's so much we need to discuss.."
"When are they coming?" inqiured Charlie. "I thought Dad said they'll be coming one or two hours early.."
"That's because there's going to be an Order meeting," explained Bill, who was listening to the WWN (Wireless Wizarding Network).
"Oh," said Ginny. "Well, can I join in, Mum? Please?"
"No," said her mother firmly, and Ginny pouted. "Discussing about You-Know-Who is no joke, young lady, and that's the first thing you need to learn when becoming a member."
Suddenly, there was a small crack, and Lupin appeared into the room. "Good evening," he said grimly.
"Oh, Remus," said Mum, standing up. "Get yourself a seat."
Lupin sat down next to Charlie, his face looking worn, and his clothes patched then ever.
"I've got some bad news, Molly," he said. "Very bad news indeed."
"What is it, Remus?" asked Charlie anxiously from the other end of the room.
"Thicknesse has - or rather, Voldemort has - made it mandatory for every student of Hogwarts to attend school," said Lupin.
Mum dropped her knitting onto the floor, needles, garters, yarn and all.
"No," she murmured.
"Yes," said Lupin, shaking his head sorrowfully. "All but the Muggle-borns, of course. The rest's got to attend."
"What's happening to the Muggle-borns?" asked Ginny fearfully.
"They're going to have them tried out in court," said Lupin. "And sent to Azkaban, Crucatiated, or most likely made victims of the Dementor's Kiss."
Everyone's mouth fell open.
"But all of them are going into hiding," he added hurriedly, seeing horrified faces.
At that precise moment, Gabrielle came into the room. She batted her eyelashes at Ginny in a sweet way (if a little sickening), then handed over a small peice of paper.
The note was written in Fleur's curved handwriting.
Will you please play with me?
"You mean - play with you?" said Ginny tentatively.
Gabrielle nodded her head.
"What do you want to play, then?" she said, wondering what an eleven-year-old french girl would want to play.
Gabrielle smiled, and handed out another peice of paper.
Can you play with me and my dollies?
"Dolls?" said Ginny, and Gabrielle nodded.
"Er..." she started. She had never played with any dolls herself. She had been too boyish in her childhood. Who wouldn't be, with five brothers?
"Ahem," said Mum. "Of course Ginny will play with you, darling," she added sweetly to Gabrielle.
And before Ginny could say no, Gabrielle grabbed her by the hand and pulled her upstairs into Ginny's bedroom, where Fleur was sitting doing some sewing.
"Oh!" she said, when they came in. "'Ow sweet of you, Ginny, to play with Gabrielle!"
"Yeah," said Ginny, groaning inwardly. "Sure."
The evening had been spent with Gabrielle introducing all her stiff little china dolls - not that Ginny had remembered all their names. She had vaguely said "yes" or "no" or "hmm". Gabrielle had been jabbering all the while in rapidly spoken french, while Ginny could've sworn that she did not hear a thing and had slept most of the time.
It came as a relief for her when dinner was announced, and even bigger relief when it was time to go to bed.
Ginny sat in her room, staring at a small photograph of the Golden Trio. Hermione was beaming from it, Ron was waving, while Harry tried to push back his fringe, smiling all the time.
Ginny smiled, then sighed. She was missing them already. She wondered how Hogwarts could ever be the same without them. She wondered where they were, how they were doing, and whether they were thinking of her.
A large barn owl came fluttering through the kitchen window, hooting as it entered the sitting room.
It was just after breakfast: Monsiuer Delacour was sitting talking to Bill, while Fleur was upstairs with Gabrielle. Mum and Madame Delacour were deep in discussion about the hems of dresses and such.
"Mum, look!" shouted Ginny excitedly. The owl was wearing a sign round his neck that said Hogwarts.
"Oh!" said Mum, taking the envelope. "Ginny! It's your O.W.L. results!" she handed it round to her.
Ginny took the envelope, opened it, and out came an official-looking peice of parchment.
Ordinary Wizarding Levels
(E) Exceeds Expectations
Ginevra Molly Weasley has acheived:
Defense Against The Dark Arts (O)
Care of Magical Creatures (O)
History Of Magic (P)
Ginny read the paper several times. She had passed! A person needed three O.W.L.s to get into N.E.W.T. level, and she had scraped up seven O.W.L.s!
Mum snatched the paper from her, and read it through.
"Oh, Ginny!" she said, giving her hug. "Seven O.W.L.s! Ron only did five, and you've got two Outstandings!"
"Alright, alright!" said Ginny, hugging the paper. "I don't think Fred and George will be pleased. They'd think it was a terrible shame to the family."
"Never mind them," said Mum. "Oh, your father will be so proud!"
Needless to say, he was.
Back to Hogwarts
"Don't get in any mischeif," said Mum, hugging her good-bye.
"I won't, Mum," she said. She reached for Harry's words. "I like a qiuet life, you know me."
Mum gave a watery chuckle. "Good-bye, then," she said.
She was the only one to see her off, other than Fleur.
"Do you think Dad's Patronus reached Harry?" she said.
"Lupin said he was in Grimmauld Place."
"I'm sure it must have," said Mum.
"Au revoir, Ginny," said Fleur throatily.
"Yes, well, bye," she said hurriedly, climbing onto the train. It pulled out of the station, and chugged on.
Ginny heaved her trunk up. Suddenly, a familiar round face came into view.
"Neville!" said Ginny, reileved.
"Hi, Ginny," said Neville, who clutching Trevor the toad in one hand, Seamus Finnegan right behind him. "Have you seen Luna?"
"No," said Ginny, opening the door of an empty compartment. "Come on, Let's sit here."
They trooped inside, and stowed their trunks away.
"So, did you see Harry over the holidays?" asked Seamus, who was peering out the window.
"Well, yes," answered Ginny. "But only for five days, though. On the fifth day there was an attack at the Burrow and he Disapparated - with Ron and Hermione. They're on the run, you know."
"I know that," said Neville. "To think of Snape in Dumbledore's place, though... seems unbeleivable, doesn't it?"
"We've got to face the facts," said Ginny, shaking her head. "I wonder what they will teach us."
"Dark Arts, maybe?" said Seamus. "But one thing's for sure: the Slytherins'll be favoured."
Before they could say anything, the door slid open and Luna Lovegood stood there in her necklace of Butterbeer corks, holding the Qiubbler.
"Oh, hello," said Luna, dangling her radish earrings. "I thought I heard your voices in here." she sat down next to Ginny.
"Qiubbler?" she inqiured, holding out the magazine.
"Yes, sure," said Neville, holding out his hand for it.
Luna handed it to him. On the front page was a large picture of Harry, with the captions THE BOY WHO LIVED: LIVED TO KILL OFF YOU-KNOW-WHO?
"Are they writing nonsense about him?" asked Seamus.
"No," smiled Luna serenely. "We're writing all the stuff the Daily Prophet doesn't bother to write at all."
"That's true," said Neville, holding up the magazine.
"Have you heard about Snape?" asked Ginny.
"Yes," said Luna. "Wasn't he the one who killed Professor Dumbledore?"
"Yes," said Seamus.
Their compartment door flew open, and a pale, hook-nosed, blonde-haired boy sneered down at them all.
"Hello, Longbottom," said Draco Malfoy, qiute ignoring the rest. "How are your mummmy and daddy, hmm? Are they dead - already?"
"Get out of here, Malfoy," said Ginny, standing up and dropping Arnold onto the floor. "Now."
"Keep that ugly red head down, Weasley," said Malfoy, giving a kick to Arnold, so that he squealed and scurried under the seats.
"Shut your mouth, Malfoy," said Seamus angrily.
"And there's no room for people like you in our compartment," said Neville, trembling slightly. "So go away."
"Seems plenty of room in here," said Malfoy. "Maybe I'll just - stay here a while."
He moved towards the seats.
"But, of course," said Luna, turning her big, demented owl's eyes on him. "I suppose the real reason you want to sit with us is because you don't have any friends? Don't worry, I didn't have much either, up till now."
Seamus and Neville laughed.
"Oh, you're that Lovegood lunatic's daughter, are you?" said Malfoy, looking at her as if she was a particularly unpleasant thing. "The man who runs the Qiubbler? My mother could manure our front garden with the contents of that rag."
Ginny picked up her wand, and pointed it Malfoy.
"One more word, Malfoy, and I'll do something you'll never forget," she said, her brown eyes flashing dangerously.
"Going to put up a pathetic heroic attack, are you, Weasley?" he snarled. "How's your brother? Is he dead already?"
"Fernicilus!" shouted Ginny.
Malfoy stumbled out of the compartment. Luna stood up, and leaned out.
"Oh - look at him!" she giggled, doubling up with silent laughter.
Neville and Seamus looked out. Malfoy was lying on the floor, his face covered in fur-like tentacles. When seeing that they had seen him, he glared and ran off to another compartment.
"Brilliant, Ginny!" said Seamus. "Where'd you learn that?"
"I thought you would do the Bat-Bogey Hex," chuckled Neville, shutting the compartment door.
"Oh, he knows the counter-curse to that," said Ginny. "So I tried something new."
"I wasn't making a joke, you know," said Luna, sitting down into the seats. "I thought he was a person with no friends. I have sincere sympathy for people like him."
The train slowed down.
"We can't be there yet," said Neville anxiously. "It usually takes hours."
"Is there going to be a Dementor attack?" said Seamus fearfully. "You know, like the one five years ago?"
"No.." said Ginny, somewhat thoughtfully. "But.."
Suddenly, there was a shriek of "Dorslahio!"
All the compartments' doors' flew open, and anxious, fearful students peered out nervously.
There, standing there, were two masked faces in long black cloaks.
"Avery and Nott!" squeaked Neville.
"Where is Harry Potter?" sneered a cold, harsh voice. "Where is he?"
Several students, all except the Slytherins, who were sniggering in a corner, stood up and came out of their compartments. A commotion broke out.
"He's not here," said Neville, drawing his wand. "You can search the train if you want, but he's not here."
Scars and Murtlap
They took their seats in the Great Hall, subdued. The Sorting had already happened, and not much students had been sorted into Gryffindor.
It was time for Snape's start-of-the-year speech. He stood up.
"I welcome our new students," he sneered (or so it felt, to everyone except the Slytherins). "And I welcome our old ones as well.
"This year, I celebrate of the joining of our new Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher, Professor Amycus Carrow, and our new Muggle Studies teacher, Professor Alecto Carrow.
"This year, I propose to teach as much as I can, about the real world, and turn you toward the right path.
"Any foolhardy or nonsensical things performed by a student at the school, the punishment will be be far from worse.
"There will be no more Qiudditch matches or games any more for the time being.
"No groups will be formed without the permission of the Professor Carrows. If they do not heed this, the result will be severe punishment.
"I have formed the Junior Dark Squad, which consists of our most honourable students. The Squad has the power to dock points, give detentions, and spy on all students, to make sure they are not carrying any information likely to be untrustworthy.
"The members of our Squad are Draco Malfoy, Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson, Gregory Goyle, Vincent Crabbe, Argus Filch, and Blaise Zabini, who has rejoined us as Professors Carrows private assistant."
"I now permit you to leave the Great Hall and depart for your Houses."
With that, Severus Snape stood up with a swish of his black cloak. Students broke up a babble as they stood up, scraping chairs and such.
After promising to meet Luna tommorow, Ginny stood up and went haring after the thin line of Gryffindors.
"Coming through, coming through!" said the voice of Parvati Patil, who was made prefect that year, and Gryffindor's only one. "The new password's luraid scurvy!"
All the Gryffindors hurried inside their tower, muttering and chatting about how Hogwarts would be like.
"I wonder what we'll learn, don't you?" asked Neville.
"Yeah," said Ginny, yawning.
They had all hurried down to breakfast the next day, out of breath. After a rather hurried brakfast of toast, sausages, and pumpkin juice, Ginny had run down to Professor McGonagall to have her O.W.L. results consulted and which classes to take.
"Hmm... so you want to continue with Herbology, do you?" she said, looking over spectacles. "Well, I daresay you could, not many people are taking that, you know.. And you want to continue with all the rest of your pass classes?"
"Yes, Professor," replied Ginny. "All except Defense Against The Dark Arts." She had been thinking about it all night, and had decided she did not want to be taught things by a Death Eater.
"Miss Weasley," said Professor McGonagall, looking immediately depressed, "Every student in this castle is permitted to take that class."
Ginny was astonished. "But..."
Professor McGonagall held up a hand to silence her. "I know," she muttered. "But it is mandatory."
They also had a number of free periods: their timetable told all about that.
"Charms... free period," said Ginny, reading her timetable out right after it was handed to her. "Herbology... break. A free period.. then another..."
"We're going to need that time for studying," said Luna, who had come up behind her, clutching her own timetable. "Professor Sprout told me so. But I'm going to use that time for hunting Wrackspurts near the Forest. I'm going to show Hagrid, I think he'll be pleased."
"Yeah.." said Ginny. "Look, we haven't got Defense Against The Dark Arts till tomorow! I'm glad I'm not having the Carrows on my first day back."
But, as it seemed, someone else did. When Ginny rushed in after break to spend her free period in the common room, Seamus and Neville were huddled up in one of the sofas, muttering to each other and qiute unaware of the fact that Ginny had come into the room.
Ginny walked towards the sofa, hoping to strike up a conversation.
"So, how's first day back at Hogwarts?" she asked both of them.
"Er - it's okay," said Neville uncomfortably. He looked at Seamus, who qiuckly hid his right hand behind his back.
"What's that you're hiding, Seamus?" she asked sharply.
"Nothing," he said hastily.
"No, there is," insisted Ginny. "What is it?"
Neville sighed. "you'd better show her."
Seamus pulled out his right hand, and held it out to her. It was slightly shaking.
Ginny's eyes widened.
Carved on the palm of his hand, in scars, was written I must not question the Dark Lord's plans.
"Who did this to you?" she said, half-whispering.
"The Carrows," he replied, sliding his hand back into his pocket.
"But - we don't have DADA till tommorow!" she said.
"Yes, but Muggle Studies is," said Seamus.
"And he gave Alecto a bit of cheek," supplied Neville.
"But - how - why?" she stammered.
"She was teaching us Muggle Studies," said Seamus heavily. "But instead about Muggle lifestyles, she was telling us how stupid Muggles are, and that they should be treated like slaves. So I got up and asked her whether she'd gotten any liscence from the Ministry for telling us all this rubbish."
"Seamus got detention," said Neville.
"And then she kept me in after class," resumed Seamus. "In free period, you know... and she told me I would even have detention tommorow! I wonder what I'll get then..."
"Try Murtlap Essence to heal the scars," suggested Ginny.
"Yeah, I'll try."
"She used a poison-pen Quill, didn't she?" and when Seamus nodded, she said, "Umbridge used that on Harry."
"Yeah," said Neville. "I s'pose you know what this means, don't you?"
"No," said Ginny. "What?"
"DA," said Neville quietly.
"DA?" Ginny was surprised. "What about it?"
"Never mind," said Neville. "But I'm sure that you'll understand what I meant after DADA tommorow."
"Come on, we're going to be late," said Ginny, as she and Luna hurried from Charms the next day, going on their way to Defense Against The Dark Arts. "Not after what happened to Seamus."
She'd told Luna all about what had happened to Seamus, and Luna merely reacted as if saying the insult to Alecto was worth it.
"Oh, all right," replied Luna, as they stood outside the door, along with the other students, who looked frightened out of their wits. "I'm sure that - "
But what Luna was sure about, Ginny never got to find out. Immediately, the door sprang open and a grim-looking wizard stood at the door. Staring at the row of frightened faces, he barked, "Well, get yourselves in! Or else it'll be something the Dark Lord desires!"
The nervous students scuttled in, slightly shaking.
"So," said Amycus Carrow, when they all sat down, "You have come in the hope of learning Defense Against The Dark Arts. That is wrong. There is no defense. There is only Dark Arts. You are going to learn how to perform the Dark Arts at it's fullest height. So," he smiled maliciously, "Who would like to come first?"
No one's hand shot up in the air.
After a while, Amycus simply said, "Alright. Would Miss Macklehurst come forward?"
A sour-looking Slytherin stood up, looking delighted.
"Now," said Amycus, looking at a list of names, "Ah. Hmm. I'm sorry we don't have many victims today, but in few days they'll come running as flies.. so, let us start with Mr. Creevey, hmm?"
If Ginny had not noticed the look of terror on Colin Creevey's face, she certainly did now. Colin stood up, shaking all over.
"Come here, Creevey," ordered Amycus. "To where Miss Macklehurst is standing."
Colin, trembling, walked to where the Slytherin stood.
"Right," said Amycus, and a smile of vindictively evil pleasure lit up his face. "Now, does anyone in this classroom know any methods of, say, - torture?"
If Ginny had felt terrorized or agahast, she had no trouble showing it. The whole class was staring in astonishment, all except the Slytherins.
Ginny knew spells that caused irritation, or as Amycus wanted to know, torture, having fought Death Eaters nearly half her life, but she wasn't stupid enough to blabber it all out in front of the class.
Eager Slytherins' hands' shot up into the air.
"Good," said Amycus. "Yes, Savernson?"
"There's the Crucatius Curse," said Savernson. "And if you want lower methods than that, there's The Body-Bind Jinx."
"Perfect accuration, Savernson," barked Amycus. "Ten points to Slytherin."
"Now," he said, turning back to the Slytherin girl named Macklehurst, "I want you to practice this method on Creevey here."
The whole class gasped and gaped. Several of the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw girls had thier eyes closed.
"I was expecting this," whispered Luna. "I knew this was going to happen."
Ginny shut her eyes as Colin twitched on the floor, screaming.
Slightly shaking from the traumatic experience, Colin had recieved a good deal of sympathy from all fellow Gryffindors, and even Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws had dropped by to say something.
Seamus had also fared worse.
"I got tortured by Malfoy," he and Neville told Ginny in the common room after classes had finished. "It was terrible."
"I'm due for detention tommorow," said Neville ruefully. "I refused to do it."
"Thank Merlin they didn't ask me," breathed Ginny. "I wouldn't have done it."
"Let's go out in the grounds, Ginny," said Neville.
"In the - oh, okay," she said.
They soon entered the grounds that were full of mayflowers and the giant sqiud had decided to go into hibernating. Ginny looked to her left, and a girl with dark hair caught her eye, then looked away.
Who was that girl?
As they trudged along, they met Luna sitting on the grass.
"I was looking for Wrackspurts," she explained, when they asked her what she was doing.
"Good," said Neville. "C'mon, Luna, you can join us."
As they settled near the lake, leaned against a tree, Neville spoke.
"We need to get the DA up again."
"Oh, yes!" said Luna.
"The DA?" Ginny said. "But - Harry's not here. There's no one to lead us."
"Yes, Harry's not here," said Neville qiuetly. "But right now, you are the only person in Hogwarts who is closest - at least a tiny bit - to Harry."
"Well - " Ginny faltered to find words. She had been a friend of Harry, after all. He, Ron, and Hermione had trusted her. "Well, okay, but why do we need to get the DA up?"
"Because these are troubled times," said Neville. "This is war."
War - Ginny had never thought that it might be war.
"And," explained Neville, "We need to defend ourselves against the Carrows, and Death Eaters. We need to be able to fight them."
"Well," said Ginny. "I suppose we could get it up again - Harry would've wanted that."
"This isn't just about Harry," said Neville. "This is about our future - the DA's future - everyone's future."
"Yes," said Ginny, gaining spirit. "Yes. You're right. You're right, Neville."
As September turned into October, the news of the DA rekindled hope in every Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw.
"After all," said Hannah Abbott, when she stopped on her way to join Ernie at dinner, "We've got to learn how to defend ourselves, keep or take."
The fake Galleons had been hard to get, as many had lost them, so it resulted in Ginny, Neville, and Luna trying to make some more new ones.
"Well - I've made another one," said Luna, as they sat in Room of Reqiurement, making fake Galleons. "Only twelve more to go."
When they had entered the Room of Reqiurement to find a place to make fake Galleons, the Room had filled itself with books on how to make them, and so the process was done in two days.
They also had to make a new list, as all students from Houses Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw had joined it, and Luna had insisted that the "sneak" charms should be stronger than ever on it.
"We don't another blabbing Marietta," she had said.
"Thank Merlin she's gone," had been the answer from Neville. "She's working as Junior Assistant to her mother in the wretched department of Floo Networks."
One day before the meeting, Ginny and Luna sat discussing things in whispers in the library.
"I think Hagrid would give us some ideas," suggested Luna.
Suddenly, Draco Malfoy had strolled into the library with Pansy Parkinson in tow, so the two instantly shut up. Malfoy had see them whispering, though.
"Weasel Girl," he sneered, as Pansy laughed. "Crying over Potter and your brother, are you?"
"No wonder he doesn't show up for the rest of you," jeered Pansy. "Maybe he's seen sense and ditched the loony lot of you."
"Or maybe," said Luna quietly, "He's fighting your master, and he is counting on us to finish the rest of his followers."
"Yeah," said Seamus, from behind the shelves - Ginny and Luna hadn't even noticed him.
"Shut your mouth, Malfoy, and get your tentacle-filled head lost," said Ginny.
"Manners, Weasley," said Malfoy smoothly. "I'm allowed to dock points from Houses. So, five because of your cheek, Weasley. Five because you're stupid, Lovegood. Finnegan, five off because you're a Gryffindor. Oh, and I forgot you're a blood-traitor, Weasley, so ten off for that."
Ginny pulled out her wand, but Luna nudged her, whispering, "Don't... it'll make it worse."
"Yes, that's right, Lovegood," said Malfoy, walking off to where Pansy stood near the entrance of the library. "New Head, new times... Be good now, Lunatic... Weasel Girl..."
And with that, the pair of them left the library.
"He just docked about twenty points from Gryffindor!" said Seamus, agahast. "We're never going to be even second place for the House Cup this year!"
"Never mind about that," said Ginny, returning back to her usual self. "Winning this war is more important than winning the House Cup."
A Play with Ink
"So... is everyone here?" asked Luna, for about the seventh time.
"No," said Neville.
They were in the Room of Reqiurement, waiting to start the first meeting. Apparently, everyone had been a bit nervous of going back to the Room of Reqiurement, looking back on what had happened two years ago.
It had been Luna and Seamus's idea to cover the loopholes.
"Like, you just have to say, or to think, all the possible things that you want the Room to have," Seamus had said.
"Think of things like a room which the Carrows can't get in or an unfindable place for anyone outside the DA," Luna had explained.
Now, however, most of the people were already there, having saying the correct enchantments.
"The only people left are Michael Corner, Zacharias Smith, Terry Boot, Anthony Goldstein, and Cho Chang," said Ginny, consulting the list.
"Cho Chang?" said Dennis Creevey. "I thought she left school last year."
"She took sick with something called - what is it? - Type Phed - no, I've got it wrong again - Typhoid," said Ginny. "It's a Muggle disease, apparently. She had it right before taking her N.E.W.T. exams. She came back to retake her seventh year."
She was brought back to the world with a jolt when the remaining members of the DA came in.
"Oh," she said, turning around to face them all. "Oh. Right."
The DA members assembled themselves before her.
"Right," she repeated. "Right. So, I just wanted you to know that, um, this is not a meeting we'll practice much in, but instead, we'll discuss a few things."
"So, first of all, Voldemort has returned - " gasps sounded at the name "- and we need to know how to defend ourselves."
"That's the point," said Neville.
"So, we have to fight back against the Carrows. This is war. We can't stay quiet and snug and pretend nothing's happening, because there is. We have to play our part, fight against the Dark Side, and win this battle.
"Now, the first lesson is a bit simple, but the most important one of all. We have to speak the name of Voldemort."
Having thrown her bomb, Ginny stopped speaking. She had not even told Neville or Luna what the first lesson was going to be about.
A babble of muttering broke out. Suddenly, Zacharias Smith came forward.
"Who are you to tell us to speak You-Know-Who's name?"
"Because - because Dumbledore said it, and if we are his army we are going to do so too!" replied Ginny, with a desperate tone in her voice.
"Yeah, well, it's Dumbledore we're talking about," he said. "He could. He was a great wizard."
"Dumbledore was never afraid of Voldemort, and that's why he spoke his name," retorted Ginny. "If we are not afraid of Voldemort, we should speak his name. That is why this lesson is the most important one of all."
Muttering, Zacharias Smith walked back to where Ernie Macmillan stood.
"So - who wants to go first?"
Luna's and Neville's hands shot up into the air. Minutes later, another dark-haired girl's hand reached into the air.
Wasn't she the girl she had seen in the grounds? Brushing the thought aside, Ginny focused on the DA.
"Go on," said Ginny.
"Voldemort," said Luna dreamily.
"Voldemort!" said Neville.
"Voldemort," said the dark-haired girl.
Ginny could not beileve the effect that had been caused. Within half an hour, everyone had started speaking the name freely and casually. Michael Corner had actually laughed when he said it. Padma Patil said that Voldemort had absolutely no sense at all to give himself such an ugly name.
The DA members, pleased with themselves, were finished, and, promising to come back the day after the next, departed.
Ginny picked up the list of Dumbledore's Army, sighing. She shut the door behind her, and ran up silently to the Gryffindor Tower.
"Password?" inqiured the Fat Lady. Her friend Violet was in the portrait with her.
"Batsprinding," said Ginny, saying it with great difficulty.
"Yes, that's right!" giggled the Fat Lady, swinging open the portrait.
Ginny clambered in, screening the common room for Neville.
"Hi," she said to Seamus, who was sitting in one of armchairs, looking somewhat sulky. "Where's Neville?"
"Dunno," he said. "He was talking about something to do with Professor Sprout, must be in the greenhouses."
Ginny sat down onto the floor, gazing at the blazing fire.
"Speaking of Neville," said Seamus after a long time, "He and I were discussing something."
"What?" asked Ginny.
"Well," said Seamus, with the air of letting out a bomb, "We thought we could vandalize the Hogwarts walls with messages like "Dumbledore's army, still recruiting" and stuff like that. It'd drive the Carrows crazy."
"Yes, crazy enough for them to murder us," said Ginny bitterly.
Seamus sighed. "Look, you were the one going on and on about fighting the Carrows and everything," he said.
"How could we do that?" asked Ginny. "I mean, vandalize the walls? They'd catch us before we could say paint!"
"We'd do it in the middle of the night," reasoned Seamus.
"Let's see what Neville has to say on this," said Ginny.
Neville, of course, sided with Seamus.
"Come on, it'll be fun," said Neville.
"But what if they'd catch us?" said Parvati, who had joined the conversation, along with several others. "I don't want the Cruciatius!"
"They can't give us detention without catching us," replied Neville. "And we won't ever be caught."
"And where on earth will we find the ink?" said Ginny.
"That's why I went to Professor Sprout," said Neville. "She told me how to make it - and I asked Slughorn about it, too. He said - " they all leaned in to listen "- that it was too difficult to make for anyone who wasn't good at Herbology, and I am good at Herbology!"
"What sort of ink are you talking about, anyway?" asked Colin.
"Permanent-Sticking Ink," said Neville proudly, holding up a book with the title Difficult Potions Sessions. "It's a bit hard to make, got the book from the library, but I'll reckon it'll do."
"Oh, alright then," said Ginny relentingly. "We'll do it."
"Yeah, it sounds good," said Dennis Creevey.
"But we'll have to be extra careful," said Lavender.
"Who cares?" said Seamus, flipping the book open. "I can't wait to do it."
"Shall I announce it in DA meetings?" said Ginny. "So that Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws know?"
"No.. I don't think so," said Neville. "I think we should keep it just between us Gryffindors. But we can tell Luna, of course," he said, shoving the book in his bag. "She'll help me make the ink."
And so she did.
A Chat with Hagrid
"Are you sure the Astronomy Tower is a good place to brew the potion?" asked Neville.
"Positive," said Luna. "They'll never find us there. No one even goes there now, of all things."
"I still think Room of Reqiurement would be better," said Neville.
"I'm telling you, we're asking too much of the Room," said Luna, squatting down on her heels on the Astronomy Tower's floor. "What if it never gave us the room we use back?"
The ingridients list was turning out to be terrible, too.
"Six lacewings, salamander blood, acromantula venom, and dragon's meat," said Neville. "Where'd we find all those?"
"We'll have to raid Slughorn's supply," said Ginny matter-of-factly. "And I think Hagrid has some dragon's meat."
"One hundred and ten tablespoons of ink," said Luna, scanning the list. "I think we could order that from Flourish and Blotts.."
"I wish Hermione was here," groaned Neville. "She always helped me out of sticky spots."
"I don't think they'll send us enough ink," said Ginny. "But we can try the Doublefy Charm - we learned how to do that in our Fifth year."
Late that autumn evening in October did Ginny go down to meet Hagrid. She had had that shrewd suspicion that he was avoiding them - mumbling brief words in Care of Magical Creatures, and not a word when they had got down from the train.
She now stared at the big oak door of Hagrid's cabin. She knocked sharply.
She knocked again. Still no answer.
"Hagrid!" she yelled. "Hagrid! come out!"
A low sound came from inside the cabin. It sounded between a growl and a purr.
"Please, Hagrid!" she yelled again. "I want to talk to you!"
The door creaked open, and a ruddy, bushy-haired man came out.
"Oh, it's yeh," he said gruffly. "Well, cumin."
Ginny clambered inside. Fang the boarhound whimpered.
"Well... hello, Hagrid," she said tentatively.
"Whadda yeh're doin' here?" he asked, pouring some Butterbeer in a mug, Firewhisky in the other. "Yeh'd be a Weasley, right? Ginny?"
"Well, yes," said Ginny. Fang yawned, then padded over to her.
"It ain't safe, yeh know," he said, handing her one of the mugs. "Visitin' me. Yeh don' wanna be run over by them Carrows."
"I don't care," said Ginny, taking the mug. "Why are you hiding from us, Hagrid? I've wanted to talk to you for ages!"
"Hidin'!" he said. "Well, yeah, yeh could say I'm hidin'."
"But what for, Hagrid?" she replied, putting to her lips the foamy, hot drink.
"What fer!" said Hagrid. "What fer! yeh're acting like nuthin's happened, wha' with Snape and the Carrows teachin' here, and Dumbledore..."
"I'm not saying nothing's happened," said Ginny. "But we have to make the best of things, you know, and win this war."
"Yeh're righ' Ginny," said Hagrid, draining his mug of Firewhisky. "'S no good mopin'.."
"I've come to keep you company, Hagrid," said Ginny earnestly, putting down her mug. "I mightn't be as good company as Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but I'll be something."
"Ne'er mind," said Hagrid cheerfully. "So, what brought yeh here?"
"Well," said Ginny, shifting nervously in her seat, "I just wanted to know... if you happened to have... dragon's meat."
"Dragon's meat?" said Hagrid. He didn't look suspicious, just puzzled. "Bu' why?"
"Well, um," started Ginny, as she searched her mind for the big, locked vault of excuses she kept hidden away in the crevices of her brain. "I, er, wanted it to use for, uh.... healing purposes."
"Healin' purposes?" Hagrid said. "Wha's wrong?"
"Well, you know," went Ginny on recklessly, discovering a new excuse, "Seamus and Colin got hurt by the Cruciatus Curse pretty badly, so, I thought I could whip up a potion to fix that. It uses dragon meat."
"Oh," said Hagrid, getting up. "Righ'. Good thin' ter do, too."
He moved towards a big cupboard, and, on opening it, he reavealed a raw, lumpy sort of red meat, which was tinged with green. "Here yeh are," he said, putting it down onto the table.
"Oh," she replied. "Good."
"How much d'yeh need?" he asked.
"Um.." Ginny hadn't known. What should she say?
"I'll give yeh ha'f a gram, ter star' with," he said, cutting an eighth out of the chunk. "That shoul' do it, righ'?"
"Yes," said Ginny, relieved. "Yes. Thanks, Hagrid."
"Anytim'," he said. "Run alon', now, yeh don' wan' ter be caught."
"I got it!" said Ginny excitedly, lugging the heavy mass into the Astronomy Tower where Luna and Neville sat talking. "I found it! the dragon's meat!"
"You did?" said Neville, surprised. "But how?"
"Hagrid keeps it," started Ginny, and she told them the whole story.
"We could make a Healing Potion, you know," said Neville, consulting the book again. "It'll be good for the ones who've had the Cruciatus Curse on them."
"How much do we need?" asked Luna. "Hang on - yes, six tablespoons."
We also need Stinksap," said Neville, "And a small, tiny chunk of my mimbulbus mimbletonia."
"It must be hard," said Luna sagely. "Cutting a peice of your prized possesion."
"Yeah... well," said Neville helplessly. He could not understand even half of what Luna said.
"By the way," said Ginny, trying to squatten down the silence, "What about the ink?"
"You said we could try the Doublefy Charm on it," said Neville, evidently glad to be rid of the uncomfortable silence.
"It's a very hard Charm," replied Ginny. "I could try it, I suppose..."
"Let's try," said Luna brightly, fishing out a big, fat ink bottle.
"Oh.. okay," said Ginny nervously. "Doubletonius!" she said, waving her wand at the ink bottle.
The ink bottle did not stir.
"Doubletonius!" she said again. "Doubletonius!" she shrieked, waving her wand at the bottle again. Still nothing happened.
"You don't want to wave it around, it's more like a sharp jab," said Luna serenely, taking out her own wand. "Doubletonius!" she said, pointing hard at the bottle.
From inside the bottle came a small, pellet-like thing, which eventually turned out to be another ink bottle.
"Blimey, Luna," said Neville, full of awe, "I never knew you were so good in Charms."
"It's nothing," said Luna, jabbing the bottle again with another Doubletonius, which multiplied itself into another same-sized ink bottle.
"I asked Slughorn for the acromantula venom," said Neville. "He gave it to me, but then, he just had a large quantity of Butterbeer and he was feeling rather sleepy."
"I hope that wasn't stealing," said Luna. "Acromantula venom costs a lot, you know."
"No, it wasn't," said Neville. "Slughorn handed it to me."
"I think this'll be enough, Luna," said Ginny, pointing at the twelve bottles of ink Luna had managed to produce.
"We've got to have at least twenty bottles," said Luna. "One bottle includes five tablespoons, and so five multiplied by twenty equals one hundred and ten tablespoons, which is exactly what we need."
"I don't think we need Hermione now," said Neville, pouring salamander blood into the cauldron. "Luna can do everything for us now!"
"Honestly, Neville, you're being like Ron," said Ginny, shaking her head. "He didn't listen anything in class, and poor Hermione had to be the one to tell him what to write in his homework!"
"Do you know, Snape forbid Hermione to help me any more," said Neville, stirring the acromantula venom carefully. "In our third year. But Hermione was cleverer than him. She hissed instructions to me through the corner of her mouth."
"We'll put up shifts," said Luna. "Tonight, me and Neville will brew the potion here, and Ginny and Colin can paint the walls."
"That's a good idea," said Neville.
"Anyway, we've got everything," said Ginny. "And I can't wait to see Alecto Carrow's reaction at the messages we paint."
The Cruciatus Curse
When they went downstairs for breakfast the next day, all the Gryffindors had big, broad smiles. The vandalizing plan had worked in the depth of success, and Colin was feeling more cheered up.
The Carrows' anger was not to be missed. Before breakfast, they had ordered the Heads of Houses to question their students, all except the Slytherins, and particularly the Gryffindors.
"Are you sure, Minerva," said Alecto, looking positively murderous, "That none of your nasty students painted those outrageous messages on the wall? Have you questioned them thoroughly?"
"I am sure, Alecto," said Professor McGonagall in a superior voice that was dripping with dignity and reeking with a tone that indicated that Alecto had gone mad. "I have questioned them, thoroughly, as you insist, and there has been no student in my House that has done it. And Severus has told us to question our students only once."
"Oh, well, Severus has his meanings," said Alecto, turning her back on Proffessor McGonagall. "Yes.. he is one of the Dark Lord's most faithful, favourite Death Eaters... if only I was as much treasured.."
And she stalked off.
Ginny let out the breath she had been holding for so long. Proffessor McGonagall had, in reality, done no questioning at all.
"McGonagall know's it's us," said Seamus, when they were lounging in the common room just before Defense Against the Dark Arts. "And she's happy, I swear I saw her wink at the rest of us."
"So now..." said Amycus, pretending to examine the list of students in his hands, "Ah... yes. Let us start with... Miss Vane of Gryffindor."
Romilda Vane let out a gasp, trembling. Her usual group of giggling girls sat silently together, all shaking.
"Miss Vane!" said Amycus sharply. "Haven't you gotten any legs?"
Romilda stood up, shaking all over.
"And I suppose the class would like to hear the reason Miss Vane here got this detention?" leered Amycus.
All the Slytherins excitedly nodded their heads.
"Perfect," sneered Amycus, in a jeering voice. "Cause of detention," he read, from a little card, "Shouted at Abby Lawson of Slytherin. Reason: Lawson commented on Harry Potter and his insanity. Punishment: Detention."
The whole class stood silent.
"And," said Amycus, leering at the Gryffindor table, "The opponent will be... Miss Weasley."
Ginny felt frozen, dizzy, being struck by a lightning bolt must be something like this. She heard Luna gasp slightly beside her, and Colin stir tremblingly.
"Miss Weasley," repeated Amycus. "Have you, too, gone jelly-legged like unfortunate Miss Vane here?"
"No," whispered Ginny, standing up, and walking towards Romilda.
"And I suppose what you have to do, right, Miss Weasley?" sneered Amycus, an evil smile lighting up his face in an awful way. "Try the Cruciatus Curse on stupid Miss Vane here?"
Tremblingly, Ginny nodded.
"Then do it, you stupid girl, what are you waiting for?" snarled Amycus, his eyes glaring at the both of them. "Are you, too, stupidly softhearted, too noble to try the Cruciatus Curse? You are a pureblood, though you act like an insane Muggle-born!"
The whole class' eyes' were on her. Romilda stared miserably at the floor.
"Trust Weasley to do such a thing," whispered a Slytherin girl named Maria Macklehurst. "If I were her, I would have served the Romilda brat right."
"I can't do it," said Ginny firmly. The words were out before she could stop them. "I won't do it."
"You will do it, you little blood-traitor," said Amycus menacingly.
"I'm not going to take orders from a Death Eater," said Ginny, equally menacingly. She tried to stop saying the sentences, but the words had wormed out on their own, as if they'd been inside for a long time, just waiting to be used.
"Twenty points from Gryffindor," sneered Amycus vindictively. "And if you do not shut your mouth, Weasley, it'll be fifty, along with a week's worth of detentions."
That was enough to make her shut up. Praying that she won't get a detention, and apologising to Romilda inside her mind, Ginny faced her, and took out her wand. Romilda's lip trembled.
"Cr-crucio," murmured Ginny.
A spark of red light zoomed out of her wand, and hit Romilda squarely in the chest.
But Romilda did not scream, shout, or cry. She stood there, all in one peice, her eyes wide. She moved one foot, and nothing happened.
"Do it again," said Amycus.
"Crucio," muttered Ginny. This time, too, a red spark hit Romilda, but nothing happened.
Amycus made Ginny do it five more times, but Romilda was still unhurt and still able to move.
For the first time, Amycus shook his head despairingly, and shouted, "Class is dismissed!"
Then he barged outside of the classroom.
"Blimey, Ginny," said Colin, in awe, "How did you not manage to do it?"
"Thanks, Ginny," said Romilda. "You saved my life."
"Well, er, you're welcome," replied Ginny. "And I don't know how I did it, really truly."
"I know," said Luna, bustling forward. "When you do a Cruciatus Curse, you have to mean them... you want to cause the pain... But Ginny didn't want to, and so it didn't work."
The whole of Gryffindor was rejoicing of the fact that Ginny had somehow stopped the Cruciatus Curse from performing.
"You're marvellous," said Parvati in awe, while Lavender nodded in agreement.
"I think," said Neville, as they sat in the common room late one evening, "That Luna is right... that same thing is what Harry told us after the night in the Department of Mysteries."
"Of course it's right," said Ginny hurriedly, wanting any sort of explanation to get the admirers off her back. "Fame's a fickle friend..." she mumured to herself.
The Sword of Godric Gryffindor
"D'you think," said Seamus, as he stirred the Permanent Ink cauldron in a night into late November, "That this is enough for one message?"
"I - I think so," said Lavender squeakily. She, Seamus, and Ginny were on the shift to paint the walls.
"I think," said Ginny, fingering the brushes with her wand, "That you ought to pour two tablespoons more - Lavender won't have much as we would."
"That's right," said Lavender.
They trudged off to corridors, their hands bulging with flasks of ink.
"Right," said Seamus, shifting nervously from foot to foot, "Lavender will go down by the Transfiguration Department, and I'll go down to the dungeons, that's where the Slytherins sleep... and I'll paint a big message on their wall."
"I don't think you ought to do that!" squealed Lavender.
"I am going to do that," said Seamus firmly. "Malfoy's been trying the Cruciatus on me every time in Dark Arts."
"Qiute," said Ginny. "And enough with your chitchats, both of you, we've got business tonight."
"Where're you're going, then?" asked Seamus.
"The headmaster's office," said Ginny calmly. "I'll paint a big message right beside the gargoyle."
Lavender looked as if she was about to faint any moment.
"But - but - you could get caught," said Seamus, biting his lip. "And it's dangerous."
"Oh, come on," said Ginny, giving a prod to Lavender. "It couldn't be that bad, what if you were caught by Malfoy or Zabini or anybody else?"
"Okay, then," said Seamus, starting towards the corridor. "But don't get caught, or it'll be our necks in trouble."
Lavender staggered off to the Transfiguration Department.
Ginny ran silently on. She had been to the Headmaster's office a few times, once when Harry had rescued her from Riddle and another when her father had been attacked.
She stood in front of the gargoyle, and fished out her wand and the thick paintbrush she had borrowed from Hagrid.
Just as she dipped her paintbrush into the flask of ink, the gargoyle flew open and tip-taps of footsteps were coming down the stairs - Snape.
Her heart pounding, she qiuckly dived under the thick velvet curtains that were on either side of the entrance. Snape's cold voice reached her ears through the curtain.
"Yes, I'm doing it, sir, I'm doing it..."
He's following Voldemort's orders, thought Ginny fearfully.
"The sword, yes, sir, it's still in the glass case, sir, it hasn't been removed once..."
Sword? thought Ginny, puzzled. What sword?
"It is still intact, sir..."
Then it came to her.
The sword of Gryffindor! she thought. The sword of Gryffindor was left to Harry by Dumbledore, it was in his will, Hermione told me be about it, and Snape's got it, oh, what a nightmare...
Snape set off down the corridor hurriedly. Ginny peeped out from under a fold of velvet, and saw Snape going down the corridor empty-handed.
If she could get inside the office, she would see the sword, and she would seize it, and run back here.
She approached the gargoyle tentatively.
"Um... lemon drop?" she said, thinking that Snape might've set the password that of two years ago.
The gargoyle did not move.
"Oh, come on," said Ginny. "Cockroach cluster? Tight string? Baubles? Gorfing? Lispinag?"
The gargoyle stood still as a statue.
"Flower petal?" said Ginny despairingly. "Rose petal? daffodil petal? oh, please - Lily petal?"
To her astonishment, the gargoyle leapt aside.
"Lily petal?" murmured Ginny, as she ran up the stairs. "I never thought of that..."
She opened the door, and came inside.
Everything was set just as it was Dumbledore's. Nothing was changed at all. The portrait of Phineas Nigellus was snoring, and there was a large portrait of Dumbledore, who was pretending to be asleep, but kept opening an eyelid or two every five minutes to look at Ginny, an amused look on his face.
Ginny stepped up to the large glass case hanging on the wall, the glittering sword inside it. She yanked on the cover, but it did not shatter.
Suddenly, a light tip-tap reached her ears - Snape was coming up the corridor.
Praying that she wouldn't be caught, she ran qiuetly back down the stone steps. She barely had time to dive into the velvet curtains again, and pick up the flask and the brush.
She saw Snape prick his ears, then go up the staircase and the gargoyle shut behind him.
"So Snape had the sword? he definitely had the sword?"
It was in a huddled corner at breakfast that she was discussing this with Neville.
"Well, yes," said Ginny, taking another bite of her cornflakes. "He had it in the glass case, though."
"Wonder what he wants to do with it," said Neville, clinking his teaspoon against his teacup. "Must be some plan, though."
"I think he's going to hand it over to Voldemort," said Ginny thoughtfully, taking a sip of her pumpkin juice. "He definitely said "sir" and who else would that be?"
"I s'pose so," said Neville.
"I have a plan," said Ginny in a hushed voice; Neville had to lean in to listen. "I'm going back there in free period and taking that sword. It's not Snape's."
"You couldn't do that," said Neville. "It'd be resulted in detention and torture and labour and a hundred other things I don't even know about."
"That's if we're caught," said Ginny confidently. "And I won't be."
"Well," said Neville nervously, "What does Luna say?"
"I haven't told her yet," said Ginny. "But of course she'll say yes."
"And, anyway, why do you want that sword?" said Neville. "Alright, it was Dumbledore's, but he must have left it there for some reason, right?"
"That sword," said Ginny, "Isn't Dumbledore's anymore. It's Harry's."
"Harry's?" said Neville, nearly laughing. "Oh, come on - don't be stupid, it couldn't be his!"
"It is, too!" said Ginny a tad furiously; Seamus looked around in alarm from his conversation with Colin.
"Yes," said Ginny, throwing Seamus a get-back-to-your-business look, "It is Harry's. Dumbledore left it to him in his will. He told me all about it."
"Blimey..." said Neville in awe. "The Sword of Gryffindor... his..."
"Rufus Scrimgeour kept it," said Ginny. "Said something about historical artifacts... But now Thicknesse is in charge, Snape must've gotten it from him."
"I'll bet you anything that happened," said Neville, shovelling down the rest of his scrambled eggs. "Anyway, let's see what Luna says before you drag the two of us down to Snape's office."
"I'm still not so sure about this," said Neville, as they sat in the Astronomy Tower early that evening. "How are we going to get Snape out of his office?"
"I wish we had a Crumple-Horned Snorckack," said Luna suddenly. "It could push Snape out of his office."
"Don't be silly, Luna," said Ginny. "They don't exist -" Luna made a face "- and even if they did, we don't have them."
"I already have a plan," said Ginny after a few minutes. "I'm going to use one that I used two years ago."
"Two years ago?" said Neville. "In Umbridge's reign?"
"Exactly," said Ginny. "Harry wanted to talk to Sirius - in Umbridge's office - so Ron told Peeves to mess up the Transfiguration Department and then he told Umbridge about it, and Umbridge rushed to clean it up, while Harry and Hermione went into Umbridge's office to talk to Sirius, and me and Luna stood guard - don't you remember, Luna?"
"Oh, yes," said Luna.
"And that's exactly what we're going to do," said Ginny. "Neville, go and tell Peeves to smash up the Transfiguration Department, then, we'll go and tell Snape and the Carrows. While they're gone, we'll all sneak into Snape's office, grab the sword, and run."
"What are we going to do with it?" asked Neville. "The sword, I mean?"
"We'll worry about that once we've got it," said Ginny.
Neville rushed off to find Peeves.
"Let's run and tell Snape and the Carrows," said Luna.
"It's five o'clock," said Ginny, as they ran the corridor to the staff room. "We'll have about ten minutes once we get there. You'll be keeping time," she said, as she handed Luna her watch. "Hurry, now!"
Luna knocked on the staff room door.
The door opened and a strained-looking Professor Flitwick peered out. "Yes?" he said wearily.
"Out of my way!" shouted Alecto, who was in the staff room. "What's wrong?"
"Oh, Professor Carrow!" Ginny let out a dramatic wail. "Peeves is smashing up the Transfiguration Department, and will you please fix it up?"
"Professor Snape's going to be real angry," said Luna earnestly.
To their astonishment and delight, Alecto rushed out of the corridor, muttering, "The Dark Lord said nothing at Hogwarts must be destroyed... I must fetch Amycus and Severus at once..."
"Good acting," said Luna, as they ran to find Neville in the Transfiguration Department.
As they reached there, they saw a frantic pair of Carrows trying to stop Peeves, and a grim Snape shouting curses at the poltergeist, who was breaking everything from ancient scriptures to spare Transfiguration items.
"Brilliant!" whispered Ginny to Neville, as the three ran up to Snape's office.
"I was just lucky," shrugged Neville, as they arrived at the stone gargoyle. "Anyway, what's the password?"
"Lily Petal," murmured Ginny, and the gargoyle leapt aside to reveal the stone staircase.
"Come on!" she said impatiently to Luna and Neville, who were standing there in awe.
As they broke into Snape's office, Phineas Nigellus, who was awake, and talking to Dilys Derwent near him, stared at them.
"How dare you come into Professor Snape's office!" he shrieked, while Dilys and all the other portraits either stared in amusement, relief, confusion, or disgust. Dumbledore looked at them from his half-moon spectacles, hiding a smile.
"There's the sword!" said Luna, pointing to the glass case, in which the sword stood, glittering in its armour of rubies, garnets, and tourmalines.
"Blimey..." murmured Neville, staring at it in awe.
"You can do the gaping later," said Ginny, brandishing her wand. "Alohomora!"
The glass case did not break.
"Diffindo!" shouted Neville.
"Destructo!" yelled Luna.
The sword did not stir.
"This - isn't - working," said Ginny angrily, through gritted teeth. "Why?"
"I'll try to break it - with my bare hands," said Luna, starting towards the case.
"I wish I had Harry's knife," said Ginny, a bit furiously. "It could cut through ANYTHING!"
"Snape must've put some sort of spell on it," said Neville.
"That's right," sneered a voice.
Severus Snape, Headmaster of Hogwarts, stood there.
A Very Chilly Christmas
"Shame, that when you are frustuated you forget everything around you," said Snape, sneering vindictively. "Do you think, after having seven years of experience with you, Longbottom, I would forget your pathetic voice?"
"As for you, Miss Weasley," Snape continued, watching their horrified faces, "I always knew, ever since you entered this school and made friends with Potter, I would find you in my office sometime, in some stupid noble act that Potter would have done."
"I - I," Ginny started, but Snape held up a hand to silence her.
"And you, Miss Lovegood," he said, while Luna turned white as her hair, "I am not in the least surprised to find you in my office. Your sincere stupidity and ridicilous acts are making me unable to resist to have you whisked off to St. Mungo's."
"Don't say that!" said Neville. "Don't!"
"Silence, Longbottom," said Snape silkily.
Ginny was shaking all over. This was all her fault - she had led her friends to their deaths by the mere temptation of winning over Snape and getting the Sword of Gryffindor in her hands.
"Good job, sir!" said Phineas Nigellus, laughing. "That's right, teach these brats a good lesson! I tried to stop them, but what could I do, a portrait like me?"
"I did not ask for your words, Phineas," said Snape. Turning upon the three of them, he said, "Fifty points from Gryffindor, and twenty-five from Ravenclaw. I will arrange your detention - " Ginny held her breath "- with Hagrid, tommorow night, eight o'clock sharp. And if any of you are seen in my office, I will personally make sure you are expelled."
Then he pushed them out of their office, out into the corridor.
The three of them walked along in silence to the Astronomy Tower, neither of them saying anything to the other. As they sat squatted upon the floor, watching silently the small, empty cauldron they used to make Permanent Ink.
Then Luna broke the silence.
"I can't stand it anymore!" she said suddenly, so that Ginny and Neville jumped. "Snape's a mean, vile, mad..."
She trailed off, staring at the floor.
"Well, you can't expect Snape not to give us a punishment, can you?" said Neville. "Oh, you don't know him well enough as I do, Luna."
"Harry and Snape loathed each other," sighed Ginny. "I guess that anyone who's a friend of Harry is an enemy of Snape."
"It's not just that," said Luna. "Snape's a Death Eater."
"'Course he his," said Neville huskily. "But I guess detention with Hagrid isn't too bad, is it?"
"No," said Luna. Then she brightened. "Maybe we'll go hunting Knargles!"
"Don't be silly," said Ginny. "We'll go into the Forest likely to feed the Thestrals. Too bad I can't see them."
"You wouldn't want to," said Neville.
"I never thought feeding Thestrals could be so fun," said Neville cheerfully, as they sat in the third train compartment, zooming rapidly towards King's Cross. "I always thought them grotsque."
"Blimey, how did you get away?" said Seamus. "I mean, I'm surprised that you didn't get the Cruciatus Curse."
"Luck," said Luna.
"I wonder how christmas will be like," said Ginny, staring at the hills and trees flashing past. "With a war on the rage."
"I wonder how Harry's christmas will be like," said Neville. "I wonder where they are now."
"Ron'll be cross, no wonder," said Ginny. "He always has spent Christmas with us, with Christmas dinner and morning and eve and presents and all those other things."
"I wonder if they'll have a christmas dinner," said Seamus.
"Harry's spent ten christmases in starvation," said Luna. "I heard Hermione saying that."
"That was before he came to Hogwarts," said Ginny. "Last year he came to us for christmas. It was good fun."
The train started slowing down, and finally stopped.
"We're there!" said Neville joyfully.
They all climbed out of the train, lugging their trunks behind them. There were very few people at the station, and parents qiuckly grasped their children and Apparated out of King's Cross.
Suddenly, two large hooded men - Death Eaters - came into sight. Ginny grabbed Luna's hand, and the two of them stood there, trembling with fright. Seamus was already ushered away by his mother, and Neville had dissapeared too.
One of the Death Eaters came towards them. Ginny heard Luna squeak with fright, and then her squeak turned into a scream as they grabbed her.
"No! Luna!" shrieked Ginny, drawing her wand, pointing it furiously at the Death Eater.
But suddenly, someone grabbed her arm, and there was again the feeling of being thrust through a wall of glass...
She was standing near a big fireplace, and the familiar smell of freshly baked bread. She looked around.
Ginny was in the Burrow.
"The Burrow?" she said to herself, feeling stupid. "I ought to be in...in... a cave or something! What am I doing here?"
"I could take you to a cave, if you want," said a voice.
George was brushing his faded Weasley's Wizard Wheezes magenta-coloured robes, sighing.
"George?" she said. "Where's the Death Eater? the one who took Luna? And how did you come here?"
"It was me who Apparated you here," said George. "As for your friend and that Death Eater," he said, flopping down onto the sofa, "They're either in a cave, or wherever You-Know-Who is."
"What? No!" she shrieked. "The-they can't be there!"
"He's only joking, dear," said Mum, sweeping in the room and giving her a hug. "Your friend'll be alright."
"How can you say that?" she yelled, tears appearing in her hazel-brown eyes. "Of course she's not alright! She's with a Death Eater, who took her away to where Voldemort is, where there are snakes and scorpions and goodness knows what else!"
"Calm down, Ginny," said a purple-haired woman. "You needn't worry."
"But - Voldemort will... will," she stammered, sinking down onto the sofa. "You don't know, Tonks."
"It'll be alright," said Lupin. "The Order'll do their best to find her."
"The Order better do that," said Ginny, wiping her eyes. She hadn't cried since that incident with Tom Riddle.
"And everything is going to be alright, I promise," said Tonks.
"Where's Dad?" asked Ginny.
"He'll be here soon," said Mum.
"Where's my trunk?" asked Ginny. It had contained the fake Dumbledore's Army Galleons, and she needed to tell the others at once.
"Here," George gestured to the fireplace, where the trunk sat.
"I'm going up to my room," declared Ginny, hauling it upstairs. "And no one is going to come up there."
Without any other words, she marched up the stairs, into her room, and immediately pulled out her fake Galleon. She fixed the dials up, and sent the message
I AM HOME. LUNA IS KIDNAPPED BY DEATH EATERS.
Suddenly, just as soon as she had posted it, came Neville's message:
She wrote back
YES. WE ARE NOT SAFE.
Having written her message, she set the Galleon up on top of her bookshelf, and, sighing, sprawled herself on her bed.
Her bedroom door opened, and in came....
"Gabrielle?" said Ginny, her eyes wide in astonishment. "What are you - how did you - ?"
"I Apparated!" said Gabrielle sweetly.
"You what?" gasped Ginny, agahast. "Does - does my mother know you're here?"
"No," said Gabrielle, batting her eyelashes. "I cam here to visit my dear, sweet, darling Ginny."
"No," breathed Ginny. "Impossible. I'm going mad."
"I just killed Arnold," she said, holding up big balls of pink fluff, her smile turning horrifiyingly sweet. "He was lovely to murder."
"No!" shrieked Ginny, her eyes going wide. "You couldn't! It's not possible! I'm going crazy!"
Then a terrible thought struck her. "You've been Imperiused!" she yelled, opening the door and diving headfirst into the other room in the corridor. "George!" she screamed. "Gabrielle's in my bedroom! She's been Imperiused!"
"Hang on," said George, looking up from a large stack of order forms. "Who's Imperiused? What are you talking about?"
Ginny pointed weakly at the smiling figure of Gabrielle, who was smiling terribly sweetly.
George squinted, then realization flooded into his face and he doubled up, laughing. "Tonks! Stop it!"
Ginny felt as if George had gone mad too. What was going on?
The another thought struck her. Gabrielle can't speak english, she thought.
Suddenly, the smiling figure of Gabrielle turned into a familiar-faced woman with long pink hair, who was holding pink balls of fluff.
"Tonks?" said Ginny in disbelief, staring at her.
"Oh, Ginny!" said Tonks, laughing. "You were so easy to fool!"
And then Tonks tapped the fluff with her wand, saying, "Revernate."
The pink balls of fluff immediately turned into a jug.
And then Ginny realized what had happened.
"Tonks!" said Ginny, smiling and shaking her head. "Why did you play such a trick?"
"I was planning on cheering you up," said Tonks, turning her pink hair tomato-red and waist-long, so that she looked an older version of Ginny. "But I guess I got a bit carried away."
Ginny laughed. "I was real scared,"
"Get out of my room," ordered George, holding up his wand. "Flynerio!" he said, and the order forms turned into paper birds and chased them out.
"What was the best christmas you ever had, Professor Lupin?"
They were sitting by the fire on Christmas Eve, having just finished Christmas dinner, and looking forward to Christmas morning.
"Ah," said Lupin, gazing into the fire. "It was one - when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old, actually."
"Really?" said Tonks, with bright delight. "What happened?"
"It was when my parents were abroad," said Lupin, sighing with contentment. "And Peter's, too. The both of us went to James for Christmas. Sirius's parents allowed him to come as well."
"And did you happened to have invented the Maurauder's Map?" asked Fred.
"Oh, yes," said Lupin.
"Tell us what happened, Professor Lupin," said Ginny. "About the best Christmas and all."
"Peter and I slept in the spare room," said Lupin. "While Sirius slept in James'.
"About seven in the morning Sirius was up and about, galloping the corridors like a five-year-old, singing "God Rest Ye, Merry Maurauders" at the top of his voice, jumping on the sofas and armchairs and knocking things off the mantlepeice in poor Mrs. Potter's sitting room."
Ginny had a vivid image of Sirius breaking things and laughing about - and Mrs. Potter's house looked exactly like Grimmauld Place.
"Anyway, when we all finally went downstairs, there was great shock of surprise there down for us.
"The walls were painted gold, with dashes of ruby, emerald and silver. Mrs. Potter very nearly fainted."
Ginny laughed. "Did Sirius get a telling-off?"
"Goodness, no!" said Lupin, his grey, worn face looking bright for once. "Mr. Potter left it there, until Christmas was over. He thought it to be "a festive peice of magic".
"No one was forgotten at Christmas. Even Peter and I were given presents by the Potters - Peter got a new eagle-feather quill and I got a new homework diary."
"What did Sirius get?" asked Tonks.
"You wouldn't believe me even if I gave you the memory," smiled Lupin. "He got a magic flying motorbike, the very one that Hagrid and Harry flew on to the Burrow."
"No way!" yelped George.
"Yes," said Lupin, smiling fondly at the memory. "It was both his and James', of course. Ah," he said, leaning into his armchair, "It was a good Christmas."
Caught In the Act
"I can't believe it!"
Three weeks after Christmas, they were sitting in the common room, listening to Lee Jordan and Fred and George's radio channel Potterwatch.
"That's about the sixteenth time you've said that, Neville," said Seamus.
"Poor Luna," said Neville.
"Please, Neville," sighed Ginny. "We're all sorry that Luna was kidnapped, but inventing weird theories and imagining terrible things is making me nervously scared."
The news that Luna Lovegood had been kidnapped flew around the school, and Ginny found herself being questioned by numerous students about how it had happened.
"Did the Death Eaters try to kidnap you, too?" Terry Boot had asked.
"I don't know," was what Ginny had said, tiredly. "I don't read minds. And no, Cho, they didn't flash curses at the rest of the people."
"Why do you think she was kidnapped?" asked Neville in turn.
"I've told you a million times, Neville," said Ginny, writing down the properties of moonstones that was set by Professor Slughorn in Potions. "She was kidnapped because her father supported Harry."
"Where do you think she is now?" he asked.
"I don't know," said Ginny, dipping her quill in ink and inking down that moonstones are a way of mystifing the future. "And neither does Seamus. But I hope she's okay."
"She will be," said Seamus, polishing his wand. "They won't kill her. Kidnappers never do."
"Why?" asked Neville. "And how do you know?"
"Because in the Muggle world," said Seamus, "Kidnappers just wait for the ransom to come in. They won't do anything to the victim. They need it as proof."
"What is ransom in the Muggle world?" asked Neville interestingly, and within minutes the two of them were talking about banks and finances and crimes in the Muggle world.
Having finished her homework, Giny stretched her neck and looked at her watch: it was 11:20.
"Who's going to be on the painting shift tonight with me?" she asked.
"Yes, well, they're hanged or given ten years of prison... yes, Ginny?" asked Seamus.
"Who - is - going - to - be - on - the - painting - shift - tonight - with - me?" repeated Ginny, slowly and loudly.
"I'd go," said Neville, staring at his scrolls of parchment. "But I've got loads of homework to do."
"I'll come," said Seamus.
"Good," said Ginny, rummaging in her bag for the paintbrush. "Here," she handed them to Seamus, and the two of them went up to the Astronomy Tower.
"Where do you reckon Harry is?" asked Seamus, as they poured the ink in their flasks.
"I don't know," Ginny shook her head. "He's probably camping out somewhere."
"I wish he'd come," said Seamus.
"DON'T wish," said Ginny menacingly, as they went up the corridors again. "If he comes here, Snape and the Carrows'll get him."
"Yeah.." said Seamus. "Hey, let's paint a message right by the Carrows's office."
"Brilliant!" said Ginny. "That'd wipe the sneer off old Alecto's face alright."
They stared at the neat, white, blank wall beside the Carrows's office, waiting to painted on.
"What shall we write?" asked Ginny. "I've run out of ideas."
"Let's write... 'Slytherins are morons', shall we?" said Seamus, laughing.
"No," said Ginny. "Not something foolhardy like that. A practical message, that shows that the writer knows things."
"I don't know about messages like that," shrugged Seamus. "But maybe we could write... 'Long Live Dumbledore?'"
"But Dumbledore's dead. Maybe we should drop my idea."
"Dumbledore always said that the dead are never dead as long as we don't forget them. And we don't forget him, do we?"
"I suppose so."
"And we could write, 'We're with you, Harry, wherever you are' too!" said Ginny excitedly.
"Well, let's do it," said Seamus, inking a large 'L' on the wall. "We don't have much time."
Half an hour later, they were both looking upon their masterpeices that were painted on either side of the wall, in big, red, messages.
"Looking nice, isn't it?" said Ginny, with satisfaction.
"Yeah," said Seamus. "Can't wait for Alecto's reaction."
"Or maybe," sneered a cold voice, "She can't wait for your reaction."
Draco Malfoy stood there, his wand pointing at them, Blaise Zabini and Pansy Parkinson at either side.
In the Face of Danger
"Well, well, well," he sneered, reminding Ginny of Amycus. "Well, well, well. Looks like we've caught our little vandilizer, haven't we, Blaise?"
"You can be sure of that, Draco," said Zabini.
"Look," said Malfoy, looking down his hooked nose at Ginny and Seamus, who were wearing indentical faces of horror. "Weasley and Finnegan. Caught at last. I'm surprised to see Longbottom isn't with you. Has he deserted you, Weasel Girl, Finnegan?"
"Shut up," said Seamus through gritted teeth.
"And we don't care whatever you say, Malfoy," snarled Ginny, flashing her dangerous hazel eyes. "Everyone knows you're a Slytherin pureblood - which means only one word - prig."
"You shut that mouth, Weasley," said Pansy.
"Oh, why should I?" said Ginny, raising her wand, looking qiute dangerous, that even Malfoy took a step back. "I may not look like much, but inside my pretty rosebud mouth there's a tounge as sharp as the Sword of Gryffindor that's all set to slice you off."
"Keep your blood-traitor self away from us, Weasley," said Zabini.
"Oh, don't flinch," said Seamus. "Are you afraid of us now?"
"How's your Muggle dad now, Finnegan?" asked Malfoy, his voice full of malicious pleasure. "I'm sure the Dementors will take care of him, you needn't worry at all."
"Look, Draco!" shrieked Pansy with delight. "At the messages they've written!"
Malfoy and Zabini looked upon them at scorn, while Ginny felt wholly miserable from inside, but tried not to show it.
"Look, Finnegan," jeered Malfoy, pointing at the message Seamus had written. "You large hero Dumbledore is dead, dead, I tell you, dead! That Muggle-loving fool has gone, finished by our noble Headmaster, dead to his crooked nose!"
"He's not dead!" said Seamus and Ginny at the same time.
"And look, Weasley," said Pansy, "Potter's dead meat! and you're with him! I suppose you want to declare yourself dead, too?"
Ginny could stand it no longer.
"Fernincilus!" she shouted, pointing her wand at Pansy.
Pansy's face became covered in fur-like tentacles immediately. She hollered around, shrieking.
"And that," said Ginny, pointing her wand at Malfoy and Zabini, "Will happen to you if you..you..report us."
Then started a furious duel between Ginny and Malfoy, and Seamus and Zabini. Shouting curses, hexes, and jinxes at each other, they fought around. Pansy, shrieking her head off, knocked Ginny on the ground.
"You'll never win," said Malfoy, an evil glint in his eye. "Gryffindors never do."
"We - won't - give - up," said Seamus through gritted teeth, while shooting a spell at Zabini, who flicked it away with a wave of his wand.
"Not much strength in you now, is there?" said Malfoy. "I suppose I practiced on you pretty well, did I?"
"If you report us, I'll - I'll - I'll -" said Ginny helplessly, rubbing her arm.
"Stutter at me?" laughed Malfoy. "No, with a revenge as feeble as that, it'll do you good to have detention."
"GET THIS THING OFF ME!" shrieked Pansy, slapping her face and pulling at the tentacles.
"Fix what you did, Weasel," snarled Malfoy.
"Oh - I'll fix her ugly face, will I?" said Ginny. "And you'll let us skip off home, will you?"
She did not have time to think. If only they hadn't come this night to vandalize the walls, they wouldn't have been caught, and they wouldn't have gotten detention. No doubt Malfoy would march her off to Snape's office. She felt tired and angry and sad, but she didn't know what she felt most.
Nevertheless, in a hopeless attempt to skive away from detention, she fixed Pansy's face. "Fanricus," she whispered, and all signs of tentacles disappeared.
As soon as she had done it, Pansy grabbed her arms, laughing hysterically. "Good girl,"
She glanced to her right, and Zabini had grabbed Seamus as well. Malfoy sneered at them, his face being lighted up in a truly evil smile.
"Drag them here, Pansy, Blaise," he said, walking along the corridor, while Pansy shoved her along. "We'll take her straight to the staff office, of course, Professor Carrow rarely sleeps at night.."
They trudged along.
Ginny felt as if the end of her life had come. It came worse than the time in the Department of Mysteries. Being led to the gallows must be something like this.
They stood outside the staffroom, and Malfoy knocked.
The door opened, and Alecto's sour, gaunt face looked out, but she looked immensely delighted at the sight of Ginny and Seamus.
"Oh, Draco," she breathed, letting them inside, while her eyes glinted evilly, "Have you caught these brats? What were they doing?"
"Professor," said Malfoy, "I've caught our vandalizers."
"So you have," she said, a truly evil smile lighting up her gaunt face. "Just like Lucius would've done....the same thing a Slytherin would've done..."
"We helped too!" said Zabini.
"Ah, yes, you did," she said. "So... one hundred points to Draco, and one hundred to Pansy, and a pay rise of fifty Galleons to Blaise here."
"Good haul," snickered Pansy.
"And as for you," she said, turning her eyes upon Ginny and Seamus, who were thinking that the end of the world had come, "One hundred points each from Gryffindor, and two weeks worth of detention! You haven't yet felt the Cruciatus Curse, have you, my dear?" she said, leering at Ginny. "Well, the young man can tell you what it feels like, and I don't think you'll ever touch the walls again."
Breathless, Ginny could not think of anything else to say. Two weeks worth of detention was enough to drain all the courage from her.
"And I think, Professor," said Malfoy malicously, "We ought to put Longbottom to the test - for all we know, he might've helped too."
"Alright, then," said Alecto. "Fifty points from him, and a week's worth of detentions ought to do the trick. Severus shall be pleased..."
"Anyway," she said, "Pansy, Malfoy, escort these two to Gryffindor Tower to make sure they don't go running off to tell Minerva or Horace. And Blaise can stay here and help me with my paperwork." she added, as Pansy and Malfoy grabbed them by the shoulders and marched them away.
They were in the Gryffindor common room,and everyone kept passing them looks of sympathy wherever they went, particularly Neville.
"I'm telling you, I don't want to talk about it," said Ginny wearily. She had gone to bed that night convincing herself that it had all been a dream, and when she woke up and found the truth she grimaced under the very thought of it.
"How could you have gotten caught?" said Neville. "Didn't you hear their footsteps?"
"Would you?" said Seamus.
"And because of that," said Neville, "You got me a detention too, several ones!"
"And now Gryffindor has no points," spat Parvati Patil as she strolled by with Lavender.
"Look, it wasn't my fault, okay?" said Ginny. "Blame Malfoy or Zabini or the completely idiotic Pansy Parkinson."
She had pondered on telling her mother about the detentions and everything, but that would include in vandalizing the walls, and her mother wouldn't be impressed by that.
Ginny looked at the calender on the notice-board, and saw the next time Dark Arts was scheduled: two weeks later, right after the Easter holidays, that started tommorow.
A sudden burst of inspiration hit her.
She qiuckly fished out the Floo Powder, looking upon as if it was a great elemental superhero that had come to save her.
"What're you doing?" said Neville.
Ginny did not reply. She ran to the fire, and dropped at bit of powder in it. "The Burrow!" she said.
The emerald-green flames erupted, and she did something she had never done before: she stuck her whole head in.
She felt a sudden, strong whiff of ash, and suddenly she was looking upon the Burrow's sitting room.
A shuffle of feet reached her ears, and Fred came into the room carrying a box that was overfilled with crockery.
"Fred!" she whispered urgently.
Fred very nearly dropped the box.
"What're you're doing here?" he said. "If Mum'll see you, it'll be the worse."
"I know," she muttered. "But you've got to help me."
"What is it?" he asked skeptically.
"Tell Mum I'm coming here for the Easter holidays," she said hurriedly. "And staying here. Not going back to school."
Fred stared at her for a moment.
"Yes, I know it sounds wierd," she said. "But I've got a fortnight's worth of detentions, and I'm going to skip them - forever."
Fred cocked his head acknowledgly. "Actually," he said, "We are going into hiding."
"Yes. It's getting too dangerous, Death Eaters are on the loose, they very nearly sent Dad to the Dementors -" Ginny's mouth flew open "- and Mum wanted me to tell you to come for the Easter holidays. And then we'd go into hiding. At Muriel's place. Dad's Secret-Keeper. That's why I'm carrying,"he added, pointing to the box of dishes. "Taking it to Muriel's house."
"Alright," said Ginny, somewhat dazed. "You'll come pick me up at the Hogwarts Express?"
"No," said Fred. "George'll do that."
"Good," she said. She leaned out of the fire.
Ginny decided not to tell anyone. It would be risky, and others might get wind of it. It was a private matter, anyway.
"What in Merlin's name," said Seamus, "Were you doing?"
"N - nothing," she said, standing up and brushing the ash from her hair.
"No, you were," said Neville, standing up. "And it's high time you told us."
"I'll thank you," she said, adopting a most severe Hermione-ish way, "To keep yourselves out of it."
"Come on, Ginny," said Seamus, shoving his copy of Elemental Transfiguration in his bag. "Do tell us."
"You were calling on someone, weren't you?" said Neville suspiciously. "Who?"
"I'm telling you to keep yourselves out of it," she repeated, pouring the last of the precious Floo Powder in a small box.
"For Dumbledore's sake," said Seamus, "Don't go on like a broken record."
"What's a record?" asked Ginny, in desperate attempt.
"Don't change the subject," said Neville.
"Do tell us," said Seamus.
"No," said Ginny, yanking open the portrait hole. "It's personal business, and, anyway, it'd be too risky."
Before the either of them could say anything, she bounded out of Gryffindor Tower, and walked on.
This, however, was a mistake.
Malfoy strolled into sight, arm in arm with Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe. Sneering at the sight of her, he glanced at Goyle, who wrote down some secret nothing.
"Hello, Weasel Girl," he said, his tone tinging with malice. "Had any pleasant dreams?"
Ginny felt a furious desire to throw back her head and scream at him and the world in general. Fighting back the tempting feeling, she put on a calm voice as a thought entered her mind.
"Yes, thanks for asking, Malfoy," she said, smiling kindly. "I had several pleasant dreams, one including a bouncing white ferret."
Malfoy turned slightly red. "Shut up," he growled, while Crabbe and Goyle flexed their muscles threateningly. "Twenty points from Gryffindor," he added, snarling.
"Oh dear," said Ginny, as another witty thought danced in her mind. "Have you lost your memory?"
It took Malfoy a minute to understand the fact that Gryffindor had no points from which to dock. Grimacing, he walked past with Crabbe and Goyle, his nose high in the air.
Nervous nerves, tense muscles, a guilty conscience... what else could wrong?
Ginny was sitting alone in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. She wished Luna had been on the platform to see her off five minutes before, as Neville and Seamus were busy studying for their N.E.W.T.s.
Sighing, she looked upon the passing grassy feilds and thought of all the things that had happened to her at Hogwarts - sneaking into Snape's office, getting up the DA, vandalizing the walls...
"Can I sit here?"
Ginny looked up to find a nervous girl of fifteen standing there, shuffling from foot to foot for an answer.
"Yes," said Ginny wearily. She looked up at her, and realisation came bounding. She was the same dark-haired girl she had seen.
The girl scuttled in, and stowed her trunk away to where Ginny had lugged her's.
"Cora Ramsey," she said, as she sat down quietly in a corner.
"I'm Ginny," said Ginny. "Ginny Weasley."
Cora looked at her. "I'm surprised."
"Where are you from?" asked Ginny. "Your House, I mean?"
"Ravenclaw," she murmured.
Ginny looked her up and down. Cora had shoulder-length night-dark hair, and her green eyes cocked up and down shyly. She had the sort of look that when she looked at you, you knew who she was.
"I'm Gryffindor," replied Ginny.
"I know," said Cora.
Ginny could not think of anything else to say. For a while they rode on in silence.
"Do you think," said Cora quietly, watching the afternoon dusk by, "That Lord Voldemort can be finished?"
Ginny looked at her in astonishment. Clearly, no one had spoken like Cora had.
"Well, that's what the prophecy says," she replied. "Neither can live while the other survives... anyway, I believe that he will come to an end one day."
"He deserves it," said Cora, with a kind of hurt grimace.
"Sorry?" said Ginny.
"He deserves it," repeated Cora.
"Well, of course he does," replied Ginny.
"Yes," said Cora. "For giving me a terrible future, for giving everyone else a terrible future."
"A terrible future?" said Ginny, surprised.
"Yes," said Cora softly.
"Why, what happened?" asked Ginny.
"When I was eight," said Cora, looking into the mountainous feilds outside, "Voldemort killed my parents."
"I'm sorry," said Ginny, understanding the situation at once. "Really."
Cora gave a kind of hollow laugh. "It isn't what you think," she said. "My parents were associates of the Order of the Phoenix - they were spies. But one day, someone betrayed us. I don't know who, but someone from the Order told Voldemort -" Ginny's mind flashed with Pettigrew "- that my parents were planning to spy. He knew that his darkest plans were going to be unleashed, and so he, that very night, strided to our house and murdered them.
"I was dusting my set of wizard chess, when there was an explosive something downstairs, and the shouting of a curse. I went downstairs and the sight that met my eyes... I never forget that one."
"I'm so sorry," said Ginny, gasping. "I - I had - I had no idea."
"His Death Eaters set fire to the whole place," said Cora, her green eyes sparking fierce tears. "I escaped. I went to live with my Aunt Hettie. Or I might as well say I went to live with Voldemort. She worked me to death, that one. But she's sobered up a little since last year."
Ginny realised that she was not the only one living in such a world. Here was girl who had lost everything in her life.
"I'm really sorry," she said, forcing back the feeling of wanting to cry at Cora's fate. "Really."
"I know you are," said Cora, a single tear dropping on her faded dress. "But it is what it is."
"Are you part of Dumbledore's Army?" she said. "The DA, I mean?"
"Yes," said Cora, getting out her Galleon. "I wanted to finish of Voldemort, and my parents always supported Dumbledore, and that's why I joined."
"Listen, Cora," said Ginny. "You and I can send each other messages. Through the Dumbledore's Army Galleons."
"If I send you a message it'll be displayed to everyone," she replied.
Ginny pulled out another pair of Galleons. "I've made private ones, too." she handed Cora one of those. "I use them to send them to Neville and Luna. I made a spare pair, in case someone lost their's. You and I can use them."
"Alright," said Cora, a radiant smile flowing her face. "Shall we test them out?"
"Oh, do be qiuck, Georgie, dear, haul them qiuckly into the fire, will you?"
The hubbub of moving qiuckly out of the Burrow into Aunt Muriel's house was taking long, and, as Ginny felt, that they would never squash into Muriel's house if they were so cramped here.
"I can't hear you!" said George, rushing upstairs. "People with only one ear can't, anyway!"
"Well, will someone please haul the rest of the blankets into the Floo Powder?" shrieked Mum.
"I'll do that," said Ginny, picking up the box and threw it in the fireplace. "Auntie Muriel's!" she yelled, and she was there in the room of three kittens mewling, and the plush sofas and drapes and armchairs. Dropping the box on the carpeted floor, she whisked herself back again into the Burow's familiar sitting room.
"I think that's the last of the blankets," she yelled, as she climbed out of the fireplace.
"Good," said Mum, bundling up all her shawls on herself. "We'll wear up as much as we can, so we won't have to carry more stuff. Now where in the world have the boys gone to?"
"I'll get them," said Ginny, running up the stairs she had used ever since she had learned to walk. "Fred! George!"
"Can't hear you!" yelled George.
Entering the first floor, she barged open their bedroom door. "You can hear me," she insisted. "Otherwise, how would you be able to reply to me?"
Her eyes widened at what the room contained.
Hundreds of thousands of their joke-shop products were overfilling the room, as well as the familiar-looking order forms.
"We can't take that much stuff!" she said, picking up a Nosebleed Nougat from the floor. "Mum'll do her nut."
"We're carrying the stuff," said Fred. "And it's ours, anyway."
"Muriel'll bury herself alive if she sees you've bought all - this." she gestured to the boxes.
"Good," said George, levitating sixteen boxes and throwing them down the stairs.
"That's what we want," added Fred.
"If you do that she'll turn us out on the road," said Ginny, shaking her head as she trudged back downstairs.
Ginny settled herself into the scratchy sheets in Muriel's spare bedroom, wincing when she rubbed against her skin. She pulled out her fake Galleon to send Cora a message. Fixing up the letter dials, she printed
ARE YOU THERE?
Fifteen minutes later, came the message
Ginny sent another message
ARE YOU SAFE?
Came the answer
YES. IN CASE YOU DON'T KNOW, I AM IN HIDING.
Ginny wrote back
I AM IN HIDING TOO.
The answer came,
GOOD. AUNT HETTIE IS LETTING ME HAVE MY WAY NOW.
She wrote her final message
THAT'S GOOD. SEE YOU TOMORROW.
And with that, she placed her Galleon on the bedside table and got out another one - the one she used to communicate with Neville. It was burning hot with the messages he had sent her. With a jolt, she realized that tonight was the night the students returned to Hogwarts from the Easter holidays. Since she hadn't told him about going into hiding, Neville would probably turn up the story that she'd been kidnapped too. Sighing, she opened the dials up and therefore came five, burning hot messages.
GINNY? YOU THERE?
GINNY? WHERE ARE YOU?
ARE YOU KIDNAPPED?
GINNY? GIVE US AN ANSWER!
What should she tell her friends about her absence, it was out of her mind. Sighing the most deep, heavy sigh in the history of sighs, she wrote
I'M ALRIGHT, NO NEED TO WORRY. PERFECTLY SAFE AT HOME.
After a few minutes, came
YOU'RE IN HIDING.
she wrote back
Just as she set her Galleon down on the bedside table and was just about to shut the light, a a most peicular sound came from the corridor, between a scream and a shriek and a shout, or possibly the three of those mixed up together. Ginny leapt from her bed, wand outstreched, and ran out into the corridor.
The next minute, Mum and Dad had ran out of their bedroom, wands outstretched. Only Fred and George were not present.
The screaming was coming from Muriel's bedroom.
"Oh, Muriel..." murmured Mum, looking fit to faint.
Ginny and Dad barged into the bedroom, wands outstretched, when the sight met their eyes.
Muriel was screaming at what seemed to be an enourmous Dark Mark, and screaming so loud that her three kittens were mewling around in fear as well.
Dad sighed, and picked up the baking-pan sized Dark Mark. "It's alright," he told Muriel, who was watching him as if an inexcusable illness had hit him. "It's just one Fred and George's pranks, you needn't worry.."
"Fred and George?" said Mum. "Did I hear Fred and George?"
And without another word, she had nearly blasted the door of Fred and George's room, shrieking, "Get up, the both of you! At once!"
Rubing an eye, Fred pretended to be falling asleep. "Come on, Mum," he said. "I'm trying to get some sleep, because..."
"Fix what you did to your Auntie at once!" bellowed Mum, seizing him by the collar. "At once!"
Sighing, Fred got up and hauled the Dark Mark out of the room. "Will feast on this," he whispered to Ginny as he passed by. "Black licorice.."
Ginny suddenly realized how stupid they all looked. She was standing there in her daffodil-yellow pyjamas, her hair a little on her face and the other all tangled, while holding her wand of yew.
"Well," said Dad, getting extremely nervous, "We'll just, er, go to, um, bed... then?"
Trust Fred and George to drive Muriel up the wall. Sighing, she flopped onto her bed, shaking her head as she switched off the light.
The Spark of Hope
"Will you stop that, Ginevra?"
Sitting in the sitting-room three weeks later, Ginny hummed along to "Beat back those Bludgers, boys, and chuck that Quaffle here" as she read the Qiubbler.
"Stop what?" asked Ginny.
"That - that outrageous singing," said Muriel, as she sat by the glistening fire. "It's getting on my nerves, and, besides, it isn't ladylike to sing."
"I'm not singing," said Ginny. "I'm humming. There's a difference. And," she added, as Muriel shook her head, "It's one of my favourites. It's written by Celestina Warbeck, in supporting Puddlemere United, you know, the famous Qiudditch team. It was written in remembrance of the first -"
"I don't care, Ginevra," said Muriel, shaking her head sorrowfully. "You are far too much wild. Qiudditch! it's a game, for goodness's sake, a game, and you playing it! I told Molly that you should be kept inside the house but no, you are always out gadding away on that broomstick of yours, and heaven knows-"
"But I like doing it," persisted Ginny. "And if I couldn't play Qiudditch - why, I should die, I know I should."
"Ridicilous reason to die," sniffed Muriel. "You're a girl, for heaven's sake, and you should be helping poor Molly around the house! when I heard that when you were off with Ronald and that Harry Potter and Augusta's grandson along with that skinny muggle-born and old Xeno's daughter in the Ministry of Magic, I fainted on the carpet."
"Oh, but that was great fun," said Ginny. "Sirius dying was terrible of course, but you should've seen how I fought Bellatrix -" Muriel gasped "- with a broken ankle! and we rode on -"
"Goodness, Ginevra!" said Muriel, holding up her hands in horror. "How dare you! you're far too young, and Ronald was always skimmed off by Harry Potter to adventures - and you're following his footsteps! and I don't know what you see in the skinny muggle-born -"
"Hermione's very nice!" said Ginny.
"Augusta' grandson's got about as much brains as a turnip, and Xeno's daughter - why, I wouldn't touch her, I'm sure she'd bite me - "
"She's not like that!" said Ginny. "And Neville's very nice, too."
"I wish you'd be like her," said Muriel, stroking one of her kittens. "Bill's wife - what's her name - Flora?"
"It's Fleur, Auntie Muriel," sighed Ginny.
"Ah, yes," said Muriel. "She's French, I'll gaurantee you that, but she's such a ladylike girl, you should take after her, and would you look at her little sister, she's such a -"
"I wouldn't look like her, even if my life was at stake," said Ginny, horrified. "I just want to be myself."
"So you do," said Muriel. "Red haired...when I went to see you when you were born, I hoped you would be blonde. Ha! Blonde! instead you were born with fire for hair. Well, I took the pleasure for naming you. I once knew a girl whose name was Ginevra. She was qiute ladylike. Molly and I hoped that by giving you her name you would inherit her ways. But you've turned out to be the very opposite of the dear thing we expected you to become, and oh, how the boys rejoiced when you turned out to be just like them. I wouldn't be surprised if you suddenly pulled off your face and turned out to be a boy."
"Yes, but-" started Ginny, but suddenly George came in, full of excitement.
"What is it?" said Ginny, changing her mode of speech.
"It's Harry," said George. "Harry's at Shell Cottage, with Ron, and Hermione!"
"At Shell Cottage?" said Ginny, springing up. "How? When?"
"He rescued some goblin called Griphook from Malfoy Manor," said Fred. "And your friends,as well as Ollivander. They're staying there for a few weeks -"
"Oh, hurrah!" said Ginny. "When can we go visit them?"
"You won't be, young lady," said Mum, coming into the room carrying a casserole. "None of you lot are."
"Ah-ha!" said Muriel triumphantly. "Now that's what I call order, Molly."
"We're just allowed to send a message," said George. "Oh, and Ollivander might be coming to stay in a few days."
"Oh, good," said Muriel sarcastically. "Let's make my house a railway station, shall we?"
"Oh - why not?" said George. "C'mon, Fred, get the box out."
"No - really!" squeaked Muriel.
Day No. 28, Ginny marked off the days. She wondered how long she would have to stay in Muriel's wretched house.
Throwing off the Daily Prophet from her bed, she stopped to look at the cover page's photo. Harry was sitting on the neck of the Norwegian Ridgeback, Ron yelping and Hermione hanging over the edge.
The news that Harry Potter had flown off on a dragon from Gringotts while robbing the Lestranges' vault had flown around the world, and Potterwatch was inventing mad theories to keep the fun going.
Suddenly, something peircing hot stung Ginny's pocket. She pulled the Galleon out, wincing as she did so, and opened up the dials, wondering who on earth would send a message as late as ten o'clock that night.
It was a message from Neville.
Ginny opened it up, and the cinder-hot message glowered.
HE'S HERE! HARRY POTTER IS AT HOGWARTS!
Ginny stared at the message in happiness, relief, hope and excitement. Before she could do anything, however, hundred other messages took their flight.
IS THIS A JOKE?
Another message came from Neville:
HE'S AT HOGWARTS, ALL RIGHT. GO TO ABERFORTH'S PUB - IT'S IN HOGSMEADE - AND YOU'LL SEE A PORTRAIT OF A GIRL. BEHIND THAT PORTRAIT, THERE'S A PASSAGEWAY, LEADING TO THE ROOM OF REQIUREMENT, WHERE WE ARE! AND COME QIUCK!
Like sunshine, relief spread in Ginny as she hugged herself in excitement.
There was no time to lose.
Jumping over the steps six at a time, she ran downstairs carrying her wand, screaming with excitement. "Mum! Fred! George! He's here, HE'S HERE!"
Mum got up crossly. "Whatever is the matter?" she said, frowning.
"You're supposed to be in bed!" said Dad.
"Mum!" said Ginny, picking up one of the kittens and swinging it around, so that it crashed to the floor with a piteous miaow. "He's at Hogwarts! HE'S AT HOGWARTS!"
"Hey," said George, picking up the kitten. "Slow down. Start over. Who's at Hogwarts?"
"Oh, don't you see?" shouted Ginny, brandishing her Galleon. "It's HARRY! he's at HOGWARTS!"
Mum's eyes widened. "You're talking nonsense," she said.
"No, I'm not!" cried Ginny. "It's true, look, it's TRUE!"
Mum peered at the Galleon. "But where did you get it?"
"Neville sends me messages through it," Ginny rushed to get her cloak. "And we're going," she added to the rest of the group.
"No," said Mum.
"Yes," said Dad.
"Yes," said Fred and George.
"We have to," said Ginny importantly. "George, Fred and I can go first, through Aberforth's pub, and you can tell the Order and come back with a whole army."
"However did you make the whole plan in ten seconds?" asked Mum, bundling her cloak on.
"Oh, I just do it," said Ginny. Everything that the long wait had been for had finally been returned to her, and she would finally get to be out there, fighting Death Eaters.
"Let's go, then," said George. He stretched his hand out. Fred did the same.
Ginny streched her hand out, and the three of them Apparated in the flurry of the dark west wind heading towards the enlightened east, and the grim south's hail towards the clear northern skies.
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