Disclaimer: The usual disclaimer. I
don’t own anything, blah blah, thanks, JKR, for being cool.
A/N: Thanks to Elanor for rereading
this chapter, being my beta, and putting smiley faces at the end! J Also, I’ll
try to move this story along as much as possible, since I only have another
week left of school! Hooray!
Dull afternoon sunshine stretched half-heartedly through
the windows of the seventh year boys’ dormitory. It was deathly quiet except
for the fretful, rhythmic tread of pacing feet as Harry Potter crossed the
circular room from one window to the next, pausing only to stare out at the
bleak Hogwarts grounds before abruptly spinning to retrace his steps. He wore
his black cloak despite the heat from the crackling fire, his wand clenched
readily in his hand.
Hermione Granger followed her friend’s progression with
worried brown eyes from her perch on Ron Weasley’s bed. She battled with the
urge to disarm and Body Bind Harry, and perhaps would have, if not for the fact
her hands and arms were locked with Ron’s. It was painful having her left hand
squeezed so fiercely and the other arm crushed against his side. With her head
resting against his shoulder, she could feel the tense, strained limbs and
muscles of her boyfriend against her own trembling side. She knew he was
pretending to comfort her while disguising the rage and worry broiling inside.
she pleaded, not for the first time, as Harry turned from the far window and
began his brisk journey back. “Sit down. You’re making me nervous.”
Nervous hardly described it. Harry barely glanced at
her, but sat down across from her on his own bed, only to jump back up a second
later and pace furiously again.
Hermione sighed and clenched her teeth. She felt Ron
shift almost imperceptibly against her, his grip around her tightening still.
He took a deep, quietly shuddering breath and said in a choked whisper, “It’s
just like second year again.”
Hermione lifted her head slightly, but quickly decided
not to look at him. It was best just to let Ron speak. She nestled back
against him, breathing in the faint smell of soap and breakfast.
“I didn’t believe it, yet we’d all accepted it,” Ron
continued, his voice resounding and vibrating against her ear, yet quiet as a
whisper. He sounded so distant, and a chill crept over Hermione. “Everyone
did. Gryffindor, McGonagall, Percy, the twins—me.
And she’d been there, at breakfast, and she tried to tell us! How could she be
. . .?”
“Oh, Ron, don’t say it!” Hermione pleaded, raising her
head off his broad shoulder. She peered at him desperately, but he wouldn’t
meet her gaze. His eyes were blank, his skin so pale that every single freckle
showed almost black. “Please, don’t say it!”
Ron’s eyes slowly shifted to meet her wet gaze, but then
he stared down at their clenched hands. “If only we could do something!” he said fiercely, color and
vibrancy returning to his countenance. “Harry and I went after her—”
“Dumbledore specifically said—”
“Oh, bugger Dumbledore!” Harry had stopped his pacing and
was standing at Ron’s bedpost, a frightening sight with his deathly pale
complexion and burning eyes. His hair was completely in disarray and his fists
were clenched with barely suppressed rage. Yet there was something else
lurking there, a heaviness, a guilt . . .
“Harry,” she said, trying to sound calm although she was
trembling inside. “You know everyone is doing the best they can! When we know
where she is or what’s happened—”
Harry swore softly, harshly, and whirled around again.
Hermione jumped to her feet, anticipating his flight out of the dormitory, but
he merely returned to covering the floor with his angry pacing. She let out a
breath of relief and turned back to Ron. What was worse? Harry’s
insuppressible rage or Ron’s utter defeat?
As she took Ron’s right hand in hers and kissed the top
of his forehead, she decided a furious Ron was preferable to the grimness
settling over him. When she drew her lips away, he tilted his chin up, his eyes
dark and wet. She wanted desperately to smile for him, but knew she would
burst into tears. With steady hands she brushed her fingers through his fiery
hair, which had been haphazardly cut only two weeks ago by Ginny. Hermione
stifled a sob at the memory. Ginny had been determined to trim both Harry’s
and Ron’s hair, after Hermione had complained they’d both become rather unruly.
After much cajoling from
both Ginny and Hermione, the boys had surrendered. Naturally, there hadn’t
been much improvement on Harry’s messy hair, but she’d insisted it wasn’t her
fault. Ron had reluctantly given his longish locks over to experiment, and the
result had taken some adjustment to accept. After a week or so of growth,
however, Ron had decided it was ‘cool’.
Hermione’s mouth quirked as the small, spiky strands
poked up between her fingers. She loved Ron’s hair, had always loved it. It
was perhaps the most vibrant of red amongst the Weasleys, and the spikes were
rather disarming, she had to admit. If she ran her hand over the top, the
longest tufts tickled her palm. Ginny had apologized for days afterwards,
believing that Hermione hated it (which she had at first), and the memory
Ron sighed, bringing Hermione’s gaze from his hair down
to his troubled face. He stared up at her with such gratitude that she lost
her breath, then he closed his eyes and bowed his head. He wrapped his arms
around her waist and drew her closer, resting his lowered forehead against her
stomach. She could feel him breathing slowly, carefully, against her.
It was very intimate, but Hermione’s skin didn’t
scintillate as it usually did. Ron’s embrace comforted her, and she brushed
her fingertips soothingly through his hair, feeling Ron’s breathing begin to
steady and quiet.
An eerie tranquility settled over the dormitory, and
Hermione looked up to see Harry paused at the window overlooking the dark
forest. The taut line of his silhouette had eased into an inclusive huddle as
he leaned against the cold stone wall, his face turned to the dreary grounds
and blackness of the forest. The rigid line of his jaw had slacked, and
Hermione realized he was blinking furiously.
It was easier, almost safer, for Harry to be angry,
Hermione knew. Anger was easier to deal with, but perhaps harder to control,
than pain and anguish. Harry had said almost nothing since two nights ago, had
been broody and distant, and his eyes had betrayed some heavy guilt within.
Hermione knew not what was troubling him—aside from Voldemort—but had
deciphered that something had happened between him and Ginny. Ginny had been rather anxious and
subdued and sending Harry furtive looks that he seemed to avoid.
Friday night before she had gone to bed, Hermione had
thought Harry and Ginny were studying rather cozily, and the guarded mask Harry
perpetually wore had been forgotten. She had accomplished virtually nothing in
her studies due to the Halloween feast and her fascination with watching how
Harry’s eyes had shone, his cheeks had flushed, and his rare but infectious
smile had stretched across his thin face. Ron had done his best to ignore it,
only once whispering that he hoped Ginny would remember that Harry only wanted
happened after she’d gone to bed, Hermione was sure of it. Saturday morning
Ginny had met Hermione at the top of the spiraling stairs, eyes shining but
looking almost nauseated. She spoke of nothing interesting, but had watched
the entrance of the Great Hall anxiously while discussing her shortened Muggle
Studies lesson from Friday afternoon. Then Harry and Ron had finally decided
to get up, and Hermione had been certain something had transpired late
Halloween night. Ginny had gone inexplicably pale, and Harry had picked at his
toast and said only a syllable or two as way of conversation.
The entire day had passed like that, and Hermione had
found no trace of the spark that’d been lit within Harry the night before.
Ginny had grown increasingly diminished and introspective, sending Harry
imploring, worried looks to no avail.
Had they quarreled? Hermione wondered. Harry and Ginny
had had a disagreement here or there over the past three years, but never
anything serious. Ginny’s Weasley temper rarely overwhelmed her where Harry
was concerned, and Harry was always rather sensitive and careful around her. As he’s always been, thought Hermione.
Not once had he ever said anything unkind to her, even when she’d been awkward
with her infatuation in her first year.
Hermione remembered waking up in the middle of the night
to an empty common room. She’d blearily woken Ron and they’d stumbled up the
stairs to their separate dormitories. She’d slept late, as it seemed everyone
had. Breakfast had almost finished by the time Hermione and Ron went down to
the Great Hall. “Harry said he wasn’t hungry,” Ron had said groggily. “He
sounded sick. Better bring him some toast or juice, anyway.”
Ginny didn’t appear all through breakfast. Hermione
figured that if both Harry and Ginny were still in bed that they had either
studied very late, had both gotten sick, or had a disagreement of some sort.
When she didn’t appear by lunchtime, Hermione had asked Alyson Baker, a sixth
year, if Ginny was sick.
“No. I haven’t seen her since last night. I thought she
was with you lot,” Alyson had said, her eyes quickly widening with
realization. Hermione didn’t know Alyson well, only that she was a friend of
Ginny’s. “And her things are still on the table.”
Hermione and Ron had instantly barged into Harry’s
dormitory, where he’d been apparently pretending to sleep.
“Harry!” Ron had roared, raking the scarlet curtains
aside and yanking back the covers. “Get up!
Hermione closed her eyes against the hiccough in her
throat. Harry had been instantly on his feet, pulling a sweater over his bare
chest, grabbing his wand and stuffing his bare feet into shoes simultaneously,
then throwing his cloak over his shoulders and running to the door before she
or Ron could say anything else. Alyson had followed them and was staring at
Harry with affixed terror on her pretty face.
He didn’t even have to interrogate any of the sixth year
girls. They had all gathered around him at once, terrified, each one saying
the same thing: the last they’d seen of Ginny, she’d been studying with Harry.
Ron had procured the Marauder’s Map and confirmed that
Ginny was nowhere in Hogwarts castle or on the grounds. One of the younger
prefects, Adrienne, had disappeared while the news spread through Gryffindor
Tower that Ginny Weasley was missing. Soon Dumbledore and McGonagall were
questioning everyone and reminding the frantic students to stay calm. Yet
everyone knew what had happened: Ginny had been taken by Death Eaters.
Since the fifth of September, Hogwarts had been under
siege. While Death Eater attacks still frequented the Daily Prophet’s front page, and every
morning students stiffened if an unfamiliar owl delivered a letter, every
student feared the entrenchment around their once-secure school. Hogsmeade was
under arrest of the Dark Lord and his followers. Several houses had been
burned, but luckily many residents had fled at the first sign of an attack.
The death toll was small but still devastating to the wizard populace.
Half of the students preached constantly of Hogwarts’
impenetrable protection spells, how Dumbledore was about to march right out
onto the sprawling lawn and challenge Voldemort to a wizard’s duel and end the
war altogether. Yet, as a despairing half argued, why hadn’t Dumbledore ended
the war already, and remember Sirius Black? He had infiltrated Hogwarts four
years ago, and if he could do it, then Voldemort
could do it. A few scathing, desperate students had even suggested that Harry
either surrender to or challenge the Dark Lord.
“Don’t even think
about it!” Hermione, Ron, and Ginny had hissed at Harry whenever his eyes
flickered thoughtfully. “Voldemort wants to kill you, but he won’t stop
“But what if I could
stop him?” Harry had asked.
“If you know a way, mate, tell us all, but if you haven’t
got a plan, then don’t do anything.”
“Don’t be stupid, Harry!”
“You don’t want to die, Harry,” Ginny would say softly.
Harry would stare at her for a moment, and then he would agree that no, he
didn’t want to die, but he would if necessary. Ginny always looked close to
tears when he said this, and Hermione’s heart always tightened.
Ron’s breathing hiccoughed, drawing Hermione out of her
thoughts and back to the quiet room. She pulled her eyes away from Harry, who
continued to stare out at the dark forest. Gazing down at Ron’s pale face,
Hermione touched his cheek.
“I just don’t understand it,” he said quietly, shaking
his head and leaning back slightly. He kept his arms securely around her
waist. “She must have left the castle, but she knows not to. Why would she leave in the middle of the
Hermione shook her head, but felt her eyes fasten on
Harry again. He had obviously heard Ron, judging by the slight tilt of his
head and the tightened jaw. Harry had been the last to see Ginny. Something must have happened.
“I don’t know, Ron,” she said softly. She sighed and sat
down beside him on the four-poster bed without removing herself from his
embrace. “We don’t even know if she was taken from inside or outside the
Harry suddenly whirled around from the window, causing
Hermione and Ron to lift their heads alertly. His eyes glistened and Hermione
was certain he had been fighting tears at the window.
“I’m going to talk to Dumbledore,” said Harry shortly.
“Harry, he told us to stay here until he had news!”
protested Hermione, standing up hastily.
“I’m not going to leave the castle or anything,” Harry
continued irritably. “I just want to see if he knows anything else. I can’t
just sit here and do nothing!”
“Fine. We’re going with you.”
At last, Ron thought
as Harry opened the dormitory door, we’re going to do something.
Not that it was really anything, but shifting weight onto his feet and forcing
his muscles to move invoked
action. And Ron needed action. This terrible numbness that had seized his
mind and body was unbearable. Not once had he felt a spark of anger, not even
when Harry had threatened Draco Malfoy and the git had merely smirked. All he
could think about was how happy Ginny had been on Halloween, determined to draw
a smile from Harry’s dark countenance. She’d made them all laugh and
momentarily believe that Hogwarts was as usual, that there hadn’t been any
Even as he recalled the tenacity of Ginny’s optimism, he
saw her, shattered, as she crawled through the hole he’d made in the rubble
from the collapsed tunnel under the castle. Dirty, pale, eyes streaming with
tears. He’d tried to hug her, so happy to see her alive, but she’d been too
ashamed of herself for comfort.
She survived the Chamber of Secrets, Ron
told himself repeatedly. She’ll be all
right. He did not believe it. Too many people had died. People who
weren’t even connected with the Order of the Phoenix. Kill the spare. Kill
Ginny was not
But if she wasn’t dead, she’d be used for some cruel,
evil purpose. Ron knew what Cruciatus felt like.
He shuddered as he started down the spiral staircase into
the Gryffindor common room. Ron was vaguely aware of Harry striding
determinedly for the portrait hole, blatantly ignoring the stares, and Hermione
pushing him gently from behind. Numbly, he stumbled down the last step,
feeling the sympathetic eyes prickling the back of his neck. As all those
years ago, no one tried to stop them.
“I thought you lot were supposed to stay inside?”
demanded the Fat Lady when all three were outside Gryffindor Tower. She pursed
her lips disapprovingly, but didn’t seem angry.
Ron saw a wrinkled handkerchief in one of her fat fists.
How dare a portrait mourn his sister? She wasn’t . . . she was alive!
“We’re going to Dumbledore,” said Hermione calmly to the
Fat Lady, a firm but gentle hand on Ron’s elbow.
She was eyeing Harry nervously as he edged further down
the corridor. “We’ll be back. Honest.”
The journey to Dumbledore’s office was silent aside from
the somber patrolling prefects and teachers. Whenever stopped, Harry or
Hermione would merely explain they were going to Dumbledore, and would be
pardoned. It was strikingly poignant to Ron that Professor Snape didn’t appear
behind them, snappishly accusing them of breaking and crossing the line.
Snape had died at Voldemort’s hands last year. Minutes
after Ron had been introduced to the Cruciatus Curse.
Cedric, Hagrid, Snape. Murdered one year after another.
It was easier to deal with deaths reported in the Daily Prophet, to see the black envelopes bearing the
dreaded announcement to other students. We
won’t even get a black letter, Ron thought morbidly as they reached
Dumbledore’s gargoyle. Even if the barrier
With the siege, communication with the Order of Phoenix
operating outside Hogwarts was scarce. The communication fireplace was
constantly switched, and absolutely no one could enter anywhere but the front
entrance, which was charmed only to admit students and staff. No Floo, no
Portkeys. Soon the small filtering of owls allowed through the barriers
constructed by both Dumbledore and the Death Eaters had been completely trapped
either inside or outside the school. Pig had not been seen since the beginning
of October, but Hedwig was safe inside the menagerie, as she had been too
conspicuous to use for quite some time.
Sirius and Remus had spent part of their summer creating
more versions of the Marauder’s Map, and so every passage was under
surveillance. Unfortunately, communication with two of the most prominent and
important members of the Order had been almost nonexistent. Ron wasn’t even
certain how the Order
communicated these days, or how
Dumbledore expected to procure a plan for rescuing Ginny—if she was alive.
alive!” exclaimed Ron vehemently. His voice sliced through the stillness of
the corridor, causing all three of them to startle.
“I know, Ron,” said Hermione gently, her eyes wide.
Ron glanced away. He hadn’t meant to say anything
Harry wasn’t looking at him, but muttering the password
to the gargoyle. It slid open
and they all gravely stepped onto the moving staircase, slowly spiraling
upwards into Dumbledore’s tower. It felt longer than usual, and yet Ron knew
time had barely passed. What would he find in Dumbledore’s office? No news?
A ransom letter? Declaration of—no. Ginny was alive. She had to be.
At the top of the stairs, Ron felt a burst of anger rip
through his despondent thoughts. Harry had just raised his fist to knock when
Dumbledore’s door swung open and illuminated the most hated person in Ron’s
mind, smirking smugly and straightening his robes.
“What are you
doing here?” Hermione demanded while snatching a fistful of robe from Ron and
Harry. Her voice sliced through Ron’s broiling fury, and he was grateful for
her presence. She was keeping a cool head, deliberately remaining logical and
Malfoy sneered. “That’s my own business, Granger. Perhaps
you, Potter, and Weasel should refrain from accusing the innocent.”
Harry let out a harsh, cold laugh. “Get out of the way,
Malfoy, unless you want to confess.”
“About what?” said Malfoy airily, raising his eyebrows.
“Where is my sister,
you bastard!” growled Ron. He pulled out his wand and pointed it at
Malfoy, who looked momentarily frightened before his face relaxed.
“Oh, really, Weasley! Curse me, I dare you. Not even Dumbledore will
overlook the offense.”
“He’s right, Ron,” Hermione said quietly, placing a
soothing but firm hand on his shoulder.
For one long minute, Ron met Draco’s malevolent,
challenging stare, irrepressible rage coursing through his blood. He didn’t
care if Dumbledore was just inside the door, or that Azkaban would become his
permanent residence if he harmed Malfoy. Hatred. He hated Malfoy.
“Go on, Weasley,” whispered Malfoy, as if dangling a
tantalizing treat in the air. “Hex me.”
Hermione pleaded, her grip tightening.
Another second passed before Ron fully realized the
situation. Gradually his senses began to return to him, although the loathing
did not lessen. He felt Hermione’s nervous hands clasped around his robes, and
Harry’s tense gaze jumping between him and Malfoy. He saw the flicker of triumph
in that sniveling face, and Ron briefly reconsidered. But he lowered his wand
and stepped back.
“I’d rather give you a kick down the stairs,” he muttered
darkly as Malfoy shoved past Hermione, distinctly whispering, “Mudblood,” as he
Malfoy’s steps hurried, and Ron grinned faintly. Then he
quickly grew somber and turned back to his friends.
Hermione’s eyes were wet, her face still tense. “Oh,
Ron! If you’d cursed him—”
“I didn’t, okay?”
“I know, but—” Her
shining eyes darted frantically around the small antechamber, her mouth working
silently, her lips curling as they just did just before she would start to cry.
“Hermione!” Ron quickly grabbed her by the shoulders and
shook her gently but firmly. She glanced at him, and he sucked in sharply.
She was going to cry. Somehow
her moment of weakness, the loss of her stolid vigil, shook Ron more deeply
than Malfoy’s sneering face. Placing a palm against each of her cheeks , he
anchored her shaking head, forcing her to look at him. “Hermione, listen to
me,” he said quietly. “It’s okay.”
She shuddered and nodded, tearing eyes fastened on him.
“I know, Ron. I know.” Then her face collapsed and a sob escaped. Ron
quickly wrapped his arms tightly around her and kissed her forehead. It was
such bittersweet relief to give whatever solace he could offer.
“It’s okay,” he said softly, rubbing her back slowly.
“It’s okay.” It wasn’t okay, but what else could he say? He didn’t believe a
word he said, but if he could wrap his arms around Hermione, or she could run
her hands affectionately through his hair, he would be all right. Hermione’s
pain rescued him from his daze. He wasn’t helpless if he had a purpose.
“Okay,” she choked, lifting her head from his chest.
Clearing her throat, she wiped methodically at her eyes and pushed hair away
from her face. “Okay.” Their eyes met briefly, gratified, before Ron
remembered Harry standing silently against the wall.
began to say, but stopped. Harry looked politely embarrassed, as he always did
whenever Ron or Hermione allowed their feelings to show, but there was
something else in his darkened gaze. Yearning and . . . regret? Guilt?
“Ready?” said Ron, feeling uneasy.
Harry nodded and knocked. The door swung open and Ron
filed in behind him, noting that the angry tension in Harry’s neck had
slumped. In second year, Harry had been miserable because it had been Ron’s
sister taken hostage, not Ginny.
It wasn’t sympathy for Ron now, but misery for himself and Ginny. The loss of
She is not lost!
Ron pulled his gaze away from Harry and cast his eyes
once around the tinkling, chiming little instruments that would have wooed his
father, and fastened his attention hungrily on Dumbledore. The wizened
Headmaster was sitting at his desk, stroking Fawkes, and gazing at them with
his indecipherable blue eyes. Startling, Ron recognized Sirius Black standing
at Dumbledore’s shoulder, looking caught between leaping at them and
gesticulating wildly at the Headmaster.
“You have news, then?” said Harry hopefully.
A definitive look passed between the two wizards, and
Ron’s hope, spurred by Harry’s hungry words, balked.
“What is it?” he asked in a strained voice. It barely
occurred to him to ask how Sirius
was inside Hogwarts, or if Draco Malfoy had seen him.
Dumbledore cleared his throat, and Sirius stepped back
obligingly. Ron noticed that Sirius was gazing closely at Harry, whose
expression was unfathomable.
“Nothing concrete has been confirmed, Ron,” said
Dumbledore gravely. “As it has been concluded that Lucius Malfoy is in fact an
active member of Voldemort’s coterie, I have questioned Draco. Your fellow
student has no knowledge of the Ginny’s whereabouts.”
“He could be lying, Professor,” Harry protested quietly.
Dumbledore bowed his head, acknowledging the possibility,
but did not address it. “Furthermore, there has not yet been a delivery of any
terms—” He paused and
gazed solemnly at them, as if weighing his next words. “It is possible that
Voldemort’s motives for Ginny are not as simple as initially believed—”
“You mean,” said Hermione, her voice still unsteady,
“that he isn’t going to use her
to get to Harry? Or the Order? For something else?”
Dumbledore gazed at her steadily, and Ron felt his blood run
cold. Although he didn’t want his sister used as bait or an exchange for
Harry, it meant that she was alive and could be rescued. But if Voldemort’s
purpose was something else . . .
“It is possible, Miss Granger, though not certain.”
Ron snapped his head towards Harry, who’d spoken so
softly, as if amazed. He looked sick and dazed, meeting no one’s gaze, but
fixated on Fawkes. The phoenix gazed back steadily, and Harry seemed lost, for
he relapsed into his silence.
“She knew what, Harry?” asked Dumbledore gently.
Harry didn’t stir from his dolor or tear his eyes from
Fawkes, but he spoke in that hushed, stunned voice. “She knew. After the
Death Eater attack in fifth year . . . she said that she wondered if Voldemort
knew about the diary . . . And when he did find out, if he would . . .” But he trailed off.
A heavy silence fell over them. What could Voldemort do
to Ginny, now that he was at full strength? Ron wondered, feeling his blood
turn cold. Ginny’s life had evanesced under the possession of a mere memory .
“What are we going to do, then?” Hermione spoke up after
a long minute, sounding twelve again. Ron slipped his fingers through hers and
“You three,” Sirius answered, stepping around
Dumbledore’s desk, “aren’t doing anything but keeping safe. No, Harry—save
your heroics.” The wizard’s gaze prohibited any protest, but Ron could feel
his friend’s frustration and hurt. Sirius’s harsh gaze softened instantly.
“Harry, Ron, Hermione—it would be more harmful to Ginny and yourselves if we’re
ignorant or rash. All three of you are prime targets for Voldemort. Until we
know what is happening, or where she is, there is nothing anyone can do.”
“Did you try Malfoy Manor?” Ron suggested, unable to hide
“Ever since Lucius declared his allegiance to Voldemort,”
sighed Sirius, “Malfoy Manor has become impenetrable. It’s now Unplottable,
although Arthur Weasley and other members of the Ministry are aware of its
location. Breaching Charms have been erected, along with every defensive hex
or curse using light or Dark magic. It’s as well protected as Hogwarts.”
“So, obviously, Ginny’s there!”
“It has been one of the Order’s priorities to breach
Malfoy Manor, Ron,” Sirius continued, “but as of yet, we have not found a
solution. As far as we can tell, you must have the Dark Mark to enter the
It seemed rather melodramatic to say, yet Ron knew it to
be true, unless you were a hostage. A massive assault might be successful, but
the casualties would be a devastating loss for the Order. Fred and George had
ardently adopted the Malfoy mission from its birth, insisting that the
incorporation of their inventions could be beneficial to the operation. And Mum
thought their pranks would never come to good use.
“How far have they gotten?” Ron asked, remembering the
miniature models of Malfoy Manor cluttering his father’s garage. Harry and Ron
had enjoyed watching a tiny version
of Draco explode last summer.
Sirius only shook his head. “Not far enough.”
“Harry, Ron, Hermione,” said Dumbledore, casting his
stern eyes over them in turn. “I want you to return to your dormitories. You
may return later tonight.”
Ron wanted to protest, but knew there wasn’t anything he
could do. Marching out of the castle would probably succeed in bringing him to
Ginny, but it would only further complicate everything for the Order. Two
captured Weasleys—his mother wouldn’t be able to handle it.
“Professor Dumbledore,” he said suddenly. “What about my
Sirius and Dumbledore exchanged meaningful looks, and
then Dumbledore said, “We will be sending word to her shortly.”
Ron opened his mouth to ask how, but Fawkes suddenly
stretched out his great wings in a long stretch. The bird stared back at him
with intelligent beady eyes.
Then Sirius was ushering them out the door, but Harry
didn’t follow. Instead he stepped up to Dumbledore and said in a low voice,
“Can I talk with you, er, privately, Professor?”