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New Year, New Hope
New Year, New Hope
Express chugged steadily northward under a cloudless blue sky, passing
snow-coveredrolling hills and quaint
little villages still dressed in holiday finery.Inside the train, the students of Hogwarts
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry visited each others’ compartments talking
eagerly of their Christmas presents and what they had done during holiday.Moreover, there was a sense of anticipation
for what the coming term would hold.
In the last
compartment, though, Ginny Weasley stood staring out the window.The other occupants, Harry Potter, Luna
Lovegood and Neville Longbottom, were all napping or reading, so it almost
seemed to Ginny that she was alone.It
was rather a peaceful moment for her and she had let her mind wander over the
events of the last month and how her life had changed.
that first weekend in December when Harry and Hermione had accompanied her and
Ron home things had been more intense between Ginny and Harry.The trust in each other they had begun
building in the Room of Requirement in November had blossomed into a real
closeness which, in turn, had become more passionate after Ginny had found the
courage to tell Harry how she really felt about him.He had surprised her by actually returning
those feelings in the weeks leading up to Christmas and when he had joined the
Weasleys at the Burrow for the holiday, his first ever there, the two of them
had managed to find some alone time every day.It had been fun walking hand in hand through the orchard or sitting
snuggled together on one of the garden benches, talking.Ginny had found that Harry was at his most
relaxed in front of the fire, though, and they had often cuddled up on the lounge’s
hearth rug toasting marshmallows and discussing in hushed voices the events of
the previous June.
Ginny now knew
just how important a role she was playing for Harry.As his confidante, she was the sole keeper of
Harry’s big “secret,” the one that had Hermione and Ron pestering her at regular
intervals since she had accidentally let it slip that there was something more
bothering Harry. So many things could go wrong if she were to tell someone
outright, even if it was only Ron and Hermione; the first of which would be a
breech of the trust Harry had in her.Secondly, it was imperative that nothing was leaked to Voldemort if
Harry wanted to live to see his eighteenth birthday.Ginny knew her feelings for Harry were such
that she would do all in her power to keep him safely out of Voldemort’s
clutches.He was that important to her
and, it seemed, he valued her the same way.
The other part
of her role had come almost as a complete surprise.On Christmas Eve, while snuggled under a
blanket together watching the fairies flit amongst the branches of the
Christmas tree and discussing which boxes held what presents for whom, Harry
had revealed that no one had ever told him they loved him.Before she could stop herself, Ginny had
taken his hand in hers and revealed that she indeed did love him.Harry’s response would always be a wonderful
memory to her; he had reached up and tenderly kissed her on the lips murmuring
that she was the first to say, “I love you, Harry.”
His gift to her the next morning had been
shyly handed over with a stammered, “I—I l-love you, too, Ginny.You’re the first person I’ve ever said that
to.”She had gaped at him for several
seconds as his words sank in.Then, at
his urging, she had opened the tiny box with trembling fingers to find a note
and another box inside.The note had
simply said, “Happy Christmas, Ginny.Thank you.Love, Harry.” Inside
the second box was a beautiful emerald pendant with earrings to match.Ginny had stared at the expensive present,
not daring to believe he had given her a gift of such significance until she
remembered the afternoon she had given him the box to hold his Pensieve.All the emotions of that day came flooding
back and she had flung her arms around his waist, burying her face in the
hollow of his chest.When they broke apart
at last, Harry had awkwardly hung the pendant around her neck saying, “You mean
the world to me, Ginny.I wanted you to
have something just as precious.”
say, Ginny couldn’t remember much more about the rest of the day.
as the train sped ever northward, Ginny toyed with the pendant as she
contemplated the rest of their stay at The Burrow.Not much had happened, really.The good news was that Harry actually had almost a week’s worth of full
nights’ sleep and though he was dozing now, he looked more rested than he had
in six months.
As for Ron’s
reaction to Harry’s gift to Ginny, well, that had been typical.
“Oi, Ginny...where did you get the jewelry?” he had inquired
two days after Christmas.
smiled shyly as she answered, “Harry.It
was his gift to me on Christmas morning.”
“Harry’s?Since when do you rate gifts like that from him?I thought you were still going out with
Dean and I are just friends, Ron.And
it’s none of your business that Harry wanted to give his girlfriend an
expensive gift.I didn’t pry into what
you gave Hermione.”
“G-g-girlfriend?That prat!He didn’t ask my permission to go out with
you! Besides, you’re too young to be his girlfriend!”
“Oh, stuff it,
Ron,” Ginny had said irritably.“I seem
to remember that you hinted pretty hard on the train last June that the only
boy you’d approve of being my boyfriend was Harry.Now you have your wish, so quit bothering
“You’ve got me
there, Gin,” Ron had admitted, then added, “Congrats, little sister.Be good to my best mate, will you?”
smiled at her brother then.“You can
count on it.”
loud snore from Harry brought Ginny’s thoughts back to the present.She wrenched her gaze from the passing scenery
to let it rest on the boy who meant so much to her.At the moment, he looked rather peaceful in
his somewhat uncomfortable position, his head resting on the back of the
seat.Ginny sat down next to him and
pulled a textbook from her bag before gently guiding his head onto her
shoulder.Harry sighed contentedly and
snaked an arm around her waist as he made himself comfortable.
and looked out the window again.This time thinking of their one and only kiss on Christmas Eve.Since then, for all the hand holding and
cuddling together that they’d done, they had never exchanged a passionate snog
again.Of course, Ginny had felt Harry
brush his lips on the top of her head or on her forehead, but no other kiss had
been directly aimed at her mouth!Ginny
sensed that Harry was holding himself back for some reason.She suspected that it had to do with some of
the secrets he was keeping from her and Ron and Hermione and that Harry was
still afraid to let himself completely love her for some reason.She knew that Sirius’ death had taken the one
adult from Harry that he had probably loved like a parent; maybe he was afraid
to love someone completely because he was afraid to lose them, too.Oh, it was so complicated this psychoanalysis
stuff.It made her more tired to think
about it than revising for her O.W.L.s!
The view from
the window was now almost completely dark and as the lamps in the compartment
flickered to life Ginny finally opened the book which rested on her lap.She was a little surprised to find that she
had pulled out her Potions book, but opened it anyway to a random page which
turned out to be the entry about hellebore. As she read about the plant’s uses
in potion-making and its effect upon the mixtures it was used in something began
to surface from the depths of her mind.Finally, at the bottom of the page, a list of potions containing even
the smallest amount of hellebore caught her attention and sent her mind
wandering again, for at the top of the list was the Draught of Peace.
remembered that the Draught of Peace was the first potion her class had been
set to brew their first day back at Hogwarts in September.She had been proud that she had eventually
managed to receive an “A” for her attempt at this fiddly potion.Several others in her class hadn’t been so
lucky.Colin Creevey had received a
particularly nasty detention from Professor Snape when he had upset his
cauldron and accidentally caught the teacher’s robes on fire.Luna Lovegood had also encountered Professor
Snape’s wrath later in the day for being more interested in watching the steam
patterns issuing from her cauldron than stirring her mixture the correct number
of times one way or another for a specific amount of time.
there was something that Professor Snape had said about the potion that now
made Ginny flip to the index in search of more information.Turning to the new page, Ginny read about the
potion itself and began to grin as her eyes flew over the page.The words “calms anxiety” and “sooths
agitation” interspersed with her own ideas:
nightmares, depression, and grief.
This is it, she thought.This
potion could possibly help Harry!
What had made
her so hopeful was the description of the potion’s effects:“The Draught of Peace is used to calm the
nerves and quiet agitation,” She read.The excerpt gave a list of ingredients as well as confirmed that brewing
time was exactly an hour and a half.Ginny knew she had copied the exact quantities of ingredients and the
method into her notes after she had turned in her flask to Professor Snape; all
she needed to do was a little more research on the effects of the potion.She resolved to go to the library before bed
that night to get the missing information.
began to slow as it approached Hogsmeade Station.“Harry, wake up sweetie,” Ginny whispered and
began playing with fringe covering his forehead, an action which Harry had
admitted felt rather nice to wake up to. “We’re almost home.Ron and Hermione will be back shortly to get
“Mmmm, fi’ mo’
m’nts,” Harry mumbled now burrowing his forehead into her neck.
giggled.“Sorry, love.There isn’t time.Besides, we’re due for our usual visit from
Malfoy and he’s certain to turn up since we’ve not seen him the entire trip.”
Harry’s attention.He jerked his head up
from her shoulder and looked around the compartment a little dazed and slightly
confused.“Where’s Malfoy?” he asked
shaking the last vestiges of sleep from his head.
“Not here, thank
goodness,” came Neville’s relieved observation from
across the compartment.Looking directly
at Harry, he commented, “I didn’t see him on the platform.I don’t think he went home for Christmas this
year.Or if he did, he didn’t take the
train back to school.”
matter.It’s been a rather pleasant
journey without him.”
agreed and began gathering their belongings as Hogsmeade station came into
Ginny stepped out of the train onto the snowy platform and followed the crowd
that was shuffling its way toward the path to the coaches.Ginny could see Hermione and Ron up ahead
helping some of the younger students with their belongings and showing them the
correct path to take, even though there was a steady stream of students going
in one particular direction.
The cold air
felt good to Ginny after the sleepy confines of the coach compartment.She breathed in deeply, savoring the faint
pine scent that drifted from the surrounding pine forest.As much as she loved going home, she decided,
it was always a thrill to be once again gazing upon the towers and battlements
The peace of
the afternoon was suddenly shattered by a drawling voice which could only
belong to Draco Malfoy.“Well, if it
isn’t Potty and the Weasle-ette.”
Where did he
come from? Ginny glanced warily between the two boys, ready to react if she
“What do you
want, Malfoy?” Harry spat, not bothering to stop walking.
followed Harry and Ginny. “I’ve heard rumors, Potter, that youshacked upwith
this Mudblood-lover’s family during the holiday,” the other boy drawled.
Malfoy,” Harry said fiercely as Ginny put a restraining hand on his arm.
Ignore him,” she whispered.She could
feel him tense up for Malfoy’s next barrage of insults.
“Oh, I think
not.It’s funny that you can’t find some
place better, Potter.Where did you have
to sleep? The pigsty?” Malfoy asked.
course not.He slept in the guest room like a proper
guest.Now be a good little Slytherin
and leave us alone,” Ginny chimed in airily trying to dispel the tension. It
didn’t work as Malfoy continued to follow them. “Come on, Harry,” she
whispered.“Let’s find someplace to
She led the
way toward the nearest empty coach.“Tell me Malfoy,” she said, turning at the door to look over her
shoulder at their tormenter, “Where are Crabbe and Goyle? And how come you
weren’t on the train?”
“None of your
damn business,” the Slytherin spat at her.He turned his attention back to Harry.“I find it incredibly funny that the dog pound closed its doors last
June.Maybe if it had been open you
could have spent the holiday there playing with all the dogs."
to look at Malfoy.The allusion to Sirius
had clearly gotten to him.“I wouldn’t
know,” he said, the rage in his voice barely controlled.Ginny could feel something radiating from him
that seemed to shimmer through the air.She watched in trepidation as Harry walked toward the horseless end of
the coach and reached out a hand, making a patting motion.It seemed to calm him a bit.“My room at the Weasley’s probably had a much
better view and accommodations than the prison cell you slept in.”
stiffened, his face twisting angrily at Harry’s words.“What exactly are you hinting at?” he asked.
think it’s obvious, don’t you?” Harry said his voice dangerously level.Ginny had a sudden memory flash of Mr. Malfoy
being led past her, magically bound to the other prisoners, from her seat on
the floor of the Department of Mysteries.Good one, Harry!Go for the jugular!
Ginny heard the unmistakable sound of harness traces being undone. The coach
shuddered. Malfoy must have heard the sound as well because his attention swiveled
from Harry toward the coach.The thestrals! Ginny sucked in her
breath as she watched Harry and Malfoy.Both boys’ attention was riveted to the seemingly empty space between
Harry and the coach now; Malfoy looked mildly alarmed, Harry grinned shrewdly.
next was anybody’s guess except Harry’s.Ginny, and several others who had stopped to watch the exchange between
Harry and Malfoy, looked on in fascination as the sleeve of Malfoy’s robes was
torn from shoulder to wrist in one fluid motion.For a split second, the piece of material
dangled in mid-air after which it was dropped abruptly onto the snowy
ground.The next instant, Malfoy was
flying through the air, landing unceremoniously on his backside in a snow
drift.The crowd burst into raucous
laughter as Malfoy picked himself up, grabbed the
piece of his sleeve, and stomped away muttering threats under his breath.
to regret this, Potter,” he shouted over his shoulder at them.
Only then, did Ginny turn back to Harry.He seemed to be leaning against a thestral’s
neck, stroking the horse gently and talking to it in a whisper.Walking closer, she heard a faint whinny
before Harry seemed to lead the horse back to the coach.Again, there was the rattle of harness traces
as the coach swayed slightly.Harry gave
the thestrals one last pat and joined Ginny as she climbed inside their coach.
interesting,” she commented as he sat down.“What’s with the thestrals?”
his head.“I think the two pulling this
coach were part of our transport to London last June.They both nuzzled me when I walked up to
them.I think they recognized me.”
“They did more
than that, Harry.I think they were
you say that?”
they...or did you unhitch them from the coach?”
“You did use a spell, didn’t you?”
“N-no.Why do you ask?”
powerful. I think the thestrals felt it, too.Maybe that’s why they acted the way they did.” Could this have anything to do with ‘the
power the Dark Lord knows not’?It
was a scary thought.
could reply, Ron and Hermione entered the coach along with Neville and Luna.
with Malfoy?”Ron asked.“He looked like he could use a trip to Madam Malkin’s.”
wickedly.“The thestrals don’t like
grinned.“So it’s true, then.He really did end up as a horse’s snack.I wonder if he’ll sue.”
her head.“I don’t think he will.Malfoy hates to admit he’s done anything
wrong, the arrogant git.”
stared at Hermione for a moment, and then burst out laughing.The good mood from earlier had returned and
Ginny and the rest of the coach’s occupants filled the rest of the journey with
talk of something other than the malicious Slytherin.
Ginny bade the others good night at the Portrait Hole and headed for her
dormitory to organize her books for the next morning’s lessons.It was still early and since there was time,
she was going to slip away to the library before curfew at .She shoved her Potions notebook into her rucksack and headed for the
reached the bottom of the Girl’s staircase she paused to look for her brother
and his friends.She spotted them at
Hermione’s favorite table; Ron and Harry were absorbed in a fierce battle
across the chess board, Hermione had her nose in a book with Crookshanks curled
comfortably in her lap.None of them
noticed as she quietly left the common room and headed for the library where
she found a private table near the Potions section.
Taking out her
notebook, she scanned her entries for her notes concerning the Draught of
Peace.In addition to the formula and
method, she’d made detailed observations in the margins about vapor color,
stirring direction and duration, the consistency of the liquid, and other
addendums to what she had copied from Professor Snape’s board.What she didn’t have was the history of use,
a more detailed description of the potion’s effects on the body, or suggestions
for use.A quick search of the potions
section revealed little by way of medicinal uses for the potion.Sighing heavily, she walked over to Madam
Pince’s desk to ask for her assistance.
“May I help you?”
the librarian asked as Ginny walked up.
“Yes.I need what Muggles would call medicinal
information about several potions including dosage, suggestions for use, and
the effects on the body,” Ginny told her a little nervously.
eyes bore into Ginny’s. “Any specific potion or do you want a broader search?”
for a moment.“General information is
mostly what I need right now. I can start there and organize my essay from what
I find,” she said, crossing her fingers behind her back.
stepped out from behind the desk.“Very well. Follow me,” she requested crisply and led the
way back to the section Ginny had just left.“Medicinal Potions are on the top two shelves.Use the stepladder,” she pointed down the
stack, “to reach the books you want.Do
not use levitation charms on these books.Some of them have been rather badly damaged by students dropping them.Understood?”
nodded and went to investigate some muffled noises issuing from the next row
Ginny stood on
tip toe to see the titles of the books; there were several she wanted to check
out.She retrieved the stepladder and
took down two heavy volumes which she laid next to her notebook before going to
get two more that she was interested in.With a glance at the library clock Ginny sat down and began leafing
through the first book, Common Medicinal
Potions for the Household.
The Table of
Contents seemed helpful, even mentioning the Draught of Peace.However, when she turned to the entry, all
she found was the exact recipe she had copied from Snape’s board.She wondered whether the Potions Master had
taken the directions from this book verbatim.Ginny closed the book with a soft thump and reached for the next
book.It, too, only gave the recipe as
did the next four she chose to look in.With a sigh, Ginny rose from her table and mounted the ladder.It was going to be a long night...
time neared, Ginny wearily climbed the ladder for the seventeenth time that evening.The books were surprisingly heavy the higher
she climbed and she wondered why the librarian insisted this section be placed
so high out of reach.She reshelved her
latest load and scanned the next few books for promising titles. A small, thin
volume, Uncommon Uses for Everyday
Potions, caught her attention, so she plucked it from between the two huge
tomes which flanked it and began turning the fragile pages.
What she found
fascinated her.Not only did this book
give the exact information for the Draught of Peace she needed, it also
included detailed methods of changing the potion to suit the exact use:
happiness restorative, solace of the mind, comfort for the soul, relaxation,
nightmares, insomnia. There
were several others listed, but Ginny had stopped reading.A smile played at the corners of her mouth as
she climbed down and took her place at the table to peruse the book more
through the pages, eagerly looking for other common recipes that could be
changed to suit her purpose.Eventually,
she found and made a list of the variations on teas, tinctures, elixirs, and
decoctions which produced a variety of calming effects, insomnia cures, nerve
tonics and body balance restoratives.I’ve found it, she thought happily as
she cleared her table.All I need now are the ingredients.
frowned at Ginny as she brought her book up to the desk.“The library closed ten minutes ago,” she
“I was putting
away the books I was using as you requested: no magic,” Ginny told her evenly.
harrumphed.“I see you found the most
dangerous book in the section,” she observed as she completed the check-out
procedure.“Don’t get any ideas on
attempting any of the variations to these potions without plenty of caution and
extra research.Otherwise, you’ll end up
poisoning whoever ingests your concoction.”
Ginny asked, “How do you know?”
eyes bore into Ginny’s as she said, “Just go ask Madam Pomfrey about the number
of poisoning cases she’s treated which have resulted from the use of this
Ginny rose to
the challenge.“All right, I will.And why, may I ask, isn’t this book in the
smiled slyly.“It usually is, my
dear.However, there’s something about
that book that causes it to migrate between sections at random.It somehow senses the seeker’s need for it
and appears when least expected.That
book contains an immense amount of knowledge which conforms itself to the
reader’s needs.I will check this book
out to you on the condition that only you read it, for the information
contained herein has matched itself to your desires.Do I make myself clear?”
as she reached for the book.“Yes, ma’am.Thank
you and good night.”With that, Ginny
jammed Uncommon Uses for Everyday Potions
in her book bag and fled, Madam Pince’s warning ringing in her ears.
End of Part One
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