PART TWO: Eyes
“But Grandma, what
big eyes you have.”
“All the better to
see you with, my dear.”
Alley was bustling as usual. Ever since she could remember, they had come here
the week before school started to buy books and supplies – that is, they bought
what they could afford, or what they had to replace. She and Mum had often
gazed at some fancy robes and hats in Madam Malkin’s shop, but they had never
once gone in and bought anything like that. However, this summer – triggered by
some diabolical chemical in her brain – her body had started to change. Along
with all the indignities the boys had to bear – shyness, spots and body hair – she,
as the only girl, had a special irritation in store for her.
shifted from foot to foot on the fitting stool and thought for the hundredth
time that she didn’t need a baby at twelve,
didn’t want a baby at twelve, and
wasn’t even sure about kissing a boy, let alone
anything beyond that. She refused to think about kissing Harry.
still, dear,” said Madam Malkin in that soft drone which told you she’d said that
to many Hogwarts pupils over many years.
reason, Mum was looking tearful. She had a sentimental smile. Ginny’s heart
sank. Mum was either going to burst into one of her ‘cute’ stories about
Ginny’s childhood or she was going to say something about how her ‘little girl’
was growing up. Ginny couldn’t decide which option was more excruciating. She
could feel the material pinning itself around her, moulding itself to her hips,
which were still small, her waist, which was still straight, and hanging loose
over her chest.
know… it seems like yesterday I was in here getting Bill fitted,” Mum sighed.
“And now here you are… my little girl…”
winced and prayed that her robes were almost finished. Madam Malkin nodded.
“It’s true, Molly, they do grow up fast… how is Bill, by the way?”
successfully distracted into tales of her brilliant eldest son, who was working
in Egypt at the moment, for Gringotts of
course… Ginny breathed a sigh of relief. Madam Malkin must have had to listen
to tons of speeches like the one Mum had almost started. Of course, she
probably had a soft spot for Bill. A lot of the shop ladies in Diagon Alley
asked her mum about him when they visited. And they always asked her how she
was doing. Probably because she was the only girl, it wasn’t too difficult to
bell rang as the door opened again, and two girls walked in, chatting together.
The taller girl had loose fair hair tumbling to her shoulders, while her friend
had a long dark ponytail. Ginny felt her heart plunge. Here she was, standing
on the stool, arms held out like an idiot when she could have been coolly
discussing the cut and fit of her robes with Madam Malkin, but the shopkeeper
was now completely involved in her conversation with Mum.
girls looked up and both stopped talking abruptly, their eyes widening. Ginny
Esmé, hey Rowena,” she said, putting a smile on her face.
tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. “Hey… Ginny,” she said, as if she had
only just remembered the name. Esmé just watched her, bright blue eyes wary and
curious at the same time.
fitted?” Ginny asked desperately. “Buying some accessories?”
checking what’s on offer,” Rowena answered, avoiding Ginny’s eyes. “I haven’t
been given much pocket money this year.”
yeah, I remember, you had a thing for those talking brooches last year!” Ginny
agreed, and winced at the eagerness in her voice. You sound so desperate, stop it! What she had said was true, but it
was the way she’d said it which counted. It was bad enough that they saw her as
a weirdo with no friends without her actually acting like one. There goes my chance of sitting with them on
the train tomorrow. Maybe I’ll be able to slip in with Harry, Ron and Hermione…
seemed a bit surprised. “You remember that?”
couldn’t sleep for the bloody things,” Esmé muttered, and Ginny felt her lips
quiver in a smile, partly for what Esmé had actually said, and partly because
Esmé had been daring enough to swear in the presence of two adults, even if it
was under her breath. It was obvious why she was in Gryffindor. Maybe the
situation wasn’t as hopeless as Ginny had thought –
could have cried. Why did Mum have to notice them now? Why couldn’t she and
Madam Malkin have gone on talking for a bit longer? Now Mum would want to know
Rowena and Esmé’s names, and which house they were in, and how they all knew
Mrs. Weasley,” Rowena replied. Both she and Esmé were looking wary again,
leaning back from Mum.
Ginny’s told you about me,” said Mum in a bright voice. “Then you must be in
girls nodded. Mum didn’t seem to notice how nervous and uncomfortable they
were, which was unusual for her. Instead, she prattled on in that light tone
which somehow hurt your ears. “We’re here to get Ginny some new robes, she’s
grown so much this summer, but it’s your age, isn’t it, I’m sure you girls have
experienced the same thing.”
Ginny said, tortured beyond endurance. “I’m finished!”
turned around. “Oh, yes… so you are, dear.”
hopped down from the stool, her cheeks flaming red with shame and
embarrassment, glaring at Rowena and Esmé, daring them to laugh or say
something. They did neither. They just looked embarrassed. Ginny couldn’t blame
see you two on the train tomorrow, maybe,” she said and brushed past them,
almost running out of the shop. The fresh air made the lump in her throat
dissolve slightly, but not that much. How could Mum do that? How could she
start talking to Rowena and Esmé about what had happened in the middle of Madam
Malkin’s? Ginny covered her face for a moment, pressing sweaty palms to her
Calm down, calm down, calm down… you are not going to cry in the street.
her hands away and looked around, focusing on the little details. The way a small
child dragged his feet slightly as his mother walked away from the sweet shop…
the huddle of Hogwarts students chatting by Flourish and Blotts, sacks and bags
crammed with new textbooks… the ‘Wanted’ posters of Sirius Black, grim black
and white reminders of reality in the colourful summer day. You would not have
known a psychopathic killer was on the loose otherwise – the shoppers seemed
unconcerned, barely glancing at the posters; there were no security measures
around the shops. Only Gringotts seemed to be taking Black’s escape seriously –
the huge front doors of the bank, usually open on a hot day, were shut tight,
and there was a little sign fixed to one of them that read ‘If you have
business, please use the knocker and wait. If you don’t, clear off.’
be really angry, she was using her full name. It wasn’t that Ginny hated her
full name exactly, she’d just found it very difficult to pronounce when she was
little, and when she grew older, she started to think that it didn’t suit her.
‘Ginevra’ was stately, more suited to someone who was tall. She was not tall.
appeared in front of her, bristling. “How could you behave like that? You
didn’t even say goodbye to Madam Malkin, you just stormed out of there as if
you had no manners at all, and they seemed such nice girls, I was so ashamed of
were embarrassing me!” Ginny
interrupted. “How could you talk about… that
to Rowena and Esmé?!”
seemed to get on so well with them!”
share a dormitory with them, that doesn’t mean we’re all chums! They already
think I’m a weirdo because of what happened, and now you…” She stopped.
looked stricken. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I just wanted to help. I thought
if I was nice to them, then maybe… I’m sorry.”
fought the urge to close her eyes. “Don’t, Mum, it’s all right, really it’s all
right,” she said, looking away. “Come on, we should get back to the Cauldron.”
Anything to stop those tears she could see in her mother’s eyes.
memory of walking into Dumbledore’s office, seeing Mum with tears on her
cheeks, and worst of all it was her fault
that Mum had been like that, and then Mum had started crying again, hugging her, saying they’d
thought she was dead… Ginny forced the thoughts away. She wasn’t going to think
of that anymore. It was a new year, she had to make up for lost time. She
couldn’t afford to focus on the past, not when it still ripped her apart
are the boys?” Mum murmured. “There’s Fred and George… and Percy. He must have
rounded them up.” There was a definite note of relief in Mum’s voice. Ginny hid
a smile; Mum must have been dreading getting them out of Zonko’s, but as usual,
Percy was there to help her. ‘Mum’s Little Helper’, that’s what his nickname
used to be, she remembered that dimly. The twins had made fun of the title of
course, but Percy had ignored them, just like he ignored them when they made
fun of him being Prefect, just like he was ignoring them now he’d been made
Head Boy. Of course, it would help if he wasn’t quite so insistent on reminding
everyone that he was Head Boy, but try telling that to Percy…
walked inside, she could hear Dad’s voice: “Don’t be ridiculous, Ron. Black’s
not going to be caught by a thirteen-year-old wizard. It’s the Azkaban guards
who’ll get him back, you mark my words.”
Typical Ron, Ginny thought fondly. Always racing off without a moment’s thought for any… thing…
felt her stomach curl up and her heart suddenly slam into the middle of her
chest, thumping against her ribs. Her cheeks were burning. The way his hair
stuck up at the back… the way he stood straight, the way his chin stuck out in
that proud defiant way, that Gryffindor way…
saved her life.
saved her life because she’d been a stupid little girl. And here he was,
smiling at her as if nothing had happened, as if everything was perfectly
tore her gaze away. “Hello…” There were tears in her eyes for some reason, and
she blinked them away. He hadn’t noticed her. He hadn’t noticed her at all. She
took a deep breath and then abruptly forgot her own sorrows. What was Percy doing? What was he doing shaking Harry’s
hand and enquiring after his health? Ginny didn’t know whether to laugh or
stare in utter disbelief. At least Harry hadn’t burst out laughing, but here
came the twins, always ready to mock Percy’s pomposity.
enough!” Mum said, moving forward.
behind her. It was so difficult to know how to react. She didn’t want to hurt
Percy’s feelings by laughing at him, but he was
being ridiculous, and the twins were
dropped into a chair and stretched her feet out under the table. Ginny never
understood why Mum crammed her feet into those awful little shoes whenever they
came to Diagon Alley: they crushed her toes and by the end of a day’s shopping
she generally needed a foot bath with Fabian Franklin’s Feet Feast. And now she
was fussing over Percy again… Ginny turned away, suddenly tired of her family.
She just wanted to get to her room, fall on the bed and have a good cry in her
pillow. George’s voice suddenly rose above the babble of the pub.
we want to be Prefects for? It’d take all the fun out of life!”
escaped her before she could think, which made Mum start on the twins about
setting a good example, which meant Percy had to stick his oar in… Ginny wanted
to scream at the predictability of it all, but fortunately Percy went upstairs
at that point. She waited for a moment and then followed him, hurrying into her
room and flinging herself on the bed. It was all too much – Rowena and Esmé
turning up, Mum behaving like that, Harry ignoring her as usual – how was she
going to be able to bear the coming year?
was a knock on the door. Ginny didn’t reply. She buried her face in the pillow
and hoped whoever it was would go away. Then her heart jumped: maybe it was
Harry – maybe he’d seen that she was barely holding back tears and he’d come to
check on her –
heart crashed back down with a thump inside her chest, sliding all the way down
into her stomach. It was only Hermione. Hermione Granger, who got to spend
every day with Harry. She wasn’t jealous… not exactly. She just wished that
Hermione could appreciate her luck. But of course, it would be even worse if
Hermione did start appreciating her
luck and seeing Harry as more than a little brother.
knock came again. “Ginny? May I come
almost huffed. It was her room as well, what was she knocking for?
Ginny snapped, lifting her head. “If you’re coming in, come in, if not, go
was a brief silence, and then the door opened and Hermione slipped inside.
Ginny watched, noticing how Hermione had to turn sideways now because of her
new figure. Lucky her; Ginny glanced down at her own body, which was still as
straight as an ironing board, still a little girl’s body, on the outside. The
inside, of course, was completely different.
sat down on the bed and Ginny noticed for the first time that she was carrying
something: something that was large and orange and it had a tail. “Oh!” she
said, sitting up, bad mood forgotten. “You got a cat!”
smiled. “His name’s Crookshanks, he’s my birthday present from Mum and Dad –
they gave me some money to buy what I wanted,” she added, loosening her grip.
Crookshanks jumped down onto the floor and looked around, whiskers twitching.
he’s huge!” Ginny said, staring at him. “Do you know what breed he is?”
witch in the shop said he was half-Kneazle, but Kneazles are small. Anyway, I
like the fact he’s so big,” Hermione cooed, stroking Crookshanks’s back.
“There’s more of him to cuddle.”
loved cats, but even she had to admit that Crookshanks wasn’t exactly what
you’d call a handsome specimen. He was big but rather misshapen, with long
bandy legs that had given him his name, one tattered ear, and a rather lumpy,
misshapen face. He bore the marks of a rough life. Ginny slipped onto the floor
and held out her hand: if Crookshanks was half-Kneazle, it was best that she
took things slowly. Aside from the fact you could never tell how much was
Kneazle and how much was ordinary cat, it seemed like he’d been ill-treated.
The ginger tom stretched his neck and sniffed her hand for a while; then an
enormous rumbling purr filled the room, and he pressed his head up into Ginny’s
hand, rubbing the curve of his spine along her arm.
he likes you!” Hermione said, beaming.
blinked back sudden tears. “Yeah…” She gently pulled the cat into a cuddle and
began to stroke him, enjoying the feeling of the warm purring lump against her
chest. Crookshanks kneaded her thin t-shirt (she noticed that he was careful to
avoid pricking her skin) and gazed up at her, his amber eyes smug and certain
of his appeal. Ginny grinned down at him. “Yeah, you know you’re charming,
don’t you?” she said, tickling him under the chin and watching him stretch out
his neck in pleasure.
moment, Ginny wondered why Hermione was asking. Then she remembered. “Oh… yeah…
sorry I snapped at you. Mum was just…” She wondered how to give an explanation
that would satisfy Hermione without giving anything away.
don’t have to pretend with me,” Hermione said, getting down onto the floor. “I
know it can’t just have been your mum.” She reached out and stroked
Crookshanks’s head, a soft smile on her face.
everything, all right?” Ginny said angrily. “It’s Mum, and it’s going back to
school, and it’s… it’s Harry.” She swallowed down a sudden lump, hating the way
her voice had weakened on his name.
kept stroking Crookshanks, but Ginny could feel her eyes on her face. “He does
like you, Ginny,” she said quietly.
doesn’t even notice me!” Ginny said
bitterly. “All I am is just some nuisance that he had to rescue last year
because I was stupid enough to trust that diary–!”
looked up, surprised and puzzled by the word. “No?”
was looking at her calmly. “He doesn’t think of you as a nuisance, Ginny,” she
said. “Not at all. Colin Creevey’s a nuisance. Malfoy’s a nuisance. You’re…
you’re not a nuisance. You’re his best friend’s little sister. I know that’s
not exactly inspiring, but you’re not a nuisance, okay? Harry does like you…
just not in the way you want him to.”
such an idiot,” Ginny muttered.
all been idiots!” Hermione said earnestly, putting a hand on her arm. “Listen,
Ginny… Harry and I were just as fascinated by that diary. We spent a whole
evening trying to figure it out… I did all this research about book spells… it
wasn’t just you! You were just unlucky enough to write in it. And how were you
supposed to know it was evil? It’s
not like it had snakes on the cover or ‘Slytherin Rules!’ written all over the
shrugged and then jumped as Crookshanks let out a rather loud meow, his eyes
fixed on her face.
Crookshanks, have we been ignoring you?” Hermione cooed, picking him up and
cuddling him so that the rumbling purrs started again. “We’re sorry, aren’t we,
Ginny, we’re sorry…”
sight of rational, brilliant Hermione fussing over such a cat was irresistible.
Ginny giggled. “Love at first sight, was it?” she said with a grin.
smiled foolishly. “Yeah… Ron doesn’t like him, though,” she added, frowning.
“He thinks that Crookshanks is after Scabbers. I mean, he thinks Crookshanks
has deliberately targeted him.”
rolled her eyes. The idiocy of boys was infinite. “Scabbers is a rat, of course Crookshanks is going to be after
him,” she said, folding her arms. “He’ll probably go after other rats as well,
it’s just Scabbers is the nearest one… although he’s not exactly rich pickings
lately.” She frowned suddenly, remembering how worried Ron had been about his
pet since they’d returned from Egypt. First Scabbers had lost weight,
and recently he’d started to lose his fur as well. Maybe Ron was being paranoid
about Crookshanks targeting his rat, but she couldn’t blame him for being
worried. Scabbers was one of the few things that belonged to Ron alone.
it’s ridiculous,” Hermione huffed, “just because Crookshanks jumped on his
head, Ron’s got this grudge against him already…”
leaned back against the bed and let Hermione complain about her older brother
for the next ten minutes. For one thing, it was funny, and a lot of the things
Hermione said about Ron were true; and for another, it meant that Hermione
didn’t try and talk to her about the diary or Harry. Ginny didn’t really feel
like discussing those subjects with anyone; least of all the girl who was
Harry’s closest friend after Ron.
were some barriers you just didn’t cross.
* * *
enjoyed the luxurious ride to Kings Cross in the Ministry limousines. She
wasn’t sharing one with Harry, but maybe that was a good thing, since she’d
probably have spent the whole journey with her mouth shut, her cheeks red, and
her eyes alternately fixed on him or out the window. Even better was how the
drivers found them all trolleys and then touched their caps to Dad. She knew
that a lot of people liked Dad, she knew he was popular, but she did wish that
he got more respect. So he liked Muggle things, everyone had their little
eccentricity, he shouldn’t be held back for it…
voice brought her out of her reverie, and she looked up into Percy’s kind,
bespectacled eyes. He was smiling a little, the pompousness peeled back to
expose the real Percy. She smiled back and then glanced around at everyone
could we run?”
looked puzzled. “Would it make you feel better?”
nodded. They each put their hands on the bar of the trolley and began to push
it, gathering speed, going faster and faster until the barrier was there before
them, blinking out of sight, and they were on Platform 9¾, with the steam of
the Hogwarts Express billowing around them, laughter and chatter and the
shrieks of owls.
there’s Penelope!” said Percy, blushing and smoothing his hair, forgetting
Ginny in an instant. He marched towards her with his chest puffed out. Ginny
glanced at Harry, met his eye, and then they both turned away, shoulders
shaking with laughter. Well, at least Percy was in safe hands, Ginny reflected
with a little smirk, and it was only later that she realised she’d been
completely natural with Harry for a moment.
the customary quest for an empty carriage – as usual, it was right at the back
of the train – and loading the luggage and the animals (Crookshanks was
spitting like a cobra in his basket), it was time for the goodbye kiss. As they
hugged, Mum whispered in her ear, “If you need an ear, I’m just an owl away.
You’re going to be fine, Ginny.”
pulled away and smiled at her. “Course I am, Mum. No sweat.” Then Hermione and
Harry got kissed and hugged: Harry blushed a bit, and Ginny thought with a pang
how cute he looked. Then Mum began to hand out the sandwiches – Percy appeared,
grabbed his, and disappeared again – beef and pickle for the twins, cheese for
Ron and honey for her. She took the package with a smile, and glanced around
for Harry, but he’d disappeared, and the smoke from the funnel was getting
whiter and whiter, signifying that they were banking up the engine.
get on,” Mum said, chivvying them. The twins immediately went off to look for
Lee Jordan, but Ginny stayed with Ron and Hermione, anxiously waiting for Harry
what are you doing? It’s about to go!” Mum called, and Ginny saw her father
talking to Harry behind a pillar. Dad looked pale and serious, the usual light
in his eyes gone. Harry looked non-plussed, puzzled. Ginny wondered what they
were talking about.
whistle shrieked in their ears and she jumped slightly. Guards began to slam
the doors, one heavy bang after another, and Harry was still on the platform.
Oh hurry UP! Ginny thought, almost dancing on her feet. Please hurry up, Harry, don’t get left
behind! She almost called out, but she had no idea what Harry would think
if she did, the mere thought was enough to make her go bright red. She could
feel the motion of the train under her feet. Hermione was jumping on her feet
and Ron was yelling at Harry to get a move on.
quickly!” Mum shouted, and Harry ran towards them. Ron threw open the door and
pulled him on, just as the train began to pick up speed. They all leaned out of
the door window, waving at Mum and Dad until the train turned a corner and they
turned and smiled at the three of them, but Ron glared at her. “Go away,
felt like she’d been slapped. “Oh, that’s nice,” she snapped, and stalked off
down the carriage. So much for sitting in the same compartment as them, so much
for being with Harry for the whole journey, so much for Ron looking after his
little sister. No, as soon as Harry Potter and Hermione Granger turned up, she
didn’t even get a look in…
threw open a compartment door at random and flung herself in the corner seat
without even looking at who was there. It turned out there were only two other
people, fortunately enough: Neville Longbottom, and a girl from her own year.
Ginny sort of recognised her, but she didn’t know her name. They were both
staring at her. The girl had long mousy hair falling down her back to her
waist, and Ginny couldn’t help noticing it was full of split ends, but at least
her skin wasn’t covered in freckles. It was lovely and clear, and her eyes were
a soft silvery grey. Whereas Neville looked faintly alarmed, the girl looked
more interested than anything else. Ginny felt a spark of friendliness towards
Neville,” she said, smiling at him, and getting a tentative smile in return.
“How was your summer?”
bad,” Neville said, making a grab for his toad as Trevor tried to hop under the
seat. Ginny’s lips twitched, but she forced herself not to smile. So many
people made fun of Neville, but she wasn’t going to be like them.
was still looking at her with the same expression of mild interest. Ginny looked
at her. “I’m Ginny Weasley,” she said. “What’s your name?”
meet you, Luna,” Ginny said with a smile.
people call me ‘Loony’,” Luna observed.
Ginny was lost for words. Normally, this only happened when she was around
Harry Potter, but that statement was just… She took refuge in manners. “Don’t
really.” Luna shrugged. “What’s important is that the message gets across,
right,” Ginny agreed, not quite sure what they were talking about. If anyone
had called her ‘loony’, she would have hexed them to next Sunday, but obviously
Luna was different.
Weasley,” Luna said dreamily. “You got taken into the Chamber, didn’t you?”
again, Ginny was lost for words. To have it so baldly stated like that… the
plain and simple truth, not all those rumours and questions she’d had to deal
with at the end of the year. Neville was staring at Luna as if she was insane,
but Ginny wasn’t angry. It felt nice to have someone acknowledge what had
happened without any fuss. She nodded.
nodded, almost to herself. “Harry Potter rescued you, didn’t he?” she said, as
if they were discussing something which had happened in a book.
felt her cheeks burn and nodded again. The other girls had asked her if he’d
given her ‘the Kiss of Life’, if he’d said anything ‘romantic’, and it had been
so embarrassing because the reality hadn’t been anything like that. Harry had
been covered in blood and sweat and dirt, holding a sword, his green eyes
burning into hers, and she’d wanted to crawl into a corner and die from the
shame of what she’d done, the embarrassment of him seeing her like this, and the
terror of what would happen when her parents found out…
okay,” Neville said, breaking in on her thoughts. “It’s over now, Ginny.” He
was staring at her anxiously, and Ginny’s heart warmed at his concern.
she said. “I’m here, aren’t I?” She winked at him, making a small smile flutter
on his lips.
like being here?” asked Luna.
blinked. “I… I don’t know,” she said, rubbing her palms over the skirt she’d
put on that morning. “Nobody’s ever asked me that question before… yes!” She
looked up, defiant. “I do like being here. I like being alive.”
nodded. “Life’s interesting, isn’t it?” she said. “So many things to find out…”
of them are good things,” said Neville unexpectedly, frowning and gripping
Trevor so tightly that the toad looked as if he was being suffocated.
Ginny agreed. “But even the bad things… they’re necessary. They have to be necessary,” she added softly.
conversation ground to a halt, but the silence wasn’t unpleasant. Luna curled
up in her corner, reading her magazine. Neville read a book about herbs and
their magical properties, and Ginny picked up her book of fairy tales,
confident that her companions would not mock her choice of reading material.
trolley lady came by, asking if they wanted any sweets. Luna bought a whole bag
of Everlasting Gobstoppers. Ginny helped Neville find his money sack and he
shared some of his Chocolate Frogs with her and Luna in return. Ginny stored the
cards away in her robe pocket for Ron. Outside the window, grey sheets of rain
blurred the scenery, following them all the way up into Scotland. It was so
overcast that they barely saw the sky darkening from grey to black, and blinked
in surprise when the lanterns came on, shutting out the night. The wind whistled
and occasionally roared outside, but the compartment was warm, even cosy. Ginny
leant back, thinking that maybe it hadn’t been such a bad thing to come in
here. She wouldn’t have been half so relaxed if she’d spent the journey in
Oh, why can’t I talk
to him? It should be simple enough. It’s not like he’s done anything to make me feel this way. It’s just
those eyes… and that smile… and the way he lifts his chin… I’m hopeless.
was a sudden change in the rhythm of the change. Neville gasped, jerking his
head up. “Are we there already?” He jumped to his feet and pulled his robes
down from the coat rack, along with some empty gum wrappers.
seem to be slowing down…” Ginny agreed, puzzled.
lowered the magazine and gazed outside. “The station lights aren’t working,”
means we can’t be there,” Ginny said, frowning. She got up and stuck her head
out into the corridor. Lots of other people were doing the same thing, and
there was a buzz of questions. Percy came hurrying down the corridor and Ginny
grabbed at his sleeve.
going on?” she asked.
know,” Percy admitted, obviously embarrassed by his lack of knowledge. “I’m
just going to ask the driver. Stay in your compartment, Ginny. Don’t go
train, where am I going to go?!” Ginny demanded, but he’d already marched off.
She rolled her eyes and pulled her head back in, closing the door and sitting
down again. “Even my brother doesn’t know what’s going on, and he’s Head Boy,”
she told the others.
if we opened the window and lit our wands, we could see,” Luna suggested,
already getting up, but as she did so there was a jolt, and the train stopped
completely. Neville’s trunk fell off the rack, just missing his feet, and Luna
fell back into her seat.
lanterns went out.
almost screamed and clapped a hand over her mouth, forcing herself to breathe
slowly. They were lost in total darkness. All they could hear was the rain and
the howl of the wind outside.
on,” Neville said. “I’ll just go and see what’s happening…”
opened her mouth, but he’d already opened the door and gone. She gritted her
teeth. Neville was nice, but notoriously accident-prone. He was more likely to
trip and knock himself out than discover what was going on, and she wasn’t
going to sit in the dark and patiently wait for him to come back, she wanted
you stay here,” she said.
going, too?” Luna asked.
to, I can’t let him go on his own,” Ginny replied. “Besides, my older brother’s
only a few doors down, maybe he’ll know what’s going on.” She pushed away the
thought that if Percy didn’t what was going on, it was doubtful Ron would.
soon,” Luna said cheerfully. Ginny just grunted in reply. She didn’t see
anything funny about the situation, but perhaps Luna hadn’t meant to be funny.
first, she paused in the corridor and glanced around, but it was hopeless.
There was no visibility at all. She could hear distant bangs and crashes as
people tried to find their friends. Right,
you know the light spell, don’t you? I think this qualifies as an emergency, so
you can use magic.
sparked for a brief moment, and then died. Ginny frowned. “Lumos!!” she
repeated, her voice stronger with anger. This time, the light lasted for a few
seconds, and then vanished again. Ginny tightened her grip, feeling fear creep
over her. I don’t understand… why doesn’t
it work? It’s like something’s blocking the light. She put her wand away. Fine. We’ll just have to do this in the
pitch dark. Fun, fun, fun.
crept down the corridor, keeping one hand on the windows, which were icy cold
to the touch. There was no moon, so her progress was slow. It didn’t take very
long, but it seemed like hours to Ginny, mainly because she had no idea what
was going on. Most of the time, there was an elder brother around to make a
joke, but they weren’t here now. She was alone. If she made a mistake…
slid open to her right and somebody walked straight into her.
said, putting a hand up to her head.
that?” a voice demanded nervously.
“Who’s that?” she retorted, gripping her wand.
The voice brightened, and she blinked, a useless action.
are you doing?” Hermione demanded.
looking for Ron – ” she admitted, glad that nobody could see her blush.
and sit down,” Hermione invited, and Ginny didn’t need any encouragement. She
stepped inside and began to sit down.
here! I’m here!” Harry’s voice suddenly protested, causing goosebumps to streak
down her spine.
swallowed and moved on, treading on someone’s foot. From the yelp of pain, it
was obviously Neville. At least he was okay. Then there was a rustle of
clothing and a strange voice said, “Quiet!”
was a crackling sound and pale fire flared in the corner of the compartment.
Ginny blinked in the sudden light and then stared at the man who was creating
it. His face was lined, tired and pale, but his eyes were younger, fully awake.
The new Defence Against the Dark Arts
teacher, must be.
down next to Hermione in the new light and whispered, “Is he…?”
Against the Dark Arts,” Hermione confirmed. “His name’s Remus Lupin, according
to his case.”
Remus? The wizarding world was fond of Latin
names, but Ginny wasn’t familiar with that one. Yet she knew she’d heard it
before. It tugged at her memory, something to do with books…
where you are,” Professor Lupin commanded, and he rose to his feet. Even in that
one slow movement, you could see how tired he was. They all watched as he
walked to the door, holding the fire in front of him. Just as Ginny was
wondering why the flames worked when Lumos didn’t, the door slid open to reveal
a tall figure in a black cloak. There was a terrible rattling noise, like
someone’s dying breath, and a wave of dread swept over them all.
Ginny said thinly, crawling back in the seat, her mind frozen in terror. “Oh
no, oh no, oh no…”
clapped her hands over her ears, but nothing could stop it. Nothing could stop
him, the face rearing up in front of her eyes, the voice laughing as she felt
herself grow cold, cold, cold -
“Poor Ginny… you really thought you could
handle me? You thought you, a skinny red-haired nobody, could handle the great
Lord Voldemort? You really are a stupid little girl…”
No… I won’t think of this… make it stop,
make it stop…
face, that handsome face, all twisted and warped with sadistic delight and
greed. Nobody that evil should look so beautiful. How could she have ever
believed he was interested in her? She hunched up, shaking. He wanted Harry,
he’d always wanted Harry, and now Harry was going to die, and it was all her
fault, all of it, it was all her fault…
away, she heard a whisper, and suddenly the compartment was full of light.
Ginny flung a hand up in front of her eyes, blinded, and saw the Dementor
retreating, turning away… The air was suddenly breathable again. She felt
herself begin to sob and put her hands over her mouth. She looked around. Ron
and Hermione were pale, but they didn’t seem too affected. Neville was biting
his nails, and Harry…
was lying on the floor, eyes closed, pale as death. Ginny tried to sit up, but
her body was still too cold and stiff to move, and her heart felt too large for
her ribs, battering against them. Harry!
Harry, wake up, oh please, wake up!
Ron and Hermione
slipped down onto their knees. Hermione began to slap Harry on the cheek.
“Harry! Harry! Are you all right? Harry!”
desperation in her voice seemed to reach Harry where the physical contact could
not. He blinked, shuddered, and pushed his glasses back up his nose. Ginny let
out a silent breath of relief, realising for the first time that the train had
started moving again. The thought of Hogwarts was immensely comforting after
what had just happened. Ron and Hermione had pulled Harry back onto his seat,
and there was some colour in his cheeks now – the merest flush of pink.
screamed?” he said, looking from one to the other, his eyes too brilliant
against the pallor of his skin.
screamed,” Ron said, glancing at Hermione, his worry plain.
looked at Neville, then at Ginny, as if searching for another person. “But I
heard screaming,” he said softly.
hugged herself, feeling cold again. She didn’t want to imagine what Harry might
have seen and heard because of that creature. She didn’t want to think at all.
An enormous snap made her jump and look around – Professor Lupin was breaking
an enormous slab of chocolate into pieces. Ginny saw how threadbare and worn
his clothes were and wondered how he could afford such a luxury. She also
wondered why he had such an enormous bar in the first place. Surely he couldn’t
have known this would happen? Perhaps he was just a chocoholic, she told
herself. He certainly seemed generous enough, handing out pieces to all of
them, not just Harry.
was that thing?” Harry asked, voicing everyone’s thoughts.
Dementor,” Professor Lupin said quietly. “One of the Dementors of Azkaban.”
Ginny remembered her father coming in through the door, white and drawn,
collapsing in a chair; she remembered her mother giving him mug after mug of
hot chocolate, questioning him. So that
was a Dementor. What was it doing here?! They weren’t criminals! She opened her
mouth to ask, but Professor Lupin said something about speaking to the driver
and left the compartment.
Rats, Ginny thought. Maybe Percy will know something. I’ll have to ask him when I next see
him. She glanced at her chocolate, but her throat still felt stuck together
and sore. The others were explaining to Harry what had happened and comparing
notes. Ginny tried not to listen, she didn’t want to relive it, but she
couldn’t move, and the words filtered through.
feel how cold it was when it came in?” Neville said, shivering.
weird,” Ron agreed, “like I’d never be cheerful again…”
escaped Ginny’s throat before she could stop it. She didn’t want to break down
in front of Harry, not again, but
Hermione was already there, putting an arm around her. The warmth of her body
was so comforting that Ginny found herself leaning into the older girl as if
she was a baby.
didn’t any of you – fall off your seats?” Harry asked, looking from one to the
other. Ginny didn’t dare to meet his eye.
shook his head. “No, Ginny was shaking like mad, though…”
Oh thanks, Ron, as if I wasn’t enough of a
Ginny thought unhappily, but she was still too shocked to actually make much of
a noise. Her voice seemed to have gone on holiday without warning, and she had
to clear her throat several times before she could respond to Hermione’s
question of whether she was all right.
compartment door slid back and Professor Lupin came in. He looked at them all and
said, smiling strangely, “I haven’t poisoned that chocolate, you know.”
had almost forgotten about the chocolate. Her fingers were smudged when she
passed it to her other hand. Harry was occupied with eating his own piece, so
she could lick them without making a fool of herself. The sweet taste seemed to
make the world a little brighter; a whole bite spread warmth right throughout
her body, and she felt as if her blood was flowing properly again. The cold in
her chest melted away.
be at Hogwarts in ten minutes,” Professor Lupin announced. He glanced at Harry,
who still looked rather peaky. “Are you all right, Harry?”
muttered something and bit into his chocolate again. Ginny tore her eyes away
and looked out of the window. Hermione didn’t notice, because she was looking
at Harry. Ginny was glad. Harry’s episode had been far worse, you could still
tell, even after the chocolate. She continued to worry about him even after
they arrived and he disappeared in the normal crush of students.
on,” she said to Neville, “let’s go and find Luna.” She was feeling a bit
guilty since they’d just abandoned her. Maybe a Dementor had invaded Luna’s
compartment as well? Ginny didn’t want to imagine facing a Dementor on your
didn’t find Luna, they found Draco Malfoy and his cronies instead. Malfoy
ignored Ginny, of course, and went straight for Neville, grabbing his sleeve.
Crabbe and Goyle blocked the way so that Neville and Ginny couldn’t leave.
you were in Potter’s compartment, Longbottom,” Malfoy said, his eyes gleaming
with greed. “What happened? Did he cry? Did he wet his pants? I bet he ran
screaming out of the door –”
Neville said defensively, jerking his sleeve out of Malfoy’s hand, “he fainted,
groaned out loud. Malfoy’s eyes widened in malicious pleasure. “He fainted? You’re not lying to me, are
you, Longbottom? You’d better not lie, this is too good –!”
chose this moment to punch both Crabbe and Goyle in the stomach. They bent over,
startled by this sudden pain, and she grabbed Neville’s arm, pulling him
sorry,” Neville moaned, “it just slipped out, I didn’t mean to –”
apologise to me, apologise to Harry,” Ginny said, glancing around. Why did she
have to be small? Why couldn’t she be like Ron, or Percy, or, best of all,
Bill? Being small put you at a distinct disadvantage in a crowd: you couldn’t
see anyone, and your nose was at the level of a normal person’s armpit. Ginny
held her breath and pulled Neville towards the coaches.
Are you okay? We heard a Dementor came to your compartment!” Rowena and Esmé
came pushing towards her. Behind them was Catharine Watson, the fourth member
of their dormitory, her large dark eyes agog at the prospect of some juicy
get a coach,” Ginny said, deciding to ignore that statement. “I want to get out
of this crowd.”
about it,” Esmé muttered, “why is it that we always get stuck with people who
and Rowena laughed. Neville smiled uneasily and opened the door for them.
Rowena gave him a polite smile as she got in, but Esmé and Catharine barely
glanced at him. Ginny waited until Neville got in before making introductions.
“Neville, this is Rowena Penhallow, Esmé Crosse and Catharine Watson. This is
to meet you,” Rowena said. Neville blushed and shuffled. Esmé nodded. Catharine
looked at him for a moment and then dismissed him, focusing on Ginny once more.
Harry Potter had a fit!” she said,
leaning forward, her eyes fixed on Ginny with the same greedy gleam which she’d
seen in Malfoy. “What happened, Ginny? Did he… you know… say anything? Did you
give him mouth to mouth?”
Ginny said, picking her words, “he didn’t have a fit. He wasn’t exactly at his
best, but nobody’s at their best when a Dementor’s around, are they,
the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher,” Neville said suddenly. As a
conversational tactic, it was pure genius, and it wasn’t too bad as a bid for their
attention either. All three girls turned and looked at him, their interest
does he come from?”
smirked a little and flicked a lock of hair over her shoulder. “Just to trying
to find out the important things, girls.”
rolled her eyes. “I don’t care if he looks like Gregory Goyle and Vincent
Crabbe’s lovechild, as long as he actually knows what he’s doing.”
Esmé, I really did not need that
image!” Catharine wrinkled her nose.
not wish that combination of looks on anyone,” Ginny agreed, sharing a grin
what’s he like?” Rowena pressed, leaning forward.
um… he definitely knows his stuff,” Neville said, and Ginny nodded along with
him. “A Dementor came into our compartment, but he made it go away.”
go away? I didn’t know you could make a Dementor do anything,” Esmé said
slowly. “How did he do that?”
shrugged, and Ginny shook her head when they looked at her. “I don’t know… I
don’t remember much. There was this brilliant light, and it was gone.”
from his wand, it must have been a spell,” Neville added.
powerful spell!” Catharine exclaimed. “I’ve never heard of anything like it.”
not like Lockhart,” Esmé said with satisfaction.
not, and you’ll see him at the feast, Catharine, so don’t whine,” Ginny told
the other girl, who was pouting.
think he’ll be fair?” Rowena asked, rather anxious. “Having favourites is so
off-putting…” Rowena was not good at Potions, which meant she spent most of the
lessons being picked on and sniped at by Snape; Lockhart had acted as if she
wasn’t even there.
shared out his chocolate with all of us,” Neville told her. “It was really good
three looked cheered by this prospect, and a lively discussion ensued about
whether Professor Lupin would hand out chocolate if they did particularly well
in his class. Ginny told herself she’d see Harry when they sat down to the feast.
But Harry wasn’t there. Ron had two spaces on either side of him, which meant
Hermione was missing, too. Ginny caught Ron’s eye and questioned him with her
eyebrows. He leaned over, his voice low so that the gossips couldn’t hear.
told Harry and Hermione she wanted to see them. Said it was urgent.”
They haven’t done anything wrong, have they?” Ginny stared at him, bewildered.
shrugged. “I’m sure it’s nothing serious…” he said, his voice dying away just
like Dad’s when he wasn’t sure of something.
sagged back in her seat. Maybe they’d taken Harry to the hospital wing so Madam
Pomfrey could make sure he was okay. But if so, why had Hermione gone with him
and not Ron? They went everywhere together, they were already famous for it.
The Sorting passed her in a blur, and she clapped when everyone else clapped,
barely noticing the new first years as they joined the table. Just as the last
student joined the Hufflepuff table, Harry and Hermione entered the Hall,
hurrying to the Gryffindor table. They had their heads down, avoiding the
curious gazes. Ginny saw people point and whisper. She sucked in a breath. She
knew what that felt like.
all right?” Rowena whispered.
put on a false smile. It was getting easier and easier. “Fine…”
spared further interrogation by Professor Dumbledore, who stood up to make his
customary speech. All the students stopped talking and looked at him
expectantly. You could never be sure what to expect from a Dumbledore speech. That
was what made him so much fun. Fred and George respected him, and they didn’t
respect many grown ups that Ginny could think of.
Dumbledore said, his blue eyes kind as he gazed upon them all. “Welcome to
another year at Hogwarts! I have a few things to say to you all, and as one of
them is very serious, I think it best to get it out of the way before you
become befuddled by our excellent feast…” His face darkened. “As you will be
aware after their search of the Hogwarts Express, our school is presently
playing host to some of the Dementors of
Azkaban, who are here on Ministry business… they are stationed at every
entrance to the grounds, and while they are with us, I must make it plain that
nobody is to leave the school without permission. Dementors are not to be
fooled by tricks or disguises – or even Invisibility Cloaks.”
the corner of her eye, Ginny saw Ron and Harry look at each other. She stored
that away to think about later. Dumbledore’s voice grew even more serious.
not in the nature of a Dementor to understand pleading or excuses. I therefore
warn each and every one of you to give them no reason to harm you. I look to
the Prefects, and our new Head Boy and Girl, to make sure that no student runs afoul
of the Dementors.”
wondered how Percy could protect them from the Dementors: bore them so much
they decided it wasn’t worth hanging around? Dumbledore was looking around the
Hall, making sure that everyone understood him. Ginny didn’t think it was
necessary. Everyone on the Express already knew that Dementors were bad for you
in every way.
happier note, I am pleased to welcome two new teachers to our ranks this year,”
Dumbledore continued, the light returning to his eyes. “Firstly, Professor
Lupin, who has kindly consented to fill the post of Defence Against the Dark
Lupin looked thin and shabby compared to the other teachers. Ginny knew what that was like, and she clapped
extra hard, along with Neville, Hermione, Ron and Harry. Esmé and Rowena craned
their necks to see him. Catharine was already telling everyone in their year
what she’d heard. Ron whispered to Harry and pointed. Ginny turned around and
suddenly saw what he meant.
Snape was staring at Professor Lupin as if he wanted to kill him.
whipped round again, staring at the table. Everyone knew Snape wanted the
Defence Against the Dark Arts post, he’d wanted it ever since he came to teach,
but she’d never seen him look like that before. Dumbledore was speaking again.
Professor Kettleburn, our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, retired at the end
of last year in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs. However, I
am delighted to say that his place will be filled by none other than Rubeus
moment there was silence, and everyone at the Gryffindor table stared at each
other, then at the teachers’ table. Sure enough, there was Hagrid, his enormous
bulk highly visible next to Professor McGonagall’s spare, upright form. Then
the applause erupted from every corner of the room, but the Gryffindors did
more than applaud. They stamped their feet, they banged their fists upon the
table, and the twins wolf whistled. Hagrid went bright red and stared down at
his hand, his cheeks stretched wide with a smile. Ginny smiled and turned back
to the table, as Dumbledore pronounced those magic words: “Let the feast
dug in happily, glancing at Harry every now and then to satisfy her other
hunger. The fact she’d been in Harry Potter’s compartment with Professor Lupin
had already given her a certain social advantage, so she spent most of the meal
dodging various questions and answering others. It was rather pleasant to have
people staring at her with curiosity and admiration instead of awe and fear.
She basked in the attention. Even when they went up to bed, people were still
crowding around her, wanting to know what had happened. By now the rumours were
ridiculous: Harry had actually stopped breathing, there had been ten Dementors
in the compartment, Professor Lupin had faced them down with a rod of fire,
Professor Lupin gave out free chocolate to anyone who asked…
glimpsed Luna just before they turned down opposite corridors and waved, but
Luna didn’t notice. She was off in her own world. Ginny shrugged to herself.
They would probably bump into each other again at some point. She should
apologise. She didn’t want Luna to feel abandoned.
see how Snape was looking at Professor Lupin?” she asked the other girls in the
dormitory that evening.
Catharine said, flopping onto her stomach. “If looks could kill, Lupin would
have keeled over on the spot!”
you mean?” Rowena asked, trying to decide which flannel pyjama set she should
wear. Esmé had already changed and was in bed, stroking the spine of her
Monster Book; Catharine hadn’t even bothered to take out any nightclothes.
Ginny carefully slipped on her own thick pyjamas – scarlet, unfortunately – and
hopped into her four poster, grateful for the hot brick which had been placed
there by the house elves.
was giving Professor Lupin the Evil Eye!” Catharine said, rolling her eyes
dramatically. “There’s some ancient grudge between them, I bet you!”
be ridiculous, he’s probably just annoyed because he thought that after
Lockhart, Dumbledore would beg him to take the post,” Esmé retorted. “I wonder where Professor Lupin was teaching
before, they didn’t pay him very well, by the looks of it.”
he’s been ill,” Rowena said, picking out a pale blue set. “He did look rather
thin. And he’s got grey hair, too.”
does that have to do with anything?”
Catharine asked, nonplussed.
looked defensive. “It means he’s stressed!”
he’s hardly come to the right place, has he?” Esmé pointed out. “Teaching at
Hogwarts isn’t exactly what I’d call a rest cure, and as for the Defence post…
everyone knows it’s jinxed!”
maybe all he needs is feeding up,” Rowena suggested. This could not be disputed
so there was silence for a few moments.
he’s just a typical man; men don’t care about their clothes,” Catharine said in
a wise voice.
shook her head. “They were good clothes, just very old.”
doesn’t matter how he dresses, what’s important is whether he’s actually got
anything to teach us,” Ginny said firmly. “And from what I saw on the train,
the prospects look good.”
we’ll actually have to work in
Defence lessons instead of listening to Lockhart witter on about how fabulous
he is, what a shame,” Esmé said with a smirk, and they all laughed.
bed, however, when the lights were out, the look on Snape’s face returned to
Ginny’s mind, along with Professor Lupin’s name.
Remus… Remus… Remus… I know I’ve read it
her book out from under the mattress and lit her candle so that she could read
herself to sleep.
One day her mother said to her, "Come,
Little Red Cap, take this piece of cake and bottle of wine and bring them to
your grandmother. She's sick and weak, and this will strengthen her. Get an
early start, before it becomes hot, and when you're out in the woods, be nice
and good and don't stray from the path, otherwise you'll fall and break the
glass, and your grandmother will get nothing. And when you enter her room,
don't forget to say good morning, and don't go peeping in all the
"I'll do just as you say," Little Red Cap promised her mother…
stray from the path, don’t go peeping in all the corners, don’t do this, don’t
do that. The problem was, Ginny thought, her eyelids slipping down, that
sometimes you couldn’t help looking in the corners… sometimes you didn’t know
when you strayed from the path…
was that simple, life would be much safer, and happier. And so much more
Weasley, the entire Weasley family and all things Harry Potter belong to J.K.
Rowling, not me. They just tend to invade my head every so often.
NOTES: Okay… I know it’s been a long time since I uploaded the first chapter.
Eight months, in fact. That’s because I was in my final year at university, and
my studies just took over my entire life. I didn’t actually stop writing, but I
couldn’t write as much or as fast as I wanted, partly because of time, partly
because my desire to write was submerged beneath the need to study. I wrote bits
and pieces of this second chapter, but I’ve only really just finished it in the
last week or so.
that’s been said: I am not trying to imply that Ginny hates Molly or that Ginny
is a brat. She’s turned twelve, the hormones are already starting to rage, and
after her experiences, she doesn’t want to be cosseted. I’m trying to show the
beginning of the desire for independence that leads to the absolute fit we see
in OotP when Molly drags her upstairs in 12 Grimmauld Place. I hope Luna is in
character: she was rather difficult to capture at first, but practise makes
those who have waited so long, thanks for being patient with me. I hope you
enjoy the chapter.