The Sugar Quill
Author: Seaspray  Story: A Place on the Train  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: What do you know, I don’t own Hogwarts, Ginny, the

A/N: I’d like to thank Solika and Lone Astronomer for beta and St Margarets for allowing me to reference the wizarding soap opera, Days of Destiny which is, of course, her creation. And if there is anyone out there who has not yet read any of St Margarets’ Wallpaper series and experienced Days of Destiny first hand then you really should. Best H/G fluff around.

 

Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to JK Rowling and whoever else she has sold the rights to. Not to me. Oh, and Days of Destiny is the intellectual property of St Margarets.

 

A Place on the Train

 

 

The sun beat mercilessly on her retreating back as she walked slowly away from the Thestral-drawn carriages. Everything was too bright: the scarlet engine expelling billows of snowy smoke, the blazing flowerbeds, the casual clothing of the students surging forward towards the train. Now that Dumbledore was dead and buried, all of the remaining members of the student body seemed in a frantic hurry to leave.

 

Only they, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny, did not dive straight in to the almighty press forward to find a seat. Their eyes were drawn almost involuntarily to the misty shape of Hogwarts Castle presiding like a mother over the Hogwarts grounds. It felt like a betrayal to be walking away from her. It. Squinting, Ginny caught a flash of white set far back in the grounds that she was sure was the Headmaster’s tomb.

 

Ginny knew she wouldn’t go back. Not even if Hogwarts did re-open. If Harry, Ron and Hermione were all quitting to fight Voldemort, well, so would she, even if she wouldn’t be allowed to do anything useful….

 

“I suppose,” said Ron at last, “I suppose we’d better....” He half shrugged, indicating the train.

 

“Yes,” agreed Hermione, with an obvious attempt at briskness. “Yes, let’s go. Harry?”

 

Harry Potter didn’t react. His whole body was tensed, his fingernails biting deep into his palms and his eyes fixed on the castle. Ginny wondered if he was seeing what she had, that far off glimmer of white.

 

“I’ll miss it.” Her own words seemed to press against her ears as heavy as the summer heat. She sounded like a child, a stupid selfish child bleating out the pain the others were strong enough to bear in silence. Beside her she felt Harry let out a long, slow breath, and to her surprise she found he was looking at her directly, for the first time since the funeral.

 

“Yeah. Me too.”

 

Ron and Hermione seemed to take this as their cue to move, levitating their trunks towards the train. Harry followed them, not looking at Ginny now. Ginny wondered if anyone would actually notice if she broke the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Magic right there on the platform, but she suspected McGonagall was around somewhere and right now the last thing she needed was a warning from the Ministry. Not for something as unimportant as a heavy trunk, anyway.

 

“All right, Ginny?” panted Colin Creevey, who seemed to be having just much trouble as she was, managing his oversized trunk. “Do you need any help?

 

“Thanks,” Ginny repressed a smile. “I’m fine. Really, we ought to attach wheels to them, Dean did.”

 

“Good idea,” Colin said wincing as his trunk banged against his shin.

 

Harry, Ron and Hermione had already found a compartment when Ginny reached the train and began hauling her trunk up into the corridor. Hermione was standing by the compartment door.

 

“There you are- oh, I’m sorry, Ginny, I forgot you couldn’t do magic. Levare.”

 

Hermione charmed Ginny’s trunk and with a suddenness that was slightly disconcerting, Ginny was able to lift the trunk inside.

 

“Ginny!” Ron grinned at her from the compartment. “Coming in?”

 

Through the glass, Ginny saw Harry halt in the act of pushing his trunk onto the luggage rack.

 

She could join them, she thought. The invitation was readily given, and after all they were her friends. She could sit and join in with their conversation, luxuriating in the knowledge that he was with her for one more day. She could talk and make Harry listen, listen and make Harry talk. So he wouldn’t discuss the War with her; well, there were other things to say…. And perhaps, just perhaps, he would realise that he couldn't do without her after all….

 

And Harry’s eyes met hers, and for a brief moment she saw that there was nothing of the hero in their expression. They were a child’s eyes, looking at her through a pane of glass, full of hope and fear.

 

He knows I could make him change his mind. And that he would despise himself if I did.

 

“Ginny?” Hermione looked at her doubtfully.

 

“No,” Ginny replied firmly. “Thanks, Hermione but- I have other things to do.”

 

Harry looked away again, back down at his trunk, and Ginny felt rather than saw him let out the breath he'd been holding.

 

“Well, goodbye.” Ginny felt as oddly as though a dagger was twisting in her throat. Ron blinked at her, looking confused, and Hermione was frowning at her, but Ginny just walked away. She felt an odd sense of déjà vu, walking away from the older students’ compartment, shut out while they talked about their mysterious grown-up secrets. But this was different, Ginny reminded herself. This time she had chosen to leave them.

 

It didn’t lessen the burning sensation in her throat.

 

Swallowing hard, Ginny made herself look into the next compartment. She had to find someone else to sit with. Well, she thought dully, that shouldn’t be a problem. Plenty of people wanting to talk to the girlfriend of the Chosen One and try to pry into his business…  Plenty of people who’d jump on the chance to speculate why Ginny Weasley wasn’t sitting with her boyfriend.

 

There was a group of first years that Ginny didn’t recognize in the first compartment she looked in. They looked back at her round eyed and she quickly moved away. The next compartment contained something a great deal worse than first years.

 

“….Well, of course not, these celebrity romances never last. I’ll give it two weeks.” An onslaught of giggling followed this pronouncement and Ginny didn’t need to look inside to know the speaker was Romilda Vane. She walked past quickly, face averted, but not quickly enough to miss the voluble whisper:

 

“Wasn’t that Ginny Weasley?”

 

Ginny gritted her teeth. How could they sit there and gossip about the latest articles in Witch Weekly with everything that had happened? How could they sit and talk about her and Harry as if they were nothing more than characters from the latest Days of Destiny plot? She ought to turn around and hex them into a jelly, then they’d be….

 

“Sorry.” A tall, thin girl with stringy brown hair and a lost expression jogged her arm.

 

“S’alright,” Ginny said gruffly. The girl walked past her into a carriage where another girl sat hunched over a Daily Prophet, and Ginny realised with a stab of horror that they were. The Montgomery sisters. In her mind’s eye she saw the crumpled form of her oldest brother lying in a pool on his own blood, and the tearing disbelief she had felt when she had seen his mangled face… and it could have been so much worse.

 

The girl who had crashed into her in the corridor looked up, meeting Ginny’s eyes for a moment, a look of mingled scorn and helplessness filling her dark eyes. For a moment Ginny considered going in to talk to her, but she didn’t suppose it would help. She didn’t know of anything she could say that wouldn’t make things worse and the girl didn’t look like she’d welcome pity. After a moment’s hesitation, Ginny walked on.

 

Dean was in the next compartment with Seamus and Lavender. He met her eyes briefly as she passed and looked away again, his face expressionless. She certainly wouldn’t be welcome there. A gang of older Slytherins were in the next compartment, laughing loudly. Ginny saw Zabini lolling in a corner and chatting leisurely with the pug faced girl who was always so rude to Hermione. The whole compartment seemed to Ginny to be oozing smugness. They didn’t care that the greatest wizard of their age had died. They didn’t care that Hogwarts might close or that Harry and her family and Hermione and, oh, everybody was in terrible danger. They were probably pleased. Ginny scowled at them through the glass, but no one looked up.

 

The next two carriages were occupied by a large and chattering group of Ravenclaws, including Michael, who gave Ginny a tentative half smile as she passed, and Cho Chang, who seemed to be debating something heatedly with the Edgecombe girl.

 

Demelza Robbins was in the next carriage along with Jimmy Peakes, Celia Anderson, Ritchie Coote and Lydia Mercer. They would be glad to see her, Ginny thought, happy to welcome her into their carriage. Although, of course, they would wonder why she wasn’t sitting with her boyfriend. What would she say? I split up with Harry because he’s too busy fighting You- Know- Who to get me a decent Valentine’s card. And Demi would put her arm around her in sympathy and Celia’s eyes would brighten at the new fuel for gossip…. No. Ginny walked on.

 

A warren of nervous first, second and third years populated the next four carriages, and then Zacharias Smith and Tom Barnet. Smith stared defiantly at Ginny as she walked past, but Ginny noticed he had also moved a little further away from the doorway. She smiled wryly. No, Smith, I’m not going to hex you today. It’s really far too hot...

 

It was true. A trickle of sweat was sliding uncomfortably between her shoulder blades and Hermione’s Lightening Charm seemed to be wearing off her trunk. Her arms felt unnaturally heavy and she was beginning to wonder if she’d ever find herself a seat. An empty carriage was beginning to sound awfully attractive, but there didn’t seem any hope of that. Katie and Leanne were in the next carriage… with Cormac McLaggen. Ginny thought she’d rather stand in the corridor and, catching Katie’s eye through the window, she got the impression that Katie would too. Ernie Macmillan and Susan Bones…The Creevey brothers and the Waterstone girls…Another set of seventh years Ginny didn’t know… An empty carriage, but with trunks already on seats, evidently awaiting the owners’ return… Orla Quirke and Peter Clyde…

 

Ginny stopped short. She had reached the guard’s carriage at the very end of the train. She had nowhere to sit. Almost unwillingly she looked at the extra luggage rack opposite the guard’s carriage, and beneath it the gaping black hollow. That was where Ginny had spent her first journey on the Hogwarts Express. She had been confused by this flood of new faces and Harry and Ron had disappeared… She had tried sitting with Fred and George, but they hadn’t really wanted her there (at least that was what she had thought), and when she had gone out into that teeming corridor again that strange sense of a rootless fear that had hung over her for days suddenly came crashing down on her once more. She had to find somewhere to talk to Tom in private.

 

With a sickening twist of the stomach, Ginny remembered the feeling of the suitcase cramped against her side, the darkness, and Tom’s words.

 

You were right to get away, Ginny, from all those strangers. You’re such a special girl and they wouldn’t understand you. They’d probably just laugh at you like your brothers. You’re far better off here, with me.....

 

Well, she wasn’t among strangers now and she wasn’t frightened. She wasn’t naïve enough to take run and take cover with the first liar who pretended to care about her. She had come so far….

 

So why did she still have nowhere to go? Looking into that gaping black hole, she felt as small and lost as the little girl five years ago, who couldn’t find a place to sit anywhere on the train. Perhaps she hadn’t really changed after all.

 

“Ginny?”

 

Ginny spun around sharply. Neville Longbottom was standing behind her, peering at her anxiously.

 

“Oh. Hi, Neville.”

 

“Are you all right?”

 

“Yes. Yes, I’m fine. I was just…” She glanced back at the hole beneath the luggage rack. It was already looking absurdly small. “Probably too much sun,” she smiled.

 

“That can happen.” Luna Lovegood poked her head out through her compartment door. “I’ve noticed that excessive sunlight makes people extraordinarily sensitive to Wrackspurts.”

 

“Yes, I expect you’re right,” Ginny tried not to smile.

 

“Umm, Ginny,” Neville said tentatively, “I don’t suppose you’d want to- I mean, you can come and sit in our carriage with us- if you’d like.”

 

“Oh, yes, do,” Luna’s smile broadened. “I do like talking to you.”

 

Ginny felt a strange prickling in the back of her throat. It was so like Neville and Luna to hold out a hand to help her and then pretend it was her who was doing the favour.

 

“Thank you,” she said at last.

 

Neville grinned and held the carriage door open for her. As she sat down, Ginny glanced briefly at the dark space under the luggage rack. It really was tiny, Ginny mused; however could she have fit in there? Suddenly her first year seemed a thousand miles away, like a dream that she had realised on waking is in fact ridiculously implausible, and wondered how it could have seemed so convincing as she slept.

 

She smiled at her friends across the compartment, who were setting up a game of Exploding Snap. If nothing else in her five years at Hogwarts, she had at least found herself a place on the train.

 

THE END

//
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