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Chapter 2: Secrets and Ties
Ginny stared gloomily at the seat opposite, waiting for the train to start its sombre journey. In years past she would have been glad to find a vacant carriage she could share with her friends but now the emptiness of the Hogwarts Express signalled the end of an era. This was the start of her sixth year at Hogwarts - and it would be without Harry. She fingered the slim medallion at her throat but knew she ought not to overuse it. She released it quickly as more students passed by in the corridor.
With a shrug of her shoulders, she resolved for the umpteenth time not to mope. She reminded herself how fortunate she was to share a connection with Harry so never should she feel completely alone. He was thinking of her as often as she of him - always - or rather, there was always a place, a sentinel at the centre of her thoughts, around which her feelings revolved.
The carriage door slid noisily open, coinciding with a dreamy voice, "Wait, Neville, I just need to let out a glumbumble. Poor thing must be buzzing around trapped in here with the window closed."
"Nothing there - come on, just push on in," said Neville.
"Oh I'm sure there must be or there wouldn't be such a frown I'm sure."
Ginny was by now grinning despite herself. "Luna! ... Neville!"
"There, you see? It must have flown out now," said Luna. "Hello, Ginny, good holiday?"
Without hesitation, Ginny dismissed the question with a "fine, thanks! - you?"
"We were a little sad at the beginning with the funeral and all but Professor Dumbledore wouldn't want us to lose heart now would he? And poor Fleur's wedding reception was spoiled by those terrible people." Luna answered wistfully. "I told Neville what happened."
Neville glanced at Ginny to see her reaction then turned away. He hoisted his own and Luna's bags up onto the luggage rack above the seat opposite Ginny and there they both sat down, smiling at, but really examining, Ginny's expression.
"He's not coming back is he?" said Neville finally. "Thought he wouldn't - he'd be crazy to. I knew Hermione couldn't."
"Poor Hermione must be very frightened," said Luna.
"How did you... What do you mean?" asked Ginny, with a puzzled look on her face.
"Daily Prophet," said Neville. "She's in the list of Muggle-borns wanted for interrogation - you must have seen it, Ginny?"
"Oh, yes - of course."
Luna looked at Ginny with a curious expression and Ginny dare not directly look back. She knew the Ravenclaw girl had a sharp, intuitive mind and could deduce a world of meaning from a few innocent words. Fortunately, the train lurched into motion at that moment and Neville spoke.
"Where's Ron, though?"
"Oh - he's very sick," said Ginny in a carefully measured tone, looking out of the window as they passed the few white-face parents that were waving goodbye to their loved ones. There were two strange men in dark robes, one scruffy with long hair and the other short and thin, staring straight at her as the train sped away but Ginny continued, "Spattergroit. Nasty. 'xpect he picked up a fungus or something in the garden."
Neville looked at Luna but she did not exchange his look. Ginny had the feeling they had been discussing Harry's friends before they came aboard but Luna did not challenge Ginny; instead, she said brightly, "Don't use toad liver - I'm sure that won't work. Too unbelievable."
"So... your last year, Neville!" said Ginny to change the subject. "You'll be busy with your NEWTS."
"Oh - do you think things will be normal at Hogwarts?" asked Luna. "You know Professor Snape is headmaster don't you?"
"Yes, but Professor McGonagall will keep things running smoothly won't she?" said Ginny. There was a trembling at her throat but she continued without even a blink, "Headmasters sort of work in the background don't they - so we should see less of Snape not more."
"Those people at King's Cross - Ministry people and... Death Eaters," said Neville.
Though platform nine and three-quarters was out of sight, Ginny twisted around to look out of the window, pretending to look back down the track so as to obscure herself from the others. She raised one sleeved arm to rub at the window to hide herself still further.
Neville continued, "We can expect they'll be interfering at Hogwarts too. It'll probably be like it was with Umbridge."
"That's a curious amulet," said Luna, looking at the reflection in the window as Ginny tried to read its message.
"Oh, this - it's a medallion - got it when we were out shopping." Ginny said casually. She turned back but she didn't look directly at Luna.
"Would you like to read my Quibbler?" said Luna. "I find people like to read when they don't want to make conversation."
"Yes, alright - no! Sorry Luna, I didn't mean to..." Ginny looked at Luna, unsure what to say. Luna had a knack of penetrating right to the heart of things sometimes.
"Oh, now I can see it properly, it's not really a very good picture though is it?" said Luna, forthright as ever. "I could charm it to something nice if you want?
"No, that's alright. I like the... bowl of flowers."
"Oh - is that what it is?"
Ginny dare not look at the Ravenclaw girl. She could not detect any sarcasm in Luna's voice - nor was that Luna's way - but was it possible she had seen through the charm? More likely she had just sensed there was something more going on than was apparent. Ginny wondered if she, herself, was just over-reacting and Luna was but innocently interested in the unusual ornament; after all, she often wore strange jewellery herself.
Neville looked back and forth between the two, bemused by the conversation but Luna spoke again, looking directly at Ginny in a reassuring manner, "It's alright with me, Ginny - truly."
Ginny stared at Luna. She knew she wasn't talking about the bowl of flowers. Luna now appeared to dismiss the medallion from her thoughts and turned to Neville.
"There's an article in here that might interest you, Neville," Luna said, flipping through her magazine, but out of the corner of her eye she was watching Ginny stand up. "We were very happy she did this - she's a trusted friend."
Ginny was aware of the other two discussing something in the Quibbler as she opened the door to the corridor. "Won't be long."
She went to the end of the swaying carriage but the door was flagged engaged. The corridor twisted around the toilet so there was a private corner where she had a minute to her self but she only needed a few seconds to read the edge of the silver disk.
Ginny smiled, kissed the medallion I know. and returned to the carriage.
"That was quick," piped Luna, glancing up at Ginny then she turned back to Neville. "Look, you can have this copy if you like - I've got more. It's sensible advice don't you think?"
"Thanks, Luna, yes, it's very interesting," said Neville, as he took the Quibbler but he was looking at Ginny as she carefully closed the carriage door.
The train lurched and began to slow down. Ginny swayed about as she refound her seat then patted her neckline to make sure her medallion was below it. This did not go unnoticed and Luna was looking at her when she spoke, "It's just practice really. I'd practice and get into a routine If it were me - so it's less noticeable. No need to ask awkward questions of her."
Neville had his head down as he folded the magazine open at a diagram of a rather ugly-looking bush. "Yes, Emeline Mortimer's very complete - pruning seems easy enough but it looks much neater the more you get the hang of it. I'll show this to Professor Sprout next chance I get."
Ginny was glad Luna didn't work for the Ministry's intelligence department. Again she tried to change the direction of the conversation, "Why are we stopping, I wonder?"
"I expect they think Harry's going back to school," said Luna coolly.
The train ground to a halt with a long, sustained screech then after a while they could hear doors slamming and the train jolted into forward motion again.
Ginny was ready this time when footsteps stopped at their compartment and the door was slid open - she needed to be. It was the two men from the platform - they must have apparated ahead.
"He's n-- not here!" said Neville nervously, standing up to confront them and thankfully obscuring Ginny from their stares. "He'd have to be as s-- stupid as a... D-- Death Eater wouldn't he!"
Ginny could sense the men were still there from Neville's stance but they remained silent then eventually moved on. Neville slammed the door shut.
"You're very brave, Neville." said Luna examining his face closely as if she had found some great treasure. His cheeks coloured with astonishment but Luna did not seem to notice. She turned away to gaze out of the window. "Oh look! There's a white horse! Did you see it? I'd love to ride a white horse, wouldn't you? They're very gentle creatures mostly but they can be very fierce when they're protecting the females."
"Accio Prophet," murmured Harry Potter very softly. It slid neatly out from under the arm of the wizard who was about to enter the Ministry building and under Harry's cloak without the worker being any the wiser. Harry pulled back into an unused doorway then stared in disbelief at the headline:
SEVERUS SNAPE CONFIRMED AS HOGWARTS HEADMASTER
He felt sick with anger as he read the article and almost threw the newspaper down onto the pavement in disgust. Perhaps he should warn Ginny? Likely she would already know - the paper was the morning edition. He looked at his watch then at his medallion. It showed a three-masted schooner but he already knew she'd be on the Hogwarts Express. He pictured her there as he had several times during the last few minutes. She'd be with Neville and Luna for sure - yes, they would all know about Snape. But now he was thinking directly of her again he wanted so much to have a reason to contact her. He knew he ought not because she might not be able to get away for a while and so worry in case something was wrong. The more he resisted, the harder it became. What could he say, anyway? 'Guess you know a murderer is now headmaster?'
He shook himself firmly and resolved to do the right thing and give his full attention to his surveillance of the Ministry. Yet he did not. He sighed, then smiled in resignation. The pull was too great. Why should I need a reason? He put his medallion to his lips. With you.
He waited but there was no immediate response and he suddenly regretted being so impulsive. Ginny had told him that Mrs. Weasley had given her protection against showing any emotion when he reached out to her, but still... After a few more minutes he cursed himself for a fool; Ginny might not be able to...
There was a tremor from the little disk in his hands and he felt her kiss. The message appeared straight away, I know.
The tunnel into which dashed the Hogwarts Express added no security but somehow it inspired conspiracy. As the dim lights came on, Ginny leaned forward to the other two.
"I need your help."
Neville answered first and in a very serious manner, though he had trouble hiding his excitement, "Anything, Ginny - it's Dumbledore's Army isn't it? Getting it going again?"
"We have to find some way of fighting back - doing our bit - doing what we can for... to resist them," said Ginny. "Luna?"
"It must be wonderful to be in love," said Luna dreamily. "Inspires you to do great things, I expect."
"Luna! We're talking about the D.A." said Ginny.
"Yes, of course we are," said Luna. "I was just thinking we need an inspired leader - someone who thinks like Harry - who's close to him."
"Will you help?" asked Ginny, somewhat perplexed.
"Oh I'd love to! It will be exciting - and we'll be meeting with everyone again!"
"Luna - it'll be dangerous," said Neville.
"Oh yes - isn't that what I said?"
Ginny and Neville exchanged glances.
"Luna, don't you ever get scared?" asked Neville.
"Of course. I was very timid at the Ministry when the Death Eaters attacked us. I'm not a Gryffindor."
"Timid?" laughed Neville. "Well, if that's timid then I hope I don't get attacked by lots of timid people any time soon!"
"We need to organize, work out a plan of action..." said Ginny. "Neville, will you take Harry's place - be leader?"
Neville and Luna looked wide-eyed at one another and virtually spoke together.
"But you're the leader, Ginny," said Neville.
"Yes, I thought we'd just agreed that?" said Luna.
Ginny stared. She had not expected this. "But Neville, you're the oldest..."
"Everybody looks up to you, Gin. I'd be useless," said Neville.
"I'm sure that's not true, Neville," said Luna kindly. "You'd make a wonderful leader - but right now we need Ginny."
"That's settled then," said Neville, sounding relieved that he wasn't to be the new 'Chosen one.'
"First thing is to arrange a meeting; see who's interested," said Ginny. "Have you both got your Galleons?"
"Oh yes," said Luna and Neville pulled his out of his pocket and held it up proudly. Luna continued, "but we'll need more because I think the D.A. will be even more popular now, don't you think?"
"That will be difficult..." said Neville.
"It's fine," said Ginny, "Hermione showed me how to do the Protean charm so--"
"You've seen, Hermione since the wedding?" said Neville excitedly.
"Well... no, early in the holidays she--"
"It's all right, Ginny," said Luna. "We know Hermione and Ron must be with Harry - well it's obvious really isn't it?"
Ginny looked dumbstruck.
"Where else could they possibly be?" Luna added. "Of course, if Death Eaters are too stupid to realise - well, we shan't be telling anyone, shall we Neville?"
Neville was shaking his head because his answer was made inaudible by the train's whistle shrieking and a few moments later the Express hurtled out of the tunnel and daylight flooded back into the carriage.
"You're not on your own, Ginny," said Luna softly, when the train whistle had fallen silent again. "Our friendship ties us all together."
Ginny became as quiet as the whistle for a while.
"So, what's the first step, Ginny?" said Neville. "What will you tell the first meeting? Need to prepare..."
"First, we determine the situation at Hogwarts. Then we listen to everyone's ideas. Then we act."
The three looked resolutely at each other, drawing comfort from themselves and conviction that they were not helpless and they would find some way of helping the fight against the Dark Wizard. But as they would find out... It would not be easy.
Citations: The quoted Daily Prophet headline regarding Snape's appointment as headmaster is taken from Deathly Hallows, Chapter 12 by J.K. Rowling.
The description of Death Eaters boarding the Hogwarts Express to look for Harry was inspired by a similar scene in the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by Warner Bros, Entertainment, Inc.
Although it was in the movie, I could find nothing in the book about Death Eaters boarding the train looking for Harry but it kind of makes sense and maybe it happened. I'm trying to stick to canon so everything will happen as it does in the Deathly Hallows book but with the extra fiction of Harry and Ginny's relationship. We know Harry's point of view and what happened with him so that will be touched on only lightly when he contacts Ginny, etc. Much of the extra story will therefore likely be Ginny's POV. However, it probably won't be a complete, detailed, Hogwarts DA thing - I plan to focus on the interaction between Harry and Ginny as far as possible.
Comments and reviews are welcome and very encouraging. Thank you. :)