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Chapter 7: The Potion Put Right, While Everything Else Goes Wrong
Ginny reached Slughorn's office and knocked quickly on the door. The hallway was drafty, so she pulled her robes tighter around herself, hugging her arms to her chest. It took a few minutes for Slughorn to answer, but when he did, and saw it was her, he became very excited. "oh ho! Miss Weasley! What a pleasant surprise! To what do I owe this visit?"
"Hello Professor. I was about to sit down and start my potions essay when I realized that I hadn't handed in a potion sample this morning." She looked at him, hoping that he would feel sympathetic, and not make her explain why she had rushed off like she did.
"Oh, but my dear I have a sample from your potion. Mr. Malfoy fetched it for you when he saw that you had left without turning it in!" He smiled at her, "would you like to come in and sit for a while? I just got in a batch of lovely crystallized pineapple."
Ginny looked at him with a puzzled expression, confused as to why Malfoy would care about her potions grade. But she did love crystallized pineapple, and Neville was in good hands, so she said, "yes, that sounds wonderful Professor," and followed Slughorn into his office.
His office was decorated with pictures of past students floating in and out of their frames or waving as Ginny and Slughorn walked by them to sit on squishy green chairs that reminded her of the ones that were next to the fireplace in Gryffindor Tower.
They sat there in conversation for a couple of hours. The hourglass that sat on the table between them flowing slowly, showing that the conversation was interesting. They first started out talking about the school year, Ginny's first classes, and then moved on to more depressing topics: Harry. She explained why she had had to leave potions in such a haste. "And the love potions everywhere smelled like him...I just couldn't bear it. I am so sorry again that I left so quickly. I know I should have kept a better control over my emotions, but I couldn't help it. I was just so angry at him." Some might find it odd that she was telling a professor about this, but it was Slughorn after all, and Ginny liked him immensely.
"There, there m' dear. No worries! Everything was taken care of in the end, and that's how everything will be." He gave her a pointed look, letting her know that he wasn't only talking about her potions grade. The clock in the corner chimed, and Ginny jumped up. She had been so involved in the conversation with Slughorn, she had completely lost track of time. It was nearly dinner, and she was supposed to be meeting Neville and Luna.
"I am so sorry Professor, I really must be going. But thank you for this talk. It really has made me feel much better."
"Anytime m' dear, anytime. And I'd tell Mr. Malfoy thank you for picking up your potion for you. It was quite a nice gesture if I do say so myself." He walked her to the door. "Remember, anytime you need to talk, I'll be here Miss Weasley."
"Thank you, Sir, and I will be sure to tell Malfoy thank you. Thanks again!" She waved, and was gone, rushing to dinner. She saw that Luna and Neville were conspicuously absent, and Ginny smirked at the thought of them in her room. She decided she would sit down here for a little while, and then bring them up something.
She sat down at the Gryffindor table, next to Padma, Parvati, and Lavender. Ginny found the last of these girls quite annoying still, because of the "thing" she had had with Ron. It had broken Hermione's heart, which had in turn broken Ginny's, which led to the breaking of Ron's nose. She smirked as she remembered the punch she had given him, and how their mother had sent her to her room so she could fix it and stop the bleeding.
She quickly scarfed down some chicken and potatoes, and then grabbed some more to bring up to her room. She conjured a couple plates, and "Wingardium Leviosa'd" them down to the dungeons. When she got down to the archway, she realized that there was a problem; her wand was needed to keep the plates afloat, and she couldn't hold the plates AND open the door. She was about to conjure a table to set the plates on when the door opened of its own accord.
Malfoy walked out of the archway, his normally sleek hair was in disarray, as if he had been running his hands through it recently, maybe pulling at it in frustration. He was going to continue walking by her, and she almost let him. Slughorn’s words rang in her head though, and she grabbed his hand as he walked by her.
He started, and moved to shake her off, but then saw the fire of her hair out of the corner of his eye, and stopped moving away. He looked up, and he saw the eyes that had been torturing him all evening, the reason that he had been pulling at his hair.
“Hey,” she whispered, barely audible.
“Hi,” he said, equally quiet. Their eyes locked, and Ginny looked down, embarrassed with her breakdown earlier. Draco thought she looked embarrassed with their kiss, and for all he knew, it very well could have been the shame of kissing a Malfoy that made her look away.
“I-I just wanted to say thank you for, for my potion.” She said, still looking down. How badly he wanted to put his hand under her chin, lift her head, and look into those eyes.
Instead, he simply said, “you’re welcome,” and moved to continue walking down the hall. Stop me. Ask me to stay, he thought at her. Please.
He was almost down the hallway, and out of sight, when he heard her voice echo against the stone walls, “Dr-Malfoy. Wait.”
He cringed at her use of his last name, but turned around anyway. “I-I also wanted to say I was sorry. For, um for earlier. In your room. Sorry.” And then she turned and walked into the common room, and the archway closed around her. Draco sighed, and continued down to dinner, trying to do something that would seem normal in his messed up head.
When Ginny got up to her room, she waited outside the door for a moment, and knocked before she went in, softly. No one answered, but she could hear light snores coming from inside, so she went in, and set the plates down on her desk. She saw that Neville and Luna had both fallen asleep, and Neville’s arm had fallen over Luna’s body, holding her close to him. Ginny smiled, but at the same time felt a gut-wrenching feeling, that she brushed off.
She decided to let the two sleep, and that she would wake them up a little before astronomy. She sat at her desk and started working on her homework for the next week, trying to keep a certain blonde from her thoughts.
Draco thought about a certain red-head the entire time he walked down to dinner. How has she messed with my head after just a couple of days getting to know her? I just don’t get it… He shook his head, and walked through the doors into the Great Hall; Spotting Blaise and Pansy walking out, he gave them a small wave and nod, but they barely looked at him. Pansy’s lip curled, and Blaise just ignored that he was there. He sighed again. Guess that’s what I get for hanging out with a blood traitor all of a sudden. He decided against going to dinner, and headed back down to his room, decidedly less hungry than when he had set out. He reached his room, and began working on homework, hoping to finish it before astronomy at Midnight.
It was 10:30, and Luna and Neville had been awake for about an hour, where both had sat up quickly and blushed profusely for having fallen asleep together. They got over the awkwardness eventually, and Ginny had magically heated up their food for them. They ate in companionable silence, and then talked about anything but the detentions that Neville was soon going to have to face.
“So,” Ginny started, “why hasn’t Dean come back? I thought everyone had to come to Hogwarts?”
“They do, but only if they are at least half-blood. Otherwise, they get sent to the Ministry to be dealt with…And Dean isn’t. He felt that the best thing for him to do would be to run away, so that they wouldn’t find him.” Neville said this quickly, as if he didn’t like that he had to say it.
Ginny’s face fell as she thought of her ex-boyfriend, imagining him out in the wild alone. It was a sadder image than the one she kept of Harry in her head, because she didn’t know how well Dean would be able to take care of himself. She tried not to think about it, because she had enough to worry about at the moment. What the hell was she going to do about Malfoy? He had seemed like he had changed, but, she had kissed him…That wasn’t something that either of them could ignore. But he kissed you back, hufflepuff said to her. Well yes, but… but what? What about Harry? I shouldn’t be doing this to him, it’s not fair! Well it wasn’t fair to you when he ran off with your brother and your best friend. But he still doesn’t deserve this…
Her inner fight was muted when there was a soft knock at the door. Ginny stiffened, but Luna got up and opened the door, only to find that there was no one there. Only a letter addressed to Ginny. Luna handed it to her, and was relieved to see that it wasn’t written in green ink.
She opened it up, and smiled when she saw the familiar, neat handwriting of Hermione.
How are you? I hope your school year is off to a good start. Don’t try to send an owl back, as it was dangerous enough for me to send this to you. I know you have had at least 2 days of classes, and I hope they went well. I hope the headmaster isn’t giving you any grief. I’m so sorry we took off like we did, and I hope you will be able to forgive me. It was cruel, and wrong of us to just leave like we did, but it was necessary. I can’t say anything here, in case this doesn’t reach you, just know that our hearts are with you, and that he has been talking in his sleep about you. Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you. I miss you dearly, please remember that. We all do. Please take care of yourself, and make sure to stay out of trouble. Stay safe, as safe as possible. We will do the same.
All our love
Ginny almost started crying, but snorted at Hermione telling her to stay out of trouble. Her eyes roamed around the script, tracing the letters of Hermione’s elegant handwriting. He has been talking in his sleep about you. She had to be talking about Harry. It almost broke her heart in two to think about him and to know what she had done. She mentally challenged herself to say something about it, but there was no inner voice filled with turmoil at that moment. There was only sadness, only the dark empty despair that came whenever she thought about her brother, her best friend, and the boy she had loved since she was 10 years old.
She shoved the pain down, and turned to Neville and Luna, who were looking at her curiously. “I can’t talk about it guys, I’m sorry. It’s nothing bad, but it isn’t exactly good news either. It isn’t really anything…” She stifled a sob, and Luna and Neville nodded sympathetically. They knew it was from one of the Golden Trio, but they didn’t know which. Ginny quickly put a small spell on the paper, so that only she could see what it actually said. To everyone else, it would simply look like school notes for potions. She didn’t want anyone to know about it, because that could be dangerous. Hermione was right, it was incredibly dangerous for her to be sending Ginny a letter, but Hermione knew her better than anyone, and she probably knew about how she felt.
Ginny folded the letter neatly, and placed it in the back pocket of her jeans. It was about time to head to the Astronomy tower, so she put on her robes, and started packing her books, trying to think of anything but the two boys who wouldn’t stay out of her mind. Neville and Luna did the same, and at 11:30, they were making their way up to the Astronomy tower.
They stared at the stars, and learned the names of some of them, copying them into their star charts. They were given homework due in 3 weeks to finish their star charts, and were sent along their way. Ginny was exhausted, as she had spent more than the necessary amount of energy focusing on the stars so as to avoid the blonde boy who stared at her the entire time.
Draco sat staring at the red-head across the tower from him, which was not very productive to his star chart. He had only named one moon of Jupiter, and hadn’t even begun to think about the different constellations he was supposed to be mapping. He sighed. School was such a waste of time and effort. If he ended up getting killed by Voldemort or the Order, what was the point? The only thing he could do was to try to get Ginny to forgive and forget this afternoon, and then, hopefully, gain her trust so that she could make others believe he had changed. He noticed that she twitched a couple times, as if she had started to look around and then forcefully stopped herself, and at the end of the 2 hours, she put her stuff away hastily and raced down the steps as quickly as possible. Well, guess that talk won’t be tonight…Draco thought to himself.
And as it turned out, that talk wouldn’t occur for another 3 weeks.