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Harry Potter and the Final Riddle by Timechild
Chapter 6 : The Room of Requirement
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 10


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Everyone in the school had come out to see the five of them leave the library. Harry was in front, holding the Alchemy book in his left hand and Ginny on his right arm. Ginny, right next to him and in the gown from Bill and Fleur’s wedding, looked like the fairy-tale princess on her way to the ball. Hermione and Ron were right behind them, holding hands and passing each other glances that seemed to indicate that the whole scene in front of them was completely funny. Many of the girls around who were watching also giggled, to which Hermione shushed them and pointed to Harry as if to say, “Don’t make him mad.” Ginny was completely and happily oblivious to anyone except Harry. She had him all term, maybe all year. She wasn’t going to let any time slip away. The thoughts were racing into her head a mile a minute. How can she now arrange to be part of that final search? She was willing to follow him to Hell and back. As much as he wanted her safe, she wanted to be by his side when the final battle came. Somehow, she was going to prove that she was capable of being a benefit to him when it was all said and done. Her determination was getting even stronger with each passing moment.

Walking behind the four of them, Minerva McGonagall wondered just what effect this situation was going to have on the regular goings on at Hogwarts. To say this was unusual was an understatement. They were still young and, while they had known their share of hazards and trials, they really did not know what awaited them. Harry had the strongest notion, but he had taken it as a reason to segregate himself from everyone. Now he was almost literally attached at the hip to Ginny Weasley. Whatever else, this must be promoted at all costs. Dumbledore had made it quite plain in the many talks on this subject. For there to be any chance of Harry to survive his upcoming trial, there will have to be as many people with him as possible. They arrived at the Room of Requirement shortly thereafter, with a good deal of the crowd following still. McGonagall had to threaten the students with massive detentions, to make them go back to their houses.

“I need a place to find my proper way to the light.” Harry stated, and the door appeared.

They walked inside to an amazing site. The room was part library, part training ground, part dueling station. There were hundreds of books and parchments and scrolls as far as the eye could see. Different globes hung from the ceiling. In the training area, there was a dais-like object projecting about four and one-half feet from the floor, which had what looked like switches and a keyboard on its face.

“It is a computer workstation…of sorts.” Hermione determined

“Great, just what do I need with that?” Harry commented. “I don’t plan on keeping statistics.”

“You do not need to Harry, they are already entered; as well as quite a bit of other programming as well. You will find them quite useful in getting your skills in order.” Everyone looked around and saw a smiling Albus Dumbledore…or at least his portrait.

“Good Evening, Albus.” McGonagall said as she bowed to him.

“Good Evening, Minerva” He replied. He looked around and saw Ron and Hermione standing together arm in arm. “Ah, Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley – Or is it Mr. and Mrs. Weasley now? I do not have any track of time, you know?”

Ron and Hermione looked at each other and then back at the painting. “How did you know?” Ron asked with a dumbfounded look on his face.

“Oh, dear boy, it was quite obvious to anyone who was watching. You two will make a good pairing, I think. You compliment each other so well.”

“Thank you, Professor Dumbledore.” Hermione replied. “But no, we are not married yet…engaged, yes, married no.”

“By an Unbreakable Vow, perhaps?”

“Now how did you know that?” Now it was Hermione’s turn to be dumbfounded.

“You two glow with its energy around you.”

Harry just laughed aloud, “Nothing gets by you Dumbledore, does it?”

“No, Harry, not much. I also noticed that you and Miss Weasley are together again. Excellent!!! You two look perfect together.”

“Thank you, Professor.” Ginny beamed. Harry winced a little. Everyone chuckled at Harry’s obvious embarrassment.

“Yes, yes, now that we have had a good chuckle, it is time to introduce your teachers Harry. You, of course, already know Phineas from the Headmasters wall.”

“Of course.”

“The next one is Miss Augusta LaStrade’ from France. She was a top flight duelist in her day.”

“A pleasure, Ma’am.” Miss LaStrade’ simply bowed.

“And to her right is Merlin...”

“Wait a minute, not the Merlin?!?!” gasped Hermione. “But I thought he was only a myth.”

“Not at all, young lady. Some of the things I have reported to have done are a bit exaggerated, including that balderdash of me being the devil’s son, but I was among the living once. As was Morgana, my cousin, who is on my right.” Merlin explained.

“Wow!” Hermione looked at Morgana and said, “History’s most revered Sorceress.”

“Thank you, my dear, though Dumbledore tells me that you are not so bad yourself.” She replied.

“We are all here to assist Harry in accomplishing his goal, namely to destroy Voldemort.” Hermione added.

“And Snape,” said Harry with disgust, “for he is the one who killed you, or don’t you remember that?”

“Of course.”

“Fine, you can have Voldemort and Snape,” Ron interjected, “but Malfoy is MINE! I am going to kill that little weasel!” For the first time, Ron was a picture of rage. This surprised everyone, except Harry.

“Ron…” Hermione started.

“No! He’s MINE! After what he tried to do to you, I’ve got some nice ideas I want to try on him.”

“I take it you’re practicing too, mate?”

“You bloody well bet I am.”

“Ron…” Hermione’s voice showed surprise, some fear, and a touch of respect, “you don’t have to do this to prove yourself to me. Revenge gets us nowhere.”

“Oh yeah, it gets rid of a seventeen year old Death Eater who is going to take Voldemort’s place if Harry succeeds.” He looked at Harry again. “That bastard came within inches of raping and destroying her, I’m not letting anyone have him. He’s going down and I’M doing it. Got that?”

“No problem, mate. He’s all yours.”

“Did I hear correctly, Minerva?” Dumbledore’s portrait asked.

“You did, Albus. Draco Malfoy attempted to do the Dark Sacrifice on Miss Granger while raping her in front of Mr. Weasley. His rage is justified.”

“Well, then, Mr. Weasley, by all means, defend your lady’s honor.”

“Thank you. Professor.” Ron said tersely.

“Ron, my love. Please reconsider this, for me?”

“What? Are you saying that it isn’t justified to go after him?” Ron asked astonished.

“No, love just that I don’t want revenge. As bad as all we went through was, look where it left us. We’re together, our love is in the open to everyone…ourselves included, and I have never been happier. However, if you go after Malfoy and something happens to you, I don’t know what I would do. Oh please, Ron, let it go. He can’t hurt us unless we let him.”

“And if he tries again?”

“Then we deal with him and his cronies, together.”

Ron closed his eyes and concentrated. Harry could tell he was doing some heavy thinking here. He understood completely about what Ron is feeling. Yet, here was his lady asking him to not do the very thing his soul is yearning to do…rid the world of the man who attacked her. For several long moments, Ron just stood there, until at last he opened his eyes again.

“Very well, my love, for you.” Hermione reached over and kissed him very passionately on the lips.

“Looks like fun.” Ginny thought to Harry.

“Ginny! This is serious.”

“Yes, it is. I could see how much of a concession that was for him. He needs to protect her, Harry. He was pushed to the point of no return, and somehow he is still here with us. If I hadn’t already been in awe of how much my brother has grown, I would be now.”

Harry looked at her closely, “You mean that, don’t you?”

“Very much.”

“Ahem.” Said McGonagall. “This is neither the time nor place for that. This room is for study and work.”

“Well, said, Minerva.” Dumbledore commented. “I see you have a book already, Harry. I take it you are looking into how Nicholas created the Sorcerer’s Stone?”

“Yup.” Harry replied. “I figured if it was possible, then Voldemort may try it if he finds out that we are destroying Horcruxes.”

“That’s why I remember it!” Hermione shouted.

“Remember, what?” Ginny asked.

“That’s right, you weren’t here yet. The Sorcerer’s Stone was here at Hogwarts during our first year. Quirrell tried to steal it for Voldemort. The stone was destroyed, but it was in the history of Nicholas Flammel that he used Alchemy to originally create the stone.”

“Oh, that makes sense…I think.” Ginny said. Hermione just smiled and put her arm around Ginny’s shoulder.

“Tell you what; I can explain it all to you tonight, while we’re sipping cider or cocoa.” She said coolly.

“Huh?”

“Bad news, Ginny, we don’t get to room with our boyfriends. They cannot allow it, not even for us. Therefore, what they did is put us in the East Tower. Ron and Harry are on one side, you and me are on the other.”

Ginny’s eyes lit up with hearing that, and then she got that wicked smile on her face.

“Sorry, we can’t do that either.”

“Can’t do what?” Ginny said innocently. Hermione gave her a look of ‘you know very well what’, but Ginny just kept up the innocent eyes so, finally, Hermione said it.

“We can’t play switch so that we end up with our loves, honey. The magic will require us to sleep in our own beds.” She saw Ginny start to look very depressed and said, “I know, me too”

Ginny looked shocked. “I thought the Vow wouldn’t…”

“Ahem, remember where you found us the morning of Bill and Fleur’s wedding?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Well, we had been doing that for quite a few weeks by then. I still miss having your brother close enough to hold.” She then leaned in and whispered, “I still get scared when he’s not around. I won’t lose that feeling for quite a while.”

“Hermione? Oh my word, what can I do?”

“You can’t Ginny, no one can. It is something that I have to go through. I just am very glad I am not alone. I know Ron’s close, and so is Harry. And I will have you to talk to. Believe me; we can talk about them all we want. And, of course, there are other topics, like bridal colors?”

“Oh, yeah! That will be fun.”

“And…we won’t be at Hogwarts all the time this term, now will we?”

Ginny flashed that grin again, “Right!”

McGonagall chose this moment to clear her throat loudly, “If you two are QUITE through.” Both ladies turned to see her motion to Harry and Ron, who were both turning shades of purple from complete embarrassment. They looked back at McGonagall who, while the boys were looking the other way, winked at the two girls.

“Thank Goodness we don’t have to think of what colors to wear.” Ron said to Harry. Harry simply nodded.

“But, dearest, you make it sound like it’s a BAD thing.” It was Hermione’s turn for the sweet and innocent voice.

Ron looked at Harry, who just shrugged. “Must be a girl thing, Mate.” Harry said. Ron nodded.

Just then, Hagrid came running into the Room of Requirement. He stopped as soon as he saw everyone.

“Hi Harry, Ron, Hermione!! You too Ginny!”

“Hi Hagrid!!!” The four shouted back together. Hagrid was perhaps, besides each other, the best friend that they all had at Hogwarts. Part time Gamekeeper, Part time Care of Magical Creatures teacher, he was just the lovable sort of person you couldn’t help but want as a friend. The fact he looked like an eight-foot tall teddy bear didn’t hurt either. Many times, they had gone to Hagrid’s house when things weren’t going well. There was the time Ron’s wand backfired when he tried to hex Malfoy for calling Hermione a ‘Mudblood’; which in the Wizarding world is about as bad a term as can be used on a wizard or witch. It was Hagrid who rescued Harry from Knockturn Alley in his second year, and introduced him to Buckbeak the Hippogriff in his third; a fond memory to Harry and he totally enjoyed flying on Buckbeak’s back. They had all turned to Hagrid when they needed someone to cry, or run, or just talk to; even Ginny when she accidentally let it slip her first year she had already fallen for Harry. The sight of their very large friend was a welcome one indeed.

“Come in, Hagrid, welcome to the Room of Requirement.” Dumbledore’s portrait said in a friendly manner.

“Professor Dumbledore?” Hagrid asked.

“In a matter of speaking, yes Hagrid.”

“I don’t get it…wait a minute? That ball Harry got this morning!”

“Very good, Hagrid, yes the ball was special, and Harry, as you can see, figured out what to do with it.”

“Good, good. It warms me heart to know you’re still helping him, sir.”

“Thank you, old friend, but you had something to tell us? I don’t think it was to say hi to me, as my portrait surprised you.”

“Oh, right. I came to tell you that the new Headmaster has arrived; and you aren’t going to believe who it is.”

“Tell me later, I’m hungry. Let’s go eat.” Harry proclaimed. Everyone looked at him is surprise. “Well, I figure that, if this one is as bad as Umbridge, I will need food before I throw him out.” His smirk told everyone he was slightly joking.

“My love, who could be as bad as Umbridge? Anyone who qualifies is in Azkaban, or we’re hunting for them. So, by elimination, this one HAS to be better.” Ginny said slyly, then went over and kissed him.

“Dinner does sound wonderful, wouldn’t you agree, sweetheart?” Ron said to Hermione.

“Absolutely!” She replied.

“Then it is settled, I will see you all here tomorrow morning at ten a.m.” Dumbledore’s Portrait announced.

“And I had better go meet this new Headmaster.”

With that, they all left the Room of Requirement.

***

When the announcement of the new Headmaster finally got to the Great Hall, all four had found food and a place to sit down. Harry was reading the Alchemy book so intensely that he barely noticed that the reason he was eating at all was that Ginny had been feeding him so that he could keep focused. Ginny, on the other hand, was quite happy to do it. She was helping Harry get prepared to battle Voldemort, and anything she could do she would. Right now, she was making sure he ate. Ron and Hermione, of course, were chuckling aloud at this scene. They were once again holding hands and, as a result of the train ride and Umbridge’s scare (or so said Ron), Hermione had one of her legs over Ron’s lap and they had curled in together. They were busy sharing thoughts with each other while enjoying the scene of Ginny feeding a totally focused Harry.

“You know, my love. This is the only time I have seen anyone study this intensely…outside of you, of course. It is so interesting to see someone else so dedicated. Just proves you had the right idea.” Ron said as he nuzzled against Hermione’s cheek. Ginny let out with a gagging noise.

“Oh yuck, you two had not better start up THAT kind of talk all year. I had enough of that with Percy and that Clearwater girl.” She said.

“Oh really, and what about you and Harry? I have heard some pretty sappy things come out of your mouth too, sis.” Ron retorted.

“Not THAT bad!”

“That depends on who you ask, now doesn’t it.” Hermione said with a wink.

“All that means,” Harry thought to Ginny, “is that we need to keep more of those sappy moments out of verbal conversation.” Ginny whirled around and saw Harry with this ‘I’m not really in this conversation, it is a figment of your imagination’ look on his face while still reading the book. She gave him one of her hard, blazing looks that seemed to say ‘you dirty rat’.

“Well, I couldn’t help hearing the ‘yuck’, that’s where I picked up the conversation. What did he say?”

“Trust me,” Ginny replied in his mind, “You don’t want to know. It sounded like he was totally kissing up to her.”

“Or that he wanted to…the kissing I mean.”

Ginny burst out laughing so hard people turned to look at her. “I guess you could say that.” She thought back at him.

“Private joke, mate?” Ron asked.

“Yup.” Harry replied.

At that precise moment, trumpets started blaring out the Hogwarts formal theme music and in walked McGonagall, Moody, and the rest of the other teachers. All the students turned as the staff walked up the center of the Hall and took their respective chairs. After the trumpets completed the formal music, which took six minutes and thirty-seven seconds (which was about six minutes too long for Harry), McGonagall rose and went to the podium.

“Students of Hogwarts, our new Headmaster is entering, please rise.”

Everyone stood up except for Harry, which surprised some, but not many. Ginny chose then to resume her seat with Harry, which surprised just about everyone.

“Well he had better be a vast improvement over the LAST one!” Harry bellowed.

“Now Honey,” said Ginny with that smile on, “be nice, we just finished fixing the window to the lake.”

The crowd gasped at Ginny’s remark. Was there going to be another explosion? Everyone was wondering until the Headmaster came in the door very slowly, then they were even more shocked. There, in the doorway, stood Cornelius Fudge, the former Minister of Magic.

“Hello, everyone, I am sure that you are no doubt surprised that I am the one walking through this door. Well, so am I.” Fudge began.

“Oh, my? This is unheard of for a former Minister of Magic to end up a Headmaster?” Hermione said to Ron, Ginny, and Harry.

“No kidding…” said Ron.

“Wait a minute? Why is this such a big deal?” Asked Harry

“Because it is considered a demotion of sorts. Most of the time, it goes the other way around, when you can actually get a Headmaster to accept. For Fudge to be here means he has really fallen out of favor with the Ministry.”

“Well, actually, they pretty much had to beg me to accept.” Fudge replied. “After what happened to Dolores…let’s just say that most did not want to get anywhere near Hogwarts.”

Fudge bowed to Harry, and Harry nodded in return. Ginny kept an eerie eye on the new Headmaster.

“So what makes you think you’re going to fare better than Umbridge? You were the one who brought her in the first place. Harry has just as good a reason to throw you out the window as he did her.” She said accusingly.

“Well, yes, I suppose I have to take responsibility for that mistake. However, let me state quite clearly that I was not informed of Ms. Umbridge setting the Dementors on you until well after. Nor did I know of the so-called ‘lines’ she made you write, and I never would have condoned the use of any Unforgivable Curses. Yes, I sent her here, to see if Harry could be discredited. That was what I was supposed to do? But I never realized how…overzealous she was. I never wanted anyone hurt. Not even your Godfather, Harry.”

“Like anyone would believe that?” Ginny retorted. Hermione and Ron were looking at her in total disbelief. They were beginning to fear that SHE was going to do something now. Harry just put a hand on her shoulder and shushed quietly in her ear until she calmed down.”

“It’s alright, my love. He’s coming in with the right attitude, not bullying as Umbridge was. Let it go, sweetheart.” Ginny turned to him and smiled, then nodded. She turned back to Fudge, game him one last glare, and then returned to Harry. Harry stood up and turned to McGonagall.

“Minerva, what do you think?” Fudge raised his eyebrows at that remark, telling Harry that Fudge wasn’t completely up to date yet.

“He will do, at least for now, Professor Potter.” McGonagall replied. The students gasped in shock when they heard this, and whispers began flying immediately. McGonagall called everyone back to order.

“You heard correctly. By arrangement with Professor Moody, Harry Potter will be the Assistant Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts and will be teaching all first through third year students.”

“Congratulations, Mr. Potter. After everything I heard you accomplished with the group known as Dumbledore’s Army, I have every reason to believe that the students are in good hands.” Fudge came over and extended his hand. “Let us start on a clean slate shall we?”

Harry looked at McGonagall and Moody, who nodded. Hagrid gave thumbs up. Harry nodded for about ten seconds and shook Fudge’s hand. “Very Well, Headmaster. I will let Professor Moody enlighten you with the details. I am taking my assistants and retiring for the evening. If I am needed for anything, you may find me in the East Tower or on the seventh floor if I am not teaching classes.”

“Of course, Harry. By the way, I hear congratulations are also in order for Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger.”

“Thank you, Headmaster, but please do not pass a word to anyone, as we have not told all of our family. The announcement will be at this year’s Yule Ball.” Hermione asked politely.

“Of course, Miss Granger.”

“Hold on, who told YOU?” Ron asked.

“Well, it has been a great topic of conversation at the Ministry.”

“Dad wouldn’t have told you, he knew we were keeping…Percy!”

“Yes, it was Percy. He felt that the Ministry should know this and that he had a duty to report it.”

“I am going to kill that little Prat!” Ginny scowled, “Duty my eye! He did it just because he could and to get at Ron.”

“Well, I am not sure of his motivations, but it really WAS his duty. It had to be explained to your father too, Miss Weasley. You see, your brother and Miss Granger are playing a major role in this war against You-Know-Who. The fact they intend to wed is completely relevant to security. If someone wanted to wipe out a good portion of the Order of the Phoenix, for example, then that would be a good day to try. Yes, Percy did his duty. Weather he enjoyed it or not, I cannot say. I do not communicate very much with either your father or your brother. I will say that your father is one proud parent, though.”

“I’m sure he is.” Ginny retorted. “Why not, he has so much to be proud of with Ron and Hermione.”

“And he does of you too, My Dearest Love.” Harry thought at her gently, “If you saw the look in his eyes when he came to get you, you would know that. When it is time, your turn will come and he will be just as proud.”

“Thank you, darling.” She leaned over and kissed Harry.

“And, of course, our Mr. Potter here is also getting his share of commentary as well…” Fudge went on. “Thought you might want to know.”

“Thank You, Cornelius, keep me posted. Until then, good night.”

Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny left at once for the East Tower.


***

The first thing they discovered when they made it to their rooms for the first time was that, like the dorms, they had a common room with a fireplace where they could sit and talk. Ginny had literally curled around Harry and was beginning to fall asleep. Ron and Hermione were together, though not as intertwined with each other. Ron just shook his head.

“Ginny, I am not complaining or anything, but I do think Mum would be a little calmer if you didn’t go so, well, overboard.” Ron said quietly.

“Am I bothering you by being this affectionate to Harry?”

“Well, yeah, a little.” He confessed.

“Why? Does it really affect your sensibilities, or does the Vow go that deep as to include displays of affection?”

“No, it doesn’t, Ginny.” Said Hermione, “and I’m not saying anything against you either. It’s just that maybe you might want to tone it down a little in public. Things get back to the wrong ears, like your mother’s. Your dad works at the Ministry, and so does Percy, which means if they are talking about us, they are talking about you two too. Believe me, what I heard from Fudge today is going to make me VERY cautious. I don’t know how Percy found out, but he did, and told EVERYONE! Do you think he wouldn’t if given the chance about you and Harry?”

Ginny looked at Hermione, then at Ron, and finally at Harry. “Talk to me, please?” She thought to Harry. Harry smiled at her.

“Hermione has a point, Ginny; things do get passed around in gossip. Now having said that, truthfully, I don’t give a rat’s arse what the Ministry thinks. If they want to think ill of us, fine. They say anything bad about you and I will make sure that is the last thing they do.” Ginny beamed at him when he said this. “But, we are going to have to face your mother sooner or later and get everything out in the open.”

“I know, and I will, at Christmas. We won’t be seeing them until then anyway.” She purred back. Harry smiled.

“Maybe we should just hold hands ‘in front of the children’?” He said aloud.

Ginny laughed. “As you wish, my love. But we are in private now, are we not?”

“Yes we are, as are Ron and Hermione. To each their own?”

Ron nodded, and Hermione just smiled. She then reached over and planted a big snog on Ron just to get a reaction from him. He reacted all right, and soon they were rolling around the floor completely lip-locked.

“There’s hope for them after all!” Ginny thought to Harry. To her surprise, Hermione looked at her and winked, then turned her attention back to Ron.

“You heard me?” She looked at Hermione

“Yes, and Ron would have too, if he wasn’t so, ahem, occupied. You mentioned both of us.”

“But I thought this was a link for lovers only?”

“Ginny, we both love you two too. There is more than one way to love. That’s what made the Vow so easy for us. We have loved in so many ways now that that last way can wait for our wedding night.”

“Lucky you, I will never get a wedding night, remember?”

“Oh, dearest, I can feel what you are going through, as can Ron. We know your time is short. If we can help you find a way, we will. Promise.”

“Thanks, sis. Now I think you need to look at Ron again, he’s looking abandoned.” Hermione turned and smiled. Then she and Ginny both giggled while she once again turned to Ron. Ginny simply looked at Harry with come hither eyes, and Harry didn’t resist in the slightest.

They woke up a few hours later still in the common room, and still together. They were stirring to sounds quite unheard of to them.

“Well, I guess the ‘restrictions’ don’t apply to the common room.” Ron was saying. “Now can anyone turn off that racket, the sound is so annoying.”

“Not as annoying as it would have been if you four had tried anything, shall we say, more risqué?” Said Moody.

The four looked around and saw Moody, McGonagall, Slughorn, and Madame Hooch looking at them. They quickly checked to make sure all clothing was still on – fortunately, it was.

“What the bloody hell is that, and whatever it is, turn it off!” Ron shouted to Moody. Moody laughed and waved his wand saying “reset.” The sound came to a halt.

“That, boys and girls, was a shrill. It was designed to make sure that you didn’t use the common room to, ahem, circumvent certain rules that are to place.” Moody explained.

“You know, Mad-Eye,” Ginny looked at him sternly, “you’re having way too much fun reminding us of how old you are. I would have thought that you, of all people, would be a little more understanding.”

“Well, actually, we all are, dear.” McGonagall said in a calm and endearing voice. “We really aren’t that old. And this little shrill was placed here a long time ago, and we are also subject to it; that is to say, all the staff.”

“What??? Why???”

“Because the founders of the school wanted the teachers to set fine upstanding examples for the students, especially in morality.” McGonagall stated as Moody snickered. Ron snickered right along with him. Ginny, however, was not amused.

“I see. I understand this may expose my so-called immaturity on this topic, but how is it that the students can snog each other like crazy in the Houses but we are under this…thing?”

“Because the founders didn’t think the students would think of that for themselves without hints from the staff.”

“You’re joking, right?”

“I’m afraid not, Ginny. You see, we are not that old, but what most people did not know is that the founders WERE advanced in years. They also lived in a time much more conservative than ours. In their day, students didn’t even think it.” McGonagall went over to Ginny and put her arm on Ginny’s shoulder. “And it doesn’t show immaturity at all by asking. It was a quite legitimate question. One we ourselves have been asking for decades.”

McGonagall laughed after saying that and Ginny couldn’t help but follow suit. Soon everyone was laughing and joking around so that all was forgotten almost immediately. Harry invited the others to join the four of them for tea, and they accepted. They went on to chat on a number of topics in a manner that surprised Harry, but enjoyably so.

“Tell me, Minerva, is there any other little side-rule we need to watch out for?” Harry asked quite seriously.

“Probably, but I can’t recall them right now. This one was obvious because we saw how you four were looking at each other in the hall. But with the others, it is a case of when you break it, we will know.”

“Oh, great. That sounds like a whole lot of fun.”

“Most of us have been through the routine so long that it is habit. Most young professors go through this. But the students never know.” Moody interjected.

“Glad to hear that, Alastor.” Harry responded.

“It is just getting used to the difference between being a student and being a teacher, Harry. You’ll be fine. We simply need to get classes set up for the term.”

“Well, Dumbledore and the rest of the portraits want us in the Room of Requirement in the morning, so we should schedule the beginners in the afternoons.”

“Makes sense, then shall we say two p.m.?”

“I think that will work.”

“There is one other little decision we needed to make,” McGonagall stated, “that being that Ron, Hermione, and Ginny’s classes are also going to be taught from the Room of Requirement.”

“Really?” Hermione said in surprise. “We haven’t done anything wrong, have we?”

“Oh, no, of course not, Hermione dear. We have discovered that the student population is not going to just let you walk around to class. We had to shoo away several hundred from the bottom of the tower to get up here.”

Ron and Harry gulped hard. “Several HUNDRED?” they asked together.

“I am afraid so, also many of the other sixth years wanted to know what classes Ginny was taking so they could join her – way too many.”

“Oh, my!” Ginny reacted with a shock. “You’re not saying we are confined up here during our free time, are you?”

“No, but you may find you want to be up here, just to get away from all the prying eyes. It might also be a good idea if the announcement of your engagement comes early.”

“Thanks for the warning.” Harry said.

“You’re welcome,” McGonagall replied and rose. Moody and Madame Hooch also rose, “and I think it is time for us to depart.” She pointed to the clock that said eleven p.m.

Harry and the others rose with the elder teachers. “Thank you for coming to tea. I really enjoyed the chat.”

“If there is anything we can do to help, let us know.” Madame Hooch said.

“She speaks!” Ron said.

“Forgive my quietness, but I couldn’t help being in awe of how all of you have grown up so much in so short a time.”

“Fair enough, good night all.” Said Harry.

“Good Night.” McGonagall, Moody, and Hooch said as they descended the stairs. The four looked at each other after they were gone.

“Either they are very good liars, or we seem to be causing quite a stir just by being here.” Ginny pointed out. “Did anyone else expect the students to react to us this way?” The others all shook their heads. “Maybe being a little more discreet IS a good idea.”

“Oho, there’s hope for you yet.” Hermione whispered in Ginny’s ear as she took her by the arm and led her to their rooms.

Both Ron and Harry sighed. Ron turned to Harry.

“Face it mate, she is going to affect you. Either kick her out now and risk the wrath, or accept the fact you have my younger sister heavily in your life.” He stated. “And to be honest, I would rather you accept it.”

“You would? Even knowing how that puts Ginny at risk?”

“Yeah, because Ginny is happy. You didn’t see much of what she went through when she was younger. I have NEVER seen her this happy before. Man, she would die for you, and do it with a smile on her face.”

“That’s what I am afraid of.”

“Yeah, I know. But, believe me; she won’t rest until you see she is strong enough to stay. Enjoy her, mate.”

“Excuse me? Did I just hear you say what I thought I just heard you say?”

“Yes you did, but if you tell my mother, I am denying it to my grave.” Ron winked as he headed for his room.

Harry grabbed the Alchemy book and marked the page where he left off. He managed to get through about two-thirds of it today. He still had much to do, and preparations to make. Nevertheless, Ron was right. It was much easier to do this with Ginny around. He hated to admit it, but she made studying a lot easier. He thought she would be a distraction, but instead she turned out to be an incentive to get better even faster. This term was going to be very interesting, no doubt.





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