Chapter 11 : Just Ginny
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Harry punching Snape caused even more interest then when he had stunned him, presumably because it was much more physical, and far less usual. When Harry arrived back in the Common Room following that disastrous Occlumency lesson, Ron and Hermione took one look at his stricken face and followed him up to the boy’s dormitory, Hermione looking rather nervous as she did so.
“Harry, what happened? Didn’t it go well?” She asked anxiously, as she perched on the end of Ron’s bed.
“It’s Snape, isn’t it?” Ron asked darkly. “What did he do?”
Harry swallowed. “It was him. The person who overheard Trelawney reciting the prophecy to Dumbledore…the person who told Voldemort about it…the person who made him go after my parents…it was Snape.”
“No!” gasped Hermione, her hand over her mouth. “Harry…are you…are you sure?”
“I saw it. I saw his memory. It was him”.
“I cant believe it…” Ron said quietly. “I mean, we all knew he was filth, but that…how can he say all that stuff about your dad after he’s done that?”
Harry shrugged. “That’s what I said.”
“Harry…you didn’t get too angry, did you?” Hermione said, looking concerned.
“Of course I got bloody angry!” Harry snapped. “He’s the reason my parents are dead - I think that’s a perfectly good reason to get angry and give someone a smack, don’t you?”
“Oh, you didn’t hit him did you, Harry?” she asked, looking scandalised.
“Yes,” Harry replied shortly, ignoring her appalled face.
“You hit him? Wicked! Where? How many times?” Ron said, a grin splitting his face.
“As many places as I could reach, and a lot,” Harry said, feeling a grim pleasure as he remembered the feel of his hand thudding against Snape’s face.
“Mate…look at your hand!” Ron said, with awe in his voice. Harry looked at his fist, and was surprised to see that his knuckles were split and bleeding, and already they were purple-tinged. So he must have hit Snape quite hard…very hard…
Ron grabbed Harry’s hand and looked at it with respect. “That is amazing, Harry! First you stun him, then you whack him! What are you going to do next??”
“He’s not going to do anything next, Ron. Are you, Harry? What are you going to do in his lessons now? Will he teach you still?” Hermione asked, looking worried.
“I dunno, and I don’t care. I’m not going back to his classes. I’m sorry, Hermione, but I cant. I can barely bring myself to look at him. I’ll go to the library and do my own work there. I’ll be fine.”
When Harry went back down to the Common Room a short while later, it was to find that Ron had told literally everyone about him hitting Snape. To Harry’s relief, however, he hadn’t told them exactly what it was that Snape had done to warrant such action; Harry wasn’t sure why, but he didn’t want everyone knowing that his parents were dead because of Snape. Everyone wanted to have a look at Harry’s hand, which Harry had left bruised and cut, despite Hermione’s constant offers that she could heal it for him.
“You don’t understand, Hermione, I don’t want it to heal right now. I like remembering how it got there.”
“Oh, alright,” she said irritably. “Harry, what did Dumbledore say about it? I mean, after you hit Snape? He cant have been…okay with it? He must have told you off?”
“No, not really. I think he was just so surprised that I‘d found out. He’ll probably want to see me about it soon, but I don’t think he’ll go mad about it. I think he knew how I’d react if I knew - that’s why he was so keen on keeping it from me.”
Harry settled back against his chair, pulled out his wizard chess board and sat back for a game with Ron. They had only been playing for about ten minutes when a third year approached Harry nervously.
“Harry Potter? Professor McGonagall asked me to give you this…it’s from Professor Dumbledore,” he said handing Harry an envelope. Harry took it, giving Ron and Hermione significant looks, before tearing it open and starting to read.
I understand why you got so angry and were so hurt when you realised that it was Professor Snape who had passed the information about the prophecy to Lord Voldemort. I know I told you last year that I was going to tell you everything, and I have - apart from that. I had my reasons for not wanting you to know this, least of all because it would mean that an already difficult relationship would become impossible. You MUST trust me on this, Harry. I know I have let you down before, but please give me the benefit of the doubt this time. Professor Snape made a terrible mistake, and you have no idea of the remorse he felt afterwards. He did not know how Lord Voldemort would interpret the prophecy, and whilst it is true that no love was lost between himself and your father, he did not desire his death, and certainly not the death of your mother, and you - an innocent baby.
As a result of the events this afternoon, Professor Snape has told me that he does not think it advisable for him to teach you Defence Against the Dark Arts anymore, although I am sure you would not have attended the lessons had he not said this. I am not going to lecture you about the wrongs of your violence, Harry, because I daresay you already know. But know that had the circumstances been different, you would indeed be in deep water for your actions today.
I have written you this letter because I do not think that you particularly want to talk to me about what happened - and indeed, perhaps a break is what we both need to regain the trust and friendship that I, at least, felt we had. Please try to trust me again, Harry. It is very important.
There is another letter in the envelope that I do not wish you to read now - in fact, I have charmed it so it is unreadable until the time I feel it is appropriate for you to read it. That time will be when I am not there…perhaps I have gone somewhere, perhaps I have died, perhaps I have just spent too long in the Hogshead and forgotten my duties…if this is the case you will need the information that is written there, especially a certain part about whom you must now turn to. Keep this letter safe, Harry - it is of the greatest importance.
Perhaps it is best if we do not have any more meetings until after Christmas - a mere three weeks from now, how time flies! I daresay you shall catch a glimpse of me over the Christmas holidays as I fulfil my duties for the Order. Mrs Weasley would like you to know that you will be spending Christmas at Grimmauld Place, as will the other Weasleys, because the Burrow has been deemed unsafe for you to stay for a prolonged period of time.
I trust you are working hard at your training with Kingsley and Tonks, and remember to clear your mind every night before you sleep. Do not forget that you must continue with your Defence Against the Dark Arts work - may I suggest the Room of Requirement to study in? It will have all the books and materials you may need, as no doubt you discovered when you used it for the delightfully named Dumbledore’s Army last year.
If you have any questions, or anything you would like to say to me, do not hesitate to contact me. I promise I will give you the truth, Harry.
I am yours most sincerely,
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
“Blimey, that letter’s a bloody essay!” Ron exclaimed as Harry handed it over to him after he’d finished. He looked in the envelope and sure enough there was another letter inside, but when Harry opened it he saw that it was completely blank - not a word was written.
“It’s a concealment spell, Harry,” Hermione explained, seeing his puzzled look. “It’ll only reveal itself to you when the writer would have wanted it.”
“God, he absolutely LOVES you, doesn’t he?” Ron grumbled, handing the letter over to Hermione. “You beat your teacher to a pulp and he doesn’t even tell you off! You’re like the son he never had…so lucky.”
“I didn’t exactly beat him to a pulp, Ron”, Harry said with a smile. “Although I probably would have done if Remus hadn’t pulled me off him.”
“Are you going to reply, Harry?” asked Hermione, folding the letter back up and handing it back to him.
“I dunno…I hadn’t thought.”
“Well, I think you should. I know you’re annoyed that he didn’t tell you, but he’s been extraordinarily nice to you given the extent of what you did to Snape. You know that he only didn’t tell you because he thought it was the right thing to do. You know that, Harry.”
“Yeah, I know,” Harry replied heavily. “I’m not angry at him - I think I’m too angry with Snape to have any anger left over - but I just feel a bit…I dunno…let down. Because he DID tell me he was going to tell me everything before, and he didn’t, did he? But I s’pose I will reply…just to let him know how I feel about it, really.”
He drew out his quill and a piece of parchment and began to write, pausing every now and then to think.
Thank you for you letter - I appreciated it, and yes, I do agree that it’s probably best not to meet again until after Christmas. I understand and accept that you didn’t tell me because you thought it was in my best interest, but I think you know I disagree with that. You said you hope we can regain the trust and friendship that you thought we had, and I hope that in time we can do that too. I’m not angry with you, sir, but I did mean what I said earlier - I do feel that I have lost my trust in you, but hopefully this is something that will return with time, because I am very aware and very grateful of everything you have done for me. I also appreciate the fact that you are always ready to forgive, and I hope that that is something I will be able to emulate, although not in the case of Snape. (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to call him ‘Professor’ again sir…sorry).
I will of course carry on with my Defence lessons, and I think Hermione will want to go over everything in the lessons anyway, so I think I’ll be okay. I will keep the other letter safe until the time arrives to read it, although I hope you don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon. You are one of the few people that make me feel that I can fulfil the prophecy, so I don’t know what would happen if you weren’t there.
Have a good Christmas, sir.
“That’s really good, Harry…very mature!” Hermione beamed at him after she read it.
Ron rolled his eyes at her behind her back.
The next few weeks seemed to fly by. Harry was worked harder than ever by Kingsley and Tonks, and his confidence was growing; although he was very much aware that he still had a long way to go, he was satisfied that he was making the necessary progress. During the Defence Against the Dark Arts lessons, Harry did indeed go to the Room of Requirement, and he was right in thinking that Hermione would be vigilant in testing him, and making sure he was up to date. She seemed slightly disgruntled that Harry was progressing faster than the actual class, and that she was unable to catch him out at all.
“Don’t get too complacent, though Harry. Don’t forget that without Snape marking your homework you won’t be able to get any feedback - you won’t know if you’re doing it right!”
“Hermione, I’m sure you would have told me by now if I was doing anything wrong. You’re just annoyed because you’ve realised that you can learn perfectly well without a teacher.”
Hermione stuck her nose in the air and muttered something incoherent, and Harry grinned, but the smile faded from his face relatively quickly. He had felt oddly detached from things lately, although he wasn’t sure why. He supposed he might be overdoing things; he had no spare time at all. In between all his usual lessons, he had vast amounts of homework, intense duelling training regimes every day, which now involved him running around the Hogwarts grounds every evening, and Quidditch practice. They had only played one match so far against Hufflepuff, which they had won easily, but for the first time in his life Harry wasn’t sure whether he should spend so much time focussing on the sport. Surely some things - like his training - came first? Surely it was more important to focus on that? Although he knew this, Harry felt resentful that he had hardly any time to himself, to relax or chat with his friends.
Harry walked into the Common Room late one evening after finishing his run, which he had started later than usual because he had to finish his Transfiguration essay. The room was deserted apart from one person standing near one of the tables.
“Hey Ginny,” Harry said quietly, still short of breath. She turned quickly.
“Oh, hi Harry. You made me jump. I was just about to go up, I had to finish my essay for Snape. He‘s a nightmare, you‘re so lucky you don’t have him anymore.”
“Well, you know what to do if you want him to refuse to teach you,” Harry said with a grin. Ginny laughed.
“Somehow I don’t think Dumbledore would be so accepting if it was me who hit him,” she said, shaking her head ruefully. “Have you been running or something? You’re all red.”
“Oh…yeah,” Harry said, suddenly feeling embarrassed. He hoped he didn’t look too sweaty. He was very aware of how fresh and pretty Ginny looked; she had changed out of her school robes and was wearing jeans and deep green v-neck top that complemented her hair. “Yeah, I just had to…I mean, I just felt like a run.”
“You felt like it, did you?” she said sceptically, one eyebrow raised. “Wouldn’t have anything to do with Kingsley breathing down your neck?”
“How d’you know that?” Harry asked, surprised.
“I bumped into Tonks the other day. She told me about your little regime. I don’t know how you’re managing, Harry. I was exhausted just hearing about it!”
“Yeah, well…I mean, its okay really. It’s pretty important that I do it, I s’pose…and I’m getting fitter, so…”
“Yes, I can see that,” said Ginny coolly, looking at his arms appraisingly. Harry once again felt embarrassingly self-conscious.
“Er…so how’s things with you and Dean?” he asked suddenly.
Ginny blinked. “Fine,” she said cautiously. “Why d’you ask?”
“Oh, no reason…just wondered, really…I mean, I’ve never really talked to you about it, so…”
“You mean apart from the time you said you agreed with Ron about me being too young for boys?” she said evenly, picking up her homework from the table.
“…er…” Harry faltered, unsure whether she was still annoyed with him for that.
She gave a small smile. “It doesn’t matter, Harry. Its fine.” She turned to go.
“Wait! Ginny…” - she turned back to face him enquiringly - “I didn’t really mean that you’re too young…I mean, I don’t think that…its just…that…”
She waited for him to continue, but when he didn’t she looked at him questioningly.
“It’s just that your Ron’s sister and you’re like a sister to me too and I don’t want you to get hurt,” he said, all in one breath. She was silent for a few moments.
“I see,” she said quietly after a while. “Well, Harry, the thing both you and Ron don’t seem to realise is that I’m not a little child who needs protecting anymore. I’m old enough to know what I’m doing, and that extends to whom I chose to go out with. I’ve never needed Ron’s help and I certainly don’t need yours now.” She looked at him rather coldly, her arms folded.
“Fine,” Harry said loudly, folding his arms too. They stared at each other for a few seconds, and then she picked up her bag and began to walk quickly to the stairs.
“Ginny!” Harry said again, unable to stop himself. “Ginny, wait!” When she showed no signs of stopping, he ran up to her and grabbed her arm. “Wait! Look, I…don’t be annoyed with me.”
“I’m not annoyed with you, Harry,” she said softly, looking up at him. He was suddenly aware of how close they were…he felt himself grow uncomfortably warm.
“Erm…look, I know you don’t need looking after…I know that…its just…er…”
He stopped again, unsure of what he was trying to say. She looked up at him, her brown eyes questioning.
“What are you trying to say, Harry?”
“Just that…you know…” Harry wondered why his brain didn’t seem to be working properly. There was a tiny blemish, like a freckle, on her chest, and for some reason his eyes kept being drawn to it - he couldn’t seem to look away: he hoped she didn’t think he was trying to look down her top.
“Yes, Harry?” she asked again.
“Just…you know…look after yourself,” he finished lamely. She looked at him for a few moments, a strange look on her face, and then she nodded.
“I will, Harry. You too. Goodnight”.
“Goodnight,” he echoed, as she walked up the stairs. He sat down heavily on the nearest chair. What was wrong with him? This was just Ginny…just little Ginny Weasley…except she wasn’t so little anymore, was she, part of his brain said. Harry shook his head violently. It was just Ginny…just Ron’s little sister…he’d known her for years. They were friends, they’d spent weeks together over the holidays, laughing at Fred and George, playing Quidditch, practising unknown spells on the annoying garden gnomes…Ginny had always been there in the background…except recently she’d seemed to come into the foreground…recently she seemed to have acquired her own little place right in the front of Harry’s mind.
What on earth was going on?
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