Chapter 1 : The Station
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Luna stood watching as people weaved their way around the bustling platform, searching for friends they had not seen over the summer. Flustered by the commotion surrounding her, she said her goodbyes and started to look through the half empty compartments for familiar faces. Even Luna’s easygoing nature couldn’t help her avoid the eyes that followed her down the train. Ever since the Battle people had stared at those they knew to be associated with Harry Potter. It was a nuisance, but it couldn’t be helped. Finally she spotted the fiery red hair of Ginny Weasley. She quickened her pace and entered the compartment with a friendly ‘Hi!’
‘Oh, hello Luna. Good holidays?’ responded Ginny automatically. She seemed distant, preoccupied.
‘Oh yes thank you. Daddy and I went looking for Crumple Horned Snorkacks’.
‘Hmm, sounds interesting,’ replied Ginny. Her mind was obviously elsewhere but Luna carried on regardless. Ginny was just about to tell her kindly to shut up about her stupid Snorkacks when Neville burst happily into the compartment.
‘Hi Ginny, Luna. Good holidays?’ Luna nodded enthusiastically and Ginny gave a non-committed nod as Neville continued, ‘did you read the prophet earlier? Snape is the new headmaster, and those Carrows, the new teachers, Gran’s sure they’re supporters of You-Know-Who.’
‘Oh really,’ replied a dazed Ginny, ‘how interesting.’
‘Ginny, did you hear me?’
‘What, oh yeah, sorry Neville. It’s just that after what happened at the wedding and everything…’
‘Oh…well I’m sure they’re all ok. I’m guessing that means they aren’t coming back to Hogwarts then?’ asked Neville in an attempt to lift her spirits.
Ginny shook her head and continued to gaze out of the window. She heard the whistle of the train as it left the station but her mind was elsewhere. She had been daydreaming for a while when she heard the plump witch with the food trolley enter their compartment. She nudged Luna who had, like her, been indulging in a bit of daydreaming and smiled at Neville as he handed her a cold glass of pumpkin juice and a chocolate frog. Neville was chewing on some liquorice wands and had a pack of Bertie Botts in his pocket whilst Luna nibbled thoughtfully on a chocolate frog.
‘You know, just because Harry and the others aren’t here doesn’t mean we can’t carry on with the DA. It might just be what we need to get us through the next year,’ suggested Neville.
‘I’m not so sure Neville,’ replied Ginny cautiously, not wanting to hurt his feelings, ‘I mean, you’ve got your exams this year and everything.’ Her real reason, that it would remind her of ‘him’, did not need to be heard by the others. No, this worry was just for her.
‘That doesn’t matter anymore. Who’s going to care about qualifications now? The Ministry’s fallen Ginny, it’s corrupted from within, you’ll have to be one of them to get a decent job now.’
‘Oh Neville, don’t talk like that!’ gasped Ginny.
‘Why not, it’s true. Gran thinks so too.’ He replied, as if his Gran’s say so was final.
‘Well, I suppose when you put it like that, what have we got to lose? You in Luna?’ Ginny smiled. It was now that she realised what good friends she had. Not only had they taken her mind off ‘him’ but they also had her smiling again, which was something. She hadn’t smiled about anything since the wedding.
‘Well of course I am!’ enthused Luna.
‘That’s settled then. Dumbledore’s Army!’ toasted Neville, raising his pumpkin juice.
‘Dumbledore’s Army,’ repeated the girls jovially.
‘And Harry Potter,’ murmured Ginny under her breath so the others couldn’t hear, ‘I love you, wherever you are’.
‘What was that Gin?’
‘Oh, nothing, just talking to myself again.’ She replied as she smiled falsely.
In no time at all, Luna, Ginny and Neville were changed into their school robes and ready to disembark the train. They headed toward the carriages, pulled, as usual, by the Thestrals that they had ridden to the Ministry on that fateful night. After waving a friendly hello to Hagrid, they climbed into the carriage and started the journey up the long, winding drive to Hogwarts. They separated at the entrance to the Great Hall to sit at their appropriate tables.
A glance at the teachers’ table confirmed what they had read in the prophet. Snape occupied the high backed chair that so many of the older students associated with Dumbledore. McGonagall and Hagrid’s seats were empty; Ginny assumed they would be guiding the first years to school. The two people who sat either side of Snape seemed to be drinking in the scene around them, which, by the looks on their faces, they weren’t enjoying. The woman looked as though Ginny had just hit her with one of her Bat Bogey Jinxes and the man looked as though he was imagining the best ways to test his newfound power. The hall fell silent as the doors opened and Professor McGonagall entered, with the first years following cautiously behind her. She led the first years down the hall to where the sorting hat sat on a small wooden stool. There were audible gasps of amazement from the first years as the hat opened its mouth and began to sing:
I welcome you to Hogwarts
But don’t judge us straight away
For we are full of many traits
To keep You-Know-Who at bay
But enough of that depressing talk
And all those sad, sad thoughts
Think only of, if possible
Of the new things you’ll be taught
So put me on and I will tell
In which house you belong
I promise you it doesn’t hurt
So try me when I finish my song
Could you belong in Gryffindor?
Where all courageous dwell
Do you have nerve and chivalry?
Well, only I can tell
Or perhaps you belong in Hufflepuff
Where hard work is your friend
Are you loyal, and full of trust?
I’ll tell you at the end
Or maybe with Ravenclaws you should stay
Your studies will come first
Where those who very clever are,
Knowledge will quench your thirst
And finally there’s Slytherin
Where wit and cunning thrive
In here you’ll find the truest friends
Perhaps in Slytherin you should abide
But although this may seem cheery
House solidarity is a must
For if we wish to triumph
Then animosity must we turn to dust
So place me on your noggin
To use a common phrase
And let me put you in a house
To last for all the days!
The hat fell silent and the students, and teachers alike, applauded politely.
‘When I call you forward, sit on the stool and place the hat on your head’ came McGonagall’s crisp voice over the babble that had broken out. The students fell quiet again, apart from the odd hushed whisper between friends.
‘Hope they hurry up. I want to hear what Snape’s got to say’ murmured Ginny
‘Me too, you know I still miss Dumbledore’s welcome back,’ sighed Neville, still staring at the top table. As the last first year was sorted and the polite applause died down, Snape rose from his chair and began to speak.
‘Welcome again to another year at Hogwarts. Before we begin our feast, I would like to introduce two new members of staff joining us this year. Alecto Carrow,’ said Snape, indicating to the woman on his left, ‘will be taking over Muggle Studies and her brother Amycus,’ he gestured to the man on his right, ‘will be teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts. I am sure you will all help both professors settle in well at Hogwarts,’ this last comment was said with a menace that almost dared the students to disobey him. He continued, ‘As well as these two new appointments, Professor Slughorn will be taking over as head of Slytherin house,’ There was rapturous applause from the Slytherin table at this news. Snape held up his hand and continued again, ‘And now, let us eat!’ And with this the golden platters before them filled themselves with food.
Ginny helped herself to portions of various meals and surveyed the scene around her. Although there were plenty of people talking, catching up with the news from over the summer, the Hall seemed quieter than usual. It was then that she noticed with a start that nearly every house was missing students. Slytherin was the least affected but when she looked at the other tables she could see they had suffered also, but none as greatly as the Gryffindor table. Not only were Harry, Ron and Hermione missing but there were other faces missing too.
‘Neville, where is everybody? There’s got to be at least five missing from my year alone’ she asked.
‘Spose they’ve all gone on the run for one reason or another. That Muggle registration Act caused quite a few to go into hiding. But anyway, don’t dwell on that Gin, what did you make of the Carrows?’
‘They look like nasty pieces of work to me’ answered Ginny.
‘Exactly what I thought,’ grimaced Neville. They finished their meal in silence. Each of them was lost in their own thoughts. Neville was thinking how empty his dorm would be, Ginny was wondering where Harry was and, most importantly, if he was safe. Their contemplation was halted when Snape rose for the second time.
‘Well I hope you enjoyed your meal. Please note that the Forest is out of bounds to all students, as is the village of Hogsmeade to those who are not in the third year and above. Your Head of House will now lead you to your Common rooms with the aid of their prefects where they will brief you on the new rules and regulations within Hogwarts, as well as remind you of a few outstanding ones’ he finished and there was a rush of students to the doors.
‘New regulations? What new regulations?’ asked Ginny in an alarmed tone as she and Neville headed to the Gryffindor Common room.
They climbed through the open portrait hole and Ginny headed straight for her favourite chair by the fire. Neville perched on the arm and they both watched intently as Professor McGonagall entered the Common room and silence fell instantly. Ginny noticed that McGonagall seemed to have aged greatly since Dumbledore’s death. Ginny sighed and started to let her thoughts drift.
‘As Professor Snape has told you, there are some new rules regarding your behaviour in Hogwarts. Firstly, I would like to remind you that magic is not permitted in the corridors. Secondly, the Headmaster feels it is necessary to set a curfew to all students which is to be at 8pm. Any student caught out of their Common room after this time will receive a detention with myself. Thirdly, and on a much lighter note, Quidditch trials will be held in the second week of term. Anybody in the second year or above may apply. There is also a position for Quidditch Captain. If you wish to apply please place your name on a piece of parchment and put it in this box here’ she waved her wand as she said this and a gold box appeared in the Common room,’ That is all for now. I trust that you need a good nights sleep ready for your lessons tomorrow’. And with this she left the Common room. Ginny said goodnight to Neville and headed to bed.
Neville went to his own dorm and sat on his bed and got changed for bed. Himself and Seamus were the only ones in there now. They smiled briefly and the Neville pulled his curtains shut. He lay back and drifted off almost instantly.
Luna changed into her nightdress and said a cheery goodnight to her fellow dorm members. It seemed they too were eager for news on the elusive Harry Potter. She closed her curtains and fell asleep, dreaming of finding a Crumple Horned Snorkack.
Only Ginny was preoccupied and struggling to sleep. Her mind was on the Boy Who Lived, the boy she loved, and whether he was thinking of her right now.
A/N: This is my first fic i have actually posted on a site. I love to read what people think so please R&R. I will answer all reviews as soon as possible, but please let me know what you think. I accept criticism and praise equally, and if you would like to be added to my beta testers then i still have two places available.
Thanks again for reading!
Thankyou so much to everyone who has reviewed already, you have no idea how much your throughts on the story mean to me. I apologise for the delay in posting the next chapter, i've been busy with beta reading, going back to school and other things but i promise i will get it uploaded as soon as i can.
As always, your humble author,