The sun rose over the Hogwarts grounds on the second day of the new term, illuminating an almost empty Gryffindor Common Room. Neville was waiting by the fire staring at the Charms homework due in the following day, but he was not really focusing on it, nor was it the only reason that he was down in the Common Room so early that morning.
Ginny had returned from her detention with Luna late the previous night but had hurried past Neville without saying a word or even looking at him. He had hoped to try and talk to her on her return so that he could find out why she had so uncharacteristically broken down two nights ago, but he did not have the chance. He had been filled in about what happened outside the Room of Requirement by Luna just before her detention, and neither of them could understand why one of the strongest people that they had met had broken down so spectacularly for no apparent reason.
He was still waiting for her two hours later, as the House all trooped off to breakfast. He started to get flashbacks to the previous day and began to wonder if she had snuck past him in the night and run off again. Finally, when he was about to give up and satisfy his grumbling stomach, he saw her coming down the stairs. She saw him the moment she left the final step, and just as he opened his mouth, she cut him off before he could utter so much as a syllable.
"Look Neville, I'm sorry about what happened before, but I really don't want to talk about it." With that, she disappeared through the portrait hole leaving Neville feeling confused, wondering what he was supposed to do next.
Both Ginny and Luna’s first lessons were Transfiguration. They walked to class together in an awkward silence, Ginny clearly not wanting to talk at all and Luna not at all keen to break the invisible barrier that had been erected between them. They sat together in the classroom with Demelza Robins and the class waited patiently for Professor McGonagall to arrive. Finally, once the whole class had arrived, Minerva McGonagall strode authoritatively through the classroom doors and sat down behind her desk. The lesson was on Animation Transfiguration. "This," she said at the beginning of the class, "is the hardest piece of Transfiguration that you have yet attempted and will form a key part of your N.E.W.T. exams at the end of your final year. Contrary to popular belief, Animation Transfiguration does not create life, but it creates an imitation of life." With that she turned her chair into a horse. “This horse,” she said, raising her voice to cover the gasps of astonishment, “may look, feel and smell real, but actually it is no more a real creature than one in a photograph in the Daily Prophet. This thing has no heartbeat, no soul. It is a nothing but a cheap imitation.”
“Excuse me professor?” Demelza piped up, “what is the point then of Animation Transfiguration if we can’t turn an object into a living creature?”
“This may not be a real horse Miss Robins, but to realise it is not real would take very close examination and would fool most people. Also, don’t forget that you can’t just turn things into animals.” She turned towards a suit of armour in the corner of the room and waved her wand at it, “Piertotum Locomotor!”
At once the suit of armour jumped up as if a great knight had just put it on. It strode proudly towards the class, coming to a halt next to Professor McGonagall and gave her a salute. The class laughed and applauded leaving Professor McGonagall a little red in the cheeks but undoubtedly appreciative.
"Thank you everybody but sadly you are all very far away from achieving anything like this. To start off with you will be transfiguring small inanimate objects into small, animated objects," she said, "so we will start with turning a match into a slug. You say the incantation, ‘animatus’ and keep the image of the slug in your mind. There is a picture behind me to help." She waved her wand and a box of matches flew into the body of students and distributed 3 matches each.
She had not been joking when she said it was the hardest magic they had yet attempted in her class. Luna, who had the tendency to poke her tongue out when she was concentrating was making a decent impression of an eager puppy by the end of the class, so hard was she attempting to pull off the spell but try as they might they could not managed it. It was hard to keep concentrating on the slug when all that was before them was a match. Ginny was quiet throughout the class, only opening her mouth to utter the incantation but even she was clearly peeved at her inability to master the spell. By the end of the class, no one had managed the spell, but there were several half slugs and even more burns on the desks due to frustrated students.
After dismissing the class, Professor McGonagall called out, "Miss Weasley, could you stay behind a moment, I know you have a study period next."
Thinking that she knew what this was going to be about, Ginny gathered her things together and perched herself on her desk and waited for the class to file out. When Luna's butterbeer-cork necklace had finally whisked around the corner, Professor McGonagall went over to Ginny. "Miss Weasley, I understand you had a run in with our new Disciplinarians yesterday." Ginny nodded, averting her teacher’s eyes. "Well as much as their imposition is an insult to this school, I must ask you to try to keep that temper of yours under control."
Ginny opened her mouth to say something, but her teacher interrupted her. "Your only prerogative this year must be your education and safety, please do not do anything foolish or rash. It is, I know your instinct as a worthy Gryffindor to try and intervene, but there is too much at stake here, especially with your... ummm... connection with Mr Potter."
Ginny, this time kept her mouth shut; she knew that Professor McGonagall could never understand what she was feeling.
“You know I have your best interests at heart Miss Weasley,” McGonagall said, looking concernedly at Ginny’s bowed head. “I’m going to do my utmost to keep every student in this castle safe, especially the Gryffindors, but I need you all to look out for each other and for everyone to stay out of trouble.”
Ginny stayed silent, wondering what her head of house would say if she knew that that very evening, she, Neville and Luna were about to contravene her wishes in a big way.
That evening Neville, Luna and Ginny met just outside the entrance to the Room of Requirement. It was 90 minutes before curfew so they were perfectly within the rules to be there, but Neville, for one was still nervous.
"Who should do the honours?" asked Ginny.
Neither Luna nor Neville were quite sure what to say to this, it was after all the first thing that Ginny had said to either of them since her conversation with Neville in the Gryffindor Common Room that morning. "I think you should," Luna suggested. "This was your idea after all."
Ginny nodded and walked back and forth three times thinking in her head, *I need a place where we can plan a secret defence society*. After her third circuit, the door appeared, and the three walked in. The room was very similar to the room that they had all used in Umbridge's time. There were comfortable seats, cushions piled in one corner, a blackboard standing on a tripod in the centre of the room and numerous books on bookcases around the room.
They set the seats and cushions in a circle around the board, and waited for the rest of the members to arrive. First were the Gryffindors: Seamus Finnigan, Colin Creevey, Demelza Robins, Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil who was also with her Ravenclaw twin Padma. About 5 minutes later the other Ravenclaws arrived: Michael Corner and Anthony Goldstein and a few minutes later Justin Finch-Fletchley, Ernie McMillan, Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones representing Hufflepuff.
They all took their seats in the circle, all looking expectantly at the three standing by the board. When Hannah and Susan had taken their seats, Ginny addressed the group, "Anyone expecting anyone else to attend?" When no one spoke up, she continued, "Well we all know why we are gathered here today. Hogwarts has now ceased to be safe. Dumbledore is dead but we as Dumbledore's Army must live on, to protect his legacy, to fight against Snape and the Carrows. We must be a continual thorn in their side, invisible, undetectable but ever-present."
Several of the group raised their eyebrows at this sentence, but Ginny continued regardless. "We must do our bit in the fight against Him and be ready to defend ourselves, and, if necessary, fight."
Both Neville and Luna looked at each other, slightly stunned. Silent Ginny had been transformed before their eyes into the passionate Weasley that they knew and loved. They were not the only ones surprised by her words: "But what can we do?" asked Justin, "The Carrows and Snape are in total control and we are stuck in the castle."
"Yeah," said Anthony Goldstein, as if buoyed by Justin's point, "I admit that the fighting the Carrows is a noble thing to do, but we are now fighting against more than just the school, we are against Him. We are just kids; this is up to the adults.
'Might have expected that from a Ravenclaw.' Neville thought rather uncharitably.
"How old are you Anthony?" Luna asked. Everyone looked at her slightly bewildered at the odd question.
"Well that makes you legally an adult then doesn't it," Luna said. Anthony looked rather stumped at that. "So if you don't fight," she continued serenely, "that makes you either a coward or a hypocrite." She said this with no malice; no coldness in her voice, but the meaning behind her words was unmistakable and they stopped Anthony in his tracks.
"This is like before," Ginny said, breaking the awkward silence that had ensued. "Before we were learning how to defend ourselves against Him, now we are preparing for the fight against Him which will surely come. We will fight the Carrows too, but we will also be practicing spells so that if the time comes, we will be ready."
"That sounds good to me," said Colin, standing up suddenly, "where do I sign up?"
Neville, Ginny and Luna looked slightly shocked; they had not expected a response so soon. Seeing the look on their faces, Colin explained himself. "We formed this society to protect ourselves. It seems that we need this now more than ever before. Also Carrow scared my little brother Dennis out of his mind, I want my own back."
"Well said Colin." Ginny said. "We won't be signing a piece of paper this time, we won’t make that mistake again. What we will be doing instead is a tongue-tieing curse."
'Fred taught me how to do it,' she said as an aside to an impressed looking Neville.
"If you agree to be part of this society, you will not be able to tell anyone where we meet, or who is in it. If anyone asks, you refer them to me, Luna or Neville."
"And how can we trust you not to grass us to Snape," Susan Bones piped up.
Luna laid a hand on Ginny's shoulder, as she looked ready to explode at Susan. "We are the leaders here," Luna said, "Why would we give you up. We have more to lose than you."
After this all the Gryffindors stood up and said they would like to be a part of it and buoyed by this everyone else agreed too. Ginny performed the curse on each of them, starting with her roommate Demelza Robins. Ginny placed her wand on Demelza’s head and said, “I hereby induct you into Dumbledore’s Army. You may not speak of this to any non-member of the society or may your tongue be tied into a thousand knots.” At this Demelza’s tongue rolled to the back of her mouth before unravelling again.
"Eurgh," gagged Demelza, "That's disgusting."
"You should see what happens if you break your vow!" Ginny said, looking proud.
"How do we communicate if we can't talk about it?" asked Demelza, her hand still on her neck.
"The same way as last time," Luna said. "I hope you all still have your coins?" When everyone nodded she said, "Well our three coins are the new master coins and just like last time they will tell you the time and date of the meetings."
"And try not to spend yours this time Ernie," Anthony Goldstein said with a laugh, "It was an absolute pain to get it back of Madam Rosmerta last time. Ok guys I think that's it, see you later."
With much talk and scrape of chairs, the DA filed out of the room, all except the leaders, who hung back. "Well I think I'll turn in," said Neville, with a pointed look at Luna, "Big day tomorrow."
Ginny turned to Luna, "Look I'm no idiot, I saw the look Neville gave you. I told him and I'm telling you. I don't want to talk about it. What happened, happened and it won't happen again, so what's the point discussing it."
"There is every point in discussing it," said Luna. "Neville hasn't been able to guess what's wrong, but I can. This has something to do with Harry, doesn't it."
"Don't lie to me Ginny," Luna said, looking straight into Ginny's brown, defiant eyes. "I can tell when someone is lying to me."
"It’s the liars expression and the look in their eyes. It’s a muggle trick that Daddy taught me."
"Ok," said Ginny, "But everything I tell you must stay between us. Not even Neville must find out."
"I'm not sure that's fair, he's very worried.."
"I mean it Luna! Either this stays between us or I say nothing at all."
"Ok," Luna said, defeated, sinking into a chair, "Tell me."