Return to Hogwarts.
With Harry gone, and the others with him, I set about my own plans. Dad sent off a patronus to look for them, and let them know we’re alright. (I’d love to be able to get my mare to do that.)
I don’t know whether it was the sudden vanishing of my friends and brother, or whether I’d simply run out of tears. Each time my thoughts strayed onto the three of them, that old feeling in my chest turned warm. You know the one resulting from the life-debt. I could sense they, and in particular him, were safe. I used to think it a burden. Now it gave me more strength.
Professor Dumbledore once said, “Soon we must face the decision, between doing the right thing, and the easy thing.” Or words to that effect.
An owl arrived middle of the month. As a result of the death of the headmaster, and the exams having been cancelled, all students were to attend N.E.W.T.’s. Attendance for pure-bloods was now compulsory at Hogwarts, so too for half-bloods. Mud-bloods were no longer allowed.
Such terms, and in a school letter. My blood boiled. Mum tried to calm me down. Then she saw the signature, and flipped herself.
Can’t say I blamed her. The replacement headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry was not old McGonagall as I’d expected, or hoped. It was Snape.
I threw the letter away from me as though it were something dirty.
Snape. The detention-giver. Snape. The murderer.
Dumbledores broken body filled my mind. I expected raw anger to explode from me. Then I remembered something. Something which brought a smile to my face. It must have been a cold smile, because mum glanced and looked away quickly. Then I thought a little more. It was not a cold smile. I caught my reflection in the kitchen clock. I was surprised to see not my own face beaming back at me, but Harrys. I blinked. And he was gone.
I charged off, up the stairs. Not to my room to cry, but on to the top of the house. They may have talked a lot, but I bet Hermione made notes just the same. I burst into Rons room, and gagged on the smell coming from the ghoul. It would not stop me.
I looked over at the pile of books left behind. One stood out. I thought it had been consigned to the bin. Defensive Magical Theory. That witch Umbridge and her interference at school had made it home. Then I looked again. Dancing on the spine, written in a most familiar style, was my name. Taking out my wand, I slowly picked it up. My hands were shaking. (Get a grip. You know he threw it out, so why leave it here?)
Turning the pages, there was nothing out of the ordinary. Or so I thought. I remembered Hermione and that potions book.
“Revelio.” The book opened right at the last page and binding. A list had been written on the inside of the books cover. It was all the items left to the three of them. The book for Hermione. The deluminator for Ron. The snitch and sword for Harry.
The sword was the one item we’d not seen on his birthday. I slapped a hand to my forehead. We’d not seen it, because it had been refused him. I knew what needed to be done.
With the first of September came the usual rush. Or it would have been if it hadn’t been just me. It hit home like a kick from a hippogriff. I’d be alone this year. (Good, no one to get hurt but me.)
No little talks with the other three on the train. No laughing at Ron when the obligatory spider crept near him. No sharing stories with Hermione. And no looking into the emerald eyes and seeing my reflection. I was going to miss them.
Mum and I arrived at Kings Cross with an escort. Half a dozen Death Eaters. No doubt hoping to catch Harry if he decided to show up. (Please stay away.)
Platform nine and three-quarters might as well have been a funeral chamber. So many people. So little noise.
All the children heading off to school were in their robes already. I stood out like a sore thumb stepping on board, but no one said anything. I think that was more to do with the escort.
I headed for the rear of the train. Away from prying eyes, from the inevitable rounds of questions. I felt like I’d taken another dose of Felix Felicis. No one bothered me. I found the last carriage completely empty of students and staff.
Picking a compartment halfway along the corridor, I stowed my bag. My trunk was already in the baggage compartment, but I didn’t need it. I had what I needed right here.
I pulled out of my Muggle clothes the one item I was now taking everywhere, apart from my wand. In a frame of gold, surrounded by gems, a picture. A cutting from the Daily Prophet actually. Six faces beaming. The scars of battle showing clearly on all. The pride of victory wiping all pain from the faces. Not six, seven. In the background, immense pride showing, I’d never noticed Professor Dumbledore before. He was looking over us with loving eyes.
I could have cried, but instead fell asleep.
My dreams were vivid. Recollections of past times. The last image brought me back to reality. A memory, but not mine. That much I knew. I remember well the day I was told about it. The aftermath of entering the Chamber of Secrets. Still how could that memory have become mine?
“Help will always be given at Hogwarts, to those who ask for it.” (Professor!)
My mind raced. I looked at the picture. Was Dumbledore now nodding his head?
Hogsmeade station pulled into view. I’d not even changed. Quickly pulling out my robes I threw them over my clothes. I secured the picture back in its space, and made my way into the corridor.
This station was too quiet, in spite of all the people. I could see Hagrid trying to marshal the first years, most of whom were looking very terrified. I could see him fighting a losing battle between being helpful, and trying to give directions to the frightened masses.
Ignoring the fact I’d be late for the start of the feast, I went to his aid. I was not the only one. I could hear the dreamy tones and slightly unsure voice of two of the best people I could have met through the DA. (Sorry you three.)
Luna was soothing nerves and turning the most frightened first-years away from the horseless carriages. They must be able to see the Thestrals. Neville Longbottom was now taking over from Hagrid in leading the newcomers down the path to the boats on the lake.
“You okay, Hagrid?” (Stupid question, but needed to be asked.)
“I’ll... I’ll be fine. My word Ginny, not seen you since the wedding.” (He’s only just realised what we’ve done.) “Thank you.”
“No problem. Couldn’t keep away.” (Not that I didn’t want to.) “Let me help you.”
The thankful pat on the head would have snapped anyone else in two. I’m just grateful for the hours of Quidditch training I put myself through.
Hagrid was not alright, though. On the way down to the boats, he slipped more times than I care to count. Apologized profusely. Seeing that Neville and Luna were already in one, I decided it best to go with the gamekeeper. Good job too. No sooner had we got in the little craft, then he was trying to fall over the side. Nearly lost my picture trying to right him.
Just when it seemed as though things would only get worse, they got immeasurably better. Neville was steering his own boat over to us, Luna reached over and secured the two together. We all kept an eye on Hagrid as we finished the crossing.
Our actions had not gone unnoticed. I knew they wouldn’t. Waiting at the head of the steps was Professor McGonagall. Her eyes shone. Beside her, Professor Flitwick looked as though he could have lifted the castle, with wand or no.
“Ten points each.” (Already off to a good start.) “Hagrid, go and rest.” McGonagall need not have said anymore. He was off, sobbing as quietly as he could.
I looked right into each of the Professors eyes, trying to find a reason for this unlikely behaviour.
The deputy headmistress gave a sorrowful look. Her eyes had turned emerald green. Then flashed back to their normal colour. Or was I imagining that I’d seen that?
The mood in the Great Hall was as sombre as the stations we’d left. The sorting ceremony didn’t have the usual song, or punch, to it.
(I hate being here so much, now.)
My only source of comfort was Neville and Luna. The plan I’d been working on would have to wait a little while longer.
The sword and the gamekeeper.
The first day of lessons came with rather a heavy weight in my chest. Not because I’d heard that Dean Thomas was wanted by the Muggle Registration Committee, though that upset me. It was something else. A connection dating back to my first year. (Here I go again.) I knew Harry and the others were going out of their way to do a job, and they’d most likely be in peril.
As the day wore on, the feeling didn’t subside. Indeed it got worse. And it changed in menace. I swear I could feel the despair associated with Dementors at one point. Despair turned to entrapment. By the end of the lunch break, I’d got worked up into such a state I was sent to see my head of house.
Dear old McGonagall. The look of horror, as I explained what was happening at first was replaced by a warm glow. Indeed, I’d never seen a teacher look like that. She conjured some tea, and we drank. She asked if these feelings had occurred before. Looking quite ashamed, I started at the beginning. I opened up to her about everything. It felt right, to finally unload everything I’d bottled up for years.
Lessons had finished, by the time I’d left the office. I felt so much lighter. The pain in my chest seemed to have ceased, too. Albeit, for a little while. It started again when I saw Neville chatting with Luna, though I knew that was not the reason.
I went in search of my classmates, to find out what I’d missed. Double Dark Arts, and Potions. Luna had won herself a little bottle of very familiar liquid. I’m proud of her.
The three of us settled down to homework in the library, though with Neville being in the year above, we couldn’t really use his notes. We noticed entire shelves bare. When asked about this, Madam Prince broke down. Her precious books were being removed and replaced, with ones more friendly to the new regime. I felt enormous guilt when I heard this. I don’t know why. It just felt like all this could have been stopped if we’d done more in the years before. (Stop that crazy talk.)
I wanted to find somewhere safe. Somewhere secure. Somewhere no one would interrupt us. Hagrids sprung to mind, but with his current emotional state I didn’t want to burden him.
I spoke to Neville and Luna. They both immediately suggested the Room of Requirement. Given the events of last year, I didn’t want to go near the place. I suggested the White Tomb. The Death Eaters seemed afraid of it, even though its only occupant was dead. We agreed, and come the weekend we met there.
I’d started to carry the picture in its frame like a sort of talisman. In this place of despair and hopelessness, it seemed like my only ray of sunshine. That coupled with the presence of my two friends, I felt as though I could turn the tide of occupation against the new staff, whenever I looked at it.
I propped it up on the tomb once the others had arrived. They knew the significance of this place. They knew why I carried the picture, or they thought they did. Dumbledores image seemed to give us more strength in shadow of his final resting place. I looked up at his old office, and thought I saw a figure standing there watching. (Your days in there are numbered, Snape.)
“We need to get the sword.” Flatly I laid out the general idea.
“Gryffindors sword?” Neville was losing his lack of certainty. “You know he’ll have us sent to the Carrows.”
“I know.” A small price to pay, if we succeeded. Luna looked her usual dreamy self.
“How do we get in? The gargoyle needs a password, then there’s the portraits of the other heads?” Good old Neville. So like Ron, he scares me with that similarity.
“Password is easy. Heard Slughorn and Flitwick the other day. As for the portraits, I can’t imagine they’d object to us claiming an object that should be with someone else.”
I quickly explained to them about the will.
“Well that settles it.” Luna finally spoke. “We’ll do it. Friends forever.”
I can see why Harry enjoys her company. Honesty and loyalty. Neville agrees. Only point was when. We were interrupted by Professor Sprout, her arms filled with fresh waterlillies. She looked utterly shocked to see us. Then she saw the framed picture, and seemed to understand. The look of loyalty in her face was enough to cement the plan forming in my mind.
I would have told the others, but I’d collapsed. Pain coursing from my chest. So intense, I had no time to cry out.
“Hospital wing, quick.” Neville touch charge. Luna used a hover charm on me.
I’d never felt anything so malevolent, so despairing. Then, as quickly as it arrived, the pain was gone. (This life-debt is starting to work in ways I’m not ready for, Harry. Oh Hermione, is this how you felt in March?)
“I’m okay. We move in three weeks time.”
The decision was final. No more discussion needed. It was a weight off my mind. Professor Sprout looked puzzled, but I’m sure had seen enough to know not to ask. She passed me the picture. “Can’t say I agree, with your method, but if you need help, we’re behind you.” She whispered, half at the frame, and my eyes widened considerably, she winked.
Various Hogwarts teachers kept pulling the three of us to one side over the intervening days. Most expressed concern. My favourite was old McGonagall, who was cut short by another stab of pain. She started by telling us about a particularly adventurous piece of devilry at the Ministry. Sources had claimed that three officials had assisted in the escape of most of the people taken in for questioning by the Registration Commission. I could tell by the undertone of pride in her voice, she suspected polyjuice potion was involved. My heart leapt, just as the first aching began.
I caught my breath, rapidly clutching my chest. A cup of herbal tea was passed between my lips by Luna, as Neville held me upright. The tea helped control the pain. I couldn’t help but notice an odd expression on the old womans face. (I’ve been told about that before. Another Trio in the making?)
I was now getting used to the aching occurring as regularly as it was. Thinking through what was being said from various sides, I worked out that it had been Harry, Ron and Hermione, with a good deal of polyjuice potion, at the Ministry. What else had been taken apart from a false eye, I could only guess at, but it appeared to be rotating between the three of them, half a day at a time.
The day assigned to the retrieval of the sword saw us all in detention. One of the older Slytherins, maybe even Malfoy, had spotted us practising hexes in one of the corridors.
The plan had to be put back. It was nearly two further weeks before we got our chance.
The three of us went straight up to the gargoyle.
It jumped aside. Neville stayed behind on lookout. Luna and I went up. The door wasn’t locked. This was too easy. Luna stayed at the door, acting as a further lookout.
Each and every one of the portraits was watching us. I went straight for the glass case holding the sword.
“Reducto.” I should have something quieter, like alohamora. The portrait over the desk shook his head sagely.
“You should not have interfered in my plan. No matter, you show me that which I long suspected. I congratulate you. He is indeed very lucky to have you as family.” Those words bowled me over. How did he know? Of course, in life he knew, so why not in death too?
“Indeed. How very like him you are too. In you go, Longbottom, Lovegood.” I hate the sound of his voice. I turn with half a thought to use the sword on him myself. “Stealing from the headmaster. Leave the sword. Report to Hagrid for detention tonight.”
An odd feeling washed over me. I did as I was told. With all eyes on us, it felt useless to fight the man who could so easily have tortured us. Not useless. Puzzling relief. We’d got off so lightly. I’d take the Forbidden Forest over the Cruciatus any day.
I’d take the Forest over being Stunned as well. Those odd thoughts you have just before the lights go out. That didn’t stop it happening though. For weeks after the incident, every Death Eater in school, including the Slytherin prefects, seemed to delight in ambushing us.
Our only remaining place of solitude was Hagrids. He seemed delighted to have company again. Another Trio to look after. Though in reality we kept him out of trouble as much as he us.
Some of the tales he was coming out with. If any of the teachers, Hogwarts and Death Eaters, had heard him… Well let’s just say we’d have been missing a gamekeeper. The looks he gave us all were straight from Rons old stories. For him, I think it felt like history repeating. Three young scallywags and him to look after us. Oh I could imagine the looks on the others faces if they walked in on us during those times.
I went to sleep each night more at peace with Hogwarts than I had for a good long time. The DA was back up and running again. This time more active than last. New members joined the old. We would have met in the Hogs Head, but due to a little accident I had involving the Carrows, I was banned.
That didn’t stop the others electing me as leader. I tried to refuse. Thinking of what Harry would possibly say. (Good on you, probably. Or something more along the lines of this is why we broke up, you can’t.)
“If you don’t do it, think what would happen.” Luna is great at honesty.
Harry had given me up because he didn’t want me to wind up like his other loved ones. Dead, trying to protect him. I refused to accept anyone else taking the fall for our actions. I stepped up and accepted the role. Not because I had to. I chose to do it to protect those around me.
This came to pass quite quickly. In the middle of November, one of our little sorties involved us facing down a Death Eater in the entrance hall. Five on one became five against ten as his help arrived. The Carrows got hold of us. Five long minutes under the Cruciatus was worth the disruption caused, not to mention that the others got away cleanly.
The pain in my chest helped to put up resistance to the curse. I used it to channel the immense pain to a single point and keep it there.
That night was uncomfortable. When I finally made it back to Gryffindor Tower, I received a heroes welcome. They could all see how exhausted I was, and so assisted me up to the dormitories. My bed had never felt so welcome. And as was often the case these days, I felt like I could see Harry watching me with that map of his.
The end of November and start of December saw the treatment of students deteriorate. The teachers now had to refer all punishments to the Carrows, regardless of severity. News was reaching the school of more illuminating ways to control parents who insisted on resisting the new order.
They seemed to feel that it would be necessary for the children of unruly activists to disappear unless and until they conformed. All the houses lost students, except for Slytherin.
I think this was due to the majority of their parents being Death Eaters, rather than because they were staying out of the way.
I am proud to say, that despite this, the DA carried on with the interference runs. Increasingly frustrating the very people who were trying to stop them.
These came to a head when one of the first years was chained in the entrance hall. No one knew why, but I should have seen the trap for what it was. Michael Corner released him, and was set upon by the Carrows immediately. At the front of the Great Hall, they used everything short of the killing curse on him. He was left to lie there afterwards. Luna helped him out of there, soothing him with her voice. Neville looked so cold. I thought he’d crack. His kind face bore the scars of his own run-ins.
We gave up open resistance after that. Don’t get me wrong, we’d have carried on for longer, but the murderous looks told me it was time to step down a level with the activities.
Signs began appearing all over the school. Resist all. Dumbledores Army. The signs of mutiny. I felt for the culprits. If caught, they faced immediate relocation to Azkaban. On the other hand, I was proud to see some of the more imaginative ones hit the mark. The-boy-who-lived shall return.
What had started out as an idea to lay claim to the sword, had escalated.
Neville, Luna and I caught ourselves looking at one particular example in the entrance hall whilst we waited to go down to Hogsmeade station. The Chosen One shall conquer all.
We laughed. Old Filch was trying to remove it with his trademark mop and bucket.
We would be going home for Christmas. Away from here. To relative safety. Or so we thought.
The train was waiting at the platform as normal. The three of us boarded and sought out our own compartment. We found one, right at the end of the last carriage. Again, no other person seemed to be anywhere near. I thought this odd.
We talked as the train picked up speed. About two hours in, Neville needed the toilet. No sooner had he left us, then an almighty bang had us grasping our ears. The sound drowned out the noise of Apparating Death Eaters. Ten of them. The same ten who had been up at the school. They’d come for Luna. In such a small space, we’d have given them one hell of a fight. That was, if it hadn’t been for the Dementors showing up, too.
We just managed to get our shield charms up when the first arrived. Despair filled the air. I knew what was coming, and pulled Luna behind me.
“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” The effort needed was overwhelming. I’d never felt that drained before. Then I saw why.
Not one. Not even two. But three animals had erupted from the end of my wand. I gasped. My own mare had been joined by a phoenix, and a stag. A stag! I’d used a combination of Harry and Dumbledore as my happy memory. I’d never expected this though.
The phoenix flew at the Dementors. The mare reared and galloped into the fray. The stag stood guard, its head erect, on the alert.
Then an explosion tore out the bulkhead behind me, and I descended into darkness. I came to as the express approached Kings Cross. Neville was holding me upright, again. He’d found Seamus Finnigan, and together they had managed to patch up the compartment, and me, in time for the train arriving in London.
I asked after Luna. Neville nearly collapsed as he answered. They had become as close as I had to Harry, and could see the effect of the loss. We’d lost her.
Whether she was alive or not, we didn’t know. The manner with which she had been taken suggested it was The Quibbler they were trying to close down. The three of us collected our belongings. Lunas had vanished with her.
The platform was the same sombre hive of inactivity it had been in September. Instead of mum waiting to meet me, it was Bill. It didn’t matter. I was pleased to see someone from my family. I said goodbye to Neville. Not really goodbye, more a Merry Christmas. He just grunted. His gran was there. She looked him over, and hurried him out of the area.
Bill looked worried, but I didn’t ask why. Not right away. I saved it until we were nearly home.
Only home was no longer The Burrow. It was now Auntie Muriels. Someone had talked. Or my own activities had made the headlines.
I found out it was me. At least in part. Dads own activities with the Order had set off the same level of interest as The Quibbler.
I received a good, stern telling off from mum for my behaviour at school. Fred and George wanted to know why I hadn’t asked them for help. Bill and dad both hugged me when I explained why I had done all of it. Not for myself, but to help Harry and to show that we’d fight all the way, in our own way. It felt weird justifying my actions to my own family. Then I looked at them, in turn, and saw the same look of pride I’d seen on Professor McGonagall.
Christmas Eve. Normally a time for reflection and celebration. For me, today was one of extreme pain. I couldn’t shut it out. Wherever Harry was, he was going through some emotional turmoil. That’s what it started off as. The further into the day, the more intense it became. It became so unbearable, I hid in my room. I tried to sleep it off, and found images invading my sleep.
A memorial that transfigured into three statues.
Graves and a wreath of roses.
A derelict house, with half a side missing.
The images faded. Instead, intense fear now gripped my chest. I cried out. Mum came running. I threw my arms around her, gripped her so tightly. Dad stood there looking stunned. I had tears streaming down my face.
The pain died slowly. I gulped for breath. I told them what I’d seen. Explained what I’d felt. Dad just nodded, in a way that reminded me of Dumbledores portrait. Mum wiped the tears away from my face.
“Where was this place?” She had to ask.
“Something Hollow? I didn’t see a sign as such, just the name of the pub.”
Dad went white. Fear, or rage?
“Molly, you don’t think..?” It was fear.
“I hope not. He’s expected that for sometime, now.”
“Expected what?” My own impatience boiled up. “What are you not saying?”
“Godric's Hollow. He went home.”
Home. I’d thought of Harry as family that much, I’d forgotten. How completely stupid of me. Harry must have gone to where, for him, it all began. Answers, or clues for his own little job? I had to know.
“I want to go.” My own words frightened me.
“I’ll see what I can do.” Dads words hit me with force. He knew the reason for my request. Mum understood, too. “We’ll go in the new year. Let things quieten down.”
And that was it. I lay back, and fell asleep instantly. My mind far from here. In a place called Godric’s Hollow.
A time to fight.
Christmas passed as pleasantly as possible, all things considered. Mum had rescued most of her presents from The Burrow, and Auntie Muriel fed us as well she could. My heart was still not in it, not for celebrating. I managed to cover my feelings with a show of happiness.
The excitement of the previous day seemed etched into the fabric of my being. I wanted answers to questions that were not mine. I knew they’d have to wait also.
I didn’t have to wait long. A couple of days later, Kingsley Shacklebolt arrived. He’d been asked to check out the village. His report was short, and to the point.
“You can’t seriously be considering it?” His low voice sounded through the room.
“I am, Kingsley, but not for me. It’s Ginny.” I barely noticed the way my name was used. “This life-debt link of hers seems to have developed a whole new level. She thinks she’ll find answers there.”
“If you insist, Arthur. It’ll need to be a small group, so as not to attract too much attention.” Decision made. “Who?”
“Yes. I’m too well known there. Lupin hasn’t been seen there since the funeral.”
And that was that. I’d be going, not with dad, or mum, but with Harrys one remaining tie to his parents.
Remus did not put me off when he was asked to escort me. Indeed he looked positively relieved of the chance for closure at his friends gravesides.
“It’s been sixteen years. I’ve never been able to face those demons before now.”
“Why not?” It was a strange question, but not as strange as the reply.
“James and Lily were always so understanding of my condition, I was never able to repay them, in life. Now, I’m helping their son, albeit indirectly through you, I hope to wipe the slate a little cleaner.”
We set off early the following week, a couple of days into the New Year. The burden on my chest seemed to have lifted considerably. (I need to do this, to finally understand you.)
We Apparated via Bristol and Plymouth, onto the edges of the village. Snow still lay on the ground. Being a Sunday morning, nobody noticed the sudden appearance of two strangers into their midst.
We walked slowly into the village square, coming upon the memorial in front of the church. I gave a little start as it transfigured into the three statues. I froze in awe of it. Then looked at the details.
James Potter was standing about the same height his son did last I saw of him. The same unkempt hair on his head. The same infectious grin. Slightly different glasses, small detail.
Lily Potter caused me to shake my head in disbelief. But for the fact this was a statue, I’d swear blind I was looking at an older version of me.
“You noticed that then?” Lupin broke me from my thoughts.
“Hard not to.” This explains so much of the last few years.
“I knew, when I first saw you on the train to Hogwarts. I had to shake myself, too, just the same as you are now.” His eyes were sad, but his voice strong. “I never mentioned it at the time. I knew, Harry had his parents photo album, and he looked at you in such a brotherly fashion, then, that to mention it would have been rude, and destructive.”
“So, why now?”
“You have circled each other for so long, and I see how happy you both make each other. Yes even now, I see the happiness you share.” Remus was looking right at me now. “When we get through this, promise you’ll take care of each other.”
I looked right into his eyes. “I promise.”
I looked over the graveyard boundary wall. I saw row after row of graves. Some had white marble headstones, others grey slate.
I entered through the kissing gate. Abbott. Peverell. Dumbledore. I blinked twice; just to make sure I’d read it right. Kendra Dumbledore. Also, Ariana.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
What sort of epitaph is that? I move on through the graves. Looking, but not quite ready to see.
Then I do see. Lupin grabs me and supports me.
“Halloween?” A devilish act on a devilish night. The wreath of roses was still fresh. I pulled out my wand, conjured two white roses. I placed them slowly on the grave, one either side of the wreath.
I reach for Remus’ hand. Finding it, I give it a squeeze. I will make good on my promise.
“I’m ready to see the house now.” I use Remus as a support, and haul myself up. “I want to see what’s left.”
He leads me out of the graveyard, and down a lane out the opposite side of the village. We come to nearly the end of the row of cottages. Once again I freeze at what I see. Not because of the enormity of it. No. The familiarity is all too real. I dare not mention this to Lupin. He has enough to worry about with Tonks.
I reach out for support from the gate. A sign seems to grow out from the overgrown hedge. It helps to explain why the house is derelict. It also shows that no matter what they say, resistance is never futile.
The hole on the right side of the top floor is like an open wound. I feel the events that shaped the life of the young man I’m trying to help. More than ever, I understand his reason for wanting to be alone. And I say again, what if I don’t care. I don’t care for his reasoning. I’ve seen the damage that has been wrought. I’ve seen the graves of loved ones. And I still don’t care.
Harry is no longer a baby. I’ve seen what he is capable of. I’ve heard from his friends about what he can do. He even taught a load of us how to be an effective fighting force. The DA, we called it, Dumbledores Army.
I’ve known him for the best part of seven years. What started off as a ten year olds crush, turned into bait for Voldemort. My crush saved my life, leaving me with a debt that has allowed me to feel what he feels.
I spent the next three years trying to get closer to him, and failing miserably. I joined the DA to try and get closer. Out of all of us, only Neville and Luna worked harder at their skills.
I used the DA to go from timid little girl to fiery redhead. I developed my skills to rival Hermiones and Rons combined. My patronus is a direct result of those skills. Not a stag, like Harry. A mare, sleek and swift.
And despite all that development, I needed one person I’ve thought of as a sister to help me realise my dream. The rest as they say, is history.
“We need to go, now.” I grab Lupin. “I know what must be done. When the time is right.”
“What do you mean?”
“When the final battle takes place. Harry must take on you-know-who, alone.” I hope, I know, I’m right.
“I see now why he makes the difficult choices about you. I saw him.” Lupin looked tired as he said this. “Before you went back to school. I offered to help him. Really, I was running away from my responsibilities as a husband, and as a father-to-be.”
“That’s both appalling, and wonderful.” I didn’t know what else to say to him. “What did Harry do?”
“What his father would have done. Reminded me of my duty.”
And there it was. In his own way, the werewolf had found absolution. He would not lightly abandon his wife, again. He would fight for her, die if necessary.
I felt a build-up of pain in my chest. Remus took my arm, and we left that place.
There would be a time for all of us to rally around and fight, but not yet. More plans needed to be put in place. More decisions to make. Not easy ones, but the right ones.
Lupin bade farewell, winking at me as he did so. For the first time in days, I took out my picture and fell asleep clutching it.
Auntie Muriels may not be The Burrow, but it was safer. Safer, but boring. We had to stay in the confines of the garden and house itself, to avoid detection. By the end of the fourth week, we were finding more inventive ways to busy our minds. Fred and George were restarting their jokes business in one of the back rooms. I’d played that many games of wizards chess, I was attempting to do so in my sleep. I could just about beat mum, but only because she thought I was genuinely sleeping. Dad could see right through my ruse, and beat me everytime.
When I was genuinely asleep, it was usually with the picture in my hands, either curled up in one of the chairs, or flat out in bed. I normally found it still in my hands when I woke, the glass smudged, but the occupants still smiling victoriously.
It saddened me now, though to look at it. Of the people in the frame, four were lost, and one was dead. I thought of Lunas capture and tears came to my eyes. I thought of the last time I saw my brother and friends, the tears rolled down my cheeks.
I heard a crack of someone Apparating, and dad going on the defensive. I knew it should be Bill. His weekly visits provided some distraction.
Todays visit was different. We had an extra guest. And more importantly, news.
“He’s where? How? When?” Dad couldn’t believe what he’d heard.
“That house-elf, Dobby. You remember, Malfoys. Turned up with Mr Ollivander, Luna and Dean Thomas. Said something about a rescue and Harry Potter. Vanishes. Then five minutes or so later, there they are. Ron carrying Hermione. Harry carrying a goblin and the elf, dead.” My heart leapt in my chest.
“Well what happened?” I blurted out.
“Turns out they’d got caught and taken to Malfoy Manor. They’d been found with the sword that is supposed to have been in a Gringotts vault. Hermione was tortured over it. She and the goblin lied about it being the real sword, told them it was a fake.” My heart and stomach lurched wildly. “Harry seems to think that Dobby was sent by someone at Hogwarts.”
“Maybe. Look, you’d better get back. Thanks for telling us. We’re very proud of them. Rescuing so many from such a place.” Dad was relieved.
“Give them my love won’t you, Bill.” Especially to Harry. (I want to see him, but if I do, will I let him carry on?)
“I’ll tell them.” Bill hugged me, trying to put my mind at ease.
And with that, I broke down again. Not through sorrow, but joy. My friends and brother were alright. I hadn’t thought about Dean since September, and was glad he’d made it this far. I was ecstatic about Luna. I’ll be more careful about protecting you in future. Ron and Hermione were still going with Harry. I can only imagine what effect her torture would have had on my brother.
As for Harry James Potter. You’ll need help by the time I’ve finished with you. Leaving me standing. Making me worry. But I know you’ve got a job to do. You’re going after Voldemort. That’s what the sword was for. But what happened at Godric’s Hollow. Something in the graveyard. A sign of some kind.
The epitaphs. Where have I read them before? My mind raced through all the books I’d ever read. I jumped up and perused Auntie Muriels bookcases. Mum shot me a puzzled look. Dad just stood back to watch the activity. Then I found what I’d been looking for.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I knew the story I wanted to find. And there it was. The epitaphs were quotes from the book. The Tale of Three Brothers.
“Back in a minute.” I knew what I had to do. I tore back to my room, with the book in my hands. I emptied the contents of my schoolbag over the floor.
There it was. The old fake galleon. The secret way for members of the DA to communicate with each other. I wrote on it: Neville, Hogwarts final battle. Tell me if Harry shows. Ginny.
A long shot. Maybe not that far long. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. Nevilles reply: Will do. Am hiding in RoR. Neville.
RoR? Room of Requirement. Hiding, why? So many questions. Not enough space on the coin.
I hold on to it. Then placed it down next to the picture. The faces were now beaming brighter than ever. I gazed into them for long minutes. Then began to fully read the story of the three brothers.