Chapter 10 : The Sword of Gryffindor
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They were assisted by Argus Filch, the caretaker, whose knowledge of the Castle and its secret passageways was second to none since the Weasley twins had left. In exchange for his eager assistance, the Carrows had allowed him to use any punishment he wished for student. It was said by many that Filch now spent most of his time polishing the chains in his office, waiting to use them on any littering student.
By contrast the rest of the teachers were not giving out punishments at all. When Luna once turned up 20 minutes late for her Herbology lesson having uncharacteristically not done her homework (as there had been a DA meeting the previous evening), Professor Sprout burst into tears and begged her never to do that again or she would be forced to hand her over to the Carrows. The House Hourglasses in the Entrance Hall were almost empty as instead of detentions, teachers were just taking huge points from the Houses.
Dark Arts lessons were not getting any more pleasant. Every lesson they would learn about new and ever more gruesome curses, including one that would peel all the skin off your face, and another that would cause all the bones in your body to become instantly brittle, so if you took just one step, you would break your leg instantly. To those who wanted to learn, Amycus Carrow was actually quite an effective teacher. The Slytherins were thriving, loving these new curses that they could use, delighting in the stories that Carrow would tell about their usage and laughing at the demonstrations that Carrow made the other houses make.
For Ginny, Neville, Luna and most of the older students, the sight of Hogwarts being mutilated this way was many times worse than what had happened to the Hogwarts Express. That had been changed just in appearance, but Hogwarts had changed utterly, the image of the haven that it once represented, had been shattered. It was the same castle, but inside, it was a very different place altogether
Indeed, their only respite was the DA. In the meetings themselves, the older members were practicing spells on magical dummies and duelling with each other. Although many minor injuries were sustained, they were mostly taken are of by a Magical First Aid kit the Room provided whenever there was an injury or, in the case when Demelza Robins nearly blew Ernie's arm off, they went to Madam Pomfrey, who as usual, never asked too many questions.
When the newer, younger people started coming in (trusted people known by the DA) the trio started to focus on them. They were starting with the important simple spells like Shield Charms and Disarming. They found, like Harry had done two years previously, there was some seriously rusty spellwork going on.
Outside the meetings, they were following their agreement to start with low level mutiny. The first assignment was to plaster the walls of Hogwarts with a variety of posters that they had designed. They had slogans like:
Dumbledores Army, Open for Recruitment
Help Harry Potter, Support the Boy Who Lived
Dark Arts = Death Eaters, Don't be taken in
Wizards = Humans, Muggles = Humans
Remember Dumbledore, Fight for his memory
The sticking charms that they used were so powerful, that it took a full day to take all the posters down, which was plenty of time for all the students to see them, and it seemed some of the message was starting to sink in with some of of the older students at least. Some had even approached Ginny, guessing she was behind many of the messages, asking what they could do. After a brief test, she admitted them. After this happened three times, she was appointed the Recruitment Officer for the DA, and all new people were directed to her. After that stunt they kept the posters on some of the walls, but in places that the Carrows and Filch would not normally look, such as outside Moaning Murtle's bathroom on the Second Floor.
Ginny had the idea, after having got the hang of Animation Transfiguration, of making some of the suits of armour shout some of their slogans, as well as any news that came through about Order Members, relatives or friends, such as the disappearance of Ted Tonks. Alecto Carrow was continually interrupting Transfiguration classes, to ask Professor McGonagall to perform the necessary silencing spell, because the usual one, wasn't working. She always looked exasperated when this happened, but invariably came back with a bit of a chuckle and a smile on her face.
It was in this highly unusual mood therefore, that Hogwarts reached October. One cold frosty morning, saw Ginny wake up uncharacteristically early to perform a little job given to her by the DA the previous evening. Smiling at the prospect, she got up and dressed, left the Common room and headed down the stairs. Her heart was pounding a little, as although she was within her rights to be there as curfew was over, she still didn't want to be disturbed. Therefore she kept a careful lookout for any teachers getting up early, but she saw none.
Her slippered feet made no sound on the marble staircase as she carefully made her way down to the Entrance Hall. She tip-toed over towards the huge hourglasses by the Front Door, muttered a charm, and then made her way back to Gryffindor Tower, as carefully as she had left it.
A few hours later Ginny and Neville were eating their breakfasts with the rest of the School when Professor Snape stood up and all was silent.
"I have been informed by Professors' Carrow and Carrow, that there has been widespread plastering of Posters around the school in recent weeks. Let me remind you that firstly you really ought to be doing something a little more useful with your time, but more importantly that although posters are not illegal, any student who wished to put on on the wall of the school must first attain the permission of one of the Professors' Carrow. Any others will and have been removed and the perpetrators will be dealt with by my colleagues."
"He's making the same mistake as Umbridge did with that article," whispered Ginny, excitedly. " He's drawing attention to our activities this is great."
"In order to help the Carrows with their duties, "Snape continued, "I am also hereby setting up a new organisation in the school system. They will be called the Special Squad, and will have powers over and beyond that of ordinary Prefects. Any student wishing to join, including serving Prefects will attend a meeting in Dungeon 6 at 6pm this evening."
"Well it seems we have rivals,"said Neville nervously, "this'll make it harder for is won't it?"
"Maybe," replied Ginny, "but it gives us more targets too."
"Gonna join, weasel?" The two looked around, unnecessarily at for the owner of the drawling voice, and sure enough, Draco Malfoy, flanked by his ever loyal cronies, Crabbe and Goyle. "Maybe a little extra activity might make you forget your now 'undesirable' boyfriend, although I wouldn't worry too much, you'll probably be seeing him soon enough."
Neville moved to grab Ginny as she launched herself at Malfoy, but she was too quick for him. She, however never reached him, as Crabbe stood in the way and as she swung at him, he ducked and put her in a Full Nelson. Neville attempted to help her, but was blocked by Goyle. Half the Gryffindor table got up to help them but before they could do anything, another familiar voice, this one a little more cockney came over the scuffle, "What's all this?"
"Weasley here tried to attack me Professor!" Draco said giving Ginny a look of mock indignation.
"Is this true?"
"Come with me, we're off to see Professor Snape"
"No buts, with me. Now!"
Cursing the name Draco Malfoy, Ginny and Carrow up to the Headmaster's Office in the Seventh Floor Tower. Ginny in her frustration was leading at quite a pace, and by time they arrived outside the stone gargoyle, Carrow was panting and clutching his chest.
"P-Prince," Carrow said and the gargoyle leapt aside to reveal the winding stone staircase that led to the Headmaster's Office. "My sister will 'ave already sent the report. You up!"
Leaving Carrow at the bottom of the staircase, Ginny stepped onto the first stone stair, which took her up to the large oak door of Snape's Office.
"Ah, Miss Weasley, the last of the redheads," Snape said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, sitting in a high-backed, throne-like chair. "Please come in. Have a seat."
With a look of deepest loathing on her face, Ginny took a seat opposite the man who had murdered the previous occupant of the chair he was now sitting on. The office was just like the previous time she had been up here. All the instruments, emitting little puffs of smoke, the shelves lined with books and the Sorting Hat. Even Fawkes's old perch was still there, although the phoenix was gone. The only other difference lay right in Ginny's eye line. Just over Snape's head, hung the portrait of Albus Dumbledore, he was asleep at the moment. Ginny wondered whether Snape kept him permanently so. It must be irritating to have the person you murdered immortalised right behind your back.
Ginny tore her eyes from Dumbledore's portrait and looked straight into Snape's black ones 'Black like his heart, she thought'.
Snape, to her surprise looked now slightly uncomfortable as he started. "I understand that you were caught, attempting to attack Mr Malfoy at breakfast this morning. Is this true?"
"Yes," Ginny replied, she could find no point in attempting to deny or shift the blame onto Malfoy.
"You understand that dueling of all kinds is banned in this school."
"Well I think that it would be appropriate to…" At that very moment, the door to his office burst open and in rushed Alecto Carrow.
"Headmaster, someone has messed wiv the Slytherin Hourglass. It has smashed!"
"Smashed?" Snape said shocked, "How?"
"I dunno do I," Carrow scratched his head. "I just gave Mr Malfoy 50 points for…" she gave Ginny an evil grin, "for doin' me a great service, when the glass cracked and 50 stones fell out."
"Do you know who was the perpetrator?"
"Wha…," Carrow said, doing a remarkable impression, in Ginny's eyes of Goyle, "Oh no Headmaster, no idea."
"I'd better take a look," Snape said, "Miss Weasley, you will report to Mr Filch at 9 o'clock tonight, whereupon you will do any and every task that he sees fit to give you. Go!"
With one last stare into Snape's eyes, Ginny turned to leave the room. As she did so, her eyes were drawn to something that was glinting in the morning light pouring through the open window, something encrusted with rubies and made of silver.
The Sword of Gryffindor was standing in a case, right by the Sorting Hat.
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