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Chapter 11 : Caught Ruby Handed
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It was evening and Ginny had assembled the DA. The group were seated in a circle around Ginny who was pacing from side to side looking at each person in turn, the manic glint present in her eyes once more. “This is crucial for Harry’s quest; why else would Dumbledore bequeath it to him in his will. Harry needs it. The time has come for us to stand up and be counted, if you’ll excuse the cliché, time for us to make a big difference in the war against Him. We must get that sword.” As she finished, Ginny saw many people stare nervously from side to side. “What?” she said rather irritated.
“Well, its in Snape’s office,” Justin Finch Fletchley piped up, “I mean it couldn’t be in a more inaccessible place."
“Yeah,” piped up Lavender Brown, “What do you think we’re going to do, hide behind a statue until he goes out and sneak into his office? C’mon Ginny this is stup…” she stopped her complaint under Ginny’s furious gaze.
“Do you guys want to stop Him or not? Tthis could be the key to winning this war!”
"It's only a sword Gin," said Anthony Goldstein
"But Dumbledore wanted Harry to have it! Do you want to argue with Dumbledore now?" Ginny shouted.
“But it’s in Snape’s office,” continued Lavender Brown, summoning the courage. “It might as well be on the moon, we’d have more chance of getting it there. It would be suici…”
“Lavender! What’s wrong with you!? Are you a coward!? We must try!” Ginny’s face was now matching her hair. A braver woman than Lavender would have cowered under the gaze that came her way. Her fellow Gryffindor Demelza Robins stood up now.
“Ginny please calm down. We understand the potential importance of the sword but if we get caught stealing the sword then the best that could happen is us getting expelled. We could be arrested or we could disappear like so many people have been during the night.”
“I can’t believe any of you! You’re cowards! Every single one of you!” Ginny said, before storming out of the room.
Nothing happened for a few seconds, while everyone stared at each other in shock. Luna was the first to react.
“I’ll go after her,” she said, “I think that maybe she’s a little bit upset. I shan’t be long.” This understatement was treated with incredulity by the DA, who watched as her long blonde hair disappeared around the door and breathed a collective sigh of relief.
“I’m a little worried about her,” said Ernie MacMillan, addressing the whole group. “She seems a little unstable."
“No she isn’t!” Neville piped up, standing up for his co-leader without much conviction and more than a little trepidation.
“What are you talking about Neville!” Lavender Brown was shrieking now. “She just shouted me down for making a perfectly sensible point and then screamed at poor Demelza. How can you say all is well in her head!”
Neville had no answer to that. He sat down, wishing he knew what was wrong with Ginny. More than that, he wished he had been able to do better in sticking up for her. The girls knew what to do, they always did. Why didn’t he?
It took Luna five minutes to find Ginny. She found her crouching next to a suit of armour taking several deep breaths and wiping her eyes dry. Luna sat down next to her and started to fiddle with her butterbeer necklace. They sat in silence for a few minutes, Ginny casting a few furtive glances Luna’s way. Eventually, she broke the silence
"Well aren’t you going to say something?”
“No, I don’t think so. Why, have you got something to say to me?” Luna said, apparently bemused
“Well I did just storm out of the Room.” Ginny said frustrated.
“Really? I must have missed it,” Luna said still staring at her necklace, not looking once at Ginny. “I have been quite distracted recently.”
Ginny could do little more than stare open-mouthed at Luna, not sure whether Luna was playing games or just being Loony. During this, Luna continued to play with her necklace, now taking it off and spinning into shapes with her wand. This continued for a few minutes, Ginny’s eyes moved from Luna’s face to her necklace which was forming into a number of discernable shapes: a lightening bolt, a V and finally a D and A. Thoughts crossed her mind, what would Harry do? The answer was there, as if it had been waiting for her to ask that question. She got up and turned to return to the Room. Luna followed, looking rather pleased with herself.
The Room all stared at Ginny as she re-appeared, but now she was determined not to let them all affect her. “I’m sorry guys, my behaviour before was totally out of order and to call you all cowards was wrong. Just being here today and previous days required tremendous guts. What Luna has just helped me remember is that we need to work together here. Like my Dad once said to me, we’ll either hang together or hang separately... or something like that. This doesn’t stop me believing that we should try to get this sword but I think we should try and work out a plan. If it is possible then we’ll do it, if not, then I’ll say no more about it.” There were many mutterings about the group at these last two sentences. Many people were looking a little happier now, but there were still several worried looking faces about the Room.
“Why not put this to a vote,” piped up Demelza.
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” said Luna.
“I agree,” agreed Ginny, “All those in favour of making a plan?” Lots of hands went up. “And those against?” Fewer went up, including that of Lavender Brown. “Well it’s agreed then,” said a relieved Ginny, “now the question is, how do we do it?”
The discussion went late into the night. Luna had found a map of the school on a shelf and the DA poured over it, working out plans. To help they were placing perfect scale sized models of the DA members on the map. These models were perfect, except for their habit to wander from their places, which led to much frustration for both groups.
Throughout all this feverish planning, Neville had remained silent. The others, caught up in the excitement, had not noticed this, all that is except Luna who came up to him while Ernie was talking about where he would put his troops.
“Nothirt got your tongue Neville?”
“What? No, just don’t know what to say.”
“Yes,” she replied thoughtfully. They have a habit of causing that. I’d stay away from West facing windows this month, I’ve noticed a few people suffering from the same thing.” She paused to take a swift look about. “I know you must be nervous, it is a side-effect of a nothirt bite, but get involved. You never know, you might come up with the crucial thing.” With a little nudge, Neville went up to where Ginny was standing. As he reached her, she suddenly spoke up, “Okay so it’s agreed. Are we all agreed to go ahead with this plan?”
There was a general murmur of agreement. Luna gave Neville a meaningful look, and he took a breath.
“Ok good, the plan goes into affect tomorrow morning. Right lets go to bed, we’ve got a big day ahead of us.”
Ginny woke up the following morning, full of excitement. She ran through the plan in her head one more time, but she had rehearsed it in her mind so many times that she could recite it backwards. She was convinced nothing could go wrong. They would wait for Snape to leave the office and arrive at breakfast, break into the office and steal the sword.
They had placed members of the DA at every possible route to the Headmaster’s Office and each member had a coin capable of delivering messages. It was a 15-minute walk from the Great Hall to the 7th Floor. If Snape did return earlier than expected, she and Luna would surely be warned and would have plenty of time to make their escape.
Luna had agreed to meet with Ginny outside the portrait hole, and so got out of bed, picked up her bag, which had everything she needed for the day in it, and went down the stairs to the Common Room. The room was busy with students rubbing their eyes, waiting for their friends. Ginny made her way to the portrait hole when she found her way blocked.
“I want to come with you,” Neville said, his voice wavering a little, but his face determined. Ginny was taken-aback, she could not remember Neville contributing at all to the discussion the night before. She had assumed he was too nervous to take part.
“I think Luna and I have it covered Neville. There is no need for you to risk yourself too. Go help Ernie, they are meeting in the Room of Requirement, he will be glad for your help.”
“But you, me and Luna are the leaders of this resistance. What is the point of me being one if I don’t contribute? It is not right, not proper for a Gryffindor for me to sit out while you two risk yourselves. I know you think I’m no good and that I’ll get in the way, but I won’t, I promise.”
Ginny was a little startled at Neville’s little speech, “Of course I don’t believe that you are no good Neville, and we’ll be glad to have you. Now, do you own a broomstick?” Neville looked doubly dumbstruck, firstly by Ginny giving in, second by the question.
“Errrr no, I can’t fly very well. My Gran thinks it’s best if I keep two feet firmly on the ground”
“Don’t worry you can share mine.”
“Why do we need broomsticks?”
“To escape of course!”
By now they had left the Common Room, finding Luna there. She, to Ginny’s surprise, did not seem surprised at seeing Neville there. In fact, she gave him a knowing wink and a warm hug. Ginny stared at the Ravenclaw with even more respect. There was much more to Loony Lovegood than met the eye.
They walked towards the Astronomy Tower, where Snape’s office was located. On the way Ginny and Luna filled Neville in on the plan. He thought it was full of risk but was determined to go along with it, he knew his parents would have done so. Just as they approached the stone gargoyle, Ginny’s coin burned red and the three gathered around it to see the message.
‘Snape scoffing cornflakes, Go!’
They approached the gargoyle that asked, “Password?”
“Prince,” Ginny said confidently. The gargoyle leapt aside, as the wall behind him split down the middle to reveal the revolving stone staircase. After taking several looks both ways, the trio went in, and the wall closed behind them.
“How did you know the password?” Neville asked.
“I assumed it would be the same as yesterday, when Carrow took me upstairs.”
“I think it’s a bit silly Snape thinking he was a prince,” Luna said thoughtfully. “After all, if he had been related to the muggle royal family, he would be part kneazle.”
“I think its to do with him being You-Know-Who’s most loyal servant and all that,” she said darkly, “maybe they’re giving themselves titles now.” By now they had reached the top of the staircase and stopped behind the oak door. “Ok Luna,” Ginny said, “Now it’s time to put all those brains of ours to use.”
Luna nodded and they took out her wands and murmured a few incantations. Neville looked bewildered as they waved their wands around the door, Ginny with her eyes closed; Luna’s tongue slightly out. After a minute of that, they turned and Ginny explained to Neville. “It seems that Snape has put motion-detecting charms on the floors, anti-burglar jinxes on this door and a general human detection charm on the room.”
“Don’t forget the Anti-magic charm,” Luna said brightly.
Ginny turned to her bewildered. “The what?
There is a charm in place on this room preventing any magic from taking place inside it. Once inside we can’t use our wands.”
“I never detected that!”
“Well I am in Ravenclaw for a reason."
Ginny stuck her tongue out at her. “Well we can disable the motion-detecting charms quite easily, that’s quite a simple counter-charm. We can fool the room into thinking we’re not human too. I learnt the charm years ago to break into my dad’s study.” She looked at the expressions of interest on the others’ faces. “Don’t ask. The door jinxes can be countered with shield charms, but I don’t know of any way past an anti-magic charm.
“There isn’t,” Luna said, “we’ll just have to break the case the muggle way. Are you ready Neville?” Luna asked, as Neville had stood during this exchange with a mixture of admiration and confusion on his face.
“Just tell me what to do,” he said.
“Cast a shield charm as you go through the door, that should block the jinxes on the door, remove it when you’re past it as the room might detect it. We will smash the case with the Sword in it, put it in the bag, open a window and fly out on our brooms. Got it?”
Neville nodded. He remembered about all the times he had forgotten the password to Gryffindor Tower. How useful would it have been to know how to break into the Common Room? His thoughts of the Fat Lady suddenly gave rose to something the others had not considered. “ The portraits!” he exclaimed, “what are we going to do about them, surely they’ll see us."
Luna and Ginny looked at each other shocked. “We never thought of that!” Ginny said. Luna hit her hand against her head.
“Well can we disguise ourselves or force the portraits to look away?”
“There are image blinding spells,” Luna said thoughtfully, but not one strong enough to take care of all of them all at once.”
“Wait a second!” Ginny was rummaging through her bag, and took out a large black box with the logo of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes on it. “Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder,” she pronounced proudly, “my brothers sell it. Remember Malfoy used it last year to escape from the Room of Requirement. Good job I brought it as an afterthought. The other two looked into the box. The powder was so dark that it hurt their eyes just to look at it. “It’ll do nicely if we stay close together,” Ginny continued, “There aren’t any portraits near the case, so all we have to do is block them from seeing us. Ok, are you ready?” she asked
Luna and Ginny walked up to the door and muttered many incantations and then opened the door, crying, “Protego!” Neville did the same and followed them in.
All he could see in the office was the route to the glass case of the Sword. The rest of the room was as dark as a cloudy moonless night. Even the part of the room he could see was getting progressively darker, as if the powder was sucking the life out of the room. Only the Sword stayed bright, gleaming in contrast with its surroundings. Suddenly Ginny stopped and reached for her pocket. “Snape has left the Hall,” she informed them, “But we still have time if we act fast.”
She moved to the case, picked up her broomstick, hesitated for a moment as she took aim and smashed the glass. Time stood still for a moment, as they waited to see if the Office would unleash any counterattacks against this blatant vandalism, but nothing happened. Ginny carefully tied the sword to her broomstick as Luna rushed to open the window. To all their relief it wasn’t even locked. They took one last look behind them and noticed the light beginning to break through the powder. They mounted their brooms; Neville sat behind Ginny, careful not to cut himself on the sword. They kicked off and headed for the window. They felt the breeze and sunshine of the early morning on their faces before they rebounded off an invisible barrier and were thrown bodily back into the room. They got up and turned around to be faced by none other than the owner of the office that they had just broken into.
A/N – Sorry about the length of time it took to write this but I had terrible writer’s block as well as little time to spare. Please review and be honest. The following chapter, “Into the Forbidden Forest” will hopefully be up much quicker.
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