Disclaimer: I do not claim to own any of the characters or trademarked concepts of Harry Potter. That all belongs to the wonderful JKR who has inspired so many of us to write. Any original characters and events of my own imagination belong entirely to me.
Luna awoke the next morning feeling cheerful. She’d had a good night’s sleep and was ready in no time for breakfast. She dressed slowly, in her normal dreamy way, adding her radish earrings as an afterthought. She walked alone to the Great Hall and settled down at the Ravenclaw table. She spotted Ginny, waved cheerfully and then she proceeded to tuck into her toast and marmalade. Although she looked up when the owls flew in, more out of habit than curiosity now, she didn’t expect any post. It was too soon to the start of term for a letter from her father.
On the other side of the Hall, Ginny’s eyes scanned the flapping mass above her for any sign of an owl that might have news from home. Neville, who was sat next to Ginny, looked up also. Although he thought he had remembered everything, he had a nagging doubt that he must have forgotten something. The look of shock on Neville’s face when the owls left the Hall without a parcel for him was evident to all around him. Impatiently attacking Ginny’s shoulder with a podgy finger, he could not believe how proud he was of such a silly thing.
‘For goodness sake Neville! What the hell did my shoulder do to you?’ snapped Ginny as she span round on her heels, her brown eyes blazing dangerously.
‘Oh, sorry Gin. Didn’t realise you were in such a bad mood.’
‘I’m not in a bad mood! It’s just strange without all the others.’
‘Oh, well yeah, I ‘spose. But guess what Gin, I remembered everything! All of it, not even one pair of socks missing!’ announced Neville, exuding pride from every pore.
‘Nice one Longbottom, you’ve finally achieved what the rest of us have been capable of since the first year,’ came the unmistakable drawl of Draco Malfoy, which was followed, as always, by hearty guffaws from his baboon-like sidekicks.
‘And you’ve reached newer lows even we didn’t think possible for a human to reach Malfoy, so if you wouldn’t mind, the smell of Death Eater is starting to put me off my food’, came Ginny’s reply, dripping with venom and hate.
‘That’s enough! All of you! Mr Malfoy, please return to your appropriate table.’ The brisk tone of Professor McGonagall made all three jump and Draco skulked back to the Slytherin table, muttering about something or other under his breath.
‘Good Riddance’ muttered Ginny. McGonagall heard and chose to ignore the little quip but it still did not prevent the slightest hint of a smile showing on her usually stern face.
‘Miss Weasley, Mr Longbottom; your new timetables. Good day,’ and with that she continued down the Gryffindor table, handing out slips of parchment to the other students. Ginny and Neville could see the other Heads of Houses doing the same. Looking at her timetable, Ginny could see that not much had really changed. About to put it away, she noticed she had an extra subject to last year. She glanced sideways at Neville’s timetable to check whether he had the same addition.
‘Neville, have you noticed an extra something on your timetable?’ she asked cautiously.
‘Hmm, not yet, oh, hang on a minute. But I don’t take Muggle Studies,’ he replied slowly.
‘No, neither do I. Well that’s funny.’ Ginny put it to the back of her mind, it wasn’t until Thursday anyway, and she continued to eat her breakfast of toast, eggs and porridge. Next to her, Neville was talking to Seamus about how empty their dorm was now with Harry, Ron and Dean all missing.
‘What was that about Ron?’ questioned Ginny through a mouthful of toast.
‘Oh nothing much. Just how empty the dorm is, how empty lessons will be, that sorta thing’.
‘Oh right, well, don’t dwell on that. I’ve been thinking about what you said on the train, about the DA,’ the last two words were mouthed, even the walls had ears at Hogwarts, ‘let’s send a message out over the coins, see how many turn up.’
‘Blimey Gin! That’s moving fast. Can you do the charm though?’
‘I think so, Hermione told me the theory but I’ve not actually tried it yet,’ she said thoughtfully. She had just realised another loss she’d had this year, she’d lost Hermione as a confidante, and she no longer had anyone to talk to about her problems. Oh well, least of my problems she thought. They continued talking like this throughout their breakfast, Seamus sitting quietly throughout. Ginny kept stealing glances at him and he seemed a little anxious and jumpy. Resolving to keep an eye on him, she abruptly changed the topic of conversation.
At the staff table, Snape and the Carrows, who had ousted McGonagall from her traditional seat next to the headmaster, were discussing the new Muggle Studies lessons that were now compulsory and about to start soon. It was as much as Snape could do to stop them renaming it anti-Muggle Studies, but he had made a promise to Dumbledore, and he had vowed to keep it. As he was finishing his breakfast, he looked up, unfortunately at the same time as Alecto, who felt it necessary to comment on the actions of Weasley and Longbottom.
‘And just look at those two plotting away. Oh it would be so lovely to catch them out,’ the excitement of foiling a plot against the Dark Lord, or even uncovering some information from the Weasley girl about the whereabouts of her ‘beloved Harry Potter’ seemed to bubble up inside Alecto like a bubbling cauldron.
‘Oh do be quiet Alecto,’ Snape snapped, he was about done with these fools and, without a word he stormed off, students moving swiftly out of his way, with his robes billowing out in a bat-like fashion as they always did.
‘Wonder what rattled his cage,’ pondered Ginny aloud.
‘Don’t know but I’m glad I don’t have him for any lessons anymore,’ came Neville’s relieved reply. He seemed to shudder at the thought of the horror it would be to have to return to Snape’s lessons. Their discussions however were cut short as they were already running late for their first lesson of the year, Herbology for Neville and Transfiguration for Ginny. They quickly said their goodbyes, arranged to meet up at lunch and then dashed off in the opposite direction for their different lessons.
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