Chapter 4 : The Battle Begins
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Monday soon became Tuesday, and Tuesday became Wednesday and before they knew it, both Ginny and Neville had happily settled back into life at Hogwarts, even if the emptiness was still hauntingly quiet. The usual hustle and bustle and crowded corridors had vanished, leaving the castle like a half deserted ghost town. Walking to breakfast on the Thursday morning, Ginny and Luna bumped into each other, and continued to the Great Hall together. Ginny spent the time bringing Luna up to date with her plans for the DA but the key topic they discussed was the recent infiltration of the Ministry. No one knew where the rumour had started but it wasn’t meant to have leaked from those in the know to begin with. The Carrows had personally promised the Cruciatus curse to whoever had started it. Their conversation ended when they reached the entrance hall and they saw the Carrows striding confidently through to the Great Hall.
‘Luna, Room of Requirement tomorrow night at 7. Don’t ask questions now but I’ve got a plan,’ whispered Ginny into her ear over the hubbub of breakfast. Luna nodded in response and they separated to their appropriate tables without another word.
‘Neville; Luna knows, it’s all set,’ whispered Ginny, pretending to be looking at the bright September sky shown on the magical ceiling. With a short nod from Neville, the subject was closed and they breakfasted in virtual silence, indulging only in small talk. They had become guarded and close, suspicious of everyone, the exact opposite of what Harry would have done, but they had to be more careful with known Death Eaters as teachers.
On the other side of the room, Luna was watching the owls overhead. She did it out of habit but it was around the time of month when her father would send her an advanced copy of the next issue of The Quibbler. She saw a large brown owl heading towards her, holding a large cyclical object in its claws. It dropped the parcel in her lap and flew off for a quick rest in the Owlery. Unrolling the magazine, Luna flicked through until she reached the article she wanted to read most. Her father had told her to look out for this one as she boarded the train:
‘SUPPORT HARRY POTTER!’
‘As The Quibbler exclusively revealed recently, Harry Potter is currently in hiding, flitting from place to place, trying to avoid the Death Eaters and more importantly, You-Know-Who himself. Potter has not been seen since the raid on the wedding reception of Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour, known associates of Potter, following the death of Scrimgeour that very same day. This was in early August and there has not been a sighting of Potter since. You-Know-Who is said to be fuming that Potter eluded him once again.
He is believed to be travelling with his friend Hermione Granger who has also not returned to Hogwarts for the new start of term. Potter’s other close friend, Ronald Weasley has not accompanied him, as Ministry officials are reporting that he is suffering from Spattergroit.
If you see Potter or hear of his whereabouts, help him. He is the only chance we have of defeating the darkness. Keep reading The Quibbler as we keep you posted on rumours of his actions.’
Luna smiled to herself and made a mental reminder to give a copy to Ginny and Neville when she saw them tomorrow. Rolling the magazine and heading out of the Great Hall, she ambled towards her divination lesson in her usual dreamy demeanour. On the other side of the room, Ginny and Neville rose together and headed for Muggle Studies.
‘Don’t you think it’s weird that we both have it at the same time? I mean, we’ve never had lessons together, they never mix the years up,’ questioned Neville.
‘I know,’ responded Ginny, ‘it’s really strange. Bet Snape’s behind it.’
‘That’s Professor Snape to you Miss Weasley, and a detention I think; for your cheek,’ came Alecto Carrow’s bark from behind them, ‘now get a move on before I give you both one for dawdling!’
Neville and Ginny continued in silence and were soon at their Muggle Studies lesson. The usual diagrams of Muggle items like plugs had gone. In their place were family trees, like the one in Grimmauld Place of pure blood families, accompanied by portraits. In addition, the whole of Gryffindor House, and all seven years, were present in the classroom.
‘What the…’ started Ginny but she was quickly interrupted by the shrill voice of Alecto Carrow.
‘Weasley, Longbottom; I think we’ll separate you two. Longbottom, you go there by Brown, Weasley, I think I’ll put you here be Finnigan. Now then, welcome to your new style of Muggle Studies lessons. These are now compulsory for every student attending Hogwarts. I will stand no nonsense, or any talk of any muggle-borns or muggle sympathisers,’ and with this she shot vicious looks at Ginny and Neville, ‘I expect you to speak when spoken to, and I expect you to accept all I say without question.
At this, Neville felt an irrepressible urge to interrupt, ‘and what if we think what you’re saying is a load of rubbish?’ Whispers flew around the class and Alecto’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
‘Detention Longbottom. You can join Miss Weasley here in an extra lesson about how to respect your superiors. Now if I may finish. I will teach you about the lowest of the low. Muggles. Jealous of our magical ability, they attacked us through the ages, then, when we introduced the Statute of Secrecy they began to spy on us and steal our magical knowledge. They must be removed for our blood to become pure once more.’ Her excitement as she thought of an entirely pure race was clear but the conviction of the Gryffindors was far from visible. They looked immensely confused.
‘And where did you get that lot of rubbish from then? Muggle-borns stealing magic? It’s just ridiculous!’ came the scoffing reply of Ginny through the silence.
‘Bit hypocritical of you lot isn’t it? Your master tell you to say that, did he? Well, hate to be the one to tell you Professor but he’s only a half blood!’ shouted Neville over the whisperings that had picked up following Ginny’s comments. He was completely infuriated by the ignorance shown by his ‘Professor’.
‘ENOUGH! Longbottom, Weasley, you will both have a very…personal detention with myself, in here, at 5 tomorrow evening. Do not bring anything with you; you will require only your bodies. Now if we are all quite finished, get out your parchment and quills and copy what I am about to say.’ Her menace as she spat these words at the class was clear, and everyone silently took out their things and settled down to copy the notes.
Ginny and Neville, both still fuming, were doing their best to keep their cool. Alecto walked around the classroom, checking the student’s notes and making snide comments about Muggles. It was all Ginny could do not to get up and hit Alecto with one of her Bat Bogey Hexes but she knew, no matter how funny it would be at the time, the punishment would far outweigh the enjoyment. At the end of the lesson, Ginny and Neville were the first into the corridor, and once out of earshot, Ginny released such a string of obscenities and expletives that Neville was shocked. He certainly had no idea where she’d learnt them but he was willing to bet all he owned that it wasn’t off Mrs Weasley.
‘Tonight Neville. We send the message out tonight. That cow has made me determined to bring down the corruption in this school. We WILL rebel, and God only can help her now that she’s crossed my temper.’ Neville was again shell shocked by the sudden change in Ginny. Just a few days ago she had been dreamier than Luna, and that was saying something, but now she was feistier than ever. The fiery Ginny Weasley was back. And she meant action.
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