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Chapter 15 : Breakthrough
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Disclaimer: I do not own any of these wonderful characters; they all belong to the magnificent J.K. Rowling. (Except for the original few that you'll be able to recognize yourselves!)
It was mid-October and still, Ginny had found nothing substantial pertaining to the veil. How to go beyond it and back to the world of the living unscathed was still a mystery. Every night she stayed in the library later and later, but she always made it to her lessons (bleary eyed at that) the following day. She did not want Professor Dumbledore to prevent her from researching further.
Just as any other day, Ginny forced herself out of bed, and made it through both Charms and Transfiguration; she just had to get through Potions and then it would be time for lunch and a free period immediately following. But to no avail, she began dozing as Snape drawled on about some potion that had no relevance to Ginny at the present moment. Her eyes slipped closed, her head lazily propped up by her right hand. She saw the fluttering black veil beneath her eyelids. Becoming mesmerized, she slipped further into sleep; until she was suddenly ripped from her slumber by a sharp rap on the table and an irritable voice coming ever closer.
"WEASLEY! Do you expect to pass your O.W.L.s by sleeping through this class?"
As he swooped closer to her, his voice became no more than a whisper, but his icy tone was still prevalent, "I know what you've been up to, and quite frankly I think it's absurd. However, it is clear that my opinion on that matter isn't one of importance. But if you think you're going to get away with sneaking off to the library at all hours of the night, and sleeping through my lectures, then you are sadly mistaken." He took a few steps back and his voice returned to a normal volume, "Detention, Weasley. Next Friday."
"But, Sir! That's Sirius' memorial!" Ginny protested.
Snape smiled icily, turning his back on her, returning to the front of the classroom. Ginny began to toss everything into her cauldron roughly, and stormed out of the room, making sure to slam the door behind her. She stomped up the stone steps leading to the entrance hall from the dungeons.
Almost mechanically, she headed towards the library, paying little attention to where she was going. She was still silently fuming about Snape, when she almost walked straight into Professor Dumbledore. Luckily he was paying enough attention for both of them; he placed his hands on her shoulders to stop her from colliding with him.
"Careful, Miss Weasley!" He chuckled.
Ginny blushed, "Sorry, Sir. I wasn't paying attention."
"Is something on your mind?"
Ginny took a breath, "Well that's a loaded question, Professor. But the reason I nearly plowed you over was due to Professor Snape." She couldn't help the derision that clearly seeped into her tone at these words.
He nodded for her to continue. "He gave me detention for next Friday!"
"Ah." He nodded in understanding. "What did you do that warranted a detention?"
"I might have dozed off for a few seconds, and of course he got all touchy about it."
"I'll see to it that he changes the date. In the meantime, I will advise you that there is always a proper time and place for things." He looked at her above his half-moon spectacles, his blue eyes twinkling kindly.
"I'm sorry, Professor. It's just--"
He waved his hand, "There is no need to apologize, Miss Weasley. I understand how essential this matter is, but you mustn't forget that your studies are just as imperative."
She nodded silently, and he continued, "Speaking of your research how is it going, if you don't mind my asking?"
Ginny bit her lip, "Well, I haven't found anything substantial yet. There is this one runic book…the one that you owled that Greek library for. I just have this feeling that it's in there. I just haven't found it yet." She glanced at Dumbledore sheepishly, because she knew this couldn't be remotely close to what he wanted to hear.
To her surprise, he did not look disappointed in the least; he smiled. "Wonderful. Keep up the good work, but at the proper moment in time." He winked at her, and continued in the direction he was headed before their near collision.
Ginny glanced at her watch; there was still almost an hour until lunch and it was best not to waste it, so she continued the familiar path to the library. When she arrived, she groaned inwardly at the sight of the pale faced blonde boy sitting at her usual table. Since Hermione had been accompanying her to the library in the last few weeks, Draco had ignored Ginny since the incident at the very beginning of her research. Part of her believed that this was probably a coincidence, but the fact that he was at that particular table made it much worse.
In her hesitation, he had glanced up from his book, spotting her. He smirked, and pushed his books away from the empty seat across from him, inviting her to sit with him. Ginny bit her lip, and made her way to the table, hoping that she would not regret it. As she took the seat, she told herself that there was nothing wrong with being curious about Draco Malfoy. After all, he had been the only person (so far) whose emotions were a complete mystery to her.
"Finally got away from that buck-toothed Mud--"
"If you want me to sit here, then I'll have to insist that you don't insult my friends," she said icily.
"Did I ever say that I wanted you to sit here, Weasley?" He raised an eyebrow at her. Despite her inability to read his emotions through empathy, he was quite easy to read when it came to such simple expressions such as his sheer amusement at the moment.
Ginny rolled her eyes and began unpacking her rucksack, taking from it the large runic tome, a runic dictionary, a stack of parchment and a quill. She flipped to her marked page and slowly began to translate a passage; Malfoy too, seemingly went back to what he was reading. When the passage revealed to be useless, she flipped to the next section. The book was comprised of accounts of supernatural occurrences throughout time, often involving rare artifacts. This was why Dumbledore had thought it could be useful; that perhaps it would reveal something unknown about the veil. The problem with these accounts was that it was impossible to tell if any of these were true or just fictional tales that ancient people told to get attention.
A considerable amount of time passed before either of them spoke. It was Draco who broke the silence; "Do you practice Occlumency?"
Taken completely off guard by this question, she looked up at him to see a general expression of frustration. "No, why do you ask?"
"No reason," he said, averting his eyes.
She snorted, "Honestly, I'm not stupid. You wouldn't look so perturbed if there wasn't a reason."
"Forget it, Weasley. I was just…trying to make conversation." Ginny could see that he wasn't being entirely truthful.
"Well, then do you?" She countered.
"If I did, why would I tell you?" He snapped.
Sighing, Ginny responded, "For someone trying to start a conversation, you're awfully touchy. You expected me to tell you the truth, didn't you?" She knew she was wasting her time arguing with him.
His seemingly everlasting scowl softened, "Yes."
"Yes, you expected me to be honest or--"
"Yes, I practice Occlumency," he said, his patience clearly wearing thin.
"Oh. That's interesting. Was it difficult to learn?" She decided to test how far this conversation could go.
"Not for me," he continued scoffing, "But I have heard that your precious Potter was incapable."
"And here I was thinking we might be able to have a civilized conversation," she said wearily, returning to her book.
"Oh come on Weasley, I was only teasing. It's not my fault you're so sensitive when it comes to Potter."
Scowling, she retorted, "I told you from the beginning not to insult my friends. So now, I'll merely go back to ignoring you. It was working just fine for me."
"So you and Potter are just friends then?" She could tell he was determined to bait her until she gave in by responding to his jeers.
Focusing on her book, she was able to tune him out (though he kept talking every few minutes, testing her resolve). She was about to give up for the day when the passage she had been translating for the last quarter of an hour took an interesting turn. Quickly, she finished the paragraph in question and then read it over:
"Selene Cytheria, a well known practitioner of Empathetic magic described her personal encounter with a mystical black veil that appeared to be a portal to a world apart from our own. Her lover had gone into a dark cave, following what he later reported to be 'whispers,' and failed to return for an entire day. Selene was distraught and feared for his life, so she went into the cave in search of him, where she came across a billowing black curtain hanging in the middle of an enormous archway. As she approached the archway, the whispering became louder and louder. Selene mechanically reached out and touched the veil reciting an incantation in foreign words as if she knew them all along. There was a bright white flash, and she stepped into the archway, passing beyond the veil. She did not give much more detail about what was on the other side, just that she quickly found her muggle lover, and returned back to their rightful world."
Ginny's heart was racing with excitement as she read and reread the passage. She had finally found the proof that she was looking for. It may not have been much, but it was something.
Gathering her things speedily, she stuffed them all into her rucksack, but taking extra care to delicately fold the important piece of parchment containing the key to rescuing Sirius, and slipping it into her pocket.
She had forgotten Malfoy's existence until she rose from the table to depart.
"Where are you going in such a hurry?" He asked, almost taken aback.
"Lunch," she tried to say without sounding too elated. He could never know what had made her so happy.
"Well, fine," he said almost sourly.
"Bye." Turning to leave, she briefly regretted her inability to decipher his emotions, but was immediately sidetracked when she nearly ran into Harry.
"Harry, you startled me!" She said laughing, but immediately stopped when she saw his expression. She had been so distracted that she hadn't even felt his presence. Now that her attention was entirely focused on Harry, however, she could feel a mixture of angry confusion.
"So this is what you do while you're in the library? Spend time with him?" Harry nodded to where Malfoy was still sitting.
Ginny glanced around and to her dismay Malfoy was looking in their direction, pure amusement written all over his face. Her blood began to boil and she massaged her temples briefly before responding. "No, Harry. It was just a coincidence that we were both—"
"Sitting at the same table?"
"No, I—how long were you standing there?" It occurred to her that he must have been watching them for quite a few minutes. And that it was quite possible that Malfoy saw him, and kept up his intentional baiting, to further irritate Harry.
"Does it matter?"
"No, I suppose it doesn't but if you were standing any closer you would have realized that Malfoy was just proving that his sole purpose in life is to infuriate everyone who crosses his path." She shot Malfoy daggers, and then turned her attention back to Harry.
"Don't let her fool you Potter; I was sitting at this table first and she voluntarily joined me." Malfoy advanced towards them.
"Well, I wanted to inquire as to why he always happened to be in the library while Hermione and I are here." Although she never got around to explicitly asking that particular question, this was still true.
Malfoy snorted, "You and that Mudblood don't own this library, Weasley. Did you ever consider that it was simply a coincidence that I happened to be here whenever you were? I never even noticed that you were here until you insisted on sitting at my table this afternoon."
Ginny balled up her fists, "That's a lie and you know it, Malfoy."
"As pleasant as this is for me, I've got places to be, so carry on with your lover's quarrel," he said, plainly ignoring her accusation, gathered his belongings, and strutted out into the corridor.
"Harry you don't honestly believe him do you?"
"Well, you haven't been completely honest with me since we've returned to Hogwarts, so what do you expect me to believe?" He averted his gaze to his shoes.
"Harry, please listen to me; there is a reason I sat next to him, I just couldn't say it while he was still here," she pleaded.
"Save it, Ginny. I have to go." Without meeting her gaze, he exited the library.
She followed him out, hoping that he would be heading to the Great Hall and that maybe on the way she could try to explain, but to her dismay he went in the opposite direction, toward Gryffindor Tower. Following him was an option, of course, but despite this setback with Harry, she was still eager to share her discovery with Hermione.
A few minutes later, Ginny and Hermione were safely in the Room of Requirement, so that their conversation was completely private. Ginny presented Hermione with the square of parchment; as Hermione read Ginny waited impatiently for her reaction.
The older girl's eyes widened as she beamed. "Ginny! You've done it! You've finally found something!"
Ginny returned the smile, "But it's from that book…the one by Celestia Henrey."
Hermione nodded, clearly understanding Ginny's plight. "We'll find out who she is. You know, it can't be a coincidence that the woman in this passage was an Empath, Ginny. It makes perfect sense as to why you were having those dreams about Sirius. And that name Selene Cytheria, why does it sound so familiar?" She was speaking with rapid excitement, and it lifted Ginny's spirits ever-so-slightly.
"She wrote the book that Dumbledore gave me about Empathetic magic," Ginny said almost distractedly; she felt like she was missing something very crucial.
"Maybe she wrote other books. We'll have to look into it. Ginny, what's wrong? You don't seem nearly as thrilled as you should be. This is a great step forward!"
Ginny sighed heavily, "Remember how Malfoy was always in the Library at the same time as us?"
Hermione nodded for her to continue. Ginny hastily explained her encounter with Malfoy and then began to clarify her real reason for sitting with him. "Hermione it's so strange; I can't feel what he's feeling. He's the only person that has had…such an absence of an effect on me."
Hermione looked thoughtful. "And Harry didn't give you the opportunity to explain that detail?"
Ginny shook her head. "It doesn't really help that I've barely spent any time with him since we begun patching things up…and there was that kiss."
Her friend's eyes widened, "You never told me about that!"
"It was the night Wormtail was captured, so we were very preoccupied after that. He might not even remember."
Hermione looked at her shrewdly, "Don't be ridiculous, Ginny. Harry will come around; he's just having a really rough time coping with really saying goodbye to Sirius."
"Which is absurd considering what we're doing…if I could just tell him, then this whole situation would be a lot bloody easier," Ginny said fervently.
"Ginny..." Hermione began, warningly.
"I know, Hermione. I know. I'm just sick of keeping secrets from him. He doesn't trust me anymore."
"You'll be able to tell him very soon, at this rate," the older girl reminded, smiling. Ginny returned the smile automatically. The mere thought of how close they were brightened her mood.
Returning the conversation to Malfoy, Hermione continued, "He asked you about Occlumency?"
"Yes, but I haven't got a clue why. Then again, my mind is so hazy right now that I can't think straight. But now that we've found something, I've got to go to Dumbledore to arrange our trip to the Ministry."
Hermione's aura changed from excitement to one of complete disapproval in the matter of seconds. Ginny could imagine how often Ron and Harry would have had to feel this in the past six years, if they possessed her gift; she would have laughed on any other day but today.
Ginny looked at her wearily, "Hermione, what's wrong?"
"Don't get me wrong Ginny, this discovery is amazing, and you should tell Dumbledore but I don't think we should make any…plans yet. It isn't necessarily safe."
"Go rest. I'll read up on Selene Cytheria and search for anything referencing Celestia Henrey," Hermione said with finality.
Sighing, Ginny nodded. "I won't really be able to rest; I dream about that veil every time my eyes close."
(About one week later)
Remus took a deep breath as he stared at his reflection in the mirror. Today was Sirius' memorial service; he was going to say his final goodbye to his best friend. Straightening his robes one last time, he turned away from the mirror. He made his way down to the parlor where Dora was waiting for him.
"Ready?" She said holding out her hand tentatively.
"Ready as I'll ever be," he murmured.
"Remus, don't act so glum…have a little faith," she said this with such conviction, that he had to remind himself that there was nothing to have faith in.
"Please don't start this again, especially tonight." Dora's faith in Ginny was astoundingly different from Remus'. Upon hearing about the latest discovery, Dora wanted to celebrate, while Remus simply pretended that he didn't hear a word that Dumbledore was saying. He had come just a few nights before, to share the news that Ginny had found a short passage regarding the veil. The passage sounded too good to be true, in Remus' opinion.
"When did you become so cynical?" Dora had asked him countless times in the preceding days. The truth was he had only stopped being cynical when Sirius had returned the first time; so naturally, it was quite easy to resume that exterior.
"Sorry," she said, bringing him back to the present. "I promise that I'll be properly mournful tonight." As if to prove this, she changed her hair from the light brown she had chosen, to a deep black, matching perfectly with her robes.
He smiled half heartedly in spite of himself. She squeezed his hand, and they set off into Grimmauld square where they apparated to Hogsmeade.
They walked up to Hogwarts silently. Memories flooded him as he reflexively let his eyes scan the grounds; the Whomping Willow was swaying menacingly nearby. He laughed before he even realized it.
"What's so funny?" Dora inquired, taken aback.
"I remember being terrified of that thing the first time I saw it. Only to find out that I'd have to go under it every month. Before they found out that I was a werewolf, Sirius had been trying to uncover my secret and happened to see Dumbledore and Madam Pomfrey sneak me under it. He had some very wild ideas of what was going on." He shook his head at the memory, still laughing.
They reached the doors, where Filch and Hagrid were standing guard. "'Lo Remus, Tonks," Hagrid said solemnly. Remus could tell that he was avoiding eye contact with him; and he didn't protest because he didn't want to assist in causing a very emotional scene with Hagrid at the entrance to the castle.
They entered the Great Hall, where the memorial was taking place to see that the tables had been pushed against the walls, and the room was filled with rows of chairs, facing where the staff table usually stood. Today, there was an array of pictures all of Sirius and various other people. There was also a podium in the center, clearly for whoever wanted to say a few parting words. Instead of the usual house color decorations, there were mostly black tapestries in their place, with the exception of one Gryffindor banner in the center of the room. Not many people had arrived yet since the actual service wasn't beginning for another thirty minutes. Ron and Hermione were there, along with a few of their friends, including Cassidy Lestrange. Alix was talking to her sister, Victoria and the rest of the staff was there as well. To Remus' great surprise, so was Severus; he was sitting alone in a middle row of chairs, looking less than thrilled to be there.
Harry and Ginny were off in a corner talking in hushed tones, but it was clear that they weren't having a pleasant conversation.
Remus approached the small group of his former students, greeting them. "What's going on with Harry and Ginny?" If he didn't know Ginny better, he would have suspected that she had decided to tell him about her fantasy of rescuing Sirius. But he did know that Ginny was much brighter than that, and more importantly that she cared about Harry's feelings above anything else.
"It's a bit of a long story," Hermione began.
"A ridiculous story," Ron put in.
"Are they…dating?" Remus interjected.
"We don't know," Ron, Hermione, Cassidy, Neville, and Luna chorused, sighing heavily.
Remus chuckled, "I won't ask any more questions." He glanced up at the pair that resembled Lily and James so much from this distance. Harry began to walk away from her, and Ginny's pleading eyes followed after him. She appeared worn out; very much like Remus looked after the full moon. When Harry joined their group, Ginny resigned herself to a seat in a middle row.
"Hello, Harry. Everything all right?" He didn't want to pry too much, but he left the question as open ended as possible to remind Harry that he was always there to talk.
"As much as it ever is," he shrugged.
Remus was about to reply but was interrupted by a pitter patter of feet running through the Great Hall.
"MUMMY!" Came a little girl's voice, and she continued to run until she was caught by Alix's open arms.
"Professor Callaway has a daughter?" Harry interjected.
"Yes, and it came as quite a shock to us a few months ago, as well," chuckled a man who looked vaguely familiar to Remus. But it was the sour looking woman clutching his arm that brought it back to him; they were Alix's parents.
"Hello, Mr. Callaway, Mrs. Callaway." Remus shook Alix's father's hand. He briefly introduced his former students to their new Defense professor's parents. Mr. Callaway smiled sadly at Harry, and expressed his sympathy for the loss of Sirius.
"Remus, it's good to see you!" Mr. Callaway added, while Mrs. Callaway continued to look sour. "Aurora's been staying with us for the past few weeks, while Alix…er, well you know." His expression saddened as he observed his daughters and granddaughter a few feet ahead of him.
Mrs. Callaway sniffed haughtily, "Yes, well Alixandra can properly move on with her life now that Black has…passed." It was clear that her choice of words was an attempt at being polite, but Remus wasn't fooled. It had been quite clear throughout the years that Alix's mother had a particular disdain for Sirius that none of them ever fully understood. For a moment, Remus allowed himself to imagine Ginny being successful and Sirius returning from beyond the veil; Alix's mother's reaction would be priceless. He bit back a grin, and pushed away the image before he could become too convinced that it was indeed possible.
"Let's go say hello to our lovely daughters, shall we darling?" Mr. Callaway hastily directed his wife in Alix and Victoria's direction.
"She was positively delightful!" Dora said when they were out of earshot.
Remus snorted, "You have no idea. We've always wondered what Mr. Callaway sees in her."
"Professor Callaway and Sirius were…?" Harry began, looking in Alix's direction.
Smirking and following Harry's gaze, Remus said, "Oh yes. They were…one of a kind."
The Great Hall began to fill with people; more than Remus imagined. "We better take our seats," Remus suggested to the group. They all nodded and headed to the front of the hall.
"Do you recognize most of these people?" Dora said, as they sat down in the first row.
Remus shook his head, "I'm sure most of them went to Hogwarts with us, but I definitely can't put a name to most of their faces."
"There's an alarming amount of women here," she observed impishly.
Remus snorted, "Sirius'...er, conquests, I'm sure." He felt a sharp smack upside his head, and turned to see Alix trying to look innocent behind him. Aurora sat on her lap, giggling into her hands. To his left, Ron guffawed, while Harry chuckled briefly, much to Remus' surprise.
"Er…sorry, Alix. But you know it's true. He had a new girl every day, before you."
Alix rolled her eyes, but nodded with a small grin.
"Well I suppose that's why Professor Callaway's mother didn't approve of Sirius. Any mother wouldn't--" Hermione stated.
Harry scowled, but Ron replied first, "Oh come off it, Hermione. He was a teenage boy."
Hermione looked as if she could continue the argument, but Alix cut in. "She didn't know about that, but I suppose…she had her reasons."
The chatter throughout the hall began to die down, as Dumbledore took his place at the podium.
Clearing his throat he began, "Good evening. As you all know, we have gathered here to honor the life of Sirius Black. He was a loyal friend, and dedicated godfather, always putting the lives of others before his own, even until his very last moments. Sirius was a very memorable student at Hogwarts, being a proud mischief maker bringing chaotic amusement to every situation he encountered." A collective laughter sounded throughout the hall.
Dumbledore's tone sobered, "Many may consider his life to be a tragedy; spending twelve long years in Azkaban after being wrongfully accused of the betrayal of his dearest friends, and the murder of so many innocent men and women, while the real perpetrator ran free. However, we must make an example of this event, by always being loyal and true to our loved ones, just as Sirius had done." Dumbledore paused a moment, surveying them all with his penetrating blue eyes.
"Now, I would like to invite Remus Lupin, Harry Potter, and Alixandra Callaway up to the dais to assist me in leading the toast." Remus was surprised at this request, but obeyed. He caught Harry's eye as they took their place next to Dumbledore. He looked just as astonished, but his eyes shined in appreciation. Remus squeezed his shoulder reassuringly. Dumbledore handed them each a glass of amber liquid. The strong scent of Firewhiskey entered his senses, and he smiled in spite of himself; Sirius would most definitely approve.
Dumbledore was now pointing his wand at one of the tables against the wall, which contained an enormous number of small glasses filled with the same amber liquid; he waved it in the direction of the men and women sitting in the hall. Each glass floated in front of every person until they grasped it in their hands. Many people looked astounded as this exchange occurred.
"Now that we are all in possession of a glass, I invite you all to stand, and join us in a toast." Everyone stood simultaneously. Dumbledore raised his glass, as the rest followed suite in unison, "To Sirius Black, may he continue to be up to no good wherever it he has settled."
"TO SIRIUS!" The hall chorused as they threw back the Firewhiskey. Squeezing his eyes shut, Remus bowed his head, and silently said goodbye to his old friend.
Dumbledore cleared his throat once more, "Feel free to stay as long as you'd like; reminisce with each other. A feast will be available in a few short minutes, as well as an abundance of Firewhiskey. Merlin knows, Sirius would advocate the excessive consumption in his honor." The population in the hall erupted into laughter once more before they dispersed to mingle.
"I found that very appropriate," Dora said, approaching the dais, eyes bright, but grinning nonetheless. "Well done, Headmaster."
Dumbledore winked, "I thought so. I think I'll go take my own advice—in memory of Sirius, of course. Remus, care to join me?"
Remus couldn't help but laugh, "Yes, of course."
Ginny idly wandered away from her parents to view the display of pictures. As she gazed at the many younger faces of Sirius, Remus, Professor Callaway, Lily and James Potter, as well as an abundance of other people that she did not recognize, she allowed herself to think of Sirius returning in a short period of time. She giggled at the thought of telling him that Dumbledore more or less told everyone to get sloshed on his behalf.
She turned to see Professor Callaway and a little girl, who must have been her daughter, viewing the photographs as well. If they weren't identical in appearance, Ginny could easily tell they were mother and daughter by the bond that she could feel between them. She smiled as her professor pointed to pictures, and her daughter giggled and said things like, "That was you, Mummy?"
"Hey Gin," Fred and George approached her, each carrying full glasses of Firewhiskey. The two of them were dressed appropriately for once, both in jet black dress robes.
"You know, I thought you might dress a little more obnoxiously and pass it off as a tribute to Sirius."
Fred grinned, "Actually little sister, we were going to. But mum showed up at our flat to prevent exactly that from happening."
"Anyway," George began, "what are you doing over here all alone?"
"Just looking at the pictures," Ginny replied nonchalantly.
"What my dear twin was trying to say was why is it that you and Harrykins haven't even looked at each other this evening?" Fred said bluntly.
"Yeah, because you know, obviously he's emotional right now. And isn't that your thing?"
"George, we're not supposed to mention that Harry is her thing---"
George chuckled, "That's not what I meant, Fred,but wonderful point, nonetheless."
Ginny rolled her eyes, "I don't have the energy to fight with you right now, but just know that I owe you very, very¸ nasty Bat Bogey Hexes in the near future," she stalked away from them, joining Remus, Tonks, Harry, Ron and Hermione. After Fred and George's comments, she wanted to at least make an attempt at proving them wrong.
"Hey, Ginny!" Tonks greeted her.
She smiled genially at Tonks, and then to Remus. He returned the smile, but she could still feel the slight coldness towards her. She chanced a glance at Harry, who was pointedly looking at his shoes. His aura had darkened at her arrival; not that it was merry to begin with.
"So go on Remus, you were telling us about when you all came up with the map," Ron prompted.
"Well, once we had it all figured out, we wanted to sign it but we didn't want to use our real names."
"This was before they became animagi?" Harry questioned, keeping his gaze focused on Remus.
Remus nodded, "Yes. The plans for the map originated in our third year, and they hadn't become animagi until fifth. They already called me Moony for quite a while before they had their own nicknames, so that wasn't really an option at the time. But we toyed with many ideas, and Sirius suggested we use anagrams of our own names. We were quite close to doing that, until James insisted that he had a better idea. But he wouldn't share it with me until they actually accomplished the feat of becoming animagi. We put the finishing touches on the map right after they had successfully transformed the first time."
He was speaking so fondly of his memories but Ginny felt the pain that radiated almost as much as the joy from sharing this with his former students.
Hermione's aura burst with excitement. "Anagrams…"
"GINNY! That's it!" She bounced on the balls of her feet.
"What…?" Ron looked puzzled
Harry looked back and forth between Hermione and Ginny. If Ginny wasn't so confused regarding what Hermione was on about, she might have reveled in the fact that Harry made eye contact with her.
"What are you talking about, Hermione?" Ginny fixed the older girl with a steely gaze.
"I need to go to the library," Hermione stated with conviction, and rushed out of the Great Hall without another word.
"Why is it that she always has to go to the library at the most bizarre times?" Ron said amusedly, glancing after Hermione.
"Not you too!" Ron said in disbelief.
Ginny didn't stay to defend herself, she rushed off after Hermione. She caught up with her outside of the library, holding a stitch in her side, "Hermione, what are you on about?"
"Celestia Henrey is an anagram for Selene Cytheria!" Hermione was bouncing again.
Ginny's jaw dropped. "How did you…? Did you do that in your head?"
"Well yes, but that's why I rushed off here. I need a quill and parchment to be certain." Hermione continued to talk at the speed of light as she walked into the library. "I knew we were missing some connection between them, but I couldn't place my finger on it until Remus mentioned anagrams! Who would have thought it was something this simple!" She approached Madam Pince's desk and took a sheet of parchment from a stack, and a quill from a cup upon the desk.
She quickly scrawled the name Selene Cytheria and rearranged the letters to form Celestia Henrey.
Ginny's eyes met Hermione's. "So this means…that, well…that passage is definitely real isn't it?"
"Yes, Ginny. I really believe that it is."
"Dumbledore…we've got to tell him, right now." Ginny walked with purpose out of the library and back towards the Great Hall.
"We have to wait until the ceremony is over, Ginny…if Harry suspects anything…." Hermione grabbed her arm
"Well who cares at this point! He'll know soon enough!" She threw her hands up in the air exasperatedly. For the second time in the last few weeks, she had considered forgetting all pretenses and just letting Harry in on the secret. She knew this would be foolish, but it was so much easier than continuing to keep this a secret.
"But if it doesn't work--"
"It will work, Hermione."
"We don't know that, Ginny. You promised you would wait."
Ginny paused. Despite her burning desire to be on good terms with Harry again, she knew that Hermione was right; facing her friend once more, she nodded, "We'll wait."
They returned to the Great Hall, and much to Ginny's dismay, Ron accosted them as soon as they entered. "That was awfully quick. What was in the library?"
"Nothing actually, I just needed to check something. Turns out I was wrong." Hermione was quite calm, though Ginny could tell that her nerves were just as jittery as her own. Ginny wished she could act as calm at the moment, but she knew it was a lost cause.
Finally, in what felt like years, people started to say their goodbyes and file out. As the room emptied, Ginny scanned the room. She spotted Harry talking to Cassidy and Neville, and deemed it safe to seek out Dumbledore. He was talking to Professor McGonagall and a few other teachers. When she approached he excused himself from them. "Hello Miss Weasley, how are you?"
"Great actually; Hermione just figured out a missing piece to our puzzle." She handed the piece of parchment bearing the anagram to the Headmaster.
He nodded and his mouth turned into a small smile, "Ah, something that was right in front of us all along! Well done, to both you and Miss Granger."
"Thanks," Ginny said, really smiling for the first time in a week. "Professor, er…not to be rude or anything, but when can we go to the Ministry?"
Dumbledore considered her over his half moon spectacles for a moment, "We'll have to make arrangements with a guard of Aurors and Order members, so I suppose whenever a sufficient number of them are available."
"Can't we go tonight? I mean, because those people are here now. I just feel that if we wait any longer we might miss our chance…" Ginny was speaking rapidly and wringing her hands again.
"Professor, please. I have trouble sleeping because of this. And now that we have finally found reassurance that this can be done, we have to do something about it immediately." She pushed down the panic of addressing her professor in such an informal way, as she waited for his response.
Dumbledore smiled wisely and Ginny let out the breath she was holding. He nodded, "Very well. I'll tell Nymphadora, Kingsley, Remus, and Alastor to meet us in my office just as soon as the rest of our guests leave."
Ginny smiled broadly at her Headmaster. She could hug him, but she knew that would be a wildly inappropriate gesture, so she concluded with saying, "Thank you, Professor. This means a great deal to me." She grinned at him once more before rushing off to share the good news with Hermione.
A/N: Thanks to those who reviewed last time! But I'm pretty sure there are some other people reading the story, and NOT reviewing. Please, please, please, leave a review if you're going to take the time to read the story! I LOVE to hear your feedback! It really means a lot to me!
On another note, I started a website that will revolve around this story and anything else to do with it. It's still in the works but you can find the link on my profile on the forums. I'd love it if you checked it out/signed the guestbook, etc.
Until next time,
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