In the meantime, Ginny was at the party talking to Luna. Dean had gone to talk to Neville and then came back, saying that he would look for some drinks for them. That was the last thing she knew about him. But she was not going to look for him, or to wait for him. She would enjoy the party with, or without him. So far, it had been boring. Luckily Hermione asked her to accompany her to the common room, without McLaggen’s awareness. Ginny could not but think that Hermione’s behavior was really silly. Then again, Ron did need to be taught a lesson. Luna decided to stay, saying that she wanted to check out the enchanted Christmas’ trees in the room.
Hermione and Ginny then headed toward Gryffindor’s common room. Ginny really could not understand Hermione’s suffering.
“You know,” said Ginny, “if you just want McLaggen to leave you alone, you should just tell him.”
“Well, now you know” said Ginny, “Next time you decide to make Ron jealous, make sure that you pick a real gentleman.”
“I know I’m being childish,” she said, “but I hate to be the one who seems to be suffering when they seem so happy.” She looked down and dropped a tear. Ginny put an arm around her.
“Oh, Hermione. Don’t let them upset you. As far as we all know, they are the ones behaving like complete idiots, especially Ron. I can tell that he really does not care about Lavender, and he is still with her”. At these words, Hermione dropped a few more tears.
“What is it?” asked Ginny.
“It seems that he’s doing it on purpose,” said Hermione, incapable of holding back the tears. “You know, that he is hurting me.”
Now Ginny understood her mistake.
“Look, Hermione, I feel bad. I didn’t mean that Ron was hurting you on purpose. I meant that he is too much of an idiot to realize his mistake, and what he really is doing to you.” Ginny smiled at her. Hermione didn’t say anything. By this point they had arrived to the Fat Lady’s portrait.
“See you tomorrow,” said Hermione, before giving the password and entering the common room. Ginny stood there for a while, and then headed back towards Slughorn’s dispatch. She really did not feel like going back, but she told Luna that she would return and, since Harry seemed to have left the party also, she had no other option than to be Luna’s companion for the night. It seemed hard to believe that Harry would do such a thing. Certainly it was a disappointment.
Ginny entered the party again, and could not believe what she saw, much less what she heard right afterwards. Dean was in the middle of the room, holding a butterbeer in his hand, and drinking it like crazy. Next to him were Neville, Seamus, and some other students, cheering him and daring him to keep drinking, which Dean, in turn, did to please them. Ginny was horrified. She came back to her senses immediately and walked towards Dean. He didn’t seem to notice she was there, for he didn’t listen the first time she called him.
“DEAN THOMAS!”. The multitude turned back to see the person who had shouted. Dean turned to find Ginny in front of him, arms crossed, and a hard look in her eyes. Nevertheless, Dean did not notice this, and said to Ginny:
“Well, there you are, gorgeous! I’ve missed you!” He then burst into laughing.
“What do you think you are doing?” asked Ginny, in the hardest and angriest tone she could possibly use.
“What does it looks like? I’m enjoying this party!” To which followed more cheers from the multitude of students surrounding them. Ginny noticed that Dean was enjoying the attention, for he had an idiotic smile on his face.
“Don’t you think that I’m going to deal with you like this,” she said. “Where is Luna?”
“Your Lunatic friend went to find Harry, her new boyfriend.” Dean laughed at his own joke. Some people joined him. Ginny felt sick.
“You are being a jerk, did you know that?” She yelled at him.
“My Ginny is not happy. What to do?” More people laughed. Ginny made a sign of disgust.
“We’ll talk when you are sober”. She walked towards the door, ignoring Dean’s pleading for her to stay.
She did not know where to go. The common room? No. She needed to find Luna first. She didn’t want her to believe that she ditched her. But where could she be? Suddenly, she heard some voices coming from the upper floor. She couldn’t identify whose voices were, but probably she could ask the owners of these voices if they had seen Luna. Ginny went up the stairs. By the time she got there no voice could be heard. She didn’t see anyone there either.
After Malfoy and Snape left, Harry got out of his hiding place and decided that it was time to go back to the party. He had left Luna waiting for him, for a very long time. For a moment he felt ashamed of himself. But this moment quickly passed when he heard steps coming up the stairs. Afraid of being caught by a professor outside the party, and not wanting to give explanations, Harry went back to his hiding place, behind the statue. The sound of the steps continued, and Harry could hear perfectly that whoever was the person walking through that hallway was near him. He was surprised to realize that the sound of the steps were heels. “Probably a girl from the party,” thought Harry. Still, he didn’t want to deal with anyone right now. He needed to go back to the party to find Luna and get Slughorn’s memory.
Carefully and silently, Harry made his way out of the statue and, without even looking at the person who had come upstairs, he quickly went towards the stairs when a very familiar voice called him.
Harry turned around to find Ginny, standing a few meters away from him.
“What are you doing up here?” He asked her.
Ginny looked as if she was surprised by the question.
“I’m looking for Luna. What are you doing up here?” She sounded angry. Perhaps she thinks that I ditched Luna. “Aren’t you supposed to be with Luna at the party?”
“Y-Yes,” answered Harry, awkwardly. “But I had to come find Malfoy.” Ginny was sceptical.
“Malfoy? What for?”
Harry decided that it wouldn’t hurt telling her his suspicions about Malfoy being a Death Eater.
“Well,” he started, “you see, I think he is a Death Eater.” For a moment Ginny did not say anything. Then she burst out a laugh.
“Malfoy? A Death Eater? But he’s a complete coward! He wouldn’t endure standing next to You-Know-Who for even a minute!”
“I know it sounds crazy, but look at the possibilities!” Harry told her about his suspicions, Malfoy’s behavior, Snape’s paternal attiude towards him, and the scene he had witnessed at Diagon Alley before school started. In the meantime, they began walking downstairs, but not back to the party. Ginny was listening carefully, and when Harry was done talking, she said:
“Has it ever occurred to you that maybe Dumbledore sent Snape to figure out what is really going on? And that Snape is trying to gain Draco’s trust in order to do it?”
Harry shook his head. “I have already talked to Dumbledore about this, he does not believe me”
“So he says” said Ginny, suspiciously.
“What do you mean?” asked Harry, confused.
“Well, think about it. If Dumbledore would suspect about Malfoy he couldn’t just announce it to any student, not even to you, Harry. For Merlin’s Beard, he is the Headmaster! He couldn’t accuse a student of being a Death Eater even if he wanted to. The Ministry would have to interfere, and you know how Lucius Malfoy is like when it comes to dealing with Dumbledore”.
Harry never thought of that. It was a good and plausible theory.
“You are probably right. Dumbledore probably suspects Malfoy too, but he can’t say anything because-“
“He would lose his job,” finished Ginny. Harry looked up at her. It was a relief to trust in someone and that this person would not consider you a complete maniac. Unlike Ron and Hermione, Ginny understood his point of view. She actually took the time to listen to him in order to understand his point. And she did. She really did. Harry could not feel more gratitude towards her.
“Thanks, Ginny”, said a sincere Harry.
Ginny smiled at him, and Harry smiled back at her. They stared at each other for a moment. She is so beautiful, Harry thought, unable to stop looking at her. And smart too. She is just marvelous! Suddenly, Harry’s heartbeat began to accelerate. He could not take his eyes off of hers. He couldn’t help it; they were so beautiful…