“This was a stupid idea!” shouted Ron, struggling to make himself heard over the roar of the engine. “How the hell did you talk me into it?”
“Oh come on, Ron!” bellowed Harry in return. “It’s brilliant!”
“No it is not!” retorted his friend. “It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s uncomfortable. We could have flooed straight to McGonagall’s office. We could have set up a portkey. We could have apparated to Hogsmeade again. But oh, no. You have to insist on riding the sodding motorbike.”
Despite Ron’s incessant whining, Harry was really enjoying the journey to Hogwarts. Ron was right about the chilly wind, but it was a bright and sunny day. Riding the motorbike was enormous fun, and the scenery was stunning. Harry looked around him. There was nothing for miles and miles but rolling hills and fields. Nothing, that was, except the train tracks that he was following to make navigating easier as they made their way north.
“I’ve had the bike for two months now, Ron, and it’s barely been out of the back yard,” Harry reminded him. “After all your Dad’s hard work, it was about time I gave it a decent run.”
Ron was not convinced. “A decent run would have been to work and back. Maybe to Diagon Alley. Not all the way to bloody Scotland!”
“I seem to remember you being very enthusiastic when we were discussing it last week.”
“Yes, I was. You made it sound like a fun road trip,” said Ron, accusingly. “You never mentioned that I’d lose radio contact with my arse after 30 minutes! This seat might as well be made of granite.”
“It’s more comfortable than a broom,” Harry pointed out.
“I wouldn’t ride one of those all the way to Hogwarts either.”
“Doesn’t it bring back memories of flying back to school in your Dad’s car?” wheedled Harry, hoping that reminiscing would improve Ron’s mood. He was sadly disappointed.
“What, you mean the time we were nearly thrown in Azkaban for breaking the Statue of Secrecy and using underage magic, almost got expelled and narrowly avoided getting killed by the Whomping Willow when we arrived?” said Ron, with no little amount of sarcasm. “Yeah, best bloody day of my life.”
Harry decided that the only way to cheer Ron up would be to feed him, and began to look for somewhere to find some lunch. They stopped at a Muggle pub deep in the Northumberland countryside, and, with his stomach full of chicken pie, Ron was considerably chirpier for the remainder of the journey.
By the time Harry brought the bike in to land just outside the main gates, the light was starting to fade. Harry tried the gates, and when they didn’t open, he drew his wand. “Alohamora,” he said. Nothing happened.
“You didn’t actually think that would work, did you?” asked Ron.
“No, they haven’t. Look, it’s Hagrid.” Ron nodded towards the path leading down from the castle, and sure enough, Harry could see the enormous bulk of the Gamekeeper making his way towards them.
“Hello, Harry, Hello Ron! Good ter see yeh!” he called as he approached. He reached out to pull the gates open and seemed surprised when they were locked. He began to rummage through his many pockets. “Ah. Right now. I know I had it in ‘ere somewhere.”
After much patting and swearing, Hagrid finally located the key in the depths of his voluminous moleskin coat. He slotted it into the keyhole, added the appropriate incantations, and the gates swung open. Striding through to greet them, he enveloped both Ron and Harry in a bear hug, but when he saw what was standing behind them, he dropped his arms and his eyes widened in surprise.
“Blimey, Harry! Is that Sirius’s old bike? What’re yer doin’ with that?”
“Yes, it is. Mr Weasley fixed it up for me. I’ve had it since Christmas.”
“Well it’s lookin’ a real treat, isn’t it? How’s it runnin’?”
“Brilliantly, although Ron isn’t quite so keen on it.” Harry grinned, as Ron pulled a face.
“Not surprisin’. He don’t have the history wi’ it tha’ we do, does he?” Hagrid punched Harry on the arm in what was probably supposed to be a gentle and playful fashion, and nearly knocked him sidelong into the shrubbery. “Oh, sorry. I never did know me own strength, eh?”
“That’s alright, Hagrid. I’ll live.” And at least it wasn’t my wand arm, added Harry, silently. “Do you want a lift back up to your hut?” he asked, looking at the bike and wondering how on earth it would accommodate all three of them.
“Nah, yer all right. I got some jobs to do down this way. There’s a nest o’ marmajinks somewhere about needs flushin’ out. That’ll keep me busy for a while, so you head on up. But yeh’ll pop down fer tea a few times while yer here?” he finished anxiously.
“Of course we will,” confirmed Harry. “I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
“You can park the bike in the shed behind my hut if yeh like? It’s prob’ly best if Professor McGonagall don’t see it, eh?” Hagrid’s face contorted, slowly and deliberately. Harry thought that perhaps he was trying to wink.
“Thanks, Hagrid,” Harry told him, “that would be great.”
“So what’ll the two of yeh be doin’ while yer here this month?” asked Hagrid.
“We don’t know yet,” said Ron, shrugging his shoulders. “They never tell us in advance. We’ll get our timetables tonight, I think.”
“I know what I’m doing.” Harry sounded gloomy. “I promised Ginny I’d coach her new Seeker. Have you seen her play, Hagrid?” When Ginny had proposed the idea, he had been swept up by her infectious enthusiasm. Now, he wasn’t so sure.
“Well, I was at the Slytherin game,” replied the Gamekeeper, evasively.
“Was she as bad as Ginny says?”
“I reckon yeh’ve got a bit of a job on yer hands there, Harry, tha’s all I’m sayin’,” said Hagrid, with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Fantastic,” muttered Harry, as he and Ron climbed back onto the motorbike.
“Right then, I’d best be off. See yeh later.” Hagrid turned and started to walk into the trees. Then he stopped and spun around to face them once more. “Oh, I nearly forgot. I bumped into Hermione on me way down here. Told ‘er I was comin’ ter meet yeh. She said ter tell yeh she’ll see yeh in the Common Room when yeh get up ter the castle.”
“Oh, right. She didn’t want to come with you and meet us then?” Ron sounded mildly put out.
“She was headin’ to the Owlery, had a couple of letters ter post. Seemed very busy. Anyway, good ter see yer back.” He beamed at them, then disappeared into the woods.
Ron looked puzzled. “I wonder who Hermione’s writing to?”
“Her parents, probably,” said Harry.
“Yeah. But that would only be one letter, wouldn’t it? What about the other one? It can’t be me, because I’m here,” mused Ron
“There isn’t much gets past you, is there Ron?” said Harry, sarcastically. “With observational skills like that, I can see why the Auror department was so keen to recruit you. Just ask her about it later if it’s that much of a mystery.”
With that, Harry turned the key in the ignition. The bike roared to life once more, and he guided it up the path towards Hagrid’s hut. Once Harry had parked in the shed, he and Ron had made their way to the Gryffindor common room, where they greeted their friends in a flurry of hugs and handshakes. Then Ginny was there with her arms around him, making the excellent suggestion of a stroll around the grounds before dinner. As they climbed back out through the portrait hole, he caught a glimpse of Ron’s reunion with Hermione. From what he could see, all thoughts of unexplained letters had been completely forgotten.
Harry and Ron settled back into the school routine very quickly. The timetable proved to be more varied than on their previous visit, but was no less challenging. Professor Tomkins nearly deafened them on the subject of advanced poisons and antidotes. Madame Borealis taught them to conjure and control a variety of ropes and chains to restrain opponents. Professor Flitwick made it his mission in life to equip them with charms to detect and disable booby traps. Harry’s head was spinning with the complexity variety of new spells he was learning.
However, what he most looked forward to were the tutorials arranged by Profesor Peabody. This time, despite the harsh February weather, he moved their practical work outside so that instead of simply duelling in a classroom, they had to track him down and capture him. Needless to say, the Professor didn’t simply come quietly when he was located, attacking them ferociously when discovered. He made full use of the lack of boundaries and (Harry suspected) being well away from Professor McGonagall’s critical gaze to unleash a truly vicious barrage of magic at them. As a result, Harry soon had quite a collection of minor cuts, burns and bruises. He also suffered a couple of broken bones and the temporary loss of an arm when he failed to block a very nasty limb removal curse. But despite the pain, the cold and the mud, Harry absolutely loved it.
What made it so useful was that he and Ron were able to work together as a team. It wasn’t as though they hadn’t fought alongside each other many times before, but it had always just happened. Now, the Professor expected them to plan their approach in advance, and to adapt to a wide variety of terrain and circumstances. It finally enabled them to put the planning skills they had learnt at the office into practice. Once each exercise was over, they met in Peabody’s office (or sometimes in the hospital wing, much to Madam Pomfrey’s disgust), where the Professor helped them to analyse their performance over a pot of tea and a packet of biscuits. Harry began to feel that once he and Ron were out in the field together, they would actually have some real tactics rather than simply flying by the seat of their pants.
Unfortunately, away from lessons, the first couple of weeks of February were much less satisfactory. This was because Harry got to spend very little time with Ginny. Between the Ministry’s training requirements, Ginny’s N.E.W.T. workload, and the demands of her Quidditch captaincy, it felt as though they had barely spent five minutes together.
In fact, it was his own Quidditch commitments that kept them apart on his second Saturday at Hogwarts. Rather than spending the morning with Ginny, he was out in the bitter cold on a particularly dreadful school broom, for his second attempt at coaching Elfie Etteridge. He pulled his robes closer around him in a doomed attempt to keep warm. The sky was a uniform, damp grey, heavy with the threat of snow, and he was constantly buffeted by a glacial wind. He put his icy hands to his lips and blew on them, but within seconds, the biting February wind had chilled them to the bone again. He tried to distract himself by thinking through the Valentine’s plans that he and Ginny had for the following day, but even that seemed impossible. It was as though the cold had penetrated his skull and numbed his brain.
Looking up, he realised that Elfie was closing in on the training Snitch that he was levitating for her, and he raised his wand again, intending to make it zigzag away. His frozen fingers made him clumsy and he sent it streaking back towards the goals at the opposite end of the pitch instead. Still, it had the desired effect, and he was pleased to see how quickly Elfie reacted to the change of direction. He gave another flick and the Snitch stopped dead before zooming back towards him. As he had hoped (but in all honesty, really not expected), Elfie saw the change, stuck out her right hand, and caught the Snitch as it came back past her. He nodded to himself, pleased with how sharp her reactions were. He might be developing hypothermia, but at least he wasn’t wasting his time.
“OK, Elfie. Good work,” he called to her. “We’ll just do some practice dives to finish and then we’ll call it a day.”
Elfie made her way back across the pitch towards him, obediently and silently. As usual, she seemed unable to meet his eyes, getting visibly more nervous the closer she got to him. He took the Snitch from her and used a Geminio charm to multiply it. Soon, there were five of them, all hovering in a row in front of him. He directed then down towards the arena floor where they waited, just above the ground, about 10 metres apart.
“Right then, you know this drill,” he told her, looking at his watch. “Remember that I’m timing you, and you should start… NOW!”
At his call, Elfie went into a near vertical dive at full speed, pulling up just in time to catch the first Snitch before looping back up to hand it to Harry. She snatched her hand away from his so quickly that he would have wondered if his own hands were on fire had they not been pretty much frozen solid. When Elfie returned with the final Snitch, he checked his watch again.
“That’s great,” he said, enthusiastically. “Over 30 seconds quicker than last time. Let’s head back inside and warm up.”
Elfie opened and closed her mouth like a fish. She didn’t manage to make any actual words, just an unintelligible squeaking noise. Harry thought she was blushing, although it could just have been the bite of the wind on her cheeks.
With the practice over, they made their way up to the castle in silence, and climbed into the Gryffindor common room through the portrait hole. As he had expected on such a cold day, it was packed. Several students turned to look at them as they entered. Elfie immediately headed towards the stairs to the girl’s dormitories, and Harry decided to offer her some final encouragement before she left.
“You worked really hard today, Elfie,” he told her. “I think you’re going to be an excellent Seeker. I can see an enormous improvement. Well done today.”
Elfie’s body went entirely rigid, as though she had suffered an electric shock. Her head snapped up at him, as she met his eyes for the first time that day. She opened her mouth, but all that came out was another wordless squeak, while colour spread across her cheeks once again. She stood still for a moment, then she turned and fled up the spiral staircase. Harry was left standing in the middle of the room feeling like a prize idiot.
He heard a familiar snigger to his right and turned to see Ron sitting by the fireplace, laughing at him. He had his arm around Hermione. Ginny was sitting close by too. He headed over to join them, sitting cross-legged on the floor by the fire to try and warm up.
“I see the famous Potter touch with women hasn’t deserted you, mate,” smirked Ron. He ducked as Ginny crumpled up a piece of parchment and threw it at him.
“Don’t be so dim, Ron,” she told him. “It’s the opposite problem. I think my Seeker has a crush on him.”
“Actually, I wondered if she might,” confessed Harry, sheepishly. “But now I’m not so sure. It looked like I really upset her then. I don’t understand that at all.”
Hermione grinned at him. “Top marks for perceptiveness, Harry. But don’t worry, you didn’t upset her. She was just embarrassed about the way she reacted when you were nice to her in front of everyone. The only thing worse than having a crush on someone is other people knowing about it.”
Harry pulled a face. “I really do seem to collect them, don’t I? Why is it always me?” he moaned. Hermione and Ginny exchanged a despairing look.
“Harry, she’s fourteen years old,” explained Ginny. “You’re the most famous wizard in the entire world. You’re a total rock star to her.” She leant back in her chair and gave him a cheeky smile. “Add that to the fact that you’re so devilishly handsome and I think I’d be more surprised if she didn’t have a crush on you. She has no idea what to do or what to say but she has to spend hours alone with you anyway. She’s probably terrified of you.”
You make it sound as though I’m torturing her,” said Harry, worried. “Perhaps I should stop the coaching?”
“Is she improving?” asked Ginny.
“Oh yes, definitely,” Harry told her. “You’re right, I think she could be really good.”
“Then keep doing it. We play Hufflepuff in two weeks’ time and I need to have a decent seeker by then. Besides, it’s character building. If anyone knows that then it’s me.” She finished, wryly.
“That’s not the only reason to carry on,” said Ron, still looking amused. “One day she’ll be grateful to have something to tell the grandchildren.” Making his voice high pitched and creaky, he added, “Did I ever tell you about the time the saviour of the wizarding world taught me to play Quidditch, kids?” He ducked to avoid another piece of parchment, this time thrown with rather more conviction by Harry.
“I thought you two had a Transfiguration tutorial today?” asked Hermione, trying to restore some order.
“Yeah, we do,” replied Ron, “but not until this afternoon. We’re still working on magical bindings and conjuring ropes.”
“Why is conjuring ropes any different from conjuring other stuff?” wondered Ginny, knowing that conjuring inanimate objects was already well within Harry and Ron’s capabilities. “I wouldn’t have thought you really needed to practice that.”
Harry opened his mouth to explain, but Hermione beat him to it. “It isn’t so much the conjuring that’s the tricky part. You have to be able to keep the ropes attached to your wand, then control them with enough precision to bind securely without causing injury. It’s really difficult stuff. I still struggle with it.”
“You’ve been practicing then, Hermione?” teased Ginny.
“I’ve been helping Ron, yes,” she replied, her cheeks turning pink. She didn’t look at Ron, who in turn seemed to suddenly find his fingernails utterly fascinating.
Although Ginny was smirking, Harry decided he had no wish to follow that particular line of questioning any further, so he rapidly changed the subject. “What are you up to this afternoon, Ginny?” he asked. He had absolutely no idea of the trouble that one innocent question would cause.
Draco practically bounded up the steps from the dungeons. He was heading towards the empty classroom in which he had arranged to meet Ginny to work on his non-verbal defensive spells, hence the spring in his step. He’d been looking forward to their date all day. Thinking about Ginny was one of the things that made his otherwise miserable existence as the least popular Head Boy in living memory bearable.
His attachment to her still surprised him. Not long ago, the thought that he would consider a blood traitor anything other than something to scrape off the sole of his shoe would have been inconceivable. He supposed that it was no surprise he had changed, though. You couldn’t see everything you had ever believed in torn to pieces in front of you and not look at the world differently. Now, when he looked at Ginny, he didn’t see her unfortunate background or her misguided loyalties. He just saw a talented and very beautiful young woman, someone that he just wanted by his side.
He was feeling optimistic that Ginny was warming to him too. Sometimes when she looked at him, he saw a different message in those melting brown eyes, one that hinted at more than friendship. He was sure he wasn’t imagining it. Once Potter was off the scene, he would be able to make his move.
As he approached the top of the staircase, he heard raised voices and rapid, angry footsteps heading towards him. He instinctively flattened himself into the shadows behind a handy statue as the voices came closer.
“Ginny! Come back! We need to talk about this!” Potter’s voice. He sounded furious.
“No, Harry,” he heard Ginny snap back at him. “We do not need to talk about this at all, because there is absolutely nothing to talk about. It’s a non-issue.”
“Oh really? If it’s all so innocent, why did you lie to me about it?”
Ginny came into view in the corridor in front of him. She stopped dead and spun on her heel to face back in the direction from which she had approached, hands on hips and chin jutting out defiantly. Her red hair was flying, medusa-like, about her shoulders, and her the look on her face was enough to turn Potter to stone. Or at least, Draco hoped it was.
“I did not lie to you about it!” she barked at him. “That’s a ridiculous accusation! You asked me where I was going, and I told you. I’ve been completely honest about the whole thing.”
“Come on, Ginny! You’ve been meeting him for weeks now and you never mentioned it before. You deliberately didn’t tell me!”
“And can you blame me?” she spat at him. “Look at the way you’re behaving now”
“So you admit it then?” he fired back.
“How many times do I have to say this, Harry? There’s nothing to admit to! One of my friends asked me to help him, that’s all. You’re being completely unreasonable.”
“I’m being unreasonable?” Potter sounded incredulous.
“Yes!” insisted Ginny. “You are!”
“Unreasonable or not, you know how I feel about it.” Potter’s tone was icy. “Are you still going to meet him?”
Draco held his breath, but Ginny refused to back down. “Of course I’m still going to meet him! There’s absolutely no reason not to.”
For a moment, neither of them spoke. Draco could see Ginny’s chest rising and falling, her breathing ragged in her anger. Only seconds could have passed, but it felt like an age before finally, Potter spoke again. “Fine. Go then. I’ll see you later.” Draco heard the echo of his footsteps on the flagstones as Potter stalked away.
Ginny stood still and watched him go, then huffed out a breath of annoyance, shook her head sharply, and continued on her way. Draco pressed himself deeper into the shadows as she passed, scared she would catch him eavesdropping.
He waited a couple of minutes, considering the implications of what he had just witnessed. He was thrilled to learn that Potter and Ginny had problems, that Ginny felt meeting him was more important than keeping the peace with her boyfriend. His day was just getting better and better. He felt his face rearrange itself into a very satisfied smile as he headed off to join Ginny.
As he pushed open the door, she was staring out of the window. Her head snapped around at the sound of the creaking hinges, her eyes still blazing and her cheeks flushed. Even though he knew she was upset, the fire in her eyes still took him by surprise.
“Hi, Ginny,” he said, artlessly. Then, as if he had only just noticed her distress, he furrowed his brow and asked, “Are you OK?”
Ginny gave him a rueful smile, her shoulders relaxing a little. “Yes, I’m fine. Just a little bit tense, that’s all.”
“Really? How come?” he enquired.
He watched her struggle with whether or not to tell him, the conflict playing out across her face. He wondered whether she realised how plainly her emotions showed to the outside world.
“I had a row with Harry,” she admitted, at last.
“Oh dear. Trouble in paradise?” asked Draco, solicitously.
She shrugged her shoulders. “It will probably blow over soon enough. I’m hot-tempered. He’s stubborn. Hopefully it’s just a storm in a teacup.”
It sounded like a lot more than that to me, thought Draco. “Well, you know him better than me.” he said, neutrally.
“Yes, I suppose,” Ginny replied. Then she took a deep breath and gave him a broad smile. “But we’re not here to talk about me, are we? We’re here so that I can hex you into oblivion for an hour.”
“You wish!” he teased her.
“Big talk, Malfoy. Big talk.” She drew her wand, and dropped into a duelling stance.
“Bring it on, Weasley,” he replied, raising his own wand in front of him.
As he waited for Ginny to formulate her first attack, he wondered how many of her hexes he should fail to counter today. Enough that she would feel that he still needed her help and guarantee them more time alone together. Not so many that she would be suspicious about his lack of progress. It was going to take some really skillful non-verbal magic to pull it off. Just as well I’m bloody good at it then, he reflected, smiling to himself.
Ginny had always been quick to anger, but she was equally quick to cool down again. An hour spent working out her frustrations by repeatedly cursing Draco Malfoy certainly helped. By the time she felt Malfoy had taken enough punishment for one day, the white heat of her fury had dissipated. What she was left with was a nasty ball of guilt, tearing around her insides like a rogue Bludger.
As she made her way back to the common room, she reflected on the fight. She knew it had mostly been her fault, her harsh words just a cover for the knowledge that Harry was right. It wasn’t that she regretted helping Malfoy. She felt no different about helping him than she would have about helping any of her other friends. But in her heart of hearts, she knew that she should have been more upfront about it with Harry. She had known he wouldn’t like it, so she had avoided telling him about it. It was no wonder he felt deceived. She knew she had to be the one to make things right between them.
He wasn’t in the common room when she got back, but Hermione was there, curled up in one of the armchairs, her Ancient Runes homework laid out in front of her. She answered Ginny’s question even before she had chance to ask it.
“No, Ginny. I haven’t seen him. He didn’t come back here after the fireworks earlier.”
Ginny looked embarrassed. She perched on the arm of the sofa. “I should have told him sooner. I can’t blame him for being angry. He hasn’t made his peace with Draco yet.”
Hermione closed her book and gave Ginny her full attention. “I’m trying really hard not to say I told you so, but...”
“...I know. You told me so.” finished Ginny.
“Look, I’m sure he’ll calm down soon enough,” said Hermione, sympathetically. “He’s never going to be happy about it, but I know that he trusts you.”
“Do you think it’s too soon to try talking to him?” wondered Ginny.
“There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? Do you know where to find him?”
Ginny considered for a moment. Whenever Harry was hurt or angry, his natural tendency to brood always bubbled to the surface. There was one place in particular that she felt Harry would visit if he was in that sort of mood. “Yes, I think so.”
“Good.” Ginny held her eyes for a few seconds, sure that her friend was picturing exactly the same place. Sometimes it unnerved her just how well Hermione knew Harry. “I’ll see you later.”
Ginny clambered back out through the portrait hole, and made her way along the familiar corridors. She climbed up and up the central spiral staircase until finally, she reached the top of the Astronomy Tower.
As she suspected, Harry was sitting with his back to the far wall, hugging his knees to his chest. He must have heard her come in, but he didn’t acknowledge her at all, just continued to gaze out of the enormous open window across the grounds. She crossed the open space and sat down next to him, mirroring his pose.
“I’m sorry Harry. You’re right. I should have told you I was helping Draco.”
Harry didn’t reply so she continued. “I didn’t mean to keep it from you, but I wasn’t as upfront as I should have been. You have every right to be angry with me. I’d be furious if the boot was on the other foot, but I just didn’t think about it that way.”
Finally, Harry spoke to her. “That’s the whole problem, Ginny. You just didn’t think,” he said, nastily.
Ginny suppressed the urge to snap back at him, reminding herself that she was supposed to be apologising. She took a deep breath. “Maybe not. I should have been open with you about it, I know that. It’s an unfortunate part of life that sometimes, we’re both going to spend time with people that the other would rather we didn’t.”
She waited to see if Harry would respond, but when he didn’t say anything, she sighed and carried on, carefully keeping her voice calm and neutral. “You know, if I’m really, really honest, I don’t like you spending so much time with Elfie. I know I asked you to do it, and the Quidditch captain in me still thinks it’s a good idea. It’s just the girlfriend part that doesn’t like it. She can’t hide how much she likes you, and those big puppy-dog eyes she makes at you when she thinks you aren’t looking really annoy me. I know it’s silly - she’s 14 years old and I don’t for one second think you would ever look twice at her. The thing is, no matter how much I don’t like it, I trust you. I trust your judgement.
“Draco Malfoy isn’t your friend, but he is mine. Nobody’s more surprised about that than me, but that’s the way it is, and it’s the right thing for me to help him. To me, it’s no different than helping Neville or Luna. And I need to know that you trust me, Harry.”
“Of course I trust you,” he said, finally prepared to talk to her. “It isn’t really that you’re helping him, although I really don’t like it. What I hate most is that you didn’t tell me about it. Keeping secrets is just so... toxic.”
“I know. It won’t happen again,” she promised.
She let her head tilt to the side and rest on his shoulder. For a moment, he didn’t move, but then, to her enormous relief, he did the same, his head coming to rest on top of hers. They sat like that for several minutes.
“I’m still not okay with this, you know,” Harry told her, breaking the silence.
“Yes, I know. But I don’t think we’ll be doing it much longer, he’s definitely improved. And if it makes you feel any better, just remember that I spend the entire time hurling the nastiest hexes I can think of at him.”
Harry couldn’t stop himself smiling. “Have you bat-bogeyed him?”
“No. Or at least, not recently,” she smirked, casting her mind back to Umbridge’s office all those years ago. “I save that one for when people really deserve it.”
Harry gave a soft laugh, and put his arm around her, pulling her close. They stayed there like that for a long time, watching as the pale winter sun sank lethargically over the horizon, milky daylight giving way to the velvet night sky. By the time they finally succumbed to the combination of cold and hunger and made their way towards the warmth of the Great Hall for dinner, they were hand in hand once again.
A/N - I hope you enjoyed reading Chapter 11 as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you did, there are two things it would be great if you could do. The first one is to take a few minutes to leave me a review - I would love to know what you think! The second one is to go and look up Harry Potter and the Conspiracy of Blood, but the marvellous CambsAngst. He's my amazing beta reader, and I promise, if you like Evolution, you will adore his story! Happy Reading!
As ever - everything you recognise belongs to the quite, quite brilliant JKR.