Chapter 3 : Halloween and Hogsmeade
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What about the place that we call home
We’ve never been so many
And we've never been so alone
September rolled by slowly, as did most of October. The days were becoming steadily chillier, and the autumn breezes kicked in.
It was now the week of Halloween, and everyone was looking forward to going to Hogsmeade this weekend. Hogsmeade visits were extremely limited: Now, there would be only three visits to the village per year. One on Halloween, one before Christmas, and another before Easter.
Meanwhile, classes were a nightmare. In Defense against the Dark Arts (now shortened to just “The Dark Arts”) we were being taught all about illegal jinxes and spells, most of which caused permanent damage to the victim. (Thankfully, we practiced on animals.)
Muggle-Studies, on the other hand, was mental torture. Alecto would talk about how muggles were just like animals and should therefore be treated like ones. A few students lashed out on her, and they were humiliated in front of the class with the Imperius curse.
I was so glad that there was the Hogsmeade weekend and the Halloween feast to look forward to.
I was in the far corner of the library, silently completing my homework. I had gone to the restricted section twice today for my “Ancient Dark Magic” essay.
The restricted section is a horrible place. Many of the books are covered in blood, others attempt to bite your fingers off, and I ran across one that tries to strangle the holder.
The problem is that the restricted section is no longer restricted. The school has no problem letting students learn the Dark Arts anymore. In fact, they encouraged it.
Just as I had finished writing my essay, however, I was joined by Neville.
“Hello, Neville.” I said to him. I hadn’t talked to Neville all day since breakfast. As I looked up, I gasped. On Neville’s cheek was a large, deep gash.
“Neville!” I said, alarmed. Perhaps I had said that too loud, because Madame Pince was now giving me a disapproving glare from behind her desk.
“What?” he asked.
“Your face! Look!” I whispered, pointing at the cut.
“Oh, this? It’s nothing; Alecto gave it to me…” he said dismissively.
“Neville, what happened?” I demanded.
“Well… I was in Muggle-Studies class an hour ago. Alecto was rambling on, as usual, about how muggles are evil prats…and then I asked her how much magical blood she and her brother really had, and then she got mad at me and jinxed me, which gave me this.” he finished, pointing at the, large, bloody gash.
I was watching him, my mouth gaping. I couldn’t believe how much Neville had changed. Before, he was a clumsy, shy little boy that barely excelled in any subjects other than Herbology. Now, he was so…brave.
“Neville, what happened to you over the summer?” I asked him.
Neville laughed. “You should have seen everyone’s reaction in the classroom when I talked back to Alecto. It’s like nobody ever expected anything out of me.” he said, frowning. “Anyway, there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Well, the past two months here have been terrible, right? I mean, Death Eaters surrounding the castle, the Carrows…”
“Yeah,” I said, curious as to what he was trying to say.
“Well, I think we should bring the D.A back.” he declared.
“What! Neville, that’s really dangerous! We could get expelled…or worse!” I said.
Neville sighed. “Ginny, d’you really think You-Know-Who will leave us alone even if we pass our N.E.W.T.S? We can’t stay here like good little boys and girls; we have to fight back! You-Know-Who has taken over the Wizarding World, and we have to do something to stop him!” he said fiercely.
Neville had a good point.
”But we’re just students! We’re barely adults!” I said incredulously.
“So? Harry, Ron, and Hermione are just seventeen, and they’ve avoided capture for so long! Harry was only eleven when he saved the Sorcerer’s stone, remember? He’s done lots of mad things before, and he wasn’t an adult!”
“Yeah, well Harry’s…a special case.” I said dismissively. “But really, what you’re planning is extremely dangerous! What if someone gets hurt? What if we get caught? When Umbridge was around it was different! This is You-Know-Who we’re talking about!” I said.
Neville thought for a moment. “You know, Ginny, if someone gets hurt…I feel terrible saying this…that’s what war is about. You’ve got to take risks.”
I contemplated Neville's words, deciding that what he said did have a good point...
“You’re right, Neville.” I said grudgingly. “But how are we going to contact everyone?” I asked him.
“That’s easy. We re-create the D.A the same way we created it in the first place. At the Hog’s Head Inn when we’re at Hogsmeade. And I’ll just tell everyone from the old D.A to meet us there.” he said simply.
I gulped. “Neville, this better work.” I said.
“It will.” he said confidently.
The entire school was buzzing with excitement on Halloween morning. The Hogsmeade weekend and the Halloween feast were the only two things people were talking about.
I was just as excited as everyone else; however, I had a nervous feeling at the pit of my stomach. I kept worrying about the re-creation of the D.A. What if something went terribly wrong and Snape found out about what we were doing?
As I stood in line inside the Great Hall to exit the school grounds, I was not surprised that there were no decorations. Snape didn’t celebrate Halloween, I suppose.
I exited the castle through the main doors. The long walk to Hogsmeade was quite enjoyable, especially in this favorable weather.
Leaves crunched under my feet and the wind rustled my hair as I walked downhill. There were a few, wispy clouds overhead, and a good amount of sunshine. And before I knew it, I had reached the village.
Much to my disappointment, many of the best shops and cafés had closed. Even the candy shop, Honeydukes, was boarded up.
I walked quickly towards the Hog’s Head Inn, which unfortunately was one of the farthest shops in the village. I noticed that the village was slowly getting more crowded with students.
There were many Death Eaters along the way. They were prowling up and down the roads, or standing in front of the doors of open shops.
What if there were Death Eaters in front of the Hog’s Head Inn? Surely, they would notice the vast amount of students entering a pub that was almost always empty?
As I reached the pub, I was relieved to find that the Hog’s Head Inn had no Death Eaters near it. I supposed they didn’t think any student would bother visiting that pub.
As I entered, the first thing I noticed about the pub was that it smelled strongly of goats. As I looked around, I saw that all of the wooden tables were dusty and chipped, and the wallpaper was peeling off. The only thing in the pub that seemed remotely well-taken care of was a large portrait of a little girl. Her face features seemed oddly familiar...
I noticed that there were only four D.A members already here; Ernie, Zacharias, Neville, and Luna.
I seated myself in a chair in front of Neville and Luna and whispered: “Why’d you invite Smith?” to Neville.
I didn’t. Ernie told him.” Neville whispered back with a frown.
Our whispered conversation ended as I heard the pub door open. In came the rest of the D.A, with everyone chatting away loudly with their friends.
The barman looked up in alarm to the noise. Clearly he had not had this many visitors in his pub since the last D.A meeting we had here two years ago. He grumbled something under his breath and retreated to the back room of the pub, carrying an oddly-shaped chipped mirror with him.
“Everyone, quiet!” Neville said loudly.
It took a few moments for everyone to settle down.
Neville then realized that the spotlight was on him, and started to talk a little more timidly.
“Okay…so, I was thinking we should—um—bring the D.A back…” he said, wringing his hands nervously, not looking directly at everyone.
“And…I think we should re-create the D.A because…because Hogwarts is being run by You-Know-Who, and I think we should fight back.” he said simply.
He looked at me helplessly. Neville obviously wasn’t good at talking to crowds.
“The D.A helped us when Umbridge was around… now we’re facing an even bigger threat: You-Know-Who. He’s in charge of Hogwarts, because Snape just does whatever You-Know-Who tells him to do. We need to defend Hogwarts.” he said, talking more confidently after each word he spoke.
Everyone muttered in agreement.
“Who’s going to lead us? Harry’s not here.” Padma Patil said.
“Neville will.” I said simply.
Neville looked shocked. So did everyone else.
“Ginny! What—no! No way! I can’t lead, I can’t! I’ll mess up!” he said frantically, shaking his head.
“Neville, you fought at the Department of Mysteries. You fought last year when the Death Eaters invaded the castle. And you’ve stood up against the Carrows when nobody else would. And it was your idea to re-start the D.A in the first place! Come on, Neville, you’ve got to start giving yourself a chance!” I said.
Neville looked at a loss for words.
“I think you’re really brave, Neville.” Hannah said admiringly.
Neville was blushing so much he was as red as my hair.
“Any objections with Neville leading the D.A?” I said, looking intently at everyone, daring them to object.
Nobody said a word. Zacharias Smith looked like he had opened his mouth to say something twice, but probably decided that he did not want me to hex him again.
“Good!” I said. “Neville, when do you think the next meeting should be?”
“How about…tomorrow?” he suggested timidly.
Everyone started talking at once.
Everyone started complaining and objecting loudly.
“QUIET!” I shouted.
They stopped talking, and looked at me.
“The longer we hold it off, the stronger You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters get! We have to start learning advanced defenses, and we need to start planning, now! Don’t any of you care about Hogwarts? What about the entire Wizarding world? Do you want You-Know-Who to rule us forever?” I said boldly.
“Ginny’s right.” Luna said mildly.
Everyone muttered agreement.
“That’s settled then,” I said approvingly. “How many of you still have your D.A coins?” I asked.
To my surprise, everyone started fumbling around in their pockets and they all lifted their shiny gold, fake galleons in the air.
“Wow, you’ve all still kept them?” I asked, surprised.
“I’ve been keeping it as a reminder of the D.A ever since our last meeting.” Parvati said, admiring her coin.
“I’d never get ride of mine! I just brought it here because I thought I’d need it again since the D.A was re-forming…” Lavender said.
“Right, since you’ve all got your D.A coins, remember to carry them around at all times, and Neville will fix the date on his.”
“But Ginny, Harry’s got the special coin that sets the date of the meeting, not me.”
Neville was right. Hermione had used some sort of spell to allow Harry’s D.A coin to adjust the numbers on the side of his coin, which also affected everyone else’s D.A coins. I was not as brilliant as Hermione, so I didn’t know any such spells.
“I can fix that.” Luna said, extending her arm.
Neville dropped his coin into Luna’s hand. Luna took her wand out and muttered a few words under her breath, and aimed the spell at the coin. The coin glowed for a moment, and once again took the innocent appearance of a galleon.
“There,” Luna said, giving Neville back his coin. “Now you can adjust the dates on everyone else’s D.A coins.” she said simply.
“Thanks, Luna!” Neville said. He turned to face the rest of the D.A again. “You know, as much as I feel honored to be the leader of the D.A…I’ll never be able to take Harry’s place permanently. He was the best Defense against the Dark Arts teacher I’ve ever had, better than all of our past Defense teachers put together…except maybe Lupin.”
“You’ll do great, Neville.” Seamus said encouragingly.
“Thanks.” Neville smiled. “So are we all in?” he asked.
“Dumbledore’s Army!” everyone said loudly, and we all burst into a fit of laughter. Suddenly, the school year seemed much more exciting.
The feast was quite a disappointment. The castle looked very un-festive, and the food was quite below standard for Hogwarts.
If all house-elves were like Dobby, I would have thought they expected a pay raise.
I had heard from many others that the visit to Hogsmeade was a let-down. That is to say, anyone who wasn’t part of the D.A. Apparently, butterbeer prices had gone up to about triple the normal price, and the proportions had decreased.
Most shop owners that lived in Hogsmeade had fled the area, in fear that they would be murdered in their sleep by Death Eaters for whatever reason.
I took a large sip of slightly bitter pumpkin juice.
The nervous feeling had returned. I was thinking about the D.A meeting that was going to take place tomorrow.
If I got caught, my family would be in danger, and we would all be imprisoned for life…and I didn’t even want to think about the third possibility…
Author’s Note: Hello, all! How was the chapter? Coming up next is the first D.A meeting. Thank you so much to the people who have favorited and reviewed so far, I really appreciate it!
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