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Chapter 24 : Bat-Bogeys and Broken Spirits
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‘Can’t we just go find Hermione?’ said Harry out of the corner of his mouth as he hastily signed his name.
Ron was reading that morning’s edition of the Daily Prophet, his tall, lanky figure leaning up against a wall just beyond the lifts. He flipped the page, having paid little to no attention to the usual onslaught of onlookers who had disturbed their brief bursts of conversation. However, at Harry’s comment, Ron took a more active approach.
‘Alright that’s enough. Blimey, he’s not an exhibit – move along!’
Two of the witches – giggling all the way – quickly tiptoed away from Harry and Ron who smirked as he resumed the Prophet article that he had put on hold. Harry examined the Atrium, noticing that there was hardly a stray witch or wizard who was walking by themselves. Apart from the cheerful witches who had asked for his autograph, everyone was wearing expressions of great focus as they quickly tore down the Atrium and out of the Ministry. Around the perimeter situated every so often stood pairs of royal purple clad Ministry officials who were observing the Atrium as Harry was, keeping their eyes open for anyone or anything suspicious.
‘Oi! Almost forgot to tell you – Mum told me that Charlie’s going to be moving back home this summer,’ said Ron suddenly. ‘He’s got enough seniority now that he’s been given the option. Said he misses home after all these years working in Romania and such.’
‘Brilliant. Any idea what he’s going to do?’
‘Yeah. Going to work for the Ministry next year – on Hermione’s level. Going to be the Field Assistant in the Dragon Unit. Big opportunity for him.’
Harry nodded his approval. He had always liked Charlie but amongst the assorted Weasleys, he had probably seen the least of Charlie. Harry imagined the summer ahead where all of the Weasleys would be in the same place at the same time – a feat that Harry knew should not be understated.
Another pair of gawkers broke Harry from his thoughts. The elder of the two Ministry workers tore the younger away from his excited stare, Harry looking uncomfortably around as if to shake the feeling. Ron seemed to have noticed.
‘Don’t take any offense to this mate,’ said Ron after a pause, ‘but you just keep getting more interesting. You defeat Voldemort – again – save the wizarding world – again – and now, you become an assistant Auror after you play a vital part in the mission that nearly destroyed the Death Eaters – again. Er... Sort of. To boot, you still haven’t really given a detailed account of your journey – well, our journey but you know how these things get muddled.’ Harry exhaled and nodded after concluding that his friend was unfortunately right.
‘Alright, I’m going to find Hermione. Are you coming?’
‘Yeah, let’s go find her. She’s nearly an hour late isn’t she? She did say five o’clock, right?’
‘You know Ron, for the boyfriend, you’re really seeming to lack in the listening department.’ Ron turned a light shade of red around the ears in a matter of seconds.
‘Have you and Hermione been talking,’ he asked seriously, his eyes growing slightly wider as they emerged over the Daily Prophet. When he spoke next, it was only to himself, his eyes slowly reverting back to the paper. ‘Got to work on that.’
Harry laughed at Ron overlooking his teasing joke, but pulled back after a moment when he realized that he had possibly touched on a very real, serious aspect of his two friends’ personal relationship. For Harry, it still felt a tad awkward to think of things like that, forgetting every once in a while that they were more than just friends. It made him think of Ginny, but Davis’ smiling face interrupted any further thought on his own girlfriend.
‘Did you see this?’ asked Ron as he and Harry passed a Ministry official handing out safety pamphlets that featured a question check-list that promised to weed out the traitors of the Ministry from the loyalists. Harry refused one as he passed the wizard who frowned. Harry caught the back of the pamphlet which was giving information on the great success of the Orphan Commission, an array of strange statistics apparently proving its current triumph. The pair found an empty lift to take down and once inside, Ron handed Harry his edition of the Prophet, indicating a rather large article on the second page. The picture above the text showcased two burly wizards holding a single, limp wizard underneath both of his arms. Harry’s eyebrows perked up when he realized that the middle wizard was in fact Crawford.
‘He’s the one who nearly killed me in the Auror Office! The Imperiused one, right?’
‘That’s right,’ nodded Ron. ‘They found him dead in his home last night. From what the article says, they say he could have been dead for days before they found him.’
Harry glanced back at the article, quickly browsing the details of the deceased Crawford’s finding. One particular sentence near the bottom of the article caught his eye.
‘He successfully regained his memory?’ asked Harry.
‘Said he had bits and pieces of information on his attacker. His hearing was supposed to be Monday morning too, look.’ Ron pointed to the next paragraph while Harry shook his head in disbelief.
‘It was Mosteban,’ Harry muttered under his breath. ‘He got him before Crawford could reveal information on him!’
‘Looks that way,’ admitted Ron, folding up the paper and stuffing it in to his cloak pocket.
‘I wish we could just... say something,’ said Harry frustratingly.
However, any further speculation on Mosteban was halted as the lift arrived at Level Four. Before they even lifted the golden gate to let themselves out of the lift, what sounded like screaming, arguing voices could be heard from somewhere in the distance. Their echoes caused Harry and Ron to glance at each other, quickly exiting the lift in search of Hermione.
‘Someone’s not taking getting sacked too well,’ commented Ron as they took a left down the hallway towards the office in which Hermione worked and past a door that featured a small sign that read Pest Advisory Board. Underneath was a smaller, hastily taped sign that had the handwritten message Currently Out of Office.
‘Not showing up?’ said Harry questioningly as he pointed to the sign. Ron nodded.
‘Dad told me that on some days, some don’t even come in to the Ministry. Too afraid, I reckon. Like Montgomery Pickard on Dad’s floor – team of M.L.E.S. officials had to check on his house in East Sussex to see if he was still alive.’
‘Some of the smaller offices can’t function if people don’t show up,’ muttered Harry to himself as he imagined personnel from the Magical Law Enforcement Squad ringing on Montgomery Pickard.
Harry found it curious that the echoing, arguing voices were growing louder as they continued to walk deeper in to Level Four. They took yet another left and found that the voices grew even louder still. Walking at a slightly slower pace, Harry noticed that the voices seemed to be coming from a door that stood ajar. Above the door read a sign that said Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures: Beast Division. A bearded Ministry official walked by perplexed, curious as to what the grand argument was all about just as Harry was. Harry and Ron both came to an abrupt stop when they heard what could only be Hermione’s voice. Though they knew it was their friend, the sheer anger in her tone of voice was one that both of them had not encountered often in their years of knowing her.
‘What’s this all about?’ asked Ron concerned.
He began to step in the direction of the open door but was stopped dead in his tracks as Hermione burst through the door in a fit of rage. The door swung open, crashing hard against the wall as she stepped back out in to the hallway, her hair bouncing up and down with each purposeful step she took. Looking up, she appeared shocked to see her two friends standing just feet outside the office door. She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by yet another voice that Harry instantly recognized.
‘Do not expect to be welcomed back, Miss Granger!’ came the high-pitched voice that instantly set Harry’s teeth on edge.
‘Well I haven’t been welcomed at all since I started, so not much is changing, is there?’ shot back Hermione.
Stepping out in to the hallway, adorned in her characteristic pink was Dolores Umbridge, her short, stocky body and pig-like face instantly infuriating Harry. She opened her mouth to speak, but after noticing that Hermione now stood with Harry and Ron, she stopped in full, her eyes growing wide, both of her hands grasped firmly on her hips. For the second time, she opened her mouth to speak but as in her first attempt, speech escaped her. Umbridge’s face grew red and with a final exhalation of frustration, she turned on her heel and strode off down the hallway.
‘Let’s go!’ spat Hermione, tugging Ron and Harry by the arms.
‘Hold on! Hermione!’ uttered Harry as he turned to follow his friend who – with a head full of steam – was walking quickly towards the lifts. ‘What was all that about?’
‘What was what about?’
‘You – Umbridge – loud voices?’ asked a disjointed Ron.
‘Nothing Ronald! Nothing happened at all!’
By the time the trio had arrived at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, Hermione had calmed down enough to explain the true reason why she had never been given a chance in her new position at the Ministry. According to Hermione, Umbridge had been using her new position under Fudge to squander her chances of taking an active role in the Beast Division. Umbridge’s obvious prejudice against her had clearly made the subduing a priority in her new position.
‘And she would have tried to get the two of you as well, but because you both had worked at the Ministry for a year prior, it made it more difficult for her to have her say. Plus, even for her esteemed position of Employee Overseer, the Auror Department would have been a much tougher egg to crack.’
Harry sat down at the kitchen table, Kreacher bringing him over a glass of orange juice the moment he had been seated. Harry greeted his house elf with a small smile.
‘Never understood why they had you filing paperwork for these past months. You really are too brilliant for that,’ said Harry to which Hermione beamed for only a second.
‘Thanks Harry.’ Hermione rubbed her forehead as she rested her elbows on the hard oak table. ‘She just wants to get back at me – at us. Rotten women she is. If the public knew what we knew and were told she was working in such a high position at the Ministry, they’d be outraged. Don’t know what I’m to do though. Grin and bear it? I don’t know...’
‘We all know that Umbridge is a piece of work,’ added Ron. ‘She’s lucky that she’s even employed and not in Azkaban for life. Bloody Fudge,’ Ron called Umbridge a nasty name that neither Harry nor Hermione took any protest with.
For the next fifteen minutes, conversation comically swayed in the direction of brainstorming outlandish methods that the threesome could take in order to get rid of Umbridge altogether. Even Hermione participated in the discussion, shedding her anger and stress of the situation. As laughter was hitting its height, Kreacher stepped in to the room, cleared his throat and spoke his froggy, toad-like voice when Ron had finished his own long process that had included something to do with an invasion of garden gnomes and Honeydukes’ licorice wands.
‘Master Potter sir. Mistress Weasley had asked me to inform you of her whereabouts this evening. After the match –’
‘The match!’ interrupted Harry. He had completely forgotten about Ginny’s last Quidditch game of the season where their Victor’s League fate was on the line. ‘Did she tell you if she won Kreacher?!’
‘She did indeed, Master Potter,’ grinned Kreacher. ‘By my recollection, Holyhead defeated Caerphilly by a score of four hundred and forty to one hundred and ninety.’
‘That’s enough for them to squeak in to the Victor’s League!’ exclaimed Ron, getting up from the table quickly. ‘Not going to get them a League title obviously... they’re too far back for that... but they’ve qualified for the worldwide tournament that crowns the best Quidditch team in the world! Not bad for a team that looked out of the running just a few weeks ago!’
‘That’s brilliant!’ Harry could not help but smile, knowing that as the team’s Seeker, Ginny must have played an integral role in ensuring Holyhead’s birth in the Victor’s League.
‘Master Potter, there’s more sir,’ continued Kreacher. Harry had been lost in the happiness after hearing of Holyhead’s victory and had forgotten that Kreacher had more to say. ‘Mistress Ginny wanted me to instruct you that she has gone to Primpernelle Square’s The Blubbering Bastion. She and the team have gone there for celebrations and she would very much like you to attend.’
‘That’s some sort of club, isn’t it?’ asked Ron aloud to which Hermione nodded. She was looking right at Harry with the same, serious expression that Harry was wearing, Ron aloof to the thoughts that both Harry and Hermione shared. ‘We should all go! Let’s go celebrate – we’ve got nothing on the go for tomorrow morning, do we?’
‘I’m... I’m actually pretty tired, Ron,’ said Hermione without looking away from Harry. ‘I think we should give Harry and Ginny some space. Let them celebrate with the team.’
‘Hermione! We’ve got to go! Come on, don’t be a –’
‘I think you should stay with me Ron. Doesn’t Chudley play tonight?’
‘Oh, what’s the point,’ replied Ron, much of his excitement draining out of him with the mention of his winless Quidditch team. ‘They’re just going to lose again...’
‘Keep the faith Ron! Come on, I’ll listen in with you.’
Hermione winked at Harry who nodded thankfully at Hermione’s understanding. Harry quietly left Grimmauld Place as Hermione ushered Ron into the living room, the faint sounds of the radio turning on echoing from the room as Harry closed the front door. He was barely thinking as he apparated to Charing Cross Road, took a detour down Shaftesbury Avenue and arrived at the bookshop named Border’s that served as the entranceway to Primpernelle Square. All the while, Harry could not help but think of Davis. He thought it unhealthy to be so consumed with thoughts of the rich, handsome assistant coach of the Holyhead Harpies but he could not help it. He was not about to let Davis spend an entire night out with Ginny when he himself barely had enough time to spend with her. The female cashier inside Border’s led Harry back in to the stock room, tapping her wand on a particular shelf. By the time she had left the storage room, many of the books had already shifted to either side to reveal the wooden archway that led to Primpernelle Square. Harry tore down the narrow hallway, hearing the commotion of the crowd grow louder as he continued to pace forwards. He ignored the two golden-robed officials who offered to help him step down out of the passageway and into the square, instead quickly glancing around him in search for The Blubbering Bastion.
It did not take him long to find it. A couple of shops down from The Flaunting Fwooper stood the vertical sign indicating the location of the large club. Harry sifted his way between members of the crowd, small huddles of witches and wizards all dressed in their finest occupying spaces around the cobblestoned square. To his chagrin, he noticed that various members of the press were crowding around a large, silver fountain situated in the middle of the square interviewing a rather round, balding wizard who Harry had never seen before. The blond curls of Rita Skeeter stood out like a sore thumb, Harry grabbing on to the nearest, classical looking lamppost to sway his great momentum in another direction. He weaved through a gathering of floating musical instruments, bagpipes, trumpets, clarinets and a multitude of others that were being conducted by a short, white-haired wizard, his soft, flowing movements mimicking the calm, tune they were pleasantly playing. The sun was setting on the square, the small, semi-circle of restaurants, theaters, pubs and fashion shops brimming with life.
Harry gave no attention to anything other than the front door of the club. In his focus, he nearly knocked down a pair of young witches who were excitingly standing in the line for those entering The Flaunting Fwooper. Without looking back at the sound of the angry calls the two girls drew, Harry avoiding yet another self-moving cart selling assorted wines and other beverages, he finally arrived at the double glass doors that served as the entranceway to The Blubbering Bastion.
The head of steam that Harry had upon entering the club momentarily and quickly fizzled. He was engrossed in a sea of movement; trays with mugs and glasses of various liquids zoomed across the room, a small dance floor in the middle of the darkly lit room occupied with what seemed to be hundreds of personnel. A thousand beams of bright light rocketed around the ceiling of the establishment, their rays lighting the dark room in countless, flashing colours that continuously alternated. An undertone of dancing music was being played by a trio of wizards atop a tiny stage that barely fit their unusual looking instruments and the three of them themselves. There were asymmetrical armchairs, couches of all different materials and little, narrow tables situated around the perimeter of the dance floor and on the outskirts of the bar that featured small stools, of which nearly all were claimed. Harry felt his stomach drop as he somehow noticed the familiar red-haired head of Ginny who was currently sitting at the bar, talking feverishly with none other than Davis.
Immediately, he set off in their direction, having to halt himself after only two steps as three consecutive trays zoomed in front of him. With his eye still on Ginny, he took a detour around the bar. He was not even sure why he was doing this and not simply meeting Ginny face- to-face, but his mind was telling him that this was the proper way to go about his business and without questioning it, he accepted this fact. Harry kept his head down so as not to be seen and began circling the bar. He noticed a Chaser from Holyhead conversing with one of the Harpies’ Beaters Glendella Wimbourne, strategically moving behind Glendella’s rather manly frame in order to better shield himself from Ginny’s vision. Miraculously, he noticed an empty stool just a few stools down from where Ginny was, her back facing Harry as she continued to converse with Davis. All in one motion, Harry sat on the chair, looking about the bar before glancing to his left where Ginny was.
‘Cliff! Cliff! It’s time for you to shuffle out, mate! Come back tomorrow, if you like,’ called the bartender who was wearing a plain, black t-shirt, his wand working feverishly as if it was just another limb of his body.
The bartender was calling to a man who Harry presumed to be Cliff. He had barely any hair and from his tired, agape mouth, Harry could not make out a single tooth. His glasses were askew as he woke from his apparent slumber, his right hand still firmly grasped on to his smoky concoction that smelt awfully of sulfur.
‘It’s Dan, Cliff.’
‘Stan! I will have another. I will... and I’m not going to feel guilty about it neither! Because... life... it’s just so short, innit? No time for, for, worry? Or, er... obligations! This damn Prophet has us all so worked up about this... this... well, whatever it is! Well you know what Bobby? I’m not letting it upset me anymore. Oh no, siree! And I’ll tell you another thing... I... er...’
With that, Cliff’s speech came to an abrupt end. He quickly slunk back down to his sleeping position, falling face first into a bowl of colorful, glowing candies that was sitting atop the bar. Dan the bartender merely raised his eyebrows and walked off as another customer called him over. He waved his wand behind him as the customer related to him what their desired drink was, Harry watching as a pair of bottles automatically began pouring and mixing in to a single glass, a few pomegranate seeds quietly dropping in to the glass and a slice of lemon being added to the brim after which the entire mixed concoction (that with another flick of Dan’s wand burst in to flames momentarily, giving it an enflamed texture) began to float over to the paying customer.
Harry positioned himself closer to Cliff, leaning in as he attempted to listen in on what Davis was saying to Ginny. At first, amidst the noise of the music and the hundreds of people conversing, Harry thought it would be an impossible task to try and listen in, but a break in the song allowed him a very brief window.
‘I’ve just got to tell you again, you were marvelous yet again today,’ came the voice of Davis, a glass of his own clutched in his hand. ‘The main reason why we’ve got a shot in the Victor’s League. A fifth place finish should be good enough to gain us entry and now with you as Seeker and the team playing with a lot of confidence, I think we can really do some damage.’
‘Thanks Davis. I really couldn’t have done it without your persistence and help,’ replied Ginny. ‘You’ve been a big supporter of me the whole way. I just... I appreciate you believing in me, that’s all.’
‘Someone’s got to,’ answered Davis with a grin and a sip of his drink. ‘But let’s not rest on our laurels. We’ve got a lot of work to do to win us a World Championship. Sure, the League title would have been nice, but I truly think that the two of us –’ Harry gritted his teeth as he watched Davis put his hand over Ginny’s, ‘ – can accomplish anything.’
Harry watched as Ginny sat in silence, her hand slowly moving away uneasily back to her side. She looked downwards, taking a sip of her own small glass, pursing her lips as she did so.
‘I wonder if Harry is coming...’ she wondered aloud. ‘I told Kreacher to tell him, Ron and Hermione to come when they get in. Normally they are home by half past five.’
‘Can’t even come to your big celebration,’ joked Davis whilst shaking his head. ‘I don’t think he realizes how lucky he is, that boy.’ Ginny smiled.
‘He does. I feel quite lucky to be with him as well.’
‘Oh, Ginny,’ began Davis loudly after draining the last of his drink, ‘don’t let all the glitz, glam and fame blind you. There’s tons of girls who would love to be in your position just because of the allure his persona brings.’
‘That’s not true, Davis. Sure those things are appealing to the average girl, but I don’t think I’m an average girl. Or am I?’ joked Ginny.
‘You most certainly are not. But come on, think about it Gin – he never comes to see you after the games! Blimey, he can’t even bother to come to the party after the biggest game of your professional Quidditch life! You told me yourself you two don’t spend a lot of time together! You two live in the same bloody house!’
‘Yeah, I know,’ replied Ginny quietly. ‘He’s busy and –’
‘Too busy for his own girlfriend? If I was in his shoes, I most certainly would be spending every moment that I possibly could with you!’ Ginny grasped her forehead and began rubbing it as Davis talked.
‘Could... Could you excuse me for a moment? I’ve just got to use the loo.’
‘Of course, of course,’ answered Davis exasperatingly, his free hand motioning to the washroom behind the bar.
Harry watched as Ginny strode off in the direction of the washrooms, Davis ordering another drink once she disappeared from view. Harry was fuming. He had not felt this much rage at one person in a long time and even though he knew Davis had some points, he found it unbelievable that he could so conveniently forget about all the time that Quidditch had taken up in Ginny’s own life. His legs were tingling in their seat. Finally, Harry could not help but get up, his eyes fixated on the back of Davis’ head as the music started up again.
‘Hey there,’ greeted Harry stiffly, taking the seat that Ginny had previously sat in.
‘Oi! Well, look who made it? How are you Harry? Can I buy you a drink,’ asked Davis who seemed genuinely surprised that Harry was sitting in front of him.
‘Oh come one, you’ve got to have something when you come to the The Blubbering Bastion! It’s on me!’ Davis motioned for the bartender but before he could relate what Harry’s drink of choice would be, Harry interrupted.
‘I’m not here to drink anything, Davis. I’m here to ask you why you think you have the authority to stick your nose in business that you should have no concern of.’
Harry was not even thinking of what he was going to say, it was all coming out naturally. He watched as Davis raised his eyebrows, looked around him and then smiled his perfect smile, leaning in closer to Harry than what he had been before.
‘If I have come across as... as... standoffish in the past, then I do apologize for that but –’
‘Enough,’ interrupted Harry yet again. ‘I know what you’ve said, so don’t try and hide anything. Be plain and answer my question.’
Davis’ mouth opened slightly, his lip curling after he took a large swig of his drink, all the while never looking away from Harry. Something happened in his face after he had gulped down his drink; it was as if he had shed his artificial mask, a slightly sneering face replacing his usual good-natured one.
‘Well Harry, if we are going to lay our cards out on the table... I believe that I’m a better fit for Ginny than you are. There. Is that plain enough for you?’ For some reason, Harry was not at all taken aback by Davis’ forth-righteousness. He leaned in closer, his entire body tingling.
‘Well, you’re not. But I’m curious, what makes your tiny brain think such a thing?’
‘Because I show that I care about her! And she cares about me! And I don’t like the fact that you of all people get such a good wrap from the entire world when at heart, you’re nothing more than a talentless, overrated, never-was!’
‘Buying her expensive things, sending her love letters and devoting all of your time to her when it’s your job to be around her is not caring for her you idiot,’ replied Harry who spoke calmly, yet forcefully. ‘Regardless, you’re judging us on the material and the external – things that don’t matter!’
‘External reflects internal,’ stated Davis simply.
‘Being an Auror and a Quidditch player is tough – it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other and... I don’t even know why I’m explaining this to you. You’re not even worth it! You’re just jealous and upset that a great girl like Ginny is with me while you’re all alone! So stop trying to get her to like you when she’s with someone else! Doing so when you know she is taken is really low, mate. If you had any bit of class you’d –’
‘How come you never brought this to my attention sooner, Harry?’ interrupted Davis firmly. ‘You obviously are quite adamant in your beliefs. What’s with the delay? You’ve known me for... six, seven, eight months now!’ Harry exhaled, wanting nothing more now than to walk away from Davis in his boiled over frustration.
‘Because Ginny asked me to trust her – which I do – but it’s clear that I was right about you. She didn’t want to disturb your relationship with her.’
‘Aha! You see? Already she puts such a high value on our relationship to the point where she asks you to curb your concerns!’
‘No, it’s not like that at all, Davis. She was asking me to trust –’
‘Truth of the matter is, Harry... deep down inside... Ginny wants to be with me rather than you. And she’s slowly realizing that. She tells me how you’re never around and how you hide things from her that you only talk about with your friends! All those times that she overhears the three of you whispering, wondering why she’s not included in her own boyfriends’ life! One day she’ll realize all of this that I’m telling her – how she deserves so much better. Then she’ll leave you and come to me... ask me to hold her... and snog her too... From what she’s told me about your constant absence, she needs a good snogging... I’m sure I could fit the bill...’
Harry instantly felt for his wand, taking it out of his pocket and pointing it at Davis from beneath his seat. Davis seemed to have noticed this, looking underneath as Harry, seething, breathed heavier and quicker.
‘Wh-What are you going to do?!’ asked Davis with a laugh. ‘That’ll look good! I could see the headline now – Auror goes nuts, put away in Azkaban for good! You could kiss your beloved career goodbye, Harry. Come on, have it then! Are you going to jinx me?’
‘I’m going to do this...’
Without thinking about it twice, Harry clenched his fist and dove at Davis, punching him as hard as he could. His fist came in to contact with Davis’ cheek so hard that Harry thought he broke more than one knuckle. He came tumbling down on top of Davis who fell to the ground hard, blood instantly running down from his nose. A few witches and wizards close by exclaimed for help as a small group gathered around the fallen Davis, Harry getting to his feet off of his crouched position, panting hard. He thought heard someone say his name but his overwhelming anger was disallowing his senses from properly functioning for a few moments. Soon, many took notice of the incident, stopping their dancing and coming over to see what had happened.
‘Ow! You’ll pay for that Potter!’
‘Come on then! Get up!’
Davis struggled to get to his feet, ultimately falling back down. Harry’s punch had disoriented Davis, the drinks that he had consumed not helping in his attempt. He fell back down, knocking over a small side table and the drinks on top of it. A few younger wizards laughed at Davis’ attempts, Harry surprisingly hearing the voices of Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas.
‘Nice one Harry!’
‘He got ‘em good, didn’t he?’
Harry nodded absent-mindedly as he turned, slightly regretting his rash action now that he had done it.
‘That is Harry Potter!’ Harry heard a girl whisper to her friend as he turned to leave.
‘Really? Why’d he do that for?’
‘Must have been something bad for Harry to do that! He’s a hero! Too good to be true!’
‘That other boy must have really deserved it.’
‘Maybe he insulted me and Harry didn’t like that!’
‘Oh stop, you priss!’
‘Harry?!’ came a familiar voice, turning Harry around. Ginny was looking at the fallen down Davis who just now had got to his feet.
‘Ginny, I can explain it all...’
Ginny struggled for words as she stood within a few feet of Harry. The slowly dispersing crowd stopped in their leave of the situation, taking renewed interest in what was in front of them.
‘Y-You mean... You mean you did... that,’ she pointed at Davis who was rubbing his cheek in pain.
Harry nodded but any further explanation was interrupted by a wave of bright flashing lights and the emergence of a group of voices. A higher pitched voice overrode all the others.
‘Make way! Make way, please! Clean Skeet personnel on the move!’ came the sound of Rita Skeeter’s voice.
‘Why?’ asked Ginny exasperated, evidently having no idea as to what had gone on while she had been in the loo. Harry realized he was sweating slightly.
‘Because of Davis!’ he replied. ‘I was right all along, Gin. He hates me and he hates that we’re together. He’s been trying to steal you away from me for months!’
‘He... He said that?’
‘Yeah! Told me right to my face!’
Ginny turned and shot a look at Davis that made him look as if he had an unsuspected bowel movement.
‘Look Ginny, I can explain –’
Before Davis could utter another word, Ginny walked over and slapped Davis in the cheek so loudly that everyone in the vicinity let out a gasp. She paced back to Harry, calling over her shoulder.
‘Already got one explanation on the go Davis – can’t take another one! So you –’
‘Punched him? Yeah.’
‘And you’re proud of that, are you?’
‘Yeah. Well er, I mean, no. I’m not. But he asked for it, Ginny! I was right about him all along!’
‘That doesn’t matter Harry!’ Ginny said, stomping her foot in frustration. ‘I asked you to trust me! And you haven’t!’
‘Wh-What are you talking about Gin,’ replied Harry, shielding his face as another flash of a camera in the distance took a picture. Harry looked over his shoulder to see that Rita Skeeter had entered the club. ‘I trust you!’
‘No you most certainly don’t! Don’t act like you don’t know Harry James Potter! I saw you that day after my Quidditch match! You were underneath that... well... you were there, weren’t you! I saw your face slip out by the door. You were spying on me! ME! Your own girlfriend! What kind of trusting relationship is that?!’
‘Look, I’m sorry but I was worried about Davis!’
‘FORGET DAVIS, HARRY! This is about me and you! Remember that day that I asked you why you were going to Hogwarts and you told me it was to visit Hagrid? Hermione let it slip accidentally that it was actually to use McGonagall’s pensieve! You lied to me! I wonder what else you’ve lied to me about this year?! And why you needed a pensieve – another lie! Or at least something you are choosing not to tell me! You’ve been in my room back home too, haven’t you? Going through my mail on my desk! I found the unopened letters in the trash. It was you, wasn’t it?’ Harry remembered knocking her letters by accident in to the trash bin and not putting them back on her desk. His frustration with Ginny quickly outweighed thoughts on this particular guilt.
‘Yeah, so what if it was? Why’s he sending you letters anyway? You think I’m just going to let some coach try to steal you away from me while I sit here and do nothing?’
‘They were just letters of encouragement, nothing more. You can actually trust me – I’m not going to lie to you. You really think he’d steal you away from me?’
‘No. Well, up until the day I spied on you two after the Quidditch match that is. You said to Davis... DAVIS of all people, that you weren’t happy! That there’s something wrong! You can’t even tell ME those things. How do you think it makes me feel when I hear that you have your own little relationship with this guy that is MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR OWN! You’ve got no understanding how I might feel when I see him treating you the way he does! My feelings never seem to come in to account!’
‘And how do you think it makes ME feel,’ retorted Ginny angrily, her cheeks flush, ‘when I overhear you, Ron and Hermione talking and instantly go quiet when I enter the room?! I’m all for you having your own relationship with your friends, but how come I’m ALWAYS the one to be left out?! You really must not trust me one bit! Or maybe you just don’t love me as much as I thought you did... All I know is that I want to be a part of your life and you CONSTANTLY shut me out! WITH EVERYTHING! YOU HIDE EVERYTHING FROM ME AND I’M TIRED OF IT!’
‘Well maybe I’m tired of it too!’ Harry felt his throat swell as he saw Ginny’s face contort in to one of rage. A few tears were beginning to fall down her face now which caused Harry’s own response to fall flat. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and bring her close to him, but his anger with her, Davis and of the entire situation was too much for him to extend the olive branch.
‘FINE!’ yelled Ginny after a moment. Everyone around Harry and Ginny had gone silent.
‘Fine!’ answered Harry stiffly.
No one in the immediate area uttered a word. Harry examined Ginny, her chest rising and falling as she wiped the corners of her eyes. She tore her stare away from Harry. Harry could hear Rita Skeeter’s Quick Quotes Quill feverishly scribbling on her notepad, the distant laugh of Davis interrupting the relative silence.
‘See! I told you Ginny! Harry’s nothing but ignorant! You deserve so much better than him!’
Harry watched as all in one motion, Ginny retrieved her wand out of her pocket, turned and hit Davis in the face with her own Bat-Bogey-Hex. The hex connected with Davis’ face, knocking him off balance. The crowd began laughing as Davis immediately began emitting giant, greenish bogeys out of his nostrils, Ginny turning and striding out of the pub without turning to look back. Harry glanced sideways as she walked right past him without a look or a word.
‘My that was... engaging...’ came the voice of Rita Skeeter in Harry’s ear, making him turn to face her as he watched Ginny disappear in to the crowd of Primpernelle Square. ‘Can I get a quote or two on it? Perhaps we can arrange a little sit-down where you can give your exclusive insight and retell what is sure to be the best-selling journey of how you defeated You-Know-Who?’
Harry shook his head and walked off before Rita even finished. He kicked open the door of The Blubbering Bastion and entered the warm night, the sound of growing laughter falling away into nothingness as Harry lost himself in his own thoughts.
The living room of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place featured two distinct absences the very next night. One was that the only sound that could be heard was the seconds of the clock ticking away which was abnormal due to the usual spirited conversation that encompassed that very room on such a Saturday night. The second was that Ginny was nowhere to be found; she had not returned to Grimmauld Place the night before nor did she arrive the next morning either. Ron had paid a visit to the Burrow earlier that afternoon and had discovered that Ginny was staying there and had no intention of returning.
‘Her and Mum had a row about it too,’ Ron had said when he had arrived back at Grimmauld Place before dinner. ‘It was bad. Mum told her she needs to talk it out with you and that she’s being childish, but she’s not listening to that apparently. Stubborn girl.’
‘Why don’t you go see her, Harry,’ asked Hermione. ‘I’m sure the two of you could work it out.’
‘If she doesn’t want to see me then I’m not about to go over to see her. Plain and simple,’ replied Harry who had not gotten a good night’s sleep the night before.
Harry was watching the clock tick away. Hermione was over by the piano and Ron was lying on the floor, his arms behind his head.
‘I could always go to Hagrid’s for a visit,’ Harry thought to himself. He did not want to be sitting in on his Saturday night with nothing to do. Ron seemed to echo Harry’s sentiment.
‘George is out on a date tonight as is Percy. Bill, Fleur and Victoire are at Mum and Dad’s with Fleur’s parents... don’t expect you’d like to attend that mash-up.’
‘Not particularly,’ answered Harry glumly. ‘Is it wrong to say that I wish it wasn’t my Saturday off?’
‘Extremely,’ added Ron. ‘Well, not unless we could investigate Umbridge while we’re at work. That would make it alright.’
‘Would you stop, you two!’ interjected Hermione.
‘What?!’ Hermione made her way over to the couch from the piano.
‘This is ridiculous. Harry – just go and visit her! You’ll both be thankful that you did when you get this all sorted out!’
‘Would you stop it Hermione?’ said Ron, reverting back to a crouching position. ‘She’s mad out of line, Ginny is. Harry was right about that Davis bloke all along! He’s got every right to be protective and to want to find out what he’s doing! It wasn’t like Ginny was listening to Harry’s concerns.’ Though the last part was not entirely true, Harry appreciated his friend standing up for him.
‘Right, but Ginny’s got a point too, Ron!’ fired back Hermione. ‘Ginny’s a major part of Harry’s life and in turn... of our life. Harry needs to trust her unconditionally.’
‘So you don’t think I do either?’ shot Harry.
‘No, I do. But... let’s be honest now... Ginny’s not completely wrong either. Snooping around and following her was not the wisest thing to do, Harry.’
Though he knew she was right, he was not ready to admit his wrongs, his fight with Ginny still so fresh in his mind.
‘Bloody right it was! If some bloke was trying to get with you like Davis was, you’d better believe I’d be right there!’
‘I can take care of myself thanks. I realize what you’re saying Ronald – and for what it’s worth, I don’t blame you Harry – but you’re not looking at the big picture and the context that Harry and Ginny are in. There are some more important things underneath the surface rather than just Davis.’
‘Listen Hermione... you’ve got to be barking if –’
‘Alright I think that’s enough you two,’ cut-off Harry. ‘All this talk is making you two upset and I’m not going to listen to the pair of you bicker about me all night, so just... cool out. Alright?’ Both Ron and Hermione nodded, not looking at each other as they resumed their comfortable positions.
About half an hour passed without any conversation. Harry saw Kreacher in the kitchen through the crack of the door as he tried to clean the uppermost corner between the ceiling and the cupboard, falling down as he stretched his little bony arm outwards towards the cobweb and knocking down his self-made ladder as he fell. Harry was beginning to drift off in to sleep when a noise from the drawing room woke him up.
‘Did you hear that?’ he asked Ron and Hermione who both nodded.
Sure enough, after a moment or two, footsteps could be heard from the drawing room. The distant door creaked open ominously, slow footsteps growing louder.
‘Whose there?’ called Harry as he stood up.
The door of the kitchen opened slowly, Aberforth walking in to the living room to the surprise of the trio.
‘Aberforth! What are you doing here?’
The brother of Albus Dumbledore did not sit, instead electing to stand by the fireplace so that Harry, Ron and Hermione could see him plainly. Instantly, Kreacher happily walked in to the living room with a tray of treats, though no one seemed to notice its presence.
‘If we are to enact our plan to break in to Azkaban prison, we must do it immediately. As soon as possible.’
‘A-Alright. Sure. But why? What’s happened?’ asked Harry confused, eyeing Hermione for any answers.
‘Nicolas Flamel has been sentenced to the Dementor’s Kiss. Yes, Rufus Fudge has brought back the Dementors for what he believes is a case of the “utmost importance in order to weed out those who are undesirable to our great community.” We have to act now. We have no other choice in the matter. Are you three ready?’
‘Doesn’t seem like we have much of a choice, does it?’ answered Ron.
All of Harry’s frustration was put to the back of his mind. As he looked in to Aberforth’s grey eyes, he realized what exactly was at hand. The thought of the Dementors, of Azkaban and of Flamel filled his thoughts as he slowly massaged his right hand, his knuckles paining him at the slightest touch. The time had come. It was time to act.
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