Chapter 4 : Detention in the Dungeons
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It took her a few minutes to get dressed and ready, her stomach grumbling loudly as she pulled on her knee high socks. Her roommates had already left, but as she wasn’t especially close to any of them, it didn’t come as a surprise.
She avoided the mirror at all costs until the only thing left to do was her hair and make-up.
“Ugh!” she exclaimed at the sight of her disfigured face. Her nose was straight enough, but the bruising now extended from the center of head to beneath each of her eyes, a grotesque purple mask that left her completely unattractive. She took out the small bottle of concealer she rarely used and dabbed small bits of skin colored liquid beneath her eyes in an attempt to make herself look like a human being again. She winced as she did the bridge of her nose, deciding to make a trip to the hospital wing sooner rather than later.
Brushing her hair became a problem as she reached the back of her head, the knot making it impossible to wrestle the tangles out. She quickly threw it into a ponytail, losing patience and declaring her appearance a lost cause.
She grabbed her bag, filled it with all the books she would need, and headed down to the common room.
To her astonishment, there was a party waiting for her.
Dean, Neville, Collin, Lavander, Parvati, and several other students all stood from their various seats around the common room as she walked in, eyes fixedly staring at her. None of them were smiling.
“What the bloody hell-“ she started, but Dean cut her off.
“It’s about time you got here, we’re hungry. Come on, let’s go.” He said, nodding to Neville and Seamus, who were each beside him.
“You’ve all been waiting for me?” she asked, still confused.
Lavender walked forward and grabbed her hand, pulling her towards the common room door. “We thought it’d be safer for you,” she said kindly.
“We tried to wait up for you,” Neville added, falling in behind her, “But when McGonagall got here she shooed us all off to bed.”
“Right livid state she was in, McGonagall,” Seamus added. She couldn’t see where he was. They had all gathered around her once outside of the portrait hole, forming a rough circle in which she was the center.
“There were a few younger students that wanted to help too!” Collin exclaimed, “But we told them it’d be best if they didn’t get into any trouble.”
“What about him?” Ginny asked, pointing to her left towards Dennis.
“Oh,” Collin said in a disapproving tone, “I couldn’t get him to leave.”
The walk down to the Great Hall was entertaining. They all swapped stories on how their summers had been and giving advice to Dennis on what to expect for his OWLs. No one asked anything of Ginny, something that she was glad of. She didn’t have any funny stories to share. Only doom and gloom, and they seemed to know it.
The Great Hall was full of its usual cheerful babble as they entered; the worry and fear of the previous night having ebbed away with sleep. Most of the house tables were filled with students stuffing their faces, some glancing over the new schedules they’d received. Everywhere she looked Ginny saw smiling, unconcerned faces. How they could be at such ease after hearing their headmaster was a murderer, Ginny had no idea.
The staff table was a different story. Hagrid had vacated his usual spot towards the end for one more near the middle between Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall, all three with their heads bent low in conversation. Ginny was glad to see that her blonde assailant was not among them, and hoped that he was at least a fraction as sore as she was this morning.
“Ginny!” A voice called from the Gryffindor table.
A short head of brown hair darted between her body guards, running into her. Small hands wrapped around her waist in a tight embrace. “I was so worried about you! When you left everything was quite and then I didn’t see you again!”
Lillian had her head buried in Ginny’s navel, her voice muffled by the school robes.
“Had a time of it getting her to come down and eat,” Neville whispered in her ear. “She was worried sick about you.”
Ginny smiled down and patted the small girl’s back. “Well,” she said to the young girl, “I’m here now, and I’m hungry! Let’s go get breakfast.”
Ginny thought her guard would let up once they were in the safety of the Great Hall, but to her surprise they all took seats surrounding her.
“Is this really necessary?” Ginny asked Parvati. She had been in the DA with most of them, sure, but they weren’t exactly best friends, were they? She hardly thought it necessary for them to surround her constantly. And what were they going to do when she had to go to her own classes? Only Collin was in her year, and she distinctly heard him say he hadn’t gotten a high enough OWL to continue with Transfiguration or Herbology, both of which she was planning on continuing into NEWT level.
“We’ve lost Harry, Ron, and Hermione this year already,” Parvati replied in hushed tones. “We’re not losing any other good ones.”
Ginny just shook her head and heaped a pile of sausage onto her plate, recognizing them all as lost causes.
Breakfast passed much as the trip down had. Seamus told an amusing story involving his muggle mother and a chocolate frog, followed by more laughter and entertainment. Ginny ate until she felt as though her stomach would burst, and then leaned back in her chair, hands placed gingerly behind her head.
“Your schedule, Ms. Weasley,” a disapproving McGonagall said from behind. Ginny sat up quickly and took the parchment, expecting her to move on.
When she didn’t, Ginny asked, “Is there a problem, Professor?”
The entire table became quite when the tall, austere woman didn’t answer. Professor McGonagall rarely searched for words, something they had all come to understand after spending the past few years in her presence. The recognized that anything that came after had to be of the utmost importance.
“I noticed that several subjects you have elected to take this year are being taught by new… teachers.” She uttered the last word with clear disgust, glancing up at the staff table where the two blondes were finally sitting down. “If you find that you would like to make any changes to your schedule in the following days, I will more than happy to oblige.” She looked at the other students surveying her. “The same goes for all of you,” she said gravely, and began handing out schedules once more.
Ginny took a moment to study her list of classes. She had done relatively well in her OWLs, achieving O’s in Defense Against the Dark Arts, Charms, and surprisingly Potions, with an E in Transfiguration, Care of Magical Creatures, Astrology, and Herbology. Arthimancy and Muggle Studies were her only A’s, which was more than she’d hoped for after not finishing the Arthimancy test. It hadn’t been a shock to see she’d achieved a D in History of Magic. Ginny had slept through all 5 years of the class, finding it to be as useless as it was droll, something her mother fortunately agreed with. She was glad she would finally have the opportunity to drop it.
Remembering she’d promised to write her mum, she searched through her bag for a bit of parchment and a quill.
No sooner had she dipped her quill in the ink when a heavy hand pressed against her sore shoulder.
“Oi, watch it!” Dean exclaimed from across the table, seeing her eyes screwed up in pain. “You’re hurting her!”
“Watch your tone, boy.” The large blonde man said, a hint of danger in his deep voice. “Or you’ll be receiving one of these next.”
Ginny opened her eyes and turned her head to look at her ugly, old friend. He was brandishing a piece of parchment in his hand, a sick grin on his wide, pale face.
“What’s that?” she demanded, “Got a letter from your mum already?”
He only smiled down at her, thrusting the paper beneath her nose, seemingly unperturbed at her jab. “No deary,” he taunted, “but you might need to cry to mummy after a night in detention with me.”
She felt the blood drain out of her face, despite her attempt at bravery. Ginny tore the paper out of his hand and flattened it out on the table as he stalked away, laughing.
Neville and Parvati leaned in from either side to get a closer look, and Dean stood up to lean across the table in front of her.
NOTICE OF DETENTION
Student: Ginerva Weasley
Offense: Disruptive Behavior
Duration: Monday, 7 o’clock
Location: Classroom 010 -Dungeon level
Appointed by: Headmaster Snape
His signature was scribbled at the bottom. Ginny’s hands shook as she held the parchment in her hands.
Lillian was the first to speak. “This is really yummy!” she said. Ginny looked a few seats down where the small girl sat, shoveling scrambled eggs into her mouth as fast as she could and attempted a smile.
“Watch after her,” she whispered to Neville. “I’m not feeling too well. I think I’ll go and see Madame Pomfrey.”
“I’m coming with you!” he said immediately, jumping to his feet and knocking over Collin’s pumpkin juice in the process.
“No,” she said, “I’ll be fine, Neville, really.”
“Yes,” said a dreamy voice behind her. “I’m sure we’ll be able to find the way. There are surprisingly few wrackspurts about her today.”
Luna had wandered up behind them, looking just as lost as ever. Ginny smiled warmly at her friend and stood up beside her.
“See,” she said to Neville, who still looked as though he would like to come. “I’ll be fine,” and they quickly left the table.
Luna didn’t talk much on their way to the hospital wing, and Ginny didn’t press her to. She was tired of the small talk between people pretending that everything was ok, fake smiles shared between worried friends sandwiched in between whispered comments that actually meant something. It was all a game. A sick, disgusting game to keep them all safe.
When they reached the hospital wing, Luna opened the door and led the way inside. She had only taken a few steps before turning around with a finger pressed tightly to her lips, shoving Ginny back out into the hallway. She thrust her foot forward quickly to catch the door before it closed behind them. Faint voices were speaking hurriedly inside.
“They didn’t find him anywhere?” Madam Pomfrey asked, her voice full of concern.
“Not at all,” Professor McGonagall replied in a grave voice. “Though if what Remus says is true, and he has that map of his father’s, he could very easily have avoided us all.”
“You don’t really think that he’d come back?”
“I would hope not. Potter hasn’t always been the brightest, but he knows better than to walk into the grasp of the enemy. I just hope he knows what he’s doing…”
There was silence for a moment before Madame Pomfrey’s voice could be heard once again.
“Well, that should do it Minerva, though I’ll be wanting to see you again before next week.”
“I hardly think that’s necessary-“ she began to say, but the kind woman cut her off.
“We need you here, Minerva. You took quite a hit last year, and your body isn’t what it used to be, even if your brain is. I’d prefer you continue taking that strengthening solution as well. Horace does such a great job with it. I think you may be needing it this start of term…”
The two eavesdroppers heard the rustle of bed sheets and robes as Professor McGonagall stood, her footsteps heading towards the door.
Luna quickly opened it once more, as though this had been the first time, and Ginny followed suit.
“I suppose I’ll see you another time then, Madame Pomfrey,” the older woman called back, not having sighted them yet. When she did, her lips turned down into a frown immediately.
“Weasley,” she said sharply, “what are you doing here?”
Ginny let out a great sigh, “I’m not feeling my best, Professor. I had hoped Madame Pomfrey might help with my bruising a bit before I went to class.”
“Bruising?” she asked, her tone still a little hostile, “What bruising? You look fine.”
Madame Pomfrey bustled over looking harassed. “Don’t you have somewhere to be, Professor?” she asked, pointedly looking at the door. Ginny had never seen McGonagall dismissed before. From the way her lips shrank into thin lines, Ginny guessed it didn’t happen often.
“I’ll let Professor Flitwick know the two of you may be arriving late. Please make sure they have a pass,” she added to Madame Pomfrey before leaving.
“Now, what’s this about bruising?” the nurse asked, bustling over to a large cabinet with a glass front and pulling out various bottles of tonic.
Ginny and Luna were indeed late getting into Charms. The damage to her shoulder had been a little more than she’d originally thought with some tearing in her ligaments. The medicine she’d taken had been acid green and burned going down, though it wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as feeling her body knitting itself back together. After a few minutes of increasing discomfort, her shoulder had let out a loud pop, and relief flooded through her. After that it took Madame Pomfrey only a matter of moments to get rid of the bruising. She had a wonderful cream that cooled as it rubbed in.
Her first morning of classes was wonderfully uneventful. It seemed as though her teachers both appreciated and frowned upon her bravery in the Great Hall. Flitwick had asked her to stay behind after class on the pretense of catching her up on the beginning of the lesson, but all he did was press a handful of Fizzing Whizbee’s in her unsuspecting hands while whispering that she needed to be careful. Likewise, Professor Sprout had awarded Gryffindor 50 points when Ginny was able to correctly answer the first question she asked. The Hufflepuffs around her frowned in disapproval, but as the quirky little woman was their head of house, none of them dared to protest.
Whatever McGonagall had warned her about, she had no new teachers her first day, and hadn’t managed to get into any trouble by lunch. Some students could be seen whispering behind her back, but Ginny found that she didn’t give a damn what people were saying about her this year. She had other, more important things to worry about. For one, the alarming amount of homework that the teachers were giving. Even though NEWTs weren’t for a whole year, all of her teachers felt that it was necessary to lecture them on the examination’s importance, with special emphasis on ‘why we’re all here this year’. Well, everyone except Hagrid.
When they gathered outside of Hagrid’s hut after lunch for their first day of NEWT level Care of Magical Creatures, the large man was waiting for them, a wide grin plastered on his face.
“Come along, come along!” he called to the last few Slytherin students making their way across the field to his abode. “We’ll be in the forest today!”
A few nervous students looked about at each other, but Ginny was confident in his abilities.
“Now, normally I’d’ve showed ‘em to you lot last year,” Hagrid said, leading the way into the Forbidden Forest. “But apparen’ly the Ministry,” he rolled his eyes, “thinks they’re too dangerous. But, since you all did so well on your exams, now we get to do the interestin’ stuff!” He looked over to Ginny and gave her a wink.
Ginny thought she might know where this was going. Hermione had recounted the story of Hagrid’s first inspection with Umbridge a few years before, and she was excited to see, or rather not see, the heard of thestrals that he had managed to breed once more.
Just as she expected, the lesson had been an interesting one. It was quite a curious feeling to find something solid and warm beneath her hand when there appeared to be nothing but empty air, even if it was a bit disconcerting. However cool it was,flying on them was a bit much. Her trip to the Ministry would have been much more comfortable on the back of a broom.
Too quickly she was walking back up to the castle, her nose beginning to turn red in the chilly air. She pulled her scarf more closely about her. It was one her mother had given her over the holiday, and it still smelled of home. She buried her nose in it and breathed in deeply, trying not to think too much.
Dean and Seamus met her at the great front doors and Ginny was a little irritated that they insisted on escorting her to her Potions class.
“We’ve got a free period,” Dean said at her insistence that they’d be late for their own lessons, “so there’s nothing to worry about.”
She huffed along in front of them, refusing to meet their gaze or answer their questions. When she got to the dungeon room where Slughorn held classes, she rounded on them.
“Do you think I’m a big enough girl to go inside on my own, or would you like to walk me to my seat, too?”
“Don’t know about walking you to your seat, darling,” Dean said cooly, using his old pet name for her, “but I will open the door for you.”
Now seething with anger, she gave him a burning look and entered the classroom, not bothering to keep the heavy door from slamming shut behind her. He did that on purpose, she thought, still steaming as she began to take out her books and cauldron. He knows I hate it when he does that. Constantly treats me like a child… and she was forced to remember the night they’d broken up. She hadn’t exactly been kind to him. It surprised her a little that he would be a part of the group trying to protect her now, but then again, they had been in the DA together, and she supposed he had shared a dorm with Harry and Ron for 6 years. She realized for the first time that Dean, Seamus, and Neville would now be alone at night, two four-poster beds ominously empty in their circular room; a constant reminder of today’s dangers.
“Ms. Weasley?” Professor Slughorn called to her from somewhere outside her thoughts, “Ms. Weasley, did you hear me?”
A few hours later, Ginny sat in the Great Hall picking at the remains of her food and glancing at Neville’s watch beside her. She only had 15 minutes to get down the dungeon classroom for detention, but she found she was unable to force herself to stand. It had been difficult for her to concentrate in Potions, even after her anger with Dean subsided. The positions room only reminded her of the inevitable detention, and her overactive imagination kept thinking of worse and worse horrors.
What if they brought Bellatrix Lestrange back in and they tortured her to insanity, like Neville’s parents? What if they just tortured her and didn’t make her go insane? Surely they wouldn’t do anything like that just yet, right? Weren’t they trying to convince the entire student body that they were the good guys?
Ginny glanced back over at Neville’s watch and heaved a great sigh, picking up her mostly empty bag. She had brought parchment, a quill, and a pen in the feeble hope that she would get off with lines.
The parchment was going to be utterly useless. She knew she was in for more than just the usual pumishments when she saw a giant notice on the detention room wall displaying an enlarged version of Education Decree Number Twenty-Nine . The one giving permission to whip and otherwise corporeal punish students. Her hand trembled as she knocked on the wooden door.
It opened with a creaking sound, a rumble of laughter bubbling from within. She entered slowly, her eyes taking a moment to adjust to the darkness. Inside, she saw only damp stone walls, with two figures opposite her, leaned lazily against the wall. She stopped in the middle of the room, staring at them with what she hoped was defiance.
It was the blonde woman who spoke first.
“Do you know why you’re here, bloodtraitor,” she spat. Her hair stood out on all ends as though she’d recently been electrified, her eyes just as hollow as her brothers, with the pale skin of her face seemingly stretched over her skull by force.
Ginny cocker her head slightly to the side, viewing her at an angle and replied, “For telling the truth.”
The woman grinned, a crazy gleam appearing in her eye. She pulled out her wand and gave it a sharp motion, uttering a curse under her breath. Ginny felt her tongue adhere to the top of her mouth. Try as she might, she couldn’t free it, and the more she tried, the more difficult it became to breathe. She stared at the woman, loathing burning through the dark room.
She still had her wand pointed at Ginny, now moving closer in a wide circle. “You’re here to learn some respect. Children are to be seen and not heard, aren’t they?” She let out another cackle.
Ginny was unable to respond. She felt her body go rigid as the woman shouted “Locomotor Mortis” and then darted forward, pulling at her hair, her lips horribly close to Ginny’s ear, so that she could hear every rattling breath the woman took.
“No one will hear you scream, but you can try if you like.” She let go and backed away, her haunting laugh echoing around the unforgiving dungeon. “Tie her up, Amycus. This is going to be fun.”
What felt like years later, Ginny was stumbling her way back up the stairs, trying her hardest to stem the tears streaming from her eyes. She had tried to remain silent through the onslaught of lashings, but there was only so much she could take, and after the first hour, she couldn’t help but gasp at the biting impact on her already sore, swollen back. Her breath became more and more shallow as she made her way up the front steps forwards Gryffindor tower, the castle eerily quiet. She had made it up the first flight of stairs when she stopped to take a break. Sweat was now beaded on her forhead, and she hoped that she could make it all the way to the common room. She had a feeling that Filch would give her another detention for being out past the new curfew, no matter what her reasons were. The thought of enduring another night of that so soon was enough to make her stand up and begin the long trek back up the stairs to the safety of her dorm.
She had just come upon the third set of stairs when Luna emerged from the same hidden door pretending to be a wall that Cho had taken when escorting her up to the castle. She didn’t say anything, instead reaching forward and gingerly taking Ginny’s hand, as though expecting her to be in some sort of pain. Ginny followed quickly, not having the energy to fight. Luna wound her through several passages that Ginny was unfamiliar with until they had come upon the Astronomy tower. As they started to climb the spiral staircase leading to the top, Luna grabbed Ginny under the shoulders and tried to help her up. Her breath was becoming more painful, and her muscles were beginning to spasm with exhaustion. About half way there, Luna pulled out her wand and conjured a spindly little chair that hovered slightly in midair. Ginny looked at it suspiciously, but Luna gestured towards it with a nod of her head. She carefully reached forward and pressed her hand down upon the chair, expecting it to sink with pressure. However, Luna’s charm held, and it continued to hover off the floor at the same level, returning the force that Ginny exerted on it. She glanced behind her at Luna once more, who was now smiling widely.
After that, it was a rather quick trip. On one occasion did the chair drift far enough for one leg to get caught on a stair. Ginny had a suspicious feeling that Luna’s mind had began to wander, her concentration slipping, and decided to be on guard in case she began to sink to the floor once more.
As they ascended the last few steps, Ginny saw an open doorway, firelight playing off the frame with a ghostly blue glow.
“I had been waiting for you,” Luna finally whispered as they surfaced from the breathtaking climb. “We’ll be safe here.”
The exhaustion of the past few months, the last two days especially, finally came crashing down on her. Ginny began to sob a little as her chair came to rest gently on the top of the Astronomy towers stone floor, in front of a warm blue fire cackling merrily. The chilling breeze was refreshing on the hot skin of her back, easily felt through her thin shirt, her outer robe having been left in behind in the dungeon.
“I went to see Madame Pomfrey after dinner…” Luna mused, wandering over to the far side of the tower and retrieving a package. “She gave me this for you,” she said, holding out a mound of something. As she walked toward the eerie light, Ginny was able to make out a large bar chocolate outstretched towards her.
She gave a small laugh, lifting her heavy arm to wipe at the tears burning their way down her face.
They spent the night on top of the Astronomy tower, Luna having stowed away blankets before they arrived. The last thing she saw before drifting off to sleep was the dazed, unfocused stare of her wraithlike friend, washed out and pale in the reflected light of the fire. In an odd way, she felt safe here, in Luna’s hideout…
Finally, sleep took her to into a blissfully dreamless night, the pain of her injuries ebbing away with her consciousness.
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