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Chapter 14 : Coming Home
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The summer before his fifth year at Hogwarts was by far the busiest summer of Harry’s life. He didn’t mind that much, because he finally had a home that he could really call his home. The only problem was that he hadn’t had much time to spend alone with Ginny. He knew he and Ginny weren’t that kind of couple that needed to spend every minute of every day together, but still he felt like he had been neglecting her again.
Hermione had left after Harry’s birthday to spend the rest of the holidays with her parents. The final day of the holidays, Ron had left for Diagon Alley with Fred and George. Harry had transferred a considerable amount of gold from his vault in Gringotts to the private vault the twins had received when they turned seventeen. It was more than enough to afford a vacant building in Diagon Alley, so the twins had decided to buy Ron a new broom and had taken him to choose one. Harry decided to go look for Ginny. He looked in her room, the kitchen and the backyard but didn’t find her. Trying one of the only options left he walked into the living room and found his girlfriend curled up on the couch, watching the portrait of his parents they had hung above the mantelpiece. Harry saw that his parents were peacefully sleeping in their frame.
“Ginny?”, he asked carefully. “You okay?”
Ginny smiled when she looked at him. “Yeah”, she answered. “I like it here. I often find myself watching their portrait.” She looked at Lily and James. “It makes me wonder how it could have been, you know?”
Harry nodded. He had frequently had those same thoughts. How it would have been if his parents had been alive and he could introduce Ginny to them as his girlfriend in person, instead of to a portrait. He walked over to the couch and snuggled close to Ginny. “I missed you”, he murmured.
“I haven’t gone anywhere”, Ginny laughed.
Harry smiled shyly. “Yeah, but we haven’t had much time alone since I got here”, he said. “With everything that’s been going on.”
Ginny smiled and pulled her boyfriend closer. “We’re alone now she whispered.” She pulled Harry’s face towards her and kissed him. She slowly parted her lips, allowing Harry to deepen the kiss. She sank down into the couch while they continued to kiss passionately. And that moment, she knew that she loved Harry. She knew everyone would say that she was too young to have such feelings, but as they lay together in each other’s embrace on that couch in the Black’s living room, she knew that she never wanted to be with anyone else than the one who was with her now.
The door opened and Mrs Weasley walked in. “Ginny dear, do you have – “ She stopped talking abruptly when she saw what was happening in front of her.
Harry jumped up immediately, looking extremely guilty. “Mrs Weasley!”, he said, panicking. “I, I didn’t, I mean – “
Mrs Weasley stood frozen for a few seconds and then said. “Well, maybe it’s for the best. I don’t think you would have told me any time soon anyway.”
Ginny looked at her mom flabbergasted. “Did you know?”
“Oh Ginny”, Mrs Weasley sighed. “Do you think I don’t know my own children? You may have your dad fooled, but certainly not me.”
“So”, Ginny stammered. “So dad doesn’t know?”
“Oh god no”, Mrs Weasley smiled. “He’s just as oblivious as Ron is when it comes to romance.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs Weasley”, Harry said. “You should know that I, that I won’t – “
“Oh Harry, don’t worry about it”, Mrs Weasley said. “We know you and we know you won’t do anything to hurt Ginny. But I do think you would do good to exercise some discretion.” She gave them a slight smirk and she left, muttering something under her breath about ‘snogging in the middle of the living room’.
“Snogging in the middle of the living room?”, Ginny mimicked in a huff. “We barely touched each other all summer!”
Harry groaned. “We should have told her before she caught us, even if she already knew.”
He was interrupted by a loud laugh. He turned around and saw that his father was doubling up with laughter in his frame. “You should’ve seen your face! I thought you were going to run for it.” Even Lily couldn’t suppress a grin.
Although they knew Mrs Weasley wouldn’t say anything about what she walked in on to her husband, Harry and Ginny decided that they would tell Mr Weasley that they were going out that night. They had been dating for about six months and they felt bad to keep him in the dark, though Harry was still anxious about how the Weasley patriarch would react. After all he was dating his only daughter.
At dinner, Ginny finally managed to interrupt Ron’s continuous bragging about his brand new Cleansweep 11 and told her father about her relationship with Harry. Mr Weasley seemed shocked at first, but quickly told them he was happy for them. Then he turned to the rest of his family who were all wearing smug smiles. “And of course all of you already knew of this?”, but he was smiling. Sirius couldn’t suppress a snort of laughter when he saw his godson letting out a breath of relief.
Their departure for King’s Cross Station, the next morning passed by in the usual Weasley chaos. Fred and George were working just as much on Mrs Weasley’s nerves by apparating around the house as Ron, who had again put off packing until the very last moment.
When they took off for the station, that was within walking distance of Grimmauld Place, Sirius said: “You have no idea how good this feels.”
The others looked at him puzzled. “What do you mean?”, Fred asked.
“Walking around without being forced to hide. Finally.” He turned to Harry and put an arm around his shoulder. “You’re already a fifth year and it’s the first time I’m able to see my godson off to school!”
Harry grinned. “Getting sentimental now, are we?” But he was enjoying it just as much as his godfather was.
When they had passed the barrier to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, it became clear however that Sirius was still a figure that stood out in the wizarding world. Especially the older people who came to send their children off to school were staring at him. Sirius looked agitated.
“Don’t worry”, Harry told him. “They’re staring at me. It may not have been so when you were younger, but I am extremely famous, you know.” Sirius laughed out loud.
The Weasleys, Harry and Sirius were soon joined by Hermione, who had just said goodbye to her parents and was dragging her trunk and Crookshanks’ basket with her. After saying goodbye to the elder Weasleys and Sirius they finally boarded the Hogwarts Express. Though Harry finally had a real home with his godfather, he was still very excited to go back to school. Hogwarts had been his first home and his escape from the Dursleys.
The twins left to find Lee Jordan and Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione went to find an empty compartment together. There, they were joined by Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. Despite the fact they went to the Yule Ball together the previous year, Neville and Luna apparently decided to just stay friends. Luna never really had any friends before she met Neville, due to the fact that she was a bit odd to say at least. Despite that, she was very loveable in her own way and she had been accepted into the group of friends.
After everyone had stored their luggage, Hermione and Neville left for their first Prefect meeting. No one had been surprised when Hermione had received her badge, but the fact that Neville had been named Prefect had been quite a surprise. Neville was extremely proud though, and everyone had been happy for him.
The lunch trolley had already stopped by and the others were in the middle of their fifth game of Exploding Snap, when the Gryffindor Prefects finally returned. Neville seemed really anxious and Hermione simply livid.
“I can’t believe Dumbledore made that ferret a Prefect!”
“Malfoy’s a Prefect?, Harry said in a sharp voice. “That git!”
“What’s Dumbledore playing at?”, Ron asked. “He knows who Malfoy is. His father has probably joined You-Know-Who again by now!”
Neville shrugged and Hermione said: “I know. Don’t let him provoke you too much this year. He could make life really hard for you.” She was looking at Harry and Ron sternly.
“Who are the other Prefects?”, Harry asked.
“That pug Pansy Parkinson is the other one from Slytherin”, Hermione said with a disgusted expression on her face. “Padma Patil and Terry Boot for Ravenclaw and Hannah Abbot and Zacharias Smith for Hufflepuff.”
“Zacharias Smith?”, Ginny asked sharply.
“Yes. You know him?”
Ginny shrugged. “He asked me to the ball last year, but I turned him down. He got really… persistent though. Quite annoying.”
“He asked you to the ball?”, Ron asked raising an eyebrow. “After Harry asked you, you mean?”
“Then why did you turn him down? You wouldn’t have been able to go if someone older didn’t ask you.”
“Because he’s disgusting!”, Ginny said, annoyed by the fact her brother would even consider her going on a date with Smith. “He’s a git. And besides, I was still waiting for a miracle.” She looked at Harry meaningfully when she said that. Harry merely smiled in amusement. He couldn’t believe he had been so blind to think Ginny had been over her feelings for him.
The train pulled to a stop in Hogsmeade station and they all made their way out on the platform. There, they were greeted by the usual ‘first years this way’ from Hagrid. They grinned and walked through the rain towards their tallest friend.
“Hey, you lot. Had good holidays, yeah? Hurry up before you all drown!”, as it was raining cats and dogs.
They were all grateful when they entered the Great Hall. Luna murmured a vague goodbye and strolled to the Ravenclaw table.
When everyone was seated, the doors opened again and Professor McGonagall walked in with the Sorting Hat, followed by a long row of terrified first-years. The Sorting passed quickly without anything extraordinary until Professor McGonagall reached the M’s.
A small sweet looking girl with sleek blonde hair walked to the stool. She looked nervous but held her head straight up when she put the Sorting Hat on her head.
“Malfoy?”, Ron muttered. “You don’t think –?” He looked over at Harry.
It was Hermione who answered: “Must be. I never heard of any other relatives of them. As far as I know, Lucius was the only heir of the Malfoy family.”
“You do know everything”, Ron said.
Harry looked at the little girl. He had never known Malfoy had a little sister. On the other hand, Malfoy was not the kind of person to talk about his personal life with him. But somehow Harry had always pictured Malfoy as an only child.
The Sorting Hat seemed to find Jacinta extremely difficult to sort, because the Hat took several minutes of consideration until it finally called out: “Gryffindor!”
“Well, would you look at that”, Ron mumbled.
Jacinta seemed relieved at first, but when she sat down at the Gryffindor table, Harry saw her expression had changed to anxious. He followed her glance and saw Malfoy who was looking at her with an expression of disgust on his face.
When the Sorting was over, Harry looked over the staff table for the first time. He was curious who their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher would be. The only professor he didn’t recognize was a pretty young witch with long auburn hair that was seated next to Hagrid. They seemed to know each other quite well as they were talking animatedly. Then, Dumbledore rose from his seat and spoke: “After two months apart, we have many things to say to each other, but this is not the time. Tuck in!”
“Who would’ve thought Malfoy’s sister would be a Gryffindor?”, Ron smirked. “Maybe there’s hope for that rotten family after all.”
“We don’t even know for sure she’s his sister, Ron”, Ginny said with raised eyebrows.
“Well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?”, Ron retorded. “Oi Jacinta! Are you Draco Malfoy’s sister?”
Jacinta nodded, looking frightened by the fact she was addressed by a fifth year student, while Hermione whacked Ron on the back of the head.
“Honestly Ronald, don’t you have one tactful bone in that stretched out body of yours?”
Harry, Ginny and the rest of the Gryffindor fifth years were roaring with laughter when they saw the look on Ron’s face.
When the feast had ended, Dumbledore raised from the staff table again.
“Welcome all, for another year of learning at Hogwarts. First of all, I want to introduce all of you to our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher: Professor Nymphadora Tonks.”
The witch that had been sitting next to Hagrid stood and bowed to the students. Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione were staring at each other in surprise for a moment, before they joined the applause. Tonks gave a slight wink in their direction when she sat down again.
“Why didn’t she tell us?”, Ron frowned. “She has – “ He stopped talking when Dumbledore started talking again and Hermione nudged him.
“On a different note, you have undoubtedly all heard the news that the wizard who calls himself Lord Voldemort has returned to this country and is at large again. I do not want to alarm you or frighten you, but the seriousness of the situation our world is currently in cannot be stressed enough and I want to impress caution on all of you. Voldemort is an extremely powerful dark wizard whose viciousness knows no match today. He will not show mercy and will not make any difference between age, origins or heritage.” He glanced over at the Slytherin table when he said this last word. “Let it be very clear”, he continued, “that there will be no place at Hogwarts for violence of any kind. Nor will there be a place for discrimination against anyone because of blood-status. You can be sure that punishment in case of such violations will be very severe.”
Many students were glancing at each other uncomfortably at Dumbledore’s speech. They weren’t used to so much seriousness and severity from their headmaster.
Dumbledore looked around the room again and said: “The Houses at Hogwarts are meant to gather people of the same nature together. They are not meant to divide people. Though we have inter-house championships like the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup, unity between the four houses has always been of great importance to this school. In light of recent events, we can be sure that it has never been of greater importance than today. That’s something to think about. No off to bed. Good night.”
“Now we have to make friends with the Slytherins. He’s not asking too much from us now, is he?”, Ron said sarcastically when they joined Hermione and Neville in leading the first years to the Gryffindor Common Room.
“Oh Ron”, Hermione sighed. “I think it wouldn’t hurt if the houses were a bit more united. I mean, can one of us honestly say we have friends from other houses?”
“There’s Luna”, Harry pointed out.
“Yeah, but she’s the only one we sometimes hang out with that isn’t a Gryffindor”, Ginny said. “I think Hermione’s right. We don’t even know most of them.”
“Yeah, let’s have lunch with Malfoy tomorrow”, Ron said. “With a bit of luck we won’t have ripped each other’s throats by the end of the meal.”
“Ron!”, Hermione snapped.
Ron looked up and saw a terrified Jacinta Malfoy staring at him. Ron had the decency to look slightly guilty. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t – “, he muttered.
“Don’t worry about it, he was just joking”, Neville told her and she gave him a small smile.
“This way”, Hermione told the first years as they rounded the corner of the Fat Lady’s corridor.
“Fawkes”, Neville said rather proudly and the Fat Lady swung open to allow them access to the Gryffindor common room.
“You remembered”, Harry stated. He had to admit he was quite impressed. During the previous four years he didn’t recall Neville remembering any of the passwords.
“I’m a Prefect now”, he answered. “I have to set an example." Ron frowned when Hermione looked at Neville proudly.
Hermione and Neville showed the first years to their dormitories before they joined the rest of the fifth years and Ginny, who had gathered by the fire to catch up with each other. They talked about their summer holidays, about who would be the new Gryffindor keeper as Oliver Wood had graduated the year before last and about their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Ron was still insulted Tonks hadn’t said anything to them.
After about an hour, Harry and Ginny were the only ones left. They snuggled up on the couch in front of the fire and Ginny rested her head on Harry’s chest.
“It’s great to be back”, Ginny mumbled, sleep getting the better of her.
“It is”, Harry responded. And contented, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
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