Chapter 6 : On the Express
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Harry sat in the compartment on the Hogwarts Express next to Ginny. They were listening along with Ron and Neville as Hermione told all about her summer travels through Europe with her parents. Harry had to admit that slipping back into his life as a student was being made much smoother the longer he sat there among his friends. He had little doubt that the fact that he was holding Ginny’s hand, and feeling wonderful for it, helped immensely in that area.
“So how long has all of this been going on between you all?” Neville asked. “You go away for one summer, and when you come back you’ve started dating.”
“Actually,” Hermione said, “only a few days since it became official. Even though we didn’t plan it, Harry and Ginny started dating on the same night as Ron and I.”
“Sometimes the stars just line up that way I guess,” Neville said.
“So,” Ron said, “is there anyone you have your eye on the next time the stars line up Neville?”
Neville’s only answer was a shy smile as he looked down at the floor to avoid everyone’s eyes.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Ron said. “Come on Neville, who is it?”
“Ron,” Ginny said. “Leave him alone. No one forced you to shout out your feelings for Hermione did they.”
“Of course, Ron had it written all over his face,” Harry said with a smile. “Everyone else knew it even if he wasn’t ready to admit it.”
Neville shocked everyone when he said, “If you all promise not to tell, I guess I can trust you not to laugh.”
“Of course we won’t laugh,” Ginny said looking around and confirming with everyone that she spoke for them all.
“Alright,” Neville said hesitantly. “Its Luna.”
“Luna Lovegood?” Harry asked.
“I knew I never should have said anything,” Neville said as his cheeks reddened even more than they had already.
“No,” Harry said, “don’t take me wrong, Neville. “I think Luna is a great girl. There are a lot of people who don’t bother to look past her quirks to see what a smart and caring girl she is. I’m glad you’re one of them.”
“I guess we all have our quirks,” Neville said. “I know I have a few myself. Maybe that’s why, when I look at her, all I can see is how beautiful she is.”
“Take my advice, Neville,” Ron said. “Don’t wait too long like Harry and I did to say something to her. If you wait a month to tell her, and she says yes, you’ll always look back at that month and regret every second you wasted.”
“Well, hasn’t Ron turned into the romantic one,” Ginny said teasing.
Ron never had time to respond as they all froze for a moment when Luna Lovegood walked up and opened the compartment door.
“Sorry to bother you all,” Luna said smoothly, “but I was sitting in the compartment next door and had the sudden feeling that someone in here needed me.”
They all waited as they wondered if she really did get a feeling, or if the walls between compartments were thinner than they had thought. There was an awkward silence that none of them knew quite how to break.
“I… I…” Neville stammered surprising everyone, “I have something… I need to ask you.”
“Of course, Neville,” Luna said as she looked at him.
They all watched as he melted under her gaze, and they thought he was going to back out of it.
“Why don’t we take a walk,” Neville finally said as he stood on shaky legs and crossed to the passageway with her.
When they had walked too far for anyone in the compartment to see them, Ginny said, “I can’t believe it. He was backed into a corner, and instead of retreating he went on the attack. I didn’t think he had it in him.”
“I’m betting you’ll see a different, Neville after today,” Harry said. “I think we just watched him jump one of the biggest huddles he’s ever faced. If she says yes it will really boost his confidence.”
“That is all Neville has ever needed,” Hermione said. “He would be a great wizard if he just had a little confidence in his abilities.”
“Uh oh,” Ron said looking to the passageway. “Look who’s coming now.”
They all had a suspicion of who it might be before they ever looked. Their suspicions were confirmed as they watched Draco Malfoy and his two goons stop at their open door and sneer.
“Well,” Malfoy said, “look what we have here. Potter and his little fan club are returning to Hogwarts. I had a bet that you wouldn’t even bother coming back this year Potter, what with a battle you can’t win quickly approaching.”
“I’ll be sure to save you a front row seat, Malfoy,” Harry said as calmly as he could. “Maybe after I fight Voldemort you would like to have a go at me.”
“As if there would be anything left of you, Potter,” Malfoy said as he looked down and suddenly saw that Harry was holding Ginny’s hand. “I should have guessed you would end up with her, Potter. After you’re gone, I’ll…”
Malfoy suddenly stopped speaking as Harry flipped an invisible switch in his mind.
“You won’t do anything,” Harry said.
“I won’t do anything,” Malfoy repeated.
“Ginny is a beautiful woman that any man would be lucky to have,” Harry said.
“Ginny is a beautiful woman that any man would be lucky to have,” Malfoy repeated.
“Except for you because you’re a stupid git,” Harry said.
“Except for me because I’m a stupid git,” Malfoy repeated.
“Now go and tell everyone on the train what a git you are,” Harry said.
Malfoy turned to Crabbe and Goyle and said, “I’m a big git.”
They all watched as Malfoy turned and moved to the next compartment and repeated himself.
“Harry,” Hermione said. “What on earth did you do to him?”
“A weak mind is easy prey,” Harry said. “I think that will be the first lesson for the D.A. this year.”
“Wow,” Ron said. “You are a dangerous man, Harry Potter. Voldemort had better watch out.”
Harry was just about to respond to Ron when something else caught their eye. Neville was coming back up the passageway wearing a big smile, and a positively glowing Luna Lovegood was on his arm.
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by Crystal Frost