In King's Cross
Ginny’s eyes opened slowly, and she winced, allowing them to slide shut once again. The torchlight was far too bright overhead. She lay in a warm and comfortable shell of blankets and pillows, tucked in so securely that she could not move, even if she had wanted to. And she didn’t want to. She had the nastiest suspicion that the aches she could feel lingering in the edges of her consciousness would come charging back to life if she even tried. As it was, her spine felt as though it had been twisted into a knot and pulled tight. She had almost certainly injured her back again; it throbbed painfully even as she lay still. Safe behind the cool darkness of her eyelids again, Ginny was aware of the sounds of a hushed conversation near her.
“What’s the matter with her? Why won’t she open her eyes?” asked Professor McGonagall in a low whisper.
“She’s sensitive to the light,” said Madam Pomfrey’s voice. “Give her a moment.”
Reluctantly, Ginny began to open her eyes again. She was, of course, in the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey’s white-aproned figure swam into focus near the side of her bed. She was partially hidden in shadow; the torches nearest Ginny’s bed had been extinguished.
“Miss Weasley?” Madam Pomfrey asked, bending over her. “Miss Weasley, can you hear me? Do you understand what I’m saying?”
They think I might have gone mad, Ginny thought dully, though something in the back of her mind told her she should be horrified. Like Neville’s parents. She nodded. “Yes.”
“Do you know where you are?” Madam Pomfrey asked.
“Hogwarts,” Ginny croaked. Her voice was dry, and she could feel her lips crack painfully. “Hospital wing.”
“Good, dear, very good,” said Madam Pomfrey.
“You’re Madam Pomfrey,” Ginny informed her, determined to prove that her mind was perfectly intact. She turned her head stiffly to look at the other figure standing at the end of her bed. “And that’s Professor McGonagall.”
Madam Pomfrey gave her a faint smile and looked up at McGonagall. “She’s going to be just fine.”
Professor McGonagall gripped the rail at the foot of Ginny’s bed for a moment, closing her eyes and turning very white. Her lips were nothing but a thin line. Then her eyes snapped open.
“Miss Weasley, I shall be back to see you later,” she said to Ginny. “I must have a word with the headmaster.” And she turned on her heel, storming from the hospital wing.
Madam Pomfrey helped Ginny sit up a bit, arranging pillows behind her shoulders. “It’s very late, dear,” she said. “You’ll stay here tonight. Professor McGonagall has excused you from classes tomorrow, and I’ll release you in time to get on the train home for your holiday.”
“How did I get here?” Ginny asked. Her senses were returning, becoming a bit clearer, and she was suddenly filled with fear. She had just remembered Neville and Luna had done something with Dumbledore’s Army tonight, and were probably being punished at this very moment. “Professor Carrow—”
“I was—informed—that you were in need of medical attention. I fetched you from the dungeon.” Madam Pomfrey turned away from Ginny as she mixed a potion at her medicine cabinet. “Now, you’ll take this to get some sleep, and when you wake up, it’ll be nearly time to go home.”
“But—Carrow—” Ginny was choked by a spoonful of a steaming potion that seemed to immediately detach her from all of her pain. “Neville…and Luna,” she insisted sleepily, catching Madam Pomfrey’s wrist.
The last thing she remembered was Madam Pomfrey’s quizzical expression as she fell into a deep sleep.
The next time she woke, Ginny felt much, much better. It did not take so long for her to adjust to her surroundings, and her senses returned much faster. Even her headache was gone. She looked around. The ward appeared to be empty, and the gray, wintery light coming in through the windows indicated that it was late afternoon. She sat up, rubbing her face in her hands, and her fingers brushed the spot where the cut on her cheek had been healed. Not a mark remained.
“Ah, Miss Weasley.” Madam Pomfrey had emerged from her office and was approaching Ginny’s bed. “How do you feel?”
“Fine,” Ginny said, nodding. She pushed her hair back out of her eyes and stretched. “I feel a lot better.”
Madam Pomfrey was scrutinizing her face. “Any pain? Can you stand?”
“I think so.” Clumsy with sleep and feeling a little shaky, Ginny got to her feet and stretched out her arms luxuriously. Her lower back gave a tiny twinge of pain, but she was able to ignore it.
“Good,” Madam Pomfrey said approvingly, though she kept her hands near Ginny’s elbows, as though she was worried she might collapse. “Very good.”
“What time is it?” Ginny asked as she sat down on the bed again.
“Half-past four,” said Madam Pomfrey.
“Classes are over?”
“Yes. Now, I’m going to get you a tray from the kitchen, and you’ll stay here until—”
“Oh, Madam Pomfrey, can’t I go down to dinner? It’s important,” Ginny insisted.
“No, Professor McGonagall asked that you remain up here,” Madam Pomfrey answered incredulously. “I would have thought you would want to avoid…”
Ginny tried to keep her tone even. “I’m not worried about Professor Carrow, but I need to find…somebody.”
Madam Pomfrey shook her head. “You’ll stay up here and eat something.” Then her expression softened. “But I shall discharge you after that. I will tell Professor McGonagall to expect you in her office instead of having her come here,” she said.
“McGonagall’s off—but why?” Ginny asked.
“She wishes to speak with you,” Madam Pomfrey said simply, already walking away to her own office.
Ginny let out a sigh of irritation. Her fear for Luna and Neville was almost overwhelming, but there was no way she could even ask about them without giving herself away and getting all of them in trouble. She ate at top speed, allowed Madam Pomfrey to examine her once again, promised to return if she felt anything out of the ordinary, and changed into her robes.
When she dressed, she flew out of the hospital wing, trying to keep a level head and not imagine what could be happening to Neville and Luna—and Seamus, Parvati, Lavender, or anybody else—at this very moment.
Her mind racing, she knocked on Professor McGonagall’s office door.
“Come in, Miss Weasley.” Ginny opened the door. Professor McGonagall sat behind her desk, looking grave. “Sit down.”
“How are you?” Professor McGonagall asked.
“Fine, thank you,” said Ginny warily.
McGonagall folded her hands atop her desk and leaned forward. “I see no reason to continue pretending that we don’t each know precisely what the other is up to, Miss Weasley. You know that I’ve guessed your involvement in Dumbledore’s Army, and that I know what…my colleagues…are carrying out in their detentions, correct?” Ginny hesitated for a moment, then nodded. Professor McGonagall sighed. “How many of you are there? Who else?”
“I can’t tell you that, Professor,” Ginny answered.
“Professor, you saw what they did when they tried to make me tell them the same thing,” she interrupted. “Or did I hallucinate last night?” Professor McGonagall’s lips tightened into a thin line. “That’s what I thought. And what do you think they’ll do if they find out there really are more of us, and that you knew it the whole time? They’ll hurt you, too.”
Professor McGonagall sighed and opened her desk drawer. “Is this yours, Miss Weasley?” She produced a crumpled sheaf of parchment and smoothed it out on the desktop before Ginny, who leaned forward.
It was a newsletter from Dumbledore’s Army, an old one. For a moment, Ginny could not fathom how, after nearly a month had passed since they had released it, the ink was clearly visible. Then, it dawned on her…it was written in orange ink, not the special Vanishing kind she had used originally. Luna had taken an old newsletter, copied it, and distributed this one as part of whatever Dumbledore’s Army had hoped to accomplish last night.
“Where’s—?” But Ginny caught herself and did not say Luna’s name. Still, Professor McGonagall had caught her.
“There are very few people who could have this information about missing persons. It may interest you to know that I saw this exact list in a copy of the Quibbler, not three weeks ago,” she said.
Ginny swallowed. She knew, of course she knew. No one had ever managed to lie convincingly to Professor McGonagall, not even Fred and George. “Where are Luna and Neville?” she burst out. “Are they all right? What did they do?”
McGonagall frowned, looking, for the first time, genuinely confused. “Both of them are perfectly well. As far as I know, this,” she waved the parchment, “was distributed among the students sometime this morning. I found this one on the floor of my classroom.” Ginny felt her heart soar; Dumbledore’s Army had not gotten caught doing anything. McGonagall had found the newsletter, yes, but what did that matter? She actually let out a sigh of relief.
“Miss Weasley,” Professor McGonagall said sharply. “Has something I have said amused you? You were in very real danger last night for something quite like this. I should think that the idea of your friends being exposed would impress upon you the seriousness of the situation. Now, you and Mr. Longbottom and Miss Lovegood have got to accept the gravity of the circumstances here,” she said. She laid both of her long hands out flat on the table, her eyes boring into Ginny’s. “This is not Hogwarts as you have known it. I tried to get you to tell me the truth at the beginning of the year, and you told me that you were not re-opening Dumbledore’s Army.”
“Which was the truth,” said Ginny, but McGonagall overrode her.
“This tells me otherwise.” She slapped her hand on the parchment before her. “You say you don’t want my protection, I say you need it, and the best way I can offer it to you is to demand that you put an end to these activities, immediately, before one of you is even more seriously hurt than you were last night. You cannot fight this battle yourself.”
“We did it before!” Ginny shouted, jumping to her feet. Professor McGonagall actually looked too stunned to speak. “Professor, when Umbridge had all of you tied up in those stupid decrees, just like the Carrows do now, we managed it! It was thanks to—to Harry and Hermione that Umbridge finally left! It was thanks to me, and Ron, and Neville, and Luna, and a hundred other people that she had such a miserable time here! We all fought it, because you couldn’t, and you believed in us. You even helped! We weren’t afraid of her, Professor, and we’re not afraid now. Maybe there are less of us now, maybe it’s not just a Ministry worker this time, but that just makes us want it more. Please.” She dropped her voice. “You’re in the Order, Professor. You have to understand.”
Professor McGonagall looked as though she had lost her powers of speech. Perhaps it was the mention of Professor Umbridge, but there was something much colder in her expression now, and her remonstration had much less conviction in it this time. “You are my students,” she said in a low voice. “I cannot allow—”
“And you’re our teacher,” Ginny agreed, cutting her off. “We learned from you.”
Professor McGonagall stood up suddenly and went to the small window, facing away from Ginny. “Very well, Miss Weasley,” she said, sounding as though she had something caught in her throat. “Please go back to your dormitory. We shall speak again after the holidays.”
“Yes, Professor,” said Ginny softly. She stood to leave, and out of the corner of her eye just before she shut the door, she distinctly saw Professor McGonagall pull a tartan handkerchief from her pocket.
“No need to sound so surprised, Parvati,” Ginny said in a muffled voice from beneath a many-armed hug comprised of Seamus, Lavender, Parvati, and Neville. “Ouch—okay, get off,” she laughed as her back ached under their weight.
“Where have you been?” Lavender asked, stepping back with her hands over her mouth. “We’ve been panicked all day.”
“Hospital wing,” Ginny said dismissively, ignoring their exclamations of surprise. “And then McGonagall just had me in her office—listen, what happened to you all last night? Filch was outside—”
“The Room of Requirement, yeah, we know,” Neville said, lowering his voice. He looked around the common room, which was packed with giggling, chattering students excited at the end of term. “Let’s go up to our dormitory, we’ll explain everything.”
He and Seamus led the way up the boys’ staircase to the seventh-year dormitory and shut the door.
“Wait,” Ginny said, drawing her wand. “Muffliato.” There was a soft whoosh, and she sat down on the nearest bed. The others were staring at her. “Harry taught me. Stops anyone from listening in,” she shrugged.
“Cool,” said Seamus appreciatively as Parvati and Lavender sat down on his bed.
“Okay, tell me what happened,” Ginny insisted. “Luna and I—we talked during Herbology, and she said you all were still planning on doing something last night—”
“Argued, more like,” Neville said, his expression darkening.
“She was right put out about it, too,” Seamus said. “You’d better have a word with her,” he told Ginny. Guilt flooded her stomach.
“You’d better tell us where you’ve been first,” Lavender corrected him. “How did you know about Filch?”
Ginny sighed impatiently. “I saw him outside the Room of Requirement, but I didn’t have time to warn you. When I got to detention, the Carrows—it was like they knew I’d been lying the whole time.” She screwed up her eyes, straining to remember. Her memory of the previous evening was a little fuzzy. “They kept talking about Malfoy…wait, I ran into him! Yeah, that’s it—I ran into him, he told the Carrows all about us, and he was the one who turned in that picture that got me in trouble. He knew you’d be with Dumbledore’s Army,” she told Neville.
To her surprise, Neville nodded grimly. “I was stupid,” he said, shaking his head. “I was talking to these three after Muggle Studies.”
“We have it with the Slytherins, so Malfoy heard him,” said Parvati. “He was the one who caught Harry and turned him over to Umbridge, remember? Well, he heard enough of what Neville was saying to figure out what we were talking about, and it sounds like he told the Carrows.”
“He knows it was me he heard going into the Room of Requirement, you mean?” Ginny asked Neville, who nodded again.
“And then I pretty much told him everything else he needed to get the rest of us,” he said angrily. “I saw Filch standing outside the Room of Requirement yesterday after classes, and called off our plans to go and write on the walls in the Defense Against the Dark Arts corridor. Luna still went ahead and dropped a bunch of old flyers at breakfast—”
“McGonagall found one,” Ginny said, remembering suddenly.
“McGonagall knows?” Seamus asked.
“She’s guessed who’s behind all of this,” Ginny told them. “I mean, it’s hardly surprising, but…”
Parvati leaned over, holding her head in her hands. “They’re going to murder her.”
“Don’t say that!” Lavender cried.
“Okay, everyone stop,” Neville barked, standing up. “We need to sort this out. McGonagall’s guessed we’re back, you say?”
“And she knows Luna’s dad is sending us news because she’s somehow gotten hold of a Quibbler, so she knows that Luna’s involved as well,” Ginny supplied quickly. “She probably guessed at the rest of us, but she’s definitely keeping it to herself. You should’ve seen her face…”
Neville scratched his neck, thinking hard. “Malfoy has figured out that the two of us—Ginny and I—were in the Room of Requirement, and he must have guessed that the rest of you are in, too.”
“Which means the Carrows know that, and so does Snape,” Seamus finished.
“Snape’s not stupid like them, though,” Ginny said, staring off into space as she thought. “He knew from the first day he dragged me in his office that Dumbledore’s Army was back. He’s scared of us.”
There was a moment’s silence.
“And why were you in the hospital wing?” Parvati asked softly. “Luna said at dinner you missed all of your classes today.”
“Carrows,” Ginny said tersely, unconsciously putting a hand on her stiff back. She did not look at Neville; how could she say to him that she had been tortured so viciously that Madam Pomfrey had feared for her sanity? The very thought nauseated her, but to say it out loud…she repressed a shudder, ignoring Neville’s curious gaze on her.
“I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go home so badly before,” Lavender said faintly.
“Look,” said Neville suddenly. “We’re going to be in more danger next term now that Snape has proof from Malfoy that we’re here, that’s true—so if anyone thinks that—that now’s the time to end it…we’re listening.” He stared around at Ginny and the others for almost a full minute.
“Don’t be a prat, Neville,” said Seamus, flinging a Gryffindor Quidditch rosette at his head.
Ginny couldn’t help but burst into laughter with everyone else. She collapsed backward, breathless with giggling, onto the bed, and once they had started, it was very difficult to stop. But at last, when their laughing had subsided to tiny, breathless giggles and hiccups, Neville recovered himself enough to sit up and look at Ginny.
“You—you’ve only got a half hour until curfew,” he said. “You should talk to Luna.”
Ginny blinked, sighing sadly. It was true, of course. She had to apologize properly for her mistreatment of Luna. “Can I use your coin?” Neville tossed it to her, and she pulled out her wand again, tapping the edge. The letters shifted around and morphed until they read: LL MEET GW.
Seamus pulled out his own coin, examining it. “There she goes,” he said, as the one in Ginny’s hand heated up. It now read: LIBRARY.
Ginny made it to the library with nearly twenty minutes left before curfew began. Eager as she was to avoid getting in further trouble with the Carrows, she cared more deeply about getting Luna to forgive her.
She found Luna sitting in a windowed study corner, gazing out at the dark, starry sky that hovered over the snow-covered grounds.
Luna looked around. Her eyes were still ringed by dark circles. “Hi,” she said. “Oh, you’re all right.” Ginny smiled, accepting Luna’s hug and sitting down beside her. “Did the Carrows put you in the hospital wing?”
“I’m fine,” Ginny told her. “Neville and the others told me about last night. You didn’t have to drop those newsletters again, you know.”
Luna raised and lowered one shoulder, turning her protuberant eyes out the window again. “I know.”
For a long while, neither of them said anything, but gazed out at the stars. Finally, Ginny turned to her. “I owe you an apology. I was nasty to you, and you didn’t deserve it.” Luna simply stared at her, and Ginny looked away, unable to meet her eyes. “It’s just that Neville’s our new leader, because he’s really got…I don’t know…power, I guess, even if he doesn’t know it. And you—you’re so smart, Luna, I think of you as second in command, and I just thought you weren’t doing a good job of thinking everything through. You’ve got all these strategies and ideas going in your mind, and you always believe they’re going to work, and they do—and—and…sometimes…I forget that,” she finished lamely. “I think I just talked myself in a circle.”
Luna smiled slightly, though her eyes remained a bit sad. “Apology accepted, Ginny,” she said. “I think very highly of you, too.”
Ginny grinned. “Will you and your dad come over for Christmas?” she asked. “I’ll ask Mum, I’m sure it’s fine.”
“I…I suppose I could ask,” Luna said, though something in her expression clouded over again.
“Luna,” Ginny said slowly, “Are you all right?” Something horrible occurred to her. “Is your dad okay?” Luna seemed startled, and she knew she had hit the point exactly. “Luna, what’s wrong? Tell me now.”
“I don’t know,” she said honestly. “It’s not as though I haven’t heard from him…he sent me a letter just yesterday…but ever since he stopped sending me news, I’ve had a bad feeling.” To Ginny’s shock, her chin was trembling, and her eyes were filling slowly with tears. “I’m afraid that…that maybe…he’s in trouble. What if someone tries to hurt him? The Quibbler must be in trouble by now because of what Dad’s been writing about Harry, and I’ve gotten in trouble here, with the Carrows…what if he’s being watched, or tortured, or—or they try to kill him?” she whispered. “I couldn’t let him be in danger for my sake. He doesn’t deserve it.”
“Oh, Luna,” Ginny said softly, pulling Luna into a tight hug. “No, Luna, no…I’m sure he’s fine. He—he must just be busy. There may be nothing to report. You never know,” she said, holding Luna’s arms bracingly. “Watch, I bet—I bet he’ll pick you up tomorrow at King’s Cross. He’ll be right there waiting for you.” Luna closed her eyes and nodded.
“And if he’s held up with—with whatever’s got him so busy,” Ginny said, touching her chin, “You can come and spend the night with me, and then we’ll go to your house, together, with my parents. All right?”
Luna smiled a bit. “Thank you, Ginny.”
“The library is closed,” said a cold voice behind them. Madam Pince, glowering, stood near the bookshelf, a stack of books in her arms.
“I’ll see you on the train,” Ginny said, and Luna nodded. They quickly left the library under Madam Pince’s suspicious glare.
“Well, we can’t use the Room of Requirement anymore, that’s for sure,” said Parvati as she unwrapped a Chocolate Frog. “If Malfoy’s told the Carrows where to find us, and Filch is patrolling…”
“He can’t be there every night,” said Neville. “There’s no reason not to keep using the Room, we just have to delay a meeting until I can get it completely sealed off from anyone we don’t want there. And we’re going to change the schedules—all the meetings are going to be totally random.”
“Works for me,” said Seamus. “What do you want to do in them, though? I don’t know about you lot, but I’m ready for some new stuff.”
“We should start off by practicing Disillusionment again,” Luna said, popping a moss-flavored Bertie Bott’s Bean into her mouth.
Ginny nodded, stroking Arnold, who lay on her stomach, purring. “I want to get better at that,” she said. “It doesn’t feel right, yet. You’re probably lucky your hair’s not still invisible or something, Luna.”
Luna smiled, and Neville made a note. “Patronuses after that, and then I think we can stop the review, don’t you think?” he asked.
“We could teach that wide-range Shield Charm,” Luna said. Neville nodded and scribbled it down.
“Does anyone else feel about a thousand times better than they did on the grounds?” Parvati asked, staring out of the window.
“It’s the dementors,” Ginny said. “They’re not feeding on you anymore.”
“Cheerful, Ginny, thanks for that,” said Seamus, and she shrugged.
“I believe it.” Parvati shuddered. “Those things are awful.”
“The dementors have been put in place for your protection,” said Ginny in her best imitation of Snape’s drawling voice. Everyone laughed. The compartment door slid open again, and Lavender came in.
“Only half an hour,” she said. “Driver says we’ve been going slowly because of the fog.”
Ginny looked out the window. Thick clouds of mist pressed up against the dark windows of the train, but she could just barely see the lights of London in the distance.
“Gran’s going to be annoyed,” said Neville. “She hates going out through London in nice weather.”
“Heads up,” Seamus muttered. Everyone turned simultaneously to see Draco Malfoy walking past their compartment, glaring suspiciously at them.
“Since when does he go anywhere without those two idiots?” Parvati asked contemptuously.
Ginny shook her head. “He’s just mad the Carrows obviously didn’t catch you doing anything,” she said. “Come on, Arnold,” she cooed, standing and deliberately turning her back on Malfoy to put the Pygmy Puff in his cage.
Half an hour later, she was standing on Platform 9¾ with Arnold’s cage under one arm and her trunk standing on its end before her. The platform was rapidly emptying as people collected luggage and found their parents, and she was among the last few to still be waiting.
“Tell Ron I hope he’s feeling better,” Parvati told her with a quick hug. Ginny nodded, and Parvati ran off to join her sister and parents.
“Bye, all!” Seamus called, waving from where he stood with his mother. Ginny waved back, and then turned to Neville and Luna, who seemed a bit nervous as she looked around the platform, which was now largely empty but for the queue of people crossing through the barrier to King’s Cross. The three of them stood alone, near the train.
Ginny stiffened and turned around slowly. An enormous man in black robes with a great deal of curly, dark hair and a scowl stood just behind them. He could not have looked more out of place on a station platform full of happily reunited families if he were carrying a bloodied axe. Another wizard in black robes, not as bulky but equally as menacing, stood just behind him.
“Can I help you?” Luna asked politely.
“You’ve gotta come with us,” said the huge wizard.
“And who are you?” Ginny demanded, stepping in front of Luna slightly.
“Ah, we’re old friends of her dad’s,” said the other wizard, with an unpleasant sneer.
Ginny felt Luna’s hand close tightly on her arm. “Well, I’m afraid she can’t come with you,” she said, adjusting herself to stand directly in front of Luna. Neville stepped next to her.
“Is my father all right?” Luna asked.
Ginny groaned inwardly, as the two wizards laughed unpleasantly. She looked around. The platform was almost entirely empty, but for the few families who were much too far away to notice what was going on. Where were her parents? Where was Neville’s grandmother?
“You’d better clear off,” Neville said loudly, drawing his wand.
“I don’t think you want to do that,” said the first wizard. He pulled out his own wand. “She’s coming with us, by any means necessary. That’s what we were told…if that means we have to take care of you, too, then…” He stepped forward, snatching out a massive hand for Ginny, who ducked away and drew her own wand. She and Neville were backing up, forcing Luna behind them.
“PROTEGO!” Neville bellowed. He was thrown off-balance by the force of the wizard’s curse, but he managed to stay on his feet. “RUN, LUNA, RUN!”
Ginny seized Luna and took off running, yanking her behind a pillar just as a jet of orange light sailed past her. They crouched facing each other. “Double Impediment Jinxes?” Ginny asked. Luna drew her wand and nodded. “GO!”
“Impedimenta!” they screamed together, and they heard two satisfying yells of pain on the other side of the pillar.
“Ginny, take Luna and go!” Neville yelled. “I’ll Apparate, but you need to get lost!”
Ginny didn’t need telling twice—the Impediment Jinxes were wearing off, she could hear the two wizards swearing. “Come on, Luna—the next pillar, ready? Three—two—Arnold!”
She had left the Pygmy Puff in his cage, lying on the platform, and he was squeaking in terror. Something brushed past her—Luna had darted towards the cage, which lay at the feet of their attackers.
“Luna, no!” Ginny screamed. “Impedimenta! Stupefy!”
Luna snatched the cage just as Ginny’s spells collided with one of Neville’s and exploded in the huge wizard’s face. He yelled in pain and leapt back—
There was a volley of bangs that shook the earth, and Ginny was knocked off her feet as she tried to get up. She smacked her head hard on the floor, and little stars danced before her eyes. Her back throbbed and her head whirled, but she forced herself to sit up—the enormous wizard was lying unconscious on the ground a few feet away from her, unconscious and steadily turning a bright shade of orange. His cohort was somehow still on his feet with his arms clasped tightly around Luna, who had dropped her wand and Arnold’s cage.
“Gran,” Neville gasped.
Ginny looked around. Sure enough, Neville’s grandmother had just appeared from nowhere in the middle of the platform. She had her wand out and trained on the wizard holding Luna, and every line in her face was etched with fury.
“Who are you?” she barked, ignoring Neville. She took another step towards the wizard. “Let that girl go!” Her eyes flickered down to the huge, bright orange wizard, who was starting to sit up. “Albert Runcorn…I might’ve guessed there were some Ministry brutes behind this,” she spat. “Neville—take Ginny and collect your things. Now.”
Neville ran over to help Ginny to her feet. The wizard called Runcorn had gotten to his feet—he seemed disorientated, but he drew his wand and aimed it at Mrs. Longbottom.
“Release the girl,” she ordered. “You have three seconds, and then it will come to wands.”
Ginny stopped trying to heave Neville’s trunk off of its side and turned to stare in horror at Luna. She was very calmly standing in her captor’s arms, not struggling in the slightest.
“It’s all right,” she said softly. Her eyes were misty and had a far-off look.
“Luna, no!” Ginny cried—she knew what Luna was doing, and she could not allow it. “You can’t!”
“They want me,” Luna said, and an expression of relief filled her face. Neville and Ginny were staring at her, transfixed with horror. “They want me, not Dad. It’s…it’s all right, Ginny.”
“Let her go!” Mrs. Longbottom shouted.
“You heard the little lady,” said the wizard holding Luna. He and Runcorn were backing away from Mrs. Longbottom. “Say goodbye, princess.”
“NO!” Ginny screamed, trying to run forward. Neville caught her arm and held her back.
Luna shut her eyes, and with a pop, she and the two wizards disappeared. Ginny burst into tears and broke away from Neville, sobbing hysterically. Her foot landed on something round and slipped from beneath her—she hit the ground hard and tasted blood.
“Luna!” she screamed. “LUNA!”
“Ginny,” Neville said in a broken voice, putting his hands on her arms and pulling her up. “Ginny, she’s gone…”
“Luna,” Ginny sobbed, throwing her arms around his neck. “No, no…”
“Neville, quickly.” Mrs. Longbottom was looking all around, as though she expected them to be ambushed at any moment. “Get your trunks—Ginny, you’ll come home with us until I can reach your parents.”
Ginny didn’t protest. She was shaking and trying to stop her tears as Neville got her to her feet and handed her Arnold’s cage. The Pygmy Puff was trembling and squeaking amid the wreckage that had been his home. “Shh, shh,” she said softly, reaching through the bars to stroke him.
“Neville, take your trunks,” said Mrs. Longbottom. “Ginny will come with me.” Neville nodded once, sniffing and wiping his cheeks quickly. He hurried over to the luggage, but stopped and bent suddenly, picking up something.
“What is it?” Ginny asked tearfully. He turned, holding out the thing that she had slipped on. It was Luna’s wand, and it had snapped beneath Ginny’s shoe. Ginny took the pieces, holding them tightly.
“Hold my arm, and keep that cage close,” Mrs. Longbottom warned, pulling Ginny against her. The hold was tight, but somehow comforting. “Ready? One, two—three.”
The tears had not quite dried on Ginny’s cheeks when she was enveloped in crushing darkness.