Detention in the Forest
At a quarter to twelve that night, Ginny and Neville found themselves standing at the castle doors with Luna. “Where’s Seamus?” Neville asked, looking around. He shifted his weight painfully.
“Maybe the Carrows decided to escort him from the hospital wing,” Ginny said sarcastically. “Come on, we’re going to be late and I’d rather not push them too far today. They can’t be happy we just got out of a week’s detention.”
They nodded grimly at one another and set off for Hagrid’s, just visible against the dark trees beneath the rising full moon. Something about the view of the lake and Dumbledore’s tomb caught in Ginny’s throat; the grounds looked so like they had the last time she and Harry had been together at Hogwarts. It was a bizarre feeling, this sudden, overwhelming reminder of Harry; it was like remembering that once, she had been happy, and now—well, she couldn’t remember the last time she had felt happy about anything.
To Ginny’s surprise, the Carrows were already awaiting them, with Hagrid, who looked deeply upset. Seamus was nowhere in sight.
“Right,” Amycus said unpleasantly, looking at Luna, Neville, and then Ginny. “We got a little job fer ye.”
“Where’s Seamus?” Neville demanded. Amycus took a menacing step forward, but Hagrid hurriedly put himself between Neville and the Carrows. “I’m not comin’ with yeh,” he said warningly, bending down before him. “Watch yerself, Neville.”
“You’re sending us into the forest by ourselves?” Luna asked the Carrows, scandalized.
Alecto gave an unpleasant smile. “Problem, girly?”
“Yeh—yeh’ll be all right,” Hagrid whispered, throwing an irritated look over his shoulder and blocking the Carrows from view once again. “I’ll leave a light in my window fer yeh, yeh can hide with me till mornin’ if yeh can jes’ get outta the forest, quick as yeh can. Send up green sparks if yeh need me, an’ I promise I’ll find yeh. I won’ be sleepin’.”
“Shut it, you oaf!” shrieked Alecto suddenly. “No talking!”
Hagrid scowled and turned, glowering at the Carrows. “They’d bes’ come back all righ’,” he growled, and Ginny looked up at him, startled. She had never heard genuine anger in Hagrid’s voice before; it was very frightening. “Yeh’ll have hell ter pay if they don’, Carrow.”
“That’s not up to us, now is it, you great idiot?” asked Amycus, stumping forward and leering at them all. “Now, ye nasty little buggers, yer going to demonstrate what happens when children don’t do as they’re told at Hogwarts.”
Neville took a step forward, pushing Ginny and Luna behind him, and Alecto cackled.
“Look at Longbottom, will yer?” she wheezed. “Right little hero, ain’t ye?” She raised her wand and made a slashing movement. Neville yelled in pain, falling to his knees and clapped a hand over his cheek, which was bleeding freshly.
“Neville!” Luna cried. She knelt beside him and took his elbow, helping him to his feet, and threw a very disdainful look at Alecto, but said nothing.
“G’warn,” Amycus grunted. “Start walking.”
“You haven’t told us what we’re doing for our detention,” Ginny told him coldly. “Or where Seamus is. He’s should be here.”
Amycus chuckled wheezily. “Yer going to be finding something. Rescuing it, ye might say,” he laughed unpleasantly.
Ginny’s stomach dropped. “Rescuing what?” she asked, her voice hollow.
“Ye’ll see,” Alecto said coldly. “Now go!”
Ginny met Neville’s eyes, panicked, and took hold of Luna’s hand. She threw one last disparaging look at the Carrows, tried to smile reassuringly at Hagrid, and started to follow Neville between the trees. The path was lit by bright starlight and the full moon, dangling high above.
“See ye in the morning!” called Alecto in a horrible singsong voice. Ginny shuddered involuntarily, but didn’t turn back, instead pushing forward with Neville and Luna.
“It’s Seamus,” Neville whispered, when they had made it a decent way down the path. He was limping worse than ever on the uneven ground. “They’ve got Seamus in here somewhere.”
Luna nodded as Ginny breathed, “But where?”
They walked, on and on for what felt like hours, into darkness so complete that they had no choice but to light their wands. Ginny plodded on, carefully checking every tree, bush, and rock for signs that Seamus had been there.
“Damn,” she muttered. “That’s the end of the path.” They were surrounded on all sides by thick undergrowth, and the path was no longer visible.
“Well, we’ve still got to find Seamus,” Neville said, preparing to step off the path.
“Wait,” Luna whispered suddenly, catching his arm. “We need to stay quiet. Something is very wrong.”
Neville and Ginny shared a worried glance.
“Let’s go,” Luna whispered, taking a step off the path. There was a loud crunch, and she jumped back.
“Shh,” Neville whispered. “We don’t want anything to hear—”
But it was too late—a wolf howled—no, a werewolf. Ginny’s stomach turned to ice, and Luna’s eyes widened as simultaneously, they both looked up at the full moon. Then there was the sound of a boy screaming; long, loud and horrible, it echoed all around the trees.
“That’s Seamus—I know it,” Neville whispered.
“They left him out here with a werewolf?” Ginny asked. She felt nauseated.
“A werewolf?” Neville asked.
“Fenrir Greyback,” Luna whispered. “It has to be.” She set her jaw and raised her wand, setting off a volley of bangs—the screaming stopped as the werewolf howled again. “Now he’s going to come looking for us, so we’ve got to find Seamus, quickly. We need to avoid Greyback. Come on.” And she darted forward, pushing a path through the foliage.
“I have a feeling that this isn’t what McGonagall thinks we’re doing,” Neville whispered, picking his footing carefully.
“Funny, Neville,” Ginny whispered back tensely. Fear and anger were vying for control of a huge boulder that had taken up residence in her stomach. The slightest flicker of a shadow was Greyback’s tail; a snap of a twig underfoot was his bark as he lunged for their throats.
“Shh,” Luna said suddenly, looking around. The werewolf howled again, and Ginny felt all the muscles in her body turn to ice; it was much, much closer.
“Hey,” Neville said suddenly, raising his wand. “Look.”
Down a short hill directly before them, there was a wide clearing in the trees, mostly hidden in shadow.
“Seamus,” Ginny breathed. Seamus sat slumped against a tree, bound tightly against the trunk. His sandy hair fell in his eyes, but seemed to be stained with something dark. Without stopping to think, Ginny leapt down the hill, Neville and Luna on her heels, and dropped to her knees before Seamus.
“Evenin’,” Seamus mumbled, struggling to focus as Ginny lifted his chin.
“Shh, shh, Seamus,” she said quietly. “Have you been bitten?” He shook his head groggily, and Ginny looked over her shoulder. Neville and Luna were watching the trees for signs of Greyback. “We’re going to get you out of here.”
“Werewolf, Ginny,” Seamus slurred. “‘S a werewolf…”
“We know, we know, shh,” Ginny urged, tapping Seamus’s bonds with her wand. They fell away. “Neville, come help me—”
Greyback howled again, even closer than before, as Neville and Luna hurried over and heaved Seamus to his feet; he looked badly beaten, bleeding and bruised all over his face, and he was favoring his left leg.
“No, Ginny, you go first,” Luna said, when Ginny tried to take Seamus under his shoulder. “You’re the fastest with spells.”
Seamus groaned suddenly, and his head drooped.
“Go on, Ginny, we’ll carry him. I can’t run, anyway,” Neville said urgently. Ginny nodded and lit her wand again, keeping her eyes and ears open for any sign of Greyback.
Going back was slow and arduous. They were much noisier now, dragging Seamus, and Ginny was having a hard time stopping her heart from pounding painfully in her chest.
“Wait, stop,” Neville panted. “Ginny, stop.”
She turned, looking all around. “Did you hear something?” she asked, panicked.
“No, no,” Neville said, bending over to rub his knee.
“Seamus is unconscious,” Luna explained, heaving him more securely on her shoulder.
Ginny bit her lip. “Here, Neville, let us take him—”
Twigs snapped, and she whirled around, her wand raised. The light flickered over the trees as another crunch sounded. Then, silence fell for a very long time.
Ginny took a quiet breath. “Let’s go. I don’t think—” Then her insides froze. A low growling was coming from somewhere to her left. She raised her wand, and the light caught two enormous eyes glaring fiercely through the shadows. Long, yellow fangs that could have snapped a man in half with one bite dripped saliva as massive paws crunched through the leaves. Greyback was hunched in the darkness, ready to spring.
“Run,” Ginny said to the others. “Run!” With a crash, Neville and Luna took off, lopsided and awkward with Seamus dragging limply between them as the werewolf lunged forward. Ginny raised her wand and screamed, “Stupefy!”
The spell hit Greyback full in the face, but he was knocked backward only momentarily; she knew that Stunning spells had limited effects on beasts as large as werewolves, but Ginny took the opportunity to seize hold of a low-hanging branch and swing herself up on it. “Impedimenta!” she gasped, just as Greyback turned and prepared for another lunge. With a whimper, the werewolf collapsed to the forest floor, temporarily immobilized.
“Come and get me,” Ginny muttered, climbing up another branch. “Come and get me, ugly!” Greyback had gotten unsteadily to his feet and was circling below the tree, watching her with baleful eyes. Then, with a thrill of horror, Ginny saw his mouth open wide, revealing bloodstains on his glistening fangs. The howl was deafening; she squeezed her eyes shut, trying to cover both ears with one arm, until she could stand it no longer.
The spell sailed directly down his throat, and Greyback’s howl was cut short with an odd, rasping bark. With one last hateful look at Ginny, he started off into the trees, sniffing out the others.
Ginny cursed herself, leapt out of the tree, and took off after Greyback, firing Stunning spells and Impediment jinxes every time she caught sight of his tail. It wasn’t until she heard a doglike yelp that she knew she had attracted his attention again. She burst into a tight nest of trees, wand raised and ready to fight.
Slowly, Greyback limped out of the bushes. His eyes were nothing short of murderous, in the most sickeningly human way. He licked his lips slowly, advancing on Ginny, who realized too late that she was cornered by the thick trees.
“No, no, no,” she said, tracking her wandlight everywhere. She could find no way out, and Greyback knew it. He seemed to be laughing at her, toying with her. He stepped closer, licking his muzzle. “Confundus!” Ginny shrieked, and Greyback leapt directly into a tree.
Leaping forward and landing a hard kick on Greyback’s head, she was off like a shot, tearing through bushes and trees. She heard Greyback closing the gap between them and fired a Conjunctivitis Curse over her shoulder; he yelped and fell with a crash, and Ginny put on a burst of speed.
She was running harder and faster than she had in a very, very long time, glancing back over her shoulder for only a second at a time. With any luck, Neville and Luna were a long ways ahead with Seamus, though she could see no sign of them. She had no idea how far ahead they had gotten, or if they were beyond the forest at all—they could be hopelessly lost.
Her breath tearing through her lungs, wandlight dancing madly over the ground as she ran, Ginny’s anger and hatred burned throughout her. She hated the Carrows, she hated them more than anything in this world. They had tried to murder her, and Seamus, and Neville, and Luna, and she would never, ever forget that.
Ginny heard a loud crack behind her, and a long, loud howl. She whipped her head around for half a second, long enough to see a hulking mass crashing through the underbrush behind her. She wanted to scream, but had no breath for it, and instead ran faster—if Greyback caught up with her now, there would be no chance to fight him—she had to keep running, she had to get to Hagrid’s, she would be safe there—the wolf howled again—
She saw it.
A flickering, orange light caught her eye straight ahead. Ginny ran faster, certain that she could hear Greyback’s pounding paws drawing closer, smashing small trees and plants out of the way. The glimmering light was glowing brighter as she heard another howl, this one no more than fifty feet behind her. She focused on the light, forcing herself to run faster, faster—
Ginny heard a loud, wooden bang, and several voices shouted, “STUPEFY!” She ducked as two jets of bright red light soared over her head and she heard a yelp of pain and a thud.
“C’MON, GINNY!” bellowed Hagrid, holding his enormous hand out the back door. “C’MON!”
Ginny leapt from the edge of the forest, snatching for his hand, and he pulled her through the door, slamming it shut behind her and throwing his weight against it. She collided with Luna, who supported her, even as she drew her wand.
“Protego Totalum!” she said loudly, and a streak of whitish light shot from the end of the wand, straight through the door. Seconds later, there was a sickening crunch and a long howl of agony as the werewolf collided with the back door. It continued to howl, clawing at the door, which rattled on its hinges, but it could not get through Luna’s enchantment. At last, Ginny felt her legs give out, and she collapsed to the floor, sprawling on her back.
“Ginny!” Neville cried. He was immobilized on the floor, massaging his injured legs.
A second later, Ginny was in Hagrid’s hands. He lifted aside his table in one motion, scooping her up in his huge hands and laying her on a blanket in front of the hearth.
She was awake, but everything around her was pulsating, vibrating with color and sound—her heart was painful, bruising her chest from the inside, and she was unable to draw breath—each inhalation sounded more and more like a scream. She stared around wildly, trying to locate her friends—Seamus, in Hagrid’s bed, apparently unconscious—Neville, his eyes closed, back against the wall—and Luna, whose face was leaning directly over her beside Hagrid’s, pressing her hands against either side of Ginny’s heaving ribcage.
“Calm down, Ginny,” she said in a remarkably soothing voice. “Relax…you need to breathe…we’re all safe…we’re fine…you need to breathe, though, or you’re going to pass out…”
Ginny was beginning to feel lightheaded, and felt her eyes roll back. But, her harsh breathing was slowing down as Luna pressed against her lungs.
“Calm down,” she murmured. “We’re fine…we’re all safe…Harry would be proud of you…”
“Harry,” Ginny whimpered, before everything went black.
“They’ll all be fine, Minerva. Finnigan and Weasley should stay through the weekend, but Lovegood and Longbottom can go later today.”
“What happened to them?”
“Keep your voice down. Longbottom says they were separated from Hagrid and got lost. That’s all he’ll tell me.”
Ginny opened her eyes slowly. Her head was pounding and her body ached, but her senses were returning; somehow, she was lying in the hospital wing. The early dawn light shone through a window over her head. She looked to her right—Luna sat on a bed beside her, looking tired, but unhurt. When she saw that Ginny was awake, she held a finger up to her mouth and tilted her head toward the curtains that surrounded their beds.
“That can’t be all,” said Professor McGonagall’s voice sharply.
“Minerva, if you wish to question the boy, then you may do so only when he’s left the ward,” Madam Pomfrey answered.
There were several beats of silence. Ginny frowned and sat up, making the bedsprings creak. Luna’s eyes widened and she lay back down again, pretending to be asleep as both Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall, dressed in their nightclothes, hurried into the curtains.
“Where’s Seamus?” Ginny asked immediately. “And Neville? Are they all right?”
“Shh, Miss Weasley, please,” Madam Pomfrey said gently, pushing her back down onto the pillow. “All of you are perfectly fine. Mr. Longbottom and Mr. Finnigan are asleep—”
“How did we get here?” Ginny demanded. “We were in the forest—”
Professor McGonagall narrowed her eyes. “Why don’t you tell me, Miss Weasley? Mr. Longbottom said that you collapsed trying to help find a way out of the forest. Hagrid summoned me when he could not revive you.”
“You’re not badly hurt,” Madam Pomfrey said, rummaging around in her potion kit. When Ginny did not respond right away, she mistook her silence for fear added, “It was just strain. You must have been frightened out of your mind. What they were thinking, sending you all into the forest—even with Hagrid—”
Ginny kept her eyes away from Professor McGonagall, who was watching her a little too closely for comfort. “Right,” she said. “So Luna’s okay, too?”
“Just overtired and half-frozen,” Madam Pomfrey grouched, stirring a glass full of something that was glowing a bright orange. “Drink this, and you’ll stay the weekend here so I can be sure you’re well.”
Ginny obeyed, wincing at the overwhelming flavor of honey as she swallowed the potion in one gulp.
“Now this,” said Madam Pomfrey, holding up a bottle. “Dreamless Sleep. None of you looks as though you’ve slept in a week.”
“Wait a moment,” said Professor McGonagall. “May I speak to Miss Weasley alone, Poppy?”
Madam Pomfrey looked affronted. “She has to rest—”
“Just a moment,” Professor McGonagall insisted. “I’ll have her take the potion straight away.”
Ginny bit her lip, still clutching the bottle. Madam Pomfrey sighed. “Very well, but keep your voices down,” she warned, before bustling out of the curtains.
Professor McGonagall heaved an enormous sigh and flicked her wand; a straight-backed wooden chair appeared beside the bed, and she sank into it, fixing Ginny with a beady stare.
“Is everything all right, Professor?” Ginny asked after several moments of silence.
Professor McGonagall closed her eyes briefly, pressing her mouth into a thin line. She seemed to be working very hard to make her tone civil. “I…I would like very much to know what happened in the forest tonight.”
Ginny blinked. “Well, it’s probably just like Neville and Hagrid said,” she sputtered nervously. “We got separated—”
“Probably?” demanded Professor McGonagall. Ginny shut her mouth quickly. “No, Miss Weasley, I want the truth. I don’t believe for a moment that Mr. Finnigan was injured in a fall, or that you collapsed without reason.” Ginny said nothing. “Perhaps you can tell me what you were all doing for Hagrid in the forest, then?” asked Professor McGonagall, sounding increasingly frustrated. Still, all Ginny could do was stare at her.
She let out a noise of irritation and threw her hands up. “I know when I am being lied to, Miss Weasley, and when it comes to you and your friends, I have felt distinctly in the dark for the course of the term. Unexplained injuries, random acts of—you broke into the headmaster’s office, for heaven’s sake! I am doing my best to help you, but if you refuse to be honest with me then I can do very little.” Her nostrils had gone very white.
Ginny drew a breath, looking away. “We don’t want to ask you to help us, Professor,” she said.
“I’m afraid that’s not up to you,” Professor McGonagall said irritably. “I am your teacher, and you are my responsibility—”
“That’s not how it is anymore, Professor,” Ginny told her, frustrated. “It’s not as though protecting us is as easy as it used to be.”
“Protecting you from what?” she asked shrewdly. Ginny said nothing, and McGonagall narrowed her eyes. “Miss Weasley, look at me, right now. You’re going to tell me the truth, do you understand me?” Ginny nodded. “Are you acting out again as part of Dumbledore’s Army?”
Ginny’s stomach plummeted. It seemed only logical that Professor McGonagall would know about the Army, but it was unsettling nonetheless. “No, Professor,” Ginny whispered. It was only half a lie; she forced herself not to show this.
“No lies, Miss Weasley,” McGonagall warned her, and Ginny shook her head. “I’m not going to find that you’ve been having more—secret meetings, or—anything else?”
“No, Professor. No meetings,” said Ginny, staring down at her knees. Then, without looking up, she said, “I’m tired, Professor. May I take my potion?”
Professor McGonagall gave an exasperated sigh. “Very well. I shall cancel your prefect duties for the weekend and you will stay here, as Madam Pomfrey says.”
Ginny fought back an impulse to argue; now was not the time. She nodded and quickly uncorked and swallowed the Dreamless Sleep Potion; there would be time to talk to Luna about what had happened later, but for now, she needed Professor McGonagall to leave. Instantly, she felt heavy. She lay down, and the last thing she remembered before falling asleep was Professor McGonagall standing at the end of her bed.
“Good night, Miss Weasley.”
When next Ginny woke, it was late afternoon. Disorientated and groggy, she sat up, rubbing her eyes. The curtains had disappeared, and the beds around her were empty, but for one. Seamus was sound asleep in the bed opposite hers. He had half-healed scrapes and bruises all over his face, and his leg was bandaged atop a pillow.
Ginny rubbed her eyes, stretching slightly. Her ribs ached and it was difficult to draw a deep breath. She repressed a shudder at the memory of the previous night.
Her pillow gave sudden, a loud crinkle. She looked down and saw a corner of parchment peeking out from underneath it. She pulled it out to see an envelope, addressed in Luna’s favorite orange ink. She frowned; there was an odd weight in one corner of it. She pulled out the scrap of parchment inside.
Confused, Ginny frowned and reached into the envelope and withdrew a gold Galleon. Her heart leapt, and she looked closely, looking for—yes, there it was—around the edge, instead of numerals, she saw her own name, in spiky letters.
She beamed. Somehow, Luna and Neville had altered Hermione’s coins from the D.A. to send messages, not just numbers. She wondered if she could send messages as well. Glancing up and down the ward and ensuring that Seamus was asleep, she picked up her wand and tapped the letters one by one. They wriggled and shifted, until they read: AWAKE.
There was a sudden noise at the end of the ward; Madam Pomfrey was coming out of her office. When she saw that Ginny was awake, she nodded smartly.
“All right, Weasley,” she said briskly, bustling over and drawing her wand. “You need an examination—”
“When may I go?” Ginny asked quickly, tucking her coin safely in the pocket of her pajamas.
Madam Pomfrey lifted her eyebrows. “I’ll release you in the morning.”
“I feel fine, Madam Pomfrey,” Ginny insisted, though she lay back obediently and allowed the matron to start examining her. “May I go to dinner tonight?”
“Certainly not,” said Madam Pomfrey, sounding affronted. “You’ll not leave until I’m sure everything is normal, not a moment sooner. Nobody just collapses for no reason,” she said shrewdly, and Ginny knew immediately that she and Professor McGonagall had been talking about her. Madam Pomfrey gave a sigh of irritation at her silence and flicked her wand.
Against her hip, Ginny felt the coin heat up, and smiled. It seemed to take forever for Madam Pomfrey to finish, pronouncing her in good health, but overtired.
“How’s Seamus?” Ginny asked.
“He’ll be all right,” Madam Pomfrey assured her, pushing her back to lie against her pillows. “You’ll all be in class again by Monday.” She seemed to dislike this prospect; her mouth twisted as though she were sucking on a lemon. Then she shook her head. “I’ll bring you something to eat.” She strode away, and Ginny was left alone. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her Galleon.
The torches had lit themselves as the sun went down, so it was easier to read the message now—she needn’t have bothered, for a moment later, Neville and Luna came hurrying into the hospital wing, looking overjoyed to see her awake.
“Hi,” Ginny said, beaming. She held up the coin. “This is brilliant!”
“It was all Luna,” said Neville with a grin. He nodded at the Galleon she held. “That one’s mine, but she can fix yours up to do the same if you get it for us.”
“Neville’s being modest,” Luna said. “It was his idea.”
“Well, we did need a better way to communicate,” Ginny agreed, examining the coin before returning it to Neville. “I’ll be out tomorrow morning. How are you two?”
Neville’s face fell slightly. “All right.”
Luna nodded. “Thank you for helping us get away, Ginny.”
“You would’ve done the same,” Ginny said uncomfortably, feeling herself go pink. “Does McGonagall know anything? I didn’t tell her what really happened, but I think she suspects.”
“She definitely doesn’t know what happened in the forest,” Neville said, shaking his head. “All she knows is what the Carrows told her—and I’d guess that’s not exactly the truth.”
“But she wouldn’t have intervened if she believed what they had told her,” Luna said thoughtfully. She looked at Ginny. “I’m sure she knows what’s happening to us in detention.”
Ginny’s stomach turned unpleasantly. She had been afraid of that. “Well,” she said heavily, “We weren’t going to keep it from her forever.”
“I’m surprised no one else has told her,” said Neville.
“You remember the way it was with Umbridge,” said Luna. “No one came forward then—they were scared they would be punished again, or they knew it wouldn’t do any good.”
Neville nodded and looked at Ginny. “Well, at any rate, she thinks we got lost from Hagrid. Er—well, at least that’s what she has to believe, for now.”
Ginny squirmed uncomfortably. She didn’t like keeping Professor McGonagall in the dark any more than she liked Professor McGonagall finding out the truth for herself, and she could tell the others felt the same way.
Luna looked over at Seamus, who was soundly asleep. “I can’t believe…” she began, but she trailed off.
Ginny reached for her hand. “I know.” She looked over at Seamus as well. “You know, I was worried he’d been bitten?” As she said it, a chill ran through her.
Neville swallowed hard. “He’s fine, and so are we.” He looked seriously at Ginny. “Luna says McGonagall asked you about Dumbledore’s Army.”
Ginny waved a hand dismissively. “She thinks we’re starting up again. I told her no.” Luna was frowning slightly. Neville bit his lip. “What?” Ginny asked. “It’s the truth, we’re hardly an army.”
“Well, that’s just it,” Luna said quietly. She looked down the ward. Madam Pomfrey’s office door stood open, but there was no sign of the matron. “We’re not an army, Ginny.” She glanced at Neville, who was looking anxious. Ginny had the sudden impression that she was being cornered.
“We want to try—just try, mind,” Neville said, looking startled at the expression on Ginny’s face. “We want to try having a meeting. I can talk to Hannah in Herbology—she’s asked me at least three times, I know she’d never give us up—and you and I know the Gryffindors better than anybody—Luna’s got the Ravenclaws—”
“No.” Ginny had set her jaw, and she was glaring fiercely between them. “No.”
“Ginny, why not?” Neville burst out. He quickly dropped his voice, keeping his eye on Madam Pomfrey’s door. “We’ve just proven we can’t do this alone. Seamus almost got murdered by a werewolf for doing exactly the same kind of thing we’re trying to do! There’s safety in numbers, Ginny, and you know it.”
“Ginny,” Luna said soothingly, taking Ginny’s hand again. She jerked away. “Ginny, listen—this isn’t about being able to stand up on our own, anymore. All we’ve done is put ourselves in more danger the way we’ve been doing things—but even that doesn’t matter. We’re not being fair to them. Everyone has a right to stand up, as much as we do.” She pointed to Seamus. “Seamus has been trying to do it all on his own, and it’s nearly killed him. It’s October, Ginny. How is he—how are we supposed to last on our own until June if this is what happens to us?”
“We have to call a meeting,” Neville said firmly.
Ginny drew a slow breath. A million furious retorts were rushing through her mind, but deep, deep down she knew that Luna and Neville were right; that made it worse.
“I’ll think about it,” she said at last.
“I said I’ll think about it, Luna,” she snapped.
A sudden noise distracted them. Seamus had hoisted himself up on his elbow, clearly wide-awake. The bruises on his face were much fainter than they had been the night before, and he was grinning. “Think quick, Ginny—Neville, I’m in,” he said eagerly.
Neville laughed and got up, going to Seamus’s bed. He smiled at Ginny, who did not smile back.
“Ginny?” Luna asked, putting a hand on her arm.
Ginny jerked away suddenly, burying herself in her blankets. She did not emerge again until she heard Neville and Luna leave.