A Call To Arms

By MyDearProfMcGonagall

Fantasy / Action

Dumbledore's Army Lives

Ginny was released from the hospital wing on Sunday afternoon. She did not wait for Seamus, who was being examined thoroughly by Madam Pomfrey. She had no desire to discuss Dumbledore’s Army or anything else; she just wanted to be by herself. Assuming that Neville would be lying in wait for her in Gryffindor Tower, Ginny took the long way back, hoping that Seamus’s return would provide enough of a diversion to allow her to slip up to her dormitory unnoticed. She quickly found herself wandering along a deserted corridor on the seventh floor. In any other year, even when Professor Umbridge had seized control, students would be wandering about at this hour of the day, coming from the library, going to Quidditch practice, or just exploring the castle.

Now, though, there was no one. They were trapped in the common rooms, though whether this was due to the Carrows’ rules or the students’ fear of the new regime was unclear. At any rate, one thing was plain. Hogwarts was deserted. Ginny wrapped her arms around herself. Daylight was filtering weakly through a high, narrow window in the wall overhead, casting a narrow chink of golden light on a tapestry that hung on the stone wall…the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy. Ginny’s heart leapt; she looked quickly at the blank stretch of wall beside her. Slowly, without ever really making the decision to do it, she began to pace back and forth before the wall.

I need to know what to do…What do I do?…I need help…

She faced the wall again. To her surprise, a shiny wooden door had appeared. She reached for the handle. The Room of Requirement would not have materialized without reason, she told herself, though she didn’t see how it could possibly know the answer to her question. Pushing away her fear, Ginny turned the handle, allowing the door to fall open, and her heart stopped. The room had taken on its appearance as it had been in the days of Dumbledore’s Army. Shelves crammed with books about the Dark Arts, cushions for Stunning, Dark Detectors, everything down to the last Sneakoscope was exactly where it had been the night that Dumbledore’s Army had abandoned it—except for one thing.

Directly in the center of the room stood an ornately carved mahogany table. Upon it sat an enormous eagle-feather quill, a fresh roll of parchment, and a bottle of violet ink. Ginny walked slowly to the table and picked up the quill, her eyes stinging as she swallowed a painful lump in her throat. Whatever she had been hoping for from the Room of Requirement, it was not this.

And with a sudden, terrible, keening pang, Ginny realized just how much she missed the people she loved—her mother and father, worlds away from her for all the good they could do to help her—her brothers, her friends, the Order of the Phoenix—Tonks, and Lupin, and Hermione, and Colin—and Harry—she wanted to scream out in fury at herself for being so foolish and selfish as to think he ought to be with her instead of wherever he was now, but she couldn’t help it any longer. She crumpled the quill in her fist and threw it away, kicking the table leg in frustration—this helped very little, and she stood gingerly on one foot for several moments as the pain subsided.

So what was she to do? Ginny thought angrily. Cave in, agree with Neville and Luna and be responsible for jeopardizing the safety of her friends, her teachers? Stand her ground and fight alone? She knew the answer, and she was furious with herself for not simply acknowledging it sooner—and that made it impossible to accept. There had to be a better answer, and she was determined to find it—if Neville and Luna would not stick with her, then she would put herself up before they had the chance. She would put herself in danger first, because maybe then she wouldn’t ever have to see her friends lying in the hospital wing beside her again.

Neville and Luna’s faces floated to the front of her mind. She was simultaneously angry with and protective of them, and she felt as though she were going mad just trying to stop them from doing something that was, as far as Ginny could see, incredibly stupid. She folded her arms over her stomach. It had been a long time since she had had absolutely no idea what to do in the face of a crisis. Sighing heavily, she started for the door, when something caught her eye. A fresh quill had appeared on the mahogany table, pristine as ever.

Ginny scowled and stormed from the room, slamming the door behind her.

Ginny avoided the Great Hall, remembering Harry’s knack for knowing exactly when it was emptiest and eating at those times instead. She spent as little time as possible in the common room and the library, electing instead to haunt her dormitory in order to get her homework done; her mood was so foul that after a few days, Parvati and Lavender took the hint and avoided the room at all costs except for when they went to bed. One morning only a few days after she left the hospital wing, Ginny was running late to class, and by the time she arrived in Charms, the last seat available was the one beside Luna. She teetered on the spot for a moment; she’d been carefully avoiding Luna all week.

“Take your seats, please!” squeaked Professor Flitwick, taking his place atop his stack of cushions.

Ginny gritted her teeth and swung herself in beside Luna, who gave her a dreamy smile.

“Good morning,” she said pleasantly.

“Morning,” Ginny replied through clenched teeth.

“This morning, you’ll be practicing non-verbal Summoning spells. You’ve all mastered the spell well enough—let’s see how you do,” squeaked Professor Flitwick. “Divide into pairs and begin. I’ll be checking your progress.”

“Would you like to work with me?” Luna asked.

Ginny gave a slight smile. “Sure.”

Professor Flitwick Banished all of the tables to the sides of the room, and the class spread themselves around. It was only after nearly ten minutes that Ginny gave up trying to silently Summon the cushions in the box at Luna’s feet. She just couldn’t focus with so many different things on her mind. She went to fetch the box so that Luna might have a chance to try.

“Have you found your Galleon, yet?” Luna asked quietly.

Ginny stiffened. “Why?”

“Neville and I are fixing everyone’s coins—we’ll have the meeting soon—”

“Shh,” Ginny warned sharply; Professor Flitwick was coming close.

“Your turn, Miss Lovegood, let’s see,” he said.

Ginny carried the box of cushions to her original spot and dropped it on the floor. She crossed her arms, scowling at Luna, who had adopted the familiar look of mild interest that Ginny knew was actually intense concentration and raised her wand. After only a minute or so, one of the cushions in Ginny’s box soared up and into Luna’s outstretched arms.

“Excellent, Miss Lovegood!” said Professor Flitwick. “Five points for Ravenclaw. Concentration, Miss Weasley, it’s key!” he added seriously to Ginny, who nodded slightly.

“We’re thinking of meeting sometime in the next few weeka, depending on how many people we can find. We need to take it slowly,” Luna said, bending down to pick up the box of cushions. “Just to see who’s willing…”

“I can’t believe you really want to do this,” Ginny said in her ear.

Luna stared at her. “We don’t want to. We have to.”

After that, Ginny didn’t talk to Luna at all for nearly three weeks. She sat as far away from her as possible in their classes, choosing a spot in the farthest row from the teacher. Luna, however, didn’t seem perturbed. Or, if she was, she would not say so. Every now and then, Ginny would pass her in the corridor and receive a dreamy smile that she, Ginny, would inevitably scowl at. The result of this silent treatment, however, did not serve to make Ginny feel better. Quite the contrary, after a full week of classes, she began to wonder whether Neville and Luna even noticed her absence at all; neither seemed to care very much.

The rational part of her said, Of course they care. You know they’re right, and they know it too. They just want you to have time and space. They don’t want to force you into anything.

The nasty, envious, angry part of her was less charitable. They never wanted you in the first place. They don’t understand anything, they think this is some kind of game. You’re quite right not to get mixed up in anything stupid.

But the truth was, Ginny knew down into her core just how badly she wanted to be fighting alongside Neville and Luna and the others, and it was her own embarrassment, stubbornness, and pride that kept her from apologizing—which, in turn, made everything worse. Whenever this cycle of unpleasantness occurred to her, she would inevitably hop off of her bed and pace furiously around her dormitory with Arnold squeaking unhappily on her shoulder at the sudden movement. So, in order to take her mind off of things, she set about burying herself in the mountain of homework she received, so much so that she failed to notice, one evening, when she forgot to report to her prefect duties. Professor McGonagall, spectacles flashing, approached her in the Great Hall the next morning as she sat by herself.

“Miss Weasley, may I have a word with you?”

Ginny started, looking over her shoulder. “Er—yes, Professor.”

Professor McGonagall’s mouth was a thin white line. “Professor Carrow informs me that you failed to report for your patrol last night. Do you have an explanation?”

Ginny’s mouth fell open. “Oh—Professor, I’m sorry. I—I forgot.” It sounded like a lie, even to her own ears, and Professor McGonagall’s eyes narrowed. Ginny knew exactly what she was thinking. As soon as the Carrows had found, to their barely-masked displeasure, that Ginny and the others had survived their night in the forest, they had dug up several more of Professor Umbridge’s old educational decrees. These were, by now, appearing daily on the common room notice boards bearing Professor Snape’s signature and seal of approval, and barely two days after the incident in the forest, the Gryffindors woke to find a reinstatement of the decree that banned teachers from talking to students about any subject unrelated to the one they were paid to teach. It was evident from the behavior of most of the staff that this was nothing short of torture for her, but it had not stopped Professor McGonagall from trying to find out about the status of Dumbledore’s Army.

Now, she seemed to be wrestling with her thoughts. “You forgot.”

“I was doing my homework, and I forgot it was my night to be on patrol,” Ginny insisted. She tried to make it obvious that she was telling the truth.

“You were in Gryffindor Tower all night?” McGonagall pressed, her beady eyes narrowing further. “You’re sure?”

“Positive,” Ginny answered, but her eyes flickered automatically, traitorously down the table to where Neville sat with Parvati and Lavender.

Professor McGonagall gave an irritated sigh, her nostrils flaring. “Very well.”

Ginny stared at her. “Am I getting a detention?” she asked.

For the first time, Professor McGonagall looked a little frightened. “No. Ten points from Gryffindor will do, and I will speak to Professor Carrow.” She swept off down the table, and Ginny turned dejectedly back to her plate, no longer hungry. She looked up the table again; Neville was watching her, but he quickly averted his eyes at her gaze. That was it. Ginny slammed down her fork and knife, pulled up her bag, and marched out of the Great Hall. Let them do what they want, she thought. She had bigger, more important things to do than get caught in the trap that was sure to be Dumbledore’s Army.

A week later, she lay alone in her dormitory. Arnold was playing his favorite game and rolling about on her bed while she tickled him. She had just sent a letter to her mother, and was feeling very down; she had received any mail in days, nor news of any kind. Even the rumor mill within Hogwarts seemed to have ground to a halt. She hated this dark, empty feeling she had in her heart that, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get rid of. Worrying about Harry, Ron and Hermione, fear for her family, guilt over her row with Neville and Luna, and the stress and anger of dealing with the Carrows’ iron grip were just a few of the overwhelming thoughts that weighed on her, like an invisible hand squeezing her lungs.

Ginny looked over to the window. She could see a dementor hovering over the lake, and repressed a shudder. Scooping up Arnold and holding him against her stomach, she walked over to the sill, staring at the long hood fluttering in the wind, like a sinister black cloud. Far below it, barely a speck on the iron-gray template that was the grounds, was Professor Dumbledore’s tomb. Ginny closed her eyes, hearing echoes of the last time she and Harry had talked before everything had changed—hearing him say goodbye.

Parvati and Lavender burst suddenly into the room, chattering loudly, and Ginny sighed inwardly, sitting down on her bed and facing away so that she wouldn’t have to talk to them. They were only there for a few minutes, laughing about their lessons and complaining about their homework, for they seemed to be getting ready for something—as though they were going to try to leave Gryffindor Tower. Ginny frowned, watching them out of the corner of her eye. Then, as they left, Parvati stopped at the door. “Er—Ginny? Aren’t—aren’t you…you know…”

Ginny turned. “No, I don’t know.”

“Aren’t you…coming with us?” Parvati asked.

She was staring at her very meaningfully, and suddenly, Ginny cottoned on. Tonight was the first D.A. meeting without her. She nearly leapt up and ran after them, but her body seemed to have frozen. She hadn’t believed it would really happen—that Neville would just carry on without her.

“I—”

“Parvati, come on!” Lavender called up the stairs.

Parvati gave Ginny a quick grin and hurried off. Ginny sat back on the bed again, shocked. Then, slowly, as her brain clunked into motion again, she felt a rush of envy. She stood angrily, marching back over to the window with Arnold still in her hands. She stared out at the lake; there was a large group of dementors, now; Ginny wondered whether they were conferring, or simply changing guards. She had heard her father speak as though a dementor could talk. Now, staring at this congregation of at least fifty or so, hovering above the windswept lake, she wondered how that was possible, and what a dementor’s voice sounded like. As this unpleasant thought occurred to her, it mingled with the ice-cold envy, anger and longing that had been pent up inside her for nearly a month.

For the first time since she was barely thirteen years old, Ginny had an overwhelming mental image of the Chamber of Secrets as it had looked to her, when she was only eleven, and Tom Riddle’s voice had echoed in her head, commanding her to wait there. She squeezed her eyes shut, feeling nauseous. Suddenly, she became aware that she was sitting, and that Arnold was squeaking horribly—she had been holding him too tightly.

“Oh, Arnold, I’m sorry,” Ginny said quickly, smoothing his fur. He looked rather disconsolate and ruffled. She tucked him back into his cage, where he rolled under the empty Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean container that served as his bed and glared crankily at Ginny. She was not looking, though. She was staring out of the window at the group of dementors above the lake, which had diminished to only a handful. How, how on earth had she just brought upon herself the very worst kind of experience she had ever had in the presence of a dementor—when the closest one was down on the grounds, far below her?

Was this why she had been so obstinate and cold after her fight with Luna? Had she been allowing her own doubts and fears to submerge her in misery? Was she responsible for letting her emotions open her to the dangerous effects of the dementors, like a prisoner in Azkaban?

There was a sudden knock at the door. Ginny frowned. Anyone who was meant to be in the room would have just walked in. “Come in?” she called curiously.

There was a pause, and then, slowly, the door creaked open. Josephine O’Brien, the curly-haired, fierce little first year, poked her head in the room. Her face was white as chalk and her eyes were very red.

“Lavender?” she asked. Then she spotted Ginny and her eyes widened. “Oh—never mind.”

“Josephine, wait,” Ginny said, before she could shut the door. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing,” Josephine said hurriedly. “I’m fine, I only wanted to see Lavender about—homework—” Ginny frowned. “I couldn’t find Seamus, so I…I thought I’d…ask…” Josephine fell silent, looking down at her feet. “Do you know when Seamus and Lavender will be back?” she asked, her voice full of threatening tears.

“What happened to you?” Ginny asked sharply—so sharply that Josephine started in fright and looked up at her. “Josephine, tell me the truth.”

Josephine’s chin trembled. “I was late to Muggle St-Studies, and—Professor Carrow—she—g-gave me—d-detention,” she wailed at last, throwing herself around Ginny’s middle.

Ginny fought back a wave of sickness and hugged Josephine so tightly it hurt, bringing her to sit on the edge of the nearest bed. “All right,” she said hoarsely. “All right, you’re safe, now. You’re safe…” All Josephine could do was sob, buried against her chest.

Ginny was experiencing a kind of minor explosion inside of her skull. It was as though someone had turned on all the lights at once. Her gaze was fixed on her latest piece of Muggle Studies homework—hand-copying a booklet called Monstrous Murderers: The Modern Wizard’s Guide to Half-Breeds. For the first time in weeks, she felt anger—real, white-hot anger, and a spark of rebellion licking her insides like fire.

“Josephine,” she said, pulling back from the girl, who was trying to calm herself down. “Josephine, listen—I have somewhere I need to go, and it’s very, very important, or I wouldn’t leave you. If you want, I can take you to your room and have Demelza keep you company, but I can’t stay.”

Josephine nodded, sniffling. “All right.”

Ginny smiled, patting her hair and giving her another hug. “Good girl. Come on, let’s go.”

She brought Josephine all the way down to the first year girls’ dormitory and told her to wait while she fetched a very confused, but agreeable Demelza, who immediately took over as Josephine’s comforter.

Ginny said a hurried goodnight and dashed upstairs, where she had to rummage around in her trunk for nearly ten minutes before she found what she needed. She finally found Hermione’s enchanted Galleon folded in the pages of a book. Cursing her poor packing skills and praying she wasn’t too late, Ginny flew out of the common room, attaching her prefect’s badge as she went. The plan was to tell anyone she met that she had been reassigned prefect duties for the evening, but as it was still not quite time for curfew, no one stopped her as she ran all the way to the farthest seventh-floor corridor.

I need to find my friends…I need to fight with them…I need to find them…

Her heart filled with desire to deliver her apology, to support her friends, to fight back against the people that had been so cruel to Josephine, and Neville, and Luna, and Seamus…she turned and faced the wall, sure that the door would appear. It was blank. There was no door. There was no Room of Requirement. Her heart sank. Perhaps Dumbledore’s Army no longer had a place for her.

Ginny sank, openmouthed, onto the plinth of a nearby statue. What was she to do? Did she not belong anymore? Had she lost her place entirely?

“Ginny?”

She leapt up. Luna stood before her, beaming. She leaned out of the open door of the Room of Requirement.

“I knew you’d be here. Come in, quick!”

“How…?” Ginny asked, staring around as Luna pulled her inside.

“The Room can tell us if there are people outside!” Luna said joyously. “Neville figured out how to make it work, so we know it’s safe to come and go!”

Ginny had stopped listening. Twelve pairs of eyes were fixed on her. It appeared that she had interrupted Neville, who was standing before the others, who were seated in armchairs all squished together in the center of the room.

Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones, and Ernie Macmillan sat directly in front of Neville, with Terry Boot and Padma Patil on either side. Ginny’s stomach gave a nervous kind of wiggle as she saw Michael Corner sitting beside Anthony Goldstein.

“What took you so long, then?” Seamus demanded from near the back, where he sat with Parvati and Lavender.

“Never mind that, we can have our meeting now,” Luna said brightly, settling herself on the floor before a pile of gold coins. She looked up at Ginny. “Have you found your Galleon?”

“Oh—er—here,” she said, digging in her pocket and sitting on the floor near Luna. “Sorry I’m late, Neville.”

Neville grinned.

“Right—well, like I was saying, we’re—we’re the oldest, now, and there are only a few of us left. Luna and I—and Ginny—we think it’s important—”

“Did you three really break into Snape’s office last month?” asked Ernie, frowning.

Neville shifted uncomfortably. Several others looked surprised by this news.

“Have you been trying to be Dumbledore’s Army by yourselves?” asked Padma, shocked.

Neville looked desperately at Ginny and Luna. “Well, we—we didn’t want to put you all in danger—”

“Well, you’ve done a good job of that, haven’t you?” Seamus demanded.

The group was becoming restless.

“We didn’t know how many of you still believed—” Neville began.

“Lots of us have been standing up to the Carrows because we believe in Dumbledore’s Army!” Michael said stoutly. “What, did you think that just because they’re Death Eaters we’d be too scared to fight back?”

Ginny stared at him. “How do you know they’re Death Eaters?”

“Some of us were here last June,” said Ernie rather disparagingly. “And those two aren’t hard to recognize.”

“Besides, it was easy to figure out,” piped up Susan. “Two new teachers with the same agenda as You-Know-Who?”

And they’re friends with Snape, and they’re vile!” Hannah Abbott added angrily. “We’re not stupid,” she said to Neville. “And neither are you. If you wanted to break into Snape’s office you had all of us ready and willing to help.”

“Why didn’t you let us?” Terry Boot asked.

“We’ve all been checking our coins all year, waiting to hear something!” said Anthony Goldstein, looking around for confirmation. “If not from Harry, then from somebody else who wanted to re-form the Army.”

“Who here hasn’t gotten at least one of the Carrows’ detentions for mouthing off in class?” Parvati asked. Not a single hand went up, and Ginny saw for the first time the faint line of a scar on Parvati’s jaw—a souvenir, like the one on her own knee? How had she not noticed?

“You tried going it alone,” Lavender said incredulously, folding her arms. “Well, can’t say that’s not brave.”

“It wasn’t wise, though,” Padma said sharply. “You all could’ve gotten expelled—”

“Killed, more like,” Seamus said darkly. Ginny’s eyes widened.

“Seamus,” Neville warned.

“No, I’m going to tell everyone the truth,” answered Seamus furiously, getting to his feet. He looked around at the others. “When they served detention for breaking into Snape’s office, they weren’t down in the dungeons.” Blank, confused expressions met this statement. “The Carrows dumped them in the forest, and they had to find me.” He looked at Parvati, who had her hand over her mouth. “I wasn’t in the dungeons either. They left us all in the Forbidden Forest—” he sighed. “And turned a werewolf loose.”

Susan gave a soft scream and Hannah shut her eyes. Ernie was ashen. Padma looked as though she were going to faint.

Lavender, however, had gone white with fury. “And you didn’t see why that might have been a good reason to call us?” she said to Neville through clenched teeth. Mutinous stares were being redirected to Neville, who looked quite frightened.

“Look,” Ginny said sharply, standing up. “It was my idea. It was my idea not to call you for a meeting. I told Neville and Luna we should do it alone, so don’t blame them. It’s me you should be angry at. They’re the ones who planned this tonight, not me. They were right from the beginning.” She looked meaningfully at Neville. “I was wrong.”

“I think,” said Luna dreamily, standing up, “That what we ought to be doing right now is not arguing. We should be making plans.”

“What kind of plans?” Padma asked.

“Plans for a rebellion,” Luna said, looking at her in surprise.

“Rebellion?” she scoffed. “Luna, I don’t think—”

“No, she’s right,” said Ernie. “We can’t exactly throw the Carrows out, can we? But we can certainly make life difficult for them.”

Ginny grinned. “Absolutely.” She turned to Luna. “What did you have in mind?”

“Well,” said Luna thoughtfully, as though she were only just thinking about it. “We’ll need a way to pass news along, won’t we? And I expect we should continue our Defense lessons, the way we used to with Harry—” Ginny’s heart gave a painful twist. “—And I think we ought to try for a bit of mayhem. Though I don’t quite know what that could be, yet.”

“All right,” said Neville, clapping his hands together. “First things first—we’ll keep the same method of communication, all right? Irregular meetings—”

“Wait a moment, who’s our leader?” Seamus asked. “No more Harry.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Ginny said, “Neville.”

“W-what?” he stammered. “Me? N-no—I can’t—” But it was too late; the idea was planted. Everyone’s faces were lighting up with surprise, but also satisfaction.

“Of course you can, Neville,” said Luna, beaming. “Now, everyone collect your coins—” She wandered about distributing the modified Galleons among the members.

Ginny approached Neville, who looked shocked. “I wouldn’t have said it if it wasn’t true, Neville,” she told him quietly. “You’re our leader. You have been for a while.”

Neville stared at her. “I can’t just—will—will you help me? And Luna?”

Ginny smiled. “Of course we will.” She looked down for a moment. “And I’m sorry. I really am. You were right the whole time, and I was—I was just being stupid.”

Neville grinned and put a hand on her arm. “It’s okay. You’re here now.”

She nodded. “Okay, everyone, quiet! Neville, what were you saying about meetings?”

“Oh—well, we’ll keep them at odd times and avoid breaking curfew as much as we can. Luna—you can teach us any new spells we want, can’t you?”

“I can try,” Luna said graciously, seating herself in a rocking chair that had appeared in the cluster of seats.

“And—and we’ll practice old stuff, too,” Neville said.

Ginny nodded. “What about news, Luna, what did you have in mind?”

At this, Luna actually blushed a little pink. “Well, the Carrows are stopping our papers and mail…” she faced the others. “But my father is willing to find ways to send me news from the Quibbler. I thought we could write our own sort of—newsletter—and distribute it secretly, like when Harry gave that interview to Rita Skeeter?”

“We’ve got N.E.W.T.s, Luna,” Parvati said. “How are we supposed to find time to—”

“I’ll write it,” Ginny said immediately. “I’ll write it, and you can all find ways to put it out.”

There was a murmur of general agreement at this. “Good,” Neville said. “Great. Which leaves—”

“Mayhem,” Seamus said, with a great deal of relish. “Give us a week or two, Neville. We’ll have some ideas.”

“Fantastic,” said Neville. He looked at his watch. “Nearly curfew. All right—everyone should leave in twos and threes, all right? Don’t do anything that’ll attract attention—no stopping, all right?”

“We know the drill, Neville,” said Hannah brightly, patting his arm as she passed with Ernie and Susan.

It took five minutes or so for the Room of Requirement to empty. Luna gave a wave and a vague smile as she left with Padma and Terry. “I’ll see you at breakfast,” she said as the door swung shut.

Neville and Ginny were alone. “I’m really glad you came,” he said.

She nodded. “Me too. I promise, I won’t be stupid like that ever again.”

Neville nodded and opened the door, following her at a brisk pace to Gryffindor Tower. “Are you really going to write a newspaper?”

“Not a newspaper,” Ginny said, rolling her eyes. “Just—if there’s anything to be passed on, I’ll do it. That way there are none of those awful rumors that ruin everything.”

“We really missed you,” Neville told her.

“Oh, you weren’t all alone,” Ginny answered. “You had Luna—billywig.” They had reached the Fat Lady, who swung open.

“You’re very nearly late,” she admonished as they scrambled through the portrait hole.

The common room was full of people chatting, playing board games, and doing homework. Parvati, Lavender, and Seamus had arrived back safely; they were seated in the three chairs closest to the fire. Demelza Robins approached Ginny right away.

“Josephine’s asleep,” she said. “I just left her.”

Neville frowned. “What’s wrong with Josephine?”

“I’ll tell you later—thanks, Demelza,” said Ginny. She nodded and walked back to her chess game.

“I’ve got some homework to get done,” Neville said, yawning and stretching as they walked to the dormitory stairs. “Think I’ll go upstairs.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Ginny said, starting up the girls’ staircase.

“Hey, Ginny?”

She turned.

“We—I really missed you,” Neville said. “Really. I’m glad you’re back.”

Ginny grinned. “Thanks, Ne—”

The rest of her sentence was cut off, because Neville leaned in and tried to kiss her.

She ducked back and stared at him, sputtering in shock and a bit of anger. “What are you—”

But Neville’s face filled with terror. Without a word, he ran up the boys’ staircase and out of sight. Ginny blushed scarlet and looked around quickly to determine whether anyone in the common room had seen—it didn’t appear so. Quickly, she ran up her own staircase and hid in her dormitory for the rest of the night.

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