The Blood Traitor
It turned out that this was the only thought that allowed Ginny to limp through the next week. At mealtimes, she ate alone in order to avoid the Carrows’ attention, but her resolve was bolstered every time she looked up and saw them sitting sulkily beneath DUMBLEDORE’S ARMY: STILL RECRUITING emblazoned above the head table in the Great Hall. Even after a week, the graffiti still had not begun to fade, glimmering as brightly violet and resistant to removal as ever. And as a result, a wild kind of thrill spread among the students that refused to disappear. They clung to the rumor of the existence of Dumbledore’s Army with fervent admiration. A swell of excitement flew through the corridors, lightening the atmosphere within the castle to the highest it had been all term.
A few days into her punishment, Ginny sank stiffly into an armchair before the Gryffindor fire. She was so nauseated she wasn’t sure if she would be able to get any work done at all. She looked around; Neville and Parvati sat at a table in the corner, poring over Herbology notes. Neville gave Ginny a small wave, which she acknowledged with a half-nod before facing the fire again. She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to calm her stomach. It was, perhaps, nice to keep telling herself that the air of excitement and rebellion within the castle was worth her detention, but when her head pounded as it did right now, pushing all thoughts of her Charms homework from her mind, it was difficult to believe.
She opened her eyes reluctantly. Josephine O’Brien and Evelyn Alistair stood before her, beaming and giggling.
“What is it?” Ginny asked kindly.
“We—we heard Professor Carrow is giving you detention,” Evelyn said. “For—the Great Hall.”
“We think it’s cool!” Josephine piped up. She pulled her hand out from behind her back, where she had been hiding an enormous box of Chocolate Frogs. “We wanted to give you these—”
“We’ve been collecting them all through term,” Evelyn explained. “And we—we thought they might make you feel a bit better.”
“You don’t deserve to be in trouble for standing up to them,” said Josephine firmly. She pressed the box into Ginny’s hands before she could do more than gape at them.
“I—thank you,” she said, overwhelmed.
“You’ll be okay, Ginny,” said Evelyn, throwing her arms around Ginny’s neck suddenly. She winced, patting Evelyn’s back, and then accepted a hug from Josephine, before she was finally left alone again. She looked down in her lap at the box of candy. The very sight of it filled her with a tiny balloon of happiness, indestructible even by the thought of her next detention. It became widely known that Ginny Weasley was being punished every night for defacing the Great Hall, and it earned her a kind of martyred celebrity in the school. People whispered behind their hands as she passed them in the corridors, and once or twice, she was approached by a few older students who wanted to know when Dumbledore’s Army would give out more news, and what else they knew.
Unfortunately, Ginny was largely prohibited from passing along any information at all—she had the distinct feeling that she was being closely watched by the Carrows. They seemed to always be in her line of sight, as though they expected to catch her organizing a meeting of the D.A. in the middle of the Charms corridor. After a full week of detention, Ginny’s knees and palms were black and blue from all the times she collapsed onto the stone floor of the dungeon, she had a headache that had taken up permanent residence at the back of her skull, throbbing when she moved even slightly, and even the happiness she felt at seeing her classmates’ improved attitudes could do nothing to alleviate her feelings.
Late one night, she stumbled into her dormitory, sore and shaking so badly that she was barely able to stand. Parvati and Lavender were both soundly sleeping. All of Ginny’s energy and strength seemed to have been sucked out of her by the Cruciatus Curse; she collapsed, fully clothed, onto her bed, and lay motionless for a moment. Then, with monumental effort, she pushed off her shoes and rolled over onto her side, burying herself in her blankets. She drew her knees up to her chest and gave a quiet sniffle. Her eyes grew hot with tears, and she squeezed them tightly shut, curling up into a tight, painful, trembling ball. She stayed like that for nearly half an hour, quivering slightly as she held her knees tightly in her arms.
A gentle hand touched her shoulder.
“Ginny? It—it’s Parvati.”
Ginny took a moment, evening out her breath and making sure her tears were hidden before she finally turned over again and sat up. “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Parvati smiled sadly at her. “They kept you late tonight,” she whispered. Ginny looked away.
“They had some Ravenclaws who broke curfew,” she said quietly.
“How are you?” Parvati asked quietly, staring at her. “We haven’t talked much.”
Ginny tried to shrug, but winced. “I’m fine,” she said.
Parvati drew her legs up onto Ginny’s bed, crossing them. “I don’t just mean the Carrows,” she said. “You—you’ve been through a lot more than most of us this year.” Ginny said nothing. “How’s Ron?”
Ginny stared at her, frowning confusedly. “What—oh—er, I think…he’s feeling a bit better,” she lied, though she imagined that Parvati had noticed her momentary slip. “I mean, he’s at home and everything, and Mum’s been…taking care of him…”
“I was thinking about him today,” Parvati said, shaking her head. “I don’t know why. Probably because I was with Neville and Seamus. That always reminds me of the boys…Dean…Ron…and Harry,” she admitted.
Ginny’s heart clenched. “I’ll—I’ll tell Ron you say hello when I’m home for Christmas,” she said in a choked voice.
Parvati nodded, and fell into a pensive silence for a moment. Then her expression cleared. “I fed Arnold for you,” she said. “He was squeaking a lot.”
“Sorry,” Ginny mumbled, turning and hooking her fingers in Arnold’s cage. He was sprawled on his back, giving faint, squeaking snores as he slept in a patch of moonlight.
“No, no,” Parvati said. “I just meant—I think he misses you.”
Ginny felt a lump rise in her throat. “It’s better that it’s just one of us getting detention,” she said quietly. “Better that it’s not Seamus, or Neville…or you and Lavender…”
Parvati was watching her closely. “We had a D.A. meeting tonight,” she said. “Everyone is amazed that you stood up for all of us. And we want to help you out.”
“Thanks,” Ginny said morosely. “But I don’t think there’s much—”
“Oh, we’ve got ideas,” said Parvati dismissively. “Don’t worry about it.”
Ginny’s jaw dropped. “No—you can’t do anything that’s going to get you all in trouble—you’ve got to wait till my detention’s over.”
“No, Ginny,” Parvati said firmly. “You’ve done enough for us. It’s our turn. Besides, we didn’t get caught the last time, and I think we can do it again.” She stood up and hurried over to her side table to retrieve something. “Oh. Here, this arrived for you a couple of hours ago, an owl dropped it off in the common room. I don’t think it’s been opened by the Carrows,” she added, handing Ginny a sealed scroll of parchment.
Ginny took it. “Parvati.” She stopped at the foot of the bed, lifting a dark eyebrow. “Please, please don’t let anyone else put themselves in trouble,” Ginny pleaded. “I’m not worth it.”
An odd expression stole over Parvati’s face. “Yeah, Ginny, you are.” They stared at each other for a moment and Parvati seemed to see that she was thoroughly unconvinced. “Okay, look. The next meeting is the day after tomorrow. Sunday afternoon, all right? Let’s just talk about it together.”
After a moment, Ginny nodded.
“Good,” said Parvati.
And she climbed back into bed without another word. Ginny sighed and shakily got out of bed. She put on her nightgown and combed her fingers through her hair, her head throbbing. By the time she finally got in bed, Parvati was soundly sleeping again.
Ginny slumped back onto her pillows and unsealed her scroll. Her heart leapt; it was a letter in Bill’s handwriting.
Mum and Dad asked me to write to you. They’re fine, just busy. They got Professor Snape’s letter about you vandalizing the Great Hall. Mum was pretty furious, but don’t you worry—she knows there’s got to be more to the story, so she’s waiting until Christmas to lock you in the broom shed.
Actually, the truth is that everyone here is anxious to have you home. Fred and George are all right. They’re still managing to sell everything in the store that isn’t nailed down, but I’ve got no idea how. They’ve bought Mum a really nice set of dress robes for Christmas. She and Dad are fine, too, but Dad’s been working too much and I think Charlie’s losing his marbles because he can’t get back from Romania for Christmas. I tried to get him a job at Gringotts, but it’s a no-go, the goblins are feeling pretty sour towards wizards right now. I can’t blame them. By the way, Fleur and I won’t be at Christmas. I’m really sorry, but we want to be together. I’ll still see you while you’re here, I promise. Maybe I’ll even pick you up at King’s Cross! We all send our love, and Fleur says to tell you she can’t wait to see you.
Seriously though, Ginny, I don’t know what’s going on up there, it’s impossible to get news, but I know I’m worried about you. We all are, and I know if Mum and Dad could have their way and get out of the new rules, they’d keep you home and not send you back to school next term. I imagine the mail is being watched, so hopefully this’ll find you at night and that’ll be enough to stop it from being read or stopped from reaching you.
Keep holding on, all right?
I’m proud of you,
Ginny gave a small, dry sob, and clutched the note to her chest. It was so wonderfully plain and ordinary—a few words of encouragement and love, and a bunch of nonsense about her family—that she was torn between laughter and tears. The idea that she could still be in trouble with her mother, and that Fred and George were off buying themselves matching dragon skin boots, and that Fleur was excited to see her—it filled her heart with unimaginable joy.
She ran her thumb over Bill’s signature once, placed the scroll on her bedside table, and curled up beneath her blankets, falling asleep instantly.
“I can’t make any sense of this,” Luna said, shaking her head and frowning. “Dad must have mixed up the code or something.” She pushed the parchment before Ginny, who looked at the extremely short letter from Mr. Lovegood.
They were in the midst of the D.A. meeting. It was Sunday afternoon, only five days before break, and she had only a few short hours until she had to report to the Carrows for her next night of detention. Her headache was now perpetual, and throbbed painfully as she looked at the parchment.
“Er, Luna,” she said slowly, “I don’t think there’s a code in this one.”
“What?” Luna asked. “No, Dad wouldn’t—why would he just stop giving us news?”
Ginny shook her head slowly, sliding the letter back to her. “Maybe there’s nothing to report.”
Luna looked deeply disturbed. “What are we supposed to do this week, then?”
“Why don’t we practice?” Ginny asked, nodding to the other members of the D.A., who were all working on Stunning and Shield Charms. She laid both hands on the table and pushed herself stiffly into a standing position—then she sank back into the chair. “Ouch—okay, in a minute,” she said.
Luna wasn’t listening; she was still frowning worriedly at the tabletop, tracing small circles onto it with her fingertips. After a long period of silence, she looked up at Ginny and said, “I suppose you’re right—there must not be any news.”
Ginny shook her head and smiled.
“I did want to give the Carrows a good reason to take some of their attention off of you,” Luna said wistfully.
Ginny stiffened. “What?”
“Well,” she said, “If they caught me putting out the news, they’d have to be easier on you—they’d have what they wanted, wouldn’t they? They’d have proof that there are more of us.”
“No,” said Ginny fiercely. “No, Luna, you can’t do that. That’s what I wanted to talk to all of you about.”
Luna blinked. “Why not?”
“Why not!” Ginny sputtered. “You can’t be serious! You can’t put yourself in danger for my sake!”
“You’ve done that for us.” Neville had stopped trying to Stun Michael Corner, and they were both staring at Ginny. “You took the blame when Snape wanted to get all the Gryffindors.”
“No!” said Ginny. “You can’t. I don’t want you all going through this, too, that’s why I took the blame!”
Everyone had stopped dueling. They were facing Luna, Ginny, and Neville, watching the argument unfold.
“Ginny,” Luna said gently, putting a hand on hers. “That’s the point—we want to—”
“I don’t care what you want!” Ginny said, yanking her hand away. “I told you, I don’t want you—”
“Who says you get to make that choice?” Seamus demanded. “We’re an Army—it’s time we acted like it. Besides, you get to spend every night swearing at the Carrows—that’s just not fair.”
“You’re hilarious,” Ginny snarled.
Neville stepped forward. “Ginny, we’re planning something else to distract the Carrows, and it’s not up to you. It’s hardly even about you, actually. We want to scare them, to show them we really are here.”
“And we want to show the rest of the school, too,” Luna said. “That sign in the Great Hall doesn’t mean anything if we don’t back it up.”
Ginny glared at her—she felt certain that most of this was Luna’s planning.
“Ginny, I’m sorry,” Parvati said, stepping forward. “But you don’t get a say this time. We’re going to do this, whether you want it or not.”
Ginny sighed, closing her eyes. “I wish you wouldn’t,” she said quietly.
“But you understand?” Neville asked.
She nodded. “I get it. I’m going to detention now.” Stiffly, she got up and limped to the door, leaving without another word.
Over the next couple of days, Ginny went from class to class and ate meals alone, in small part because she was still feeling a bit frosty towards Luna, but also because it seemed that the Carrows were keeping particularly close watch on her now that her detentions were dwindling away, as though they expected her to finally crack and start pointing out her classmates as her accomplices. Her only joys came from seeing the D.A.’s graffiti still written clearly on the wall above the Carrows’ heads at mealtimes, where it had only just begun to fade, and from Bill’s letter, which, having learned from her mistake with Harry’s photograph, she kept locked in her trunk and pulled out every night to read before she slept. Parvati and Lavender encouraged her to keep this up, as it usually put her in a very good mood, and she would stop trying to convince them to tell her what Dumbledore’s Army was trying to do next.
On Thursday morning, the day before term ended, Ginny woke with a feeling that she couldn’t quite name until she was sitting at the breakfast table, staring at the words written on the wall. She realized, with a jolt of recognition, that it was hope; it was such a rare experience now, that she had nearly forgotten how it felt to look forward to anything. Now, though, she was on the brink of her final night of detention, in addition to the prospect of seeing her family in two days’ time, and she couldn’t quite repress a smile as she went to her classes that day.
“You look happy,” Luna said, as Professor Flitwick escorted their class to Herbology.
Ginny shrugged. She was still a bit annoyed with Luna for letting the D.A. even think of planning something to upset the Carrows, though she had not been avoiding her entirely. “It’s just a good day,” she said briskly, tugging her cloak tightly about herself in the snowy air. They had crunched through thick drifts of snow that had fallen overnight all the way to the greenhouse before Ginny noticed that Luna looked slightly disturbed.
“Luna?” she asked. Luna raised her protuberant eyes, and Ginny saw that there were faint dark shadows beneath them, as though she had not slept properly. “Are you all right?”
She nodded. “I’m fine, thank you.”
Ginny bit her lip, shifting her weight from foot to foot as they stood outside the greenhouse, waiting to be let in. “Look, Luna, if this is about Sunday, I’m really sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have gotten angry that you all wanted to—you know—but I’m glad you listened to what I said and haven’t done anything. I’m sorry if I haven’t been acting like it.”
Luna blinked, looking a little surprised. “Oh. I hadn’t thought of that, actually,” she said honestly. She dropped her voice. “We’re still planning to do something tonight.”
“What?” A bit of anger was rising again in Ginny. “Then—Luna!” she said furiously. “What if they catch you and decide to punish all of us?” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “If they find out that Dumbledore’s Army exists outside of me, they’re going to go straight to you, Seamus, and Neville. I haven’t given you up for two weeks—how could you possibly think this is a good idea?”
“We have to give everyone hope, Ginny,” Luna said calmly, though her tone was very firm. “Our marks in Great Hall are starting to fade, and people are going to forget, or stop believing we’re here. We’ll take any risks we have to, and you know it. Since Daddy—” she broke off, swallowing for a moment. “Since Daddy hasn’t given us anything for a newsletter, what we’re doing tonight is the only way we have to give people hope. That’s worth detention. You know that, and if it was one of us in your position, you would be doing the exact same thing.”
Ginny was too angry to even speak to Luna again that day, and it was in a very sour mood that she left her uneaten dinner in the Great Hall and returned to Gryffindor Tower to put away her bookbag before she reported to the dungeons for her final detention. As she left the common room, however, Ginny’s frustration was ebbing away into genuine worry. All she could think was that something was going to go horribly wrong. She didn’t know what made her believe it, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that Neville and Luna were in a great deal more trouble than they thought. Shaking her head vigorously, Ginny continued along the corridor, trying to clear her mind of worry before she saw the Carrows, who would undoubtedly leap upon her mood as an opportunity to question her with great relish; the less interesting she was, the less interested they were in keeping her late. She rounded a corner and nearly walked straight into Mr. Filch. Mrs. Norris glared up at Ginny with her glowing orange eyes.
“Where d’you think you’re going?” Filch demanded.
“My detention,” Ginny answered coldly.
He gave a wheezy, unpleasant laugh. “That right?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied, narrowing her eyes.
“Well, get on, then,” Filch said, jerking his head in the direction of the stairs. Ginny rolled her eyes and walked off down the corridor. “An’ I’ll have you in another detention if I catch you loitering here again!” Filch barked
“I’m not loitering!” she said angrily, spinning about to face him.
“Get on with you!” Filch barked, and Ginny turned on her heel, storming away.
She was so annoyed that it took her until she reached the fourth floor landing to realize why Filch had threatened her. Immediately, her face flushed with heat, and her heart began to pound. Filch had been guarding the Room of Requirement. He had been waiting to catch members of Dumbledore’s Army coming or going from the room. Ginny stood stock-still on the staircase. How did he know? Who else knew where the Room was, and who might be inside? Were Neville and the others there already, warned that someone was waiting outside for them, or were they in for a surprise? Without another thought, she leapt down the rest of the stairs, racing down another four flights to the double doors of the Great Hall. She scanned the House tables, trying to find anybody from Dumbledore’s Army, but there was no one in sight. Glancing down at her watch again, she saw she had only five minutes to get to her detention. Where were Neville and the others? She darted back out to the deserted entrance hall, hoping wildly that Neville would appear.
“Looking for someone, Weasley?” asked a drawling voice behind her. She turned. Draco Malfoy was staring coldly at her, his pale, pointed face drawn into a smirk. He had just come from the direction of the dungeons. Perhaps it was the speed with which her mind was racing, but in that one moment, everything clunked into place.
“It was you, wasn’t it?” asked Ginny quietly. “You found that picture. You gave it to the Carrows and told them who to look for…you told them about the Room of Requirement.”
Malfoy raised an eyebrow. “You and your friends need to learn to be a bit quieter. Although honestly, I probably could have smelled you just as easily. Clumsy little blood traitor can’t do anything for herself without her boyfriend’s picture in her pocket?”
“Where are they?” Ginny demanded.
“I’d guess they’re about to get caught,” Malfoy said, his lip curling. “I hope it turns out Longbottom’s with them. Professor Carrow is just itching to—”
Ginny drew her wand, leveling it with his throat. “What—exactly—did you tell them, Malfoy?” He stared at her. “You don’t scare me, Malfoy. Tell me what they know, now!”
Malfoy’s eyes narrowed icily. “Enough, Weasley,” he said. “They know enough.” He drew a breath. “I expect Professor Carrow will have some new questions for you tonight, though. We’ve just had a little chat.”
Ginny lowered her wand.
“Good choice,” Malfoy sneered. “I’ll see you around—maybe.” He walked away, leaving her standing frozen for almost a full minute. Then she looked at her watch again, and bolted toward the dungeons, flying down long flights of winding stairs and reaching the Carrows’ detention room just barely on time. Alecto certainly looked happier than Ginny had seen her in two weeks. Amycus looked equally pleased with himself.
“C’min, Weasley,” said Alecto. “Shut the door.”
Ginny pushed the door shut without moving from her spot; she didn’t want to turn her back on the Carrows for a second.
“We’ve been hearin’ that maybe…you haven’t been tellin’ us the truth, Weasley,” Amycus said. “That’s very distressin’ news.”
“Sorry to hear it,” she answered testily.
“Who’ve ye been protectin’, eh?” Alecto demanded. “We know there’s more of ye, we got witnesses.”
“Witnesses to what, may I ask? ARRGH!” Ginny collapsed onto the floor as Alecto’s wand came slashing down like a knife. She raised a hand to her cheek—a deep wound was oozing blood onto her fingers. In two weeks of detention, the Carrows had yet to use a curse like Sectumsempra, but it seemed that they were quite serious now, bearing down on her like wild animals circling a kill.
“Witnesses who know exactly who was in yer li’l club the last time,” Amycus said. “So we know there’s more of ye. And we got someone watching yer secret meetin’ place, too.”
“Give ‘em up, Weasley,” said Alecto, her voice dangerously soft. “Give ‘em up, and we won’t have to catch ‘em one by one. We’ll go easy on ye, too…”
“Let’s be clear,” Ginny said, getting to her feet. She touched her cheek gingerly, wiping her fingers on her robes. “You’re going to give up on me to believe a slimy git like Malfoy—and, let’s face it, you know his dad, so you know what he’s like—when you two haven’t been able to get a thing out of me…in two weeks?” She scoffed. “Well, I guess we know just how good the two of you are at what you’re doing, if you really can’t get solid information out of a teenage girl.”
The Cruciatus Curse hit her so hard that all the air got knocked out of her lungs—she couldn’t even scream as she hit the floor, writhing in pain. When it finally lifted again, she lay on her back, gasping for air, tears streaming from her eyes.
“Ye bin lyin’ to us, Weasley,” Alecto barked, spraying her with spit.
“If—you—say—so,” Ginny panted.
“Ye’ve ordered somethin’ to happen tonight, haven’t ye?” Amycus shouted. “Ye thought we wouldn’t notice if ye stopped talkin’ to all yer friends, eh? Well, we ain’t stupid—” Ginny gave a weak laugh as she pulled herself onto her hands and knees. “We found ye last time, and now we’ll find yer friends,” he hissed.
“No,” Ginny told him, standing up shakily. “You were led to me, last time…Malfoy led you to me…”
“An’ now he’s led us to the rest of yer group, big difference!” Alecto snapped. “We still caught ‘em, at the end of it. He says he reckons Longbottom helped ye. That true?” Ginny said nothing, and Alecto seized her by the front of her robes, shaking her hard. “Lovegood? Finnigan?”
“Like I’ve been telling you, Professor,” Ginny said, very calmly and solicitously. “I wrote on the wall. Just me. I can’t imagine why Malfoy—if he’s so well-informed, that is—would have any reason to believe that there was anyone else.”
“Crucio!” Alecto shrieked, flinging her to the floor. “Crucio! CRUCIO!”
Ginny screamed, unable to control the jerking of her limbs. Her head roared with sound, and all of her blood vessels seemed ready to burst at once. There was a terrible pressure building inside of her, burning her with white-hot irons, and she was surely going to tear apart at any moment. The dungeon swam around her, the Carrows’ faces morphing into Neville’s and Luna’s…then they became Parvati…Seamus…Professor McGonagall…Evelyn Alistair…
And then Ginny lost consciousness entirely.