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Chapter Six: The Dark Young Man
The school year at Hogwarts started with a few surprises. For one, Professor Slughorn turned out to be the new Potions Master, while Severus Snape (the single most hated teacher in the whole school) had finally gotten his long-desired wish and had been appointed Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor.
Also, people was wondering what had happened to Harry the night they had arrived to the school. He had gotten to the Great Hall when the feast was almost over, still wearing his Muggle clothes, which, like his face, were covered in dried blood. A rumor was going around that involved Draco Malfoy –the most obnoxious Slytherin ever- beating Harry in the Hogwarts Express. But Ginny knew Malfoy was as arrogant as he was a coward. There’s no way he could have beaten Harry in a fair fight.
Whatever the case may be, Ginny decided that her new “stay away from Harry” philosophy included ignoring what was going on in his life. It was time she started obsessing over something else.
The first day of classes turned out to be one that Ginny was not in any rush to reliving. She left the Great Hall that morning accompanied by Colin and Luna Lovegood –a strange Ravenclaw fifth-year that Ginny was very fond of. Ginny and Colin were going to the North Tower for their first class, Divination, while Luna had Charms. In previous years they had taken Divination together, but from now on the Ravenclaws were going to take their classes with Firenze –a centaur that had taken the post of Divination teacher last year as a favor to Professor Dumbledore- and the Gryffindors –to Ginny’s dismay- were still stuck with Professor Trelawney.
They had already reached the second floor when she heard her name being called out by a bossy, somewhat shrilling voice. Ginny wheeled around to find a bold-looking girl with large dark eyes, a prominent chin, and long black hair, walking toward her with three other girls.
Ginny knew who she was: Romilda Vane, a Gryffindor fourth-year that Ginny found particularly arrogant and obnoxious. In fact, Ginny didn’t like her at all and she had no idea what the girl could possibly want with her.
“Weasley,” she said loudly and confidently once she was standing in front of Ginny. “I need to ask you something about Harry.”
“Harry Potter, you mean?” asked Ginny after a few seconds.
“Of course Harry Potter!” Romilda said with an annoying little laugh that was joined by her friends. “Who else?”
“Why ask me?” Ginny asked, still trying to figure out where she wanted to get at.
“Well, you are a Weasley,” Romilda said as if stating the obvious. “Can you tell me the sort of things Harry likes?” More than a question, it sounded like a demand.
Ginny suddenly realized that this was not a “Chosen One” thing. Romilda was interested in Harry and she wanted Ginny to tell her how to get him.
This is priceless, thought Ginny rolling her eyes.
“No,” she said coldly.
“Oh! You don’t know,” Romilda said bothered. “I figured since your brother…”
“I didn’t say I don’t know what Harry likes,” Ginny said, feeling a familiar boiling sensation in the pit of her stomach. “I said I won’t tell you.”
Romilda contemplated Ginny for a moment through narrowed eyes, until her lips curled up in a cruel smile.
“On second thought, I don’t think I want any information from you,” said Romilda, sharing an amused look with her friends, whose sole purpose in life –it seemed- was to giggle and agree with anything Romilda said. “It’s not like anything you know have helped you get Harry. Even when you have the advantage of having him at your house over the summer.”
And before Ginny could say anything else, Romilda strode away in an annoyingly buoyant fashion, followed by her giggling friends. Ginny drew her wand and was about to follow the fourth-year when Colin stopped her grabbing her arm.
“It’s not even worth it,” he said, pulling Ginny.
She let out a sigh and the three friends resumed their march to the North Tower, although this time Ginny felt like hexing somebody, and was silently hoping someone bothered her.
“She is quite full of herself,” said Luna dreamily after a while, as though she were pointing out a characteristic of the Venomous Tentacula in Herbology.
Colin nodded and Ginny let out a sound that could have been a grunt, but neither spoke.
“You should have seen her in the train,” continued Luna. “She invited Harry to sit with her and her friends. He was sitting with Neville and me.” She shrugged. “I think she didn’t find us cool enough to be with Harry Potter.”
“What did Harry say?” asked Ginny.
“He was very nice about it,” said Luna fondly. “He told her that we were his friends.”
“Of course you are!” said Ginny in a much too loud voice. “I don’t know what’s wrong with this people,” she continued heatedly. “They don’t even know him. And to think that stupid little…” She stopped suddenly, making a conscious effort to control herself. “Harry would never be interested in a girl like Romilda Vane,” she added, although it sounded more like she was trying to convince herself of that. “It takes more than looks to impress Harry.”
“Absolutely,” said Luna loyally.
“Although he did date Cho Chang last year,” said Colin.
Ginny turned to Colin and gave him such an intense glare that he recoiled. She then took a couple of deep breaths to regain her composure.
“But, come to think of it,” she said with an unconvincing stab at airiness. “He can date whomever he wants, right?”
But she was not expecting an answer and both Colin and Luna seemed to understand that. When they reached the third floor Luna said goodbye to Colin and Ginny and went to her class. Colin and Ginny made their way to the Divination classroom and sat silently in one of the small round tables inside the circular room.
Making her usual dramatic entrance, Professor Sybil Trelawney came out of the shadows shuffling a pack of dirty-looking playing cards. She looked as odd as ever, glittering with beads and trailing shawls, her eyes magnified to enormous size by her spectacles.
“Welcome back, my dears,” she said in her misty voice. “I’m pleased to inform you that, unlike many other students, you will learn Divination from a true seer.”
“Yay! We’re getting a new teacher” said Ginny mockingly under her breath and Colin let out a chuckle.
Professor Trelawney turned around and stared down at Ginny with a look of satisfaction in her vastly magnified eyes. She obviously hadn’t caught Ginny’s words and had mistaken her sarcasm with excitement.
“Your aura is pulsing, my dear,” said Professor Trelawney walking over to the table where Ginny was sitting.
“Is it?” asked Ginny, thinking that it was probably because she was starting to feel a throbbing headache.
“Indeed,” said the teacher dramatically as she took out a card from the pack and showed to Ginny. “Knave of spades: a dark young man,” she said raising an eyebrow, she took another card out. “A young man that has been on your mind.”
“Which one?” Colin chortled and Ginny gave him a warning look.
“I sense you have made a wrong choice, my dear,” said Professor Trelawney with an enigmatic smile.
“She means Dean,” said Colin so only Ginny could hear.
“I would warn you, but I’m afraid young women like yourself have the tendency of picking the wrong man, even when they receive advice from someone who possesses the sight.”
She turned around, drawing her shawls around her, and walked back to the front of the classroom.
“This year we shall study the fascinating world of the dreams,” she told the class. “We shall venture into the deepest parts of our subconscious to learn what it’s trying to tell us. Each and every one of you will start a dream journal…”
Professor Trelawney went on talking about dreams and the Inner Eye, but Ginny was no longer listening. She was thinking about the dark young man in her future and the wrong choice she had made. Of course, it was all rubbish, she though after a few seconds. She still couldn’t believe she had let Colin and Luna talk her into taking such a useless class.
After Divination, Ginny and Colin had Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Ginny was still so irritated that she snapped at Snape when he commented sardonically about her poor Shield Charm. She had been doing it correctly, but it didn’t matter anyway. Her outburst had cost her ten points and had landed her in detention. This only got her in a fouler mood. She must be the only person who had managed to get detention on the very first day of classes.
By the time she arrived to the Great Hall for dinner that evening, her humor hadn’t improved. She joined Dean at the Gryffindor table, sitting on the spot he had saved for her, which was, confidentially, to Harry’s left. As she sat down, Dean smiled at her, but Ginny was distracted by the conversation Harry, Ron and Hermione were having.
“Well, it wasn’t exactly your own work, was it?” Hermione was saying stiffly.
“He only followed different instructions to ours,” said Ron, “Could’ve been a catastrophe, couldn’t it? But he took a risk and it paid off.” He heaved a sigh. “Slughorn could’ve handed me that book, but no, I get the one no one’s ever written on. Puked on, by the look of page fifty-two, but-“
“Hang on,” Ginny said before she could restrain herself. “Did I hear right? You’ve been taking orders from something someone wrote in a book, Harry?”
It was alarming, Ginny thought angrily. Harry, better than anybody else, knew what had happened the time she had done the same thing. By confiding in Tom Riddle’s diary, she had put everyone at risk, including herself and Harry.
“It’s nothing,” Harry said reassuringly, lowering his voice. It looked like he had been able to read her mind. “It’s not like, you know, Riddle’s diary. It’s just an old textbook someone’s scribbled on.”
“But you’re doing what it says?” insisted Ginny.
“I just tried a few of the tips written in the margins, honestly, Ginny, there’s nothing funny -”
“Ginny’s got a point,” said Hermione, perking up at once. “We ought to check that there’s nothing odd about it. I mean, all these funny instructions, who knows?”
“Hey!” said Harry indignantly, as Hermione pulled a book out of his bag and raised her wand. “Specialis Revelio!” she said, rapping it smartly on the front cover. Nothing happened.
“Finished?” said Harry irritably. “Or d’you want to wait and see if it does a few backflips?”
“It seems all right,” said Hermione, still staring at the book suspiciously. “I mean, it really does seem to be … just a textbook.”
“Good. Then I’ll have it back,” said Harry.
Ginny started putting food on her plate, not at all convinced of the innocence of Harry’s book. It made her feel somewhat better, however, to know that Hermione would keep an eye on it.
“Hey!” said Dean and she jumped startled. She had forgotten she was sitting next to him.
“Hey!” she said promptly.
“Do you want to do something later?” he asked her.
“Like what?” she asked.
“Whatever you like,” he said with a smile. “I only want to be with you.”
Ginny smiled back at her boyfriend, doing her best not to listen to Harry’s voice.
“Sure,” she muttered.
You can read the next chapter here.