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Chapter Eight: Trust Only Luna
Ginny didn’t see Dean again that day. She spent the rest of the evening in the common room with Colin. He was sitting on a comfortable-looking chair, reading, although he kept gazing around as though looking for somebody. Ginny knew he was probably waiting for Demelza, whom she hadn’t seen since lunch. Ginny was sitting on the floor, playing with her Pigmy Puff, Arnold, waiting for the moment to go to Slughorn’s “little party.” She was not sure she wanted to go at all; she was certainly not looking forward to an evening pretending to be nice to Cormac McLaggen and Blaise Zabini. And to be honest, she still hadn’t decided how she felt about Professor Slughorn and his Slug Club.
She let out a sigh, thinking that at least she wouldn’t have to endure the whole thing all by herself. Hermione, and Neville, and… Harry, of course, would also be there.
“Did you see that?” Colin asked Ginny in a muffled squeak. Ginny looked up a bit confused; Colin’s interruption had brought her back to reality, but she had no idea what he was talking about.
“See what?” she asked.
“Harry was staring at you,” he said, unable to hide his delight. Ginny looked at Harry, who was sitting by the fireplace talking animatedly with Ron and Hermione.
“No, he’s not,” she told her friend sternly.
“Well, he was; just a second ago,” he insisted and Ginny rolled her eyes.
“You’re delusional,” Ginny said before redirecting her attention back to Arnold.
“Are you telling me you haven’t notice?” asked Colin, wide-eyed.
“What?” asked Ginny, a bit annoyed.
“The way he’s been acting around you,” he said triumphantly. Ginny opened her mouth to protest, but she found herself completely lost for words and closed it again. “He’s even looking at you differently now, Ginny,” he said coming down to sit on the floor next to her.
It took Ginny a couple of seconds for the absurdity of Colin’s statement to sink in.
“You are delusional.” It was all she managed to say at last.
“I am observant,” said Colin impassible. “An important characteristic of a photographer.”
“Actually, I think your own infatuation is causing you hallucinations,” said Ginny in what she hopped sounded like a care-free tone. She was not about to show Colin –or anyone else for that matter- how much his statement had actually affected her.
“Think what you want, but I’m telling you…” Colin broke off, his eyes fixed on a spot behind Ginny. She turned around to find that Demelza had finally arrived and was talking to Harry. And Ginny could tell that whatever she was telling him was not precisely good news.
Demelza then spotted Ginny and Colin; she waved cheerfully and started making her way toward them. Colin sprang to his feet, waving awkwardly at the girl, while Ginny stifled a laugh. She thought it wouldn’t be polite to laugh at his friend’s puppy love, especially since he had never laughed at her idiotic crush.
“Hi Ginny! Hi Colin!” said Demelza when she was standing next to Colin.
“Hi Demelza!” said Colin and Ginny.
Demelza and Colin sat on a sofa and Ginny stood up.
“I hate to leave you guys,” said Ginny playfully. “But I have to go to Slughorn’s party and I need to take Arnold up to my room first.” For some reason her friends didn’t seem all that broken up by her departure. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” Ginny added.
“Bye,” said Colin and Demelza before engaging in a vivacious conversation.
Ginny went up the stairs to her dormitory, and placed Arnold in its cage. She gazed longingly at her bed and sighed. She was a bit tired and she’d rather stay in her room and go to bed early than to go to Slughorn’s stupid party.
She went back down to the common room and gazed at Colin and Demelza. They were still chatting animatedly and didn’t seem to notice her arrival. Ginny also saw Hermione walking toward her. Ron and Harry were nowhere to be seen.
“Good, you’re still here,” said Hermione. “You are going to Slughorn’s party, right?” there was something a bit threatening about her tone.
“I was on my way out,” said Ginny. “With any luck I’ll get a chance to hex Zabini tonight.”
Hermione loosened up instantly as she let out a soft laugh.
“Let’s go then,” she said, seizing Ginny’s arm.
They climbed out through the portrait hole and set off toward Slughorn’s study.
“So, how you’ve been, Ginny?” Hermione asked in what Ginny had come to recognize as her I-want-to-tell-you-something-but-I-prefer-to-make-some-small-talk-first tone.
“ I’ve been fantastic,” said Ginny, raising an eyebrow.
“How are things with Dean?” Hermione went on in the same tone.
“Good, I guess,” Ginny shrugged.
“Too bad he didn’t make the team.” Ginny was about to ask her where exactly was all this leading to, but instead she simply nodded. “Why do you suppose that was?”
“What do you mean why?” Ginny sort of snapped. She found this particular characteristic of her friend highly enervating. “He didn’t make the team because Katie, Demelza and I were better,” she said in the most definitive tone.
“Of course,” said Hermione hurriedly. “But do you think Harry might have had another reason to leave him out?”
Ginny stopped dead on her tracks. She couldn’t believe Hermione was implying what she thought she was. Ginny could have expected it from anyone, but not Hermione. More than everyone else, she should know the kind of person Harry was. Had Dean been the best choice for the team, he would definitely have gotten one of the Chaser positions.
Hermione took another couple of steps before she realized Ginny was not walking beside her. She turned around, and looked at her friend inquiringly. Ginny was staring at Hermione; her mouth hanging open and her eyes wide with disbelieve.
“Are you saying that Harry may have discriminated again Dean for some reason?” Ginny asked, making a conscious effort to keep her voice even.
“Of course not!” exclaimed Hermione defensively.
“What are you saying then?” Ginny asked taking the few steps that separated them.
“Nothing, I guess,” Hermione said in a defeated sort of way. She had obviously realized that her technique had been ineffective. “Let’s go,” she added.
They had barely taken a few steps, however, when Hermione decided to try again.
“Have you noticed anything different about Harry lately?”
“No, I haven’t,” said Ginny truthfully. “But then again, I don’t spend that much time with him.”
“Do you remember the conversation we had the summer we were staying at Grimmauld Place?” Hermione asked and Ginny thought she couldn’t take it anymore.
“I remember we talked a lot that summer,” she said crossly, although she had a very good idea what conversation Hermione was referring to. It had been about Harry.
“I mean the one about how you should relax a bit around Harry, and even date other guys,” Hermione said cautiously.
“Oh! That conversation,” said Ginny, waving her hand dismissively. “I had totally forgotten about it.”
“Right,” said Hermione, looking skeptical. She could obviously tell Ginny was lying through her teeth.
“Wait a minute,” exclaimed Ginny feigning indignation. “You don’t believe that’s the reason why I started dating Michael then, and now Dean, do you?”
“Isn’t it?” asked Hermione, being direct for the first time.
“Of course not!” Ginny exclaimed. “I told you then and I’ll repeat it now: I don’t have a crush with Harry anymore. I only see him as a friend now.” She looked at Hermione directly in the eye before adding, “and I’m dating Dean because I really like him.”
“All right,” said Hermione, conciliatory. “Don’t get your wand in a knot.” She then added in what was clearly an off-handed sort of tone, “then I guess you wouldn’t care if I told you that my advice worked.”
“What are you talking about?” Ginny asked, trying to sound puzzled, but the truth was that her heart had skipped a beat.
“Only that I think Harry is starting to see you differently,” Hermione said, giving Ginny a sidelong glance.
Ginny looked at her for a moment, completely flabbergasted. Did Colin and Hermione agree to play this cruel prank on her? That was the only explanation. But she couldn’t allow herself to even entertain such thoughts, she told herself firmly.
However, after sounding so definitive inside her head, she was actually surprised when she heard her own voice saying, “has he told you anything?”
“Harry? Of course not,” Hermione said and Ginny could feel her heart drop to an empty space in the pit of her stomach. “I don’t think he has figured it out yet,” Hermione added, but Ginny didn’t answer. All she wanted was to go back in time and prevent Hermione from telling her anything.
When they were just a few steps away from Slughorn’s office, Hermione said, as though the thought had just occurred to her, “I wonder how Harry would react if he saw you kissing Dean.”
“Well, Harry must know I kiss Dean, don’t you think?” snapped Ginny.
“Maybe,” said Hermione, without giving any indication that she had noticed Ginny’s unfriendly tone. “But it’s one thing to know it, and another thing to see it.”
“You are not suggesting I kiss Dean in front of Harry just to see his reaction, are you?
“Of course not, Ginny,” said Hermione with a small smile. “I was just talking to myself out loud.”
They arrived at the party and saw that everyone else was already there. Ginny noticed there were quite a few more people than in the train, and also that Marcus Belby was not present. His invitation must have gotten lost in the mail, just like his relationship with his Uncle Damocles, Ginny thought rolling her eyes.
Professor Slughorn spotted them and came to greet them.
“Such a pleasure to see you both here,” he exclaimed with a wide smile.
“Good evening, Professor,” said the two girls.
“I take it Severus didn’t excuse Harry,” he said, suddenly deflating.
“No Professor,” responded Hermione. “Professor Snape sent him a message saying that he had to serve his detention tonight.”
“I shall have a word with Severus tomorrow,” said Slughorn, sounding a bit upset. “He doesn’t seem to remember how important these meetings are,” he added as though talking to himself. “And to keep Harry from coming… Harry, of all people…” He then looked back at the girls, who were still standing in front of him. “Well, I’m glad you two were able to come.” He turned around to address the rest of the student present. “Everyone,” he said pompously, “you probably know them already, but these lovely young ladies are Miss Hermione Granger and Miss Ginny Weasley.” Some of them waved, others nodded or smiled, and others, like Zabini and McLaggen, scowled. “You go right in and mingle.”
“Harry had detention with Snape tonight?” Ginny asked Hermione as soon as the Potions Master was out of earshot.
“Yes,” Hermione answered.
At that moment a thought entered Ginny’s brain.
“Was his detention supposed to be last Saturday?” she asked.
Hermione looked at Ginny, but instead of answering, she asked, “how do you know that?”
Ginny didn’t answer Hermione’s question either. She only shook her head, muttering, “poor Harry; a whole night of rotten flobberworms.”
“Okay,” said Hermione, perplexed, “how do you know that?”
Ginny opened her mouth to tell Hermione about her own detention experience, but closed it right away, deciding not to. Why did she have to answer every one of her questions when Hermione was so reluctant to give information herself?
“It’s the Inner Eye, my dear,” Ginny said with a most un-Professor-Trelawney-ish grin. “Divination classes must be starting to pay off.”
Ginny winked at her and moved away, leaving a puzzled Hermione behind. She had spotted Neville, sitting by himself in the most inconspicuous corner of the room and went to join him. When she sat next to him, she glanced back and saw an oddly flushed Hermione talking with the obnoxious Cormac McLaggen.
Ginny spent most of the evening talking with Neville and Hermione –who had taken advantage of the first time McLaggen had gotten distracted and had fled from his side-, but she couldn’t help thinking that she would have preferred doing the same thing in the Gryffindor common room. At least that way she wouldn’t have to endure Zabini’s annoying stare.
“What Zabini?” she snapped at him when she had had more than enough. “Why don’t you take a picture? It would last longer.”
Zabini’s handsome features contorted in an ugly grimace. “What are you implying, Weasley?” he almost spat her last name.
“I’m not implying anything, Zabini. I’m telling you to stop staring at me,” she said holding his gaze defiantly. “It’s creeping me out.”
Zabini glared at her through his narrowed long, slanting eyes, but then he gave her a cold smile before redirecting his attention to Melinda Bobbin, who was sitting next to him.
“When would it be polite to leave?” Ginny asked Hermione and Neville, annoyed, and they shrugged.
However, as if on cue, Professor Slughorn stood in the middle of the room. “I thank you all for coming tonight, but I’m afraid it’s time for you to get back to your common rooms.” He winked before adding, “spooky the way time flies when one is having fun.”
“Spooky indeed,” said Ginny with a sigh of relief.
Ginny, Neville and Hermione hurried out, but to their dismay, McLaggen joined them outside. He went all the way to the Gryffindor Tower talking to Hermione about what seemed to be his favorite subject, himself, and totally ignoring Ginny and Neville. This suited Ginny just fine. She was not particularly interested in hearing about nogtail hunting or any of the other fascinating things he did with dear Uncle Tiberius. Neville also thought Quidditch was much more interesting than that, so they both fell a few steps behind –paying absolutely no attention to Hermione’s imploring look- and had their own conversation about Puddlemere United’s chances of winning this year’s championship.
The next morning, when Ginny entered the Great Hall for breakfast, she saw Hermione waving at her and went to join her, Ron and Harry.
“Hi Ginny!” said Hermione cheerfully as Ginny sat in the empty spot next to Harry.
“Good morning Hermione, Harry, Ronnikins.” Ron grunted something through a mouthful of eggs, but Ginny ignored him and turned to Hermione. “So,” she said mockingly. “Where’s your dear friend, McLaggen?”
Hermione blanched under the inquiring look Ron and Harry shot her as Ginny began putting raspberry jam on a toast, smirking.
“Everybody missed you last night,” Ginny then told Harry, deciding to steer the conversation away from Hermione. After all, she was the one that had gotten her in trouble. “Especially Slughorn. He was heartbroken.”
“I bet,” said Harry. “Unfortunately, I had a previous commitment.”
“How was Snape? His usual charming self?” she asked with a grimace.
“More charming than ever,” Harry chortled.
“What are we going to do today?” Ron asked, rather abruptly. He had already finished his breakfast and was looking at Harry quizzically.
“Dunno,” Harry shrugged.
“I think we should go to the library and start working on the essay about the Inferi for Defense Against the Dark Arts,” said Hermione and Harry and Ron shared an amused look.
“Or,” started Ron, “you can do that while we go down to the Quidditch Pitch.”
“Again?” Hermione whined. “Don’t you ever get tired of Quidditch?”
“No,” chorused Harry, Ron and Ginny.
“All right,” said Hermione rolling her eyes. “I’ll see you later.” And she left the Great Hall.
“Are you coming, Ginny?” Harry asked once Hermione was gone.
“No,” she answered. She had to order her heart to stop the crazy dance it had started as Harry fixed his emerald green eyes on her chocolate ones. “I’m going to the library too. Luna and I are studying today.”
“Studying with Loony,” said Ron standing up. “That sounds like a good plan.”
“I would appreciate it if you didn’t call her that,” said Ginny through gritted teeth, glaring at her brother.
“Sure,” said Ron dismissively. “Let’s go, Harry.”
“See you later, Ginny,” Harry said, getting to his feet as well.
“Bye Harry,” she told him, but then she remembered something. “Hey! Have any of you seen Dean today?”
“He was still sleeping when we left this morning,” said Ron, looking down at Ginny with a frown. “What do you want him for?”
“That’s none of your business, is it?” she responded crossly.
Ron let out a noise that might have been a grunt, but didn’t say a word; instead, he wheeled around and left the Great Hall, followed by Harry. Ginny took a couple more bites from her toast –she was not really that hungry- and a sip from her pumpkin juice and left too.
She found Luna on the entrance hall. She was making her way down the stairs and called Ginny out.
“Ginny!” she said, waving her hand as though she was trying to get rid of some flies.
“Oh! Hi Luna,” Ginny responded. “Are you ready to go to the library or were you on your way to the Great Hall?”
“I had breakfast already,” she said. “I got up at dawn so I could go down to the lake to see the spritzies. During this month they should be laying their eggs, but I didn’t see a single one,” she explained, her large misty eyes seemed even bigger than usual.
“Maybe you missed then,” Ginny said diplomatically, trying not to sound as if she actually wanted to know what spritzies were. “Should we go to the library then?” she added and Luna nodded.
They set off in the direction of the library silently, but after a while Luna turned to Ginny.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you, Ginny,” she said, somewhat distracted. “Have you noticed anything odd about Harry lately?”
Ginny’s eyes went wide, her mouth an O of surprise. No way! She could have expected this nonsense from Colin and even Hermione, but Luna!
“Oh!” she snapped. “Now you’re going to tell me that he’s been looking at me differently; that he might even have started to fall for me. Or that I should let him see me with Dean to try making him jealous,” she went on heatedly, her chest rising and falling rapidly. “But the truth is that nothing has changed between Harry and me. He still sees me as nothing more than Ron’s little sister.”
She stopped abruptly, cursing herself as she felt tears well up in her eyes. She took a couple of calming breaths and gazed at Luna, who had waited patiently, looking at her serenely throughout her outburst.
“That’s not what I was going to say at all,” said Luna peering at Ginny intently. “I was going to say that I think he’s being attacked by Wrackspurts.”
“Oh!” muttered Ginny confused. This was certainly the last thing she would have expected. “Oh!” she exclaimed, suddenly realizing how stupidly she had reacted and feeling –with embarrassment- how her cheeks grew hot; they probably resembled the color of her hair by now. “I… what?” she added, even more confused than before, completely forgetting her rule of never asking Luna about the weird stuff she was always taking about.
“Wrackspurts… They’re invisible. They float in through your ears and make your brain go fuzzy,” she explained. “He got attacked by one on the train, but I think they have followed him here,” she said frowning. “They’re harmless, but they make you look all funny and distracted.”
Ginny tried to come up with a response other than “You are out of your mind,” but couldn’t so she remained silent. Luckily, Luna didn’t seem to be expecting one, and in any case they were already entering the library. But as they sat on one of the tables and got her books out of her book bags, Ginny thought that maybe her friend was on to something.
Ginny hadn’t noticed anything different about Harry lately, other than the fact that he was talking more to her. But that was totally understandable; they had lived, had they not, like brother and sister all summer, playing Quidditch, teasing Ron, and having a laugh about Bill and Phlegm? They had known each other for years now. His feelings for her were entirely elder-brotherly. And by Merlin, she was going to start seeing him as another one of her brothers. And she was going to start right now.
Colin and Hermione were wrong, she thought fiercely. She never thought she would ever say this, but from now on she would only trust Luna’s judgment.
You can read the next chapter here.