Chapter Ten: Surviving
Ginny felt as though she were a criminal who had been sentenced to death and somehow had accepted her fate. She knew very well Harry was not interested in her; he had never been and he never will be.
In a desperate attempt to keep herself busy, she had applied herself to her school work with fierce determination. She was even writing down all her dreams in her dream journal for Divination. That is, of course, all her dreams as long as they didn’t include a certain black-haired, green-eyed someone, who seemed to be spending an awful lot of time inside her head lately.
Colin kept his promise and didn’t mention Harry’s alleged “different way of looking at Ginny” again. In fact, over the last couple of weeks he hardly mentioned Harry at all. He usually talked about Demelza now, especially since they started dating.
Things with Dean were getting kind of frosty. He didn’t give any indication of being interested in continuing their unfinished conversation, and Ginny was actually glad about that. She was not sure she would be able to look at him in the eye and try to make him believe she had absolutely no feelings for Harry.
The thing was that Dean and Ginny had barely talked since that evening. They met at the Great Hall for every meal, and sat together at the common room almost every evening, but they were silent most of the time, and when they did talk it was about classes, homework and OWLs. But even though Dean never mentioned Harry again, Ginny was positive he was also thinking about him a lot.
In any case, she preferred to spend the least amount of time possible with her boyfriend. That was why these days she was spending a lot of time in the library with Colin and Luna. And she had to admit that this was the first time in all her years at Hogwarts that her grades were this high. Hermione was definitely proud of her, and come to think of it, she shuddered at the thought, so would be Percy.
“Are you okay?” Colin asked her, looking up from his Transfiguration essay and Ginny realized her anger toward her brother must have shown on her face.
“I’m fine,” she said noncommittal, shooting a brief glance at her friend before looking back down at the piece of parchment in front of her. She had the impression he had been paying more attention to her than to what he was writing about Vanishing Spells.
“You’ve been awfully quiet,” he said, looking straight at her.
“I want to finish this essay today,” she said, shrugging, without looking up.
“I don’t mean just now,” he said leaning forward across the table. “I’m taking about the last few weeks.”
Ginny looked up to her friend’s worried face for a short moment. She then looked around and contemplated Luna for a while. She was walking between two rows of bookshelves with the air of someone who was walking distractedly in a park, rather than someone who was in a library, purposely looking for a book to finish her homework.
“Ginny?” She heard Colin’s voice as though it had came from far away. She glanced back at him and realized he looked even more concerned than before.
“I’m okay, Colin,” she said comfortingly. “I’m just busy.” He raised an eyebrow and she added, “with classes and Quidditch.”
“I see,” he muttered, leaning back on his chair. “It seems to me that the only thing you haven’t been busy with lately is your relationship.”
Ginny looked at him through narrowed eyes, and was still deciding if she should dignify his comment with an answer when Luna joined them again. She hadn’t picked a single book.
“Weren’t you looking for a book about Vanishing Spells?” Ginny asked Luna, deciding it would be best to simply ignore Colin’s remark.
“They don’t have really good books in this library,” Luna said dreamily without really answering Ginny’s question. “I suppose it’s part of the Ministry’s plan to keep us in the dark. I’m going to write daddy and tell him to look into it. It could be part of the Rotfang Conspiracy.”
Ginny looked at Luna for a moment as she fixed her huge blue eyes on her half-written essay, and then at Colin, who was also looking at Luna puzzled. She rapidly decided that she had as much interest in talking about Mr. Lovegood’s latest conspiracy theory as about her love life, so she simply gazed down at her own parchment and continued to work in silence.
She didn’t stay long, anyway, because she had practice later, and she had told Harry she would get to the pitch earlier that evening. Colin had offered to take her book bag to the Gryffindor Tower, and when it was time for her to get going, she put all her stuff inside it and left the library.
It took her a long time to get to the Quidditch pitch, probably because she had dragged her feet all the way there, wondering whether she and Harry would be alone or not this time.
The answer was waiting for her at the stadium, where Harry and Ron were already in the air, flying around. As soon as Harry spotted her, however, he came down.
“Hi Ginny,” he said when his feet touched the ground.
“Hello Harry,” she muttered and then added in a business-like tone, “I’ll get my broom and we’ll get started.” And without waiting for his response, she scurried away into the changing rooms.
It had been the same thing every time they had had practice over the last few weeks. And after that first Seeker training, Harry and Ginny hadn’t been alone again. The Quidditch practices had been very frequent lately because Harry would schedule one every time he got an invitation for one of Slughorn’s meetings. This was always good news for Ginny because she was really not interested in attending the meetings at all. It even amused her the way Hermione would beg her to skip practice and accompany her. Ginny’s answer was always “no.”
She knew the reason why Harry kept doing this was not only to avoid becoming Slughorn’s featured attraction. He also did it because he didn’t want Ron to feel left out. Harry and Ron always had a laugh imagining Hermione shut up with McLaggen and Zabini. Ginny joined them, half-heartedly, barely paying attention to their jokes. At those times he had other things in her mind.
At every practice a fierce battle took place inside Ginny between the part of her that wanted to keep her heart safe by staying away from Harry, and the part that was content just being close to him; being just a friend. Outside the Quidditch pitch she scarcely saw Harry at all.
A couple of days later she was walking out of Transfiguration with Colin and Luna when they crossed paths with a group of Slytherin six-years. Ginny was barely paying attention to them and it took her by surprise when she was hit hard on her right shoulder. Pansy Parkinson had hit Ginny with her backpack, apparently by accident, but one look at the girl’s pug-like face and Ginny could tell she had done it on purpose.
Pansy gave Ginny a mocking smile before continuing her way followed by Draco Malfoy, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle, Blaise Zabini, Theodore Nott, and Millicent Bulstrode, all of whom –with the exception of Malfoy, who seemed otherwise preoccupied- were laughing loudly.
“Watch where you’re going,” Ginny barked.
The group of Slytherins wheeled around and they all gazed at Ginny amused. Draco was the only one who kept going, looking completely uninterested.
“Actually, Weasley,” said Pansy in her shrilling, annoying voice. “People like you should be the ones getting out of the way when superiors like us walked by.”
Ginny let out a snort of laughter at Pansy’s words, even though she didn’t find her statement at all amusing. She looked at each one of the Slytherins in front of her, wondering if they really believed they were better than everyone else.
“You really are pathetic, Parkinson,” Ginny said at last. “You all are.”
“Do you want to know what’s pathetic, Weasley?” said Pansy getting closer to Ginny with a cruel smile on her lips. “The way you’ve been running after Potter all these years like a meager lap dog, begging for his attention,” she let out a calculated laugh that was joined by the other Slytherins. “It really is pitiful.”
Ginny could feel her blood heat to a boil and her hand was clenched so tight around her wand that she could feel her nails cutting through her skin. Why was it that this was the low blow everyone always wanted to throw at her?
She could think about a few responses she could give Pansy Parkinson, starting with the fact that at least she –Ginny- was in love with someone who was worthy of being loved, whilst her –Pansy- was the girlfriend of a despicable coward and all around awful person. Someone so sleazy and scurvy that didn’t even seemed to care about his girlfriend. After all, he had simply left her in the middle of a confrontation.
It was with great difficulty that Ginny managed to smile at Pansy.
“Actually, Pansy,” she said, as though she were taking to her oldest and most cherished friend. “In my opinion, it’s even more pitiful the way your face looks.”
“What are you taking about?” Pansy asked confused. She had obviously been expecting an attack and was taken by surprise by Ginny’s comment.
“I’m taking about those nasty and painful-looking boils your face is covered with,” Ginny said in the same tone she had used before.
“There are no boils on my face,” Pansy riposted, as though the mere thought was offensive enough.
“Oh! There aren’t?” Ginny asked, and before anyone realized what was happening, she pointed her wand at Parkinson saying “Furnunculus!”
Pansy let out a shriek of pain, but when she raised her hands to her face, the scream of horror she let out then was by far louder and scarier.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” said Ginny scornfully.
In a second, at least five wands went up, pointed at Ginny and Colin and Luna closed ranks behind her. Only Zabini stayed out of it, looking from Ginny to Pansy with an expression of absolute amusement. But before any of them could throw the first hex, a booming voice was heard on the hallway.
“Stop right there!” They all turned around in time to see Mr. Filch rushing toward them from the far end of the hallway with his odious cat at his heels.
Before he reached them, Pansy, who was still covering her face with her hands, told Ginny, “you will get yours sooner or later, Blood Traitor.”
“You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t break down in panic,” Ginny replied scathingly, “but you don’t look particularly threatening right now. Laughable? Yes. Threatening? Not at all.”
Pansy glared at Ginny, but instead of replying, she turned to Filch, who was now only a couple of steps away, and addressed him through obviously fake crying.
“Oh! Mr. Filch,” she said in a whiney, even more annoying than usual voice. “Look what she did to me. They all saw it.”
As if on cue, the Slytherins standing behind her all started talking at once, giving different versions of the incident. Once again, only Zabini remained silent, looking even more amused now.
“Shut up!” Filch snarled and no one needed to be told twice. “You,” he told Pansy brusquely, “go to the Hospital Wing.”
Pansy gave Filch a resentful look through her fingers and left the scene with as much dignity as she could muster.
“Everyone else, go to your classes,” Filch said next.
The big crowd that had gathered around the Gryffindors and the Slytherins rapidly scattered. The Slytherins also left, shooting nasty glares at Ginny as they walked away, with the exception of Zabini, who simply left without giving Ginny –or anyone else for that matter- a second look.
Ginny, Colin and Luna made to leave as well, but Filch stopped them.
“Where do you think you’re going, Weasley?” Filch barked.
“You said ‘go to your classes,’” Ginny said cheekily.
“Don’t make things worst, Weasley,” he said grumpily. “You are already on my list.” He then looked at Colin and Luna. “You two, go to your classes.”
There was a split second when Colin looked as though he was about to tell Filch he wouldn’t go anywhere without Ginny, but she shook her head and he and Luna walked away.
“When your brothers left Hogwarts last year I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with red-haired devils anymore,” Filch gnarled once Colin and Luna were gone. “I see that you take after them.”
Ginny was about to ask Filch if he was going somewhere with this pointless chit chat, because he surely had more important things to do than to listen to him rant and rave about Fred and George, but she thought that she was probably in enough trouble as it was, so instead, she managed to smile at the caretaker.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said.
“Well, it was not meant as one,” he grunted. “I have the perfect punishment for you,” he said, giving Ginny a look of contempt; however he couldn’t say another word. To Ginny’s bemusement, he started making attempts to talk, but no word would come out of his mouth. It seemed as though his tongue had been glued to the roof of his mouth. It was with great difficulty that Ginny restrained herself from collapsing in helpless laughter while Filch grunted with frustration, his face getting redder and redder by the second. He suddenly stormed away, followed closely by Mrs. Norris, and Ginny assumed he was going to the Hospital Wing.
She was still looking at him get away when she was tapped on the shoulder from behind. She turned around to find Harry, who was looking at her amused.
“That was close,” he said pointing at Filch’s back. “Ah! And you don’t have to say ‘thank you,’” he added in a lower tone.
“You did that?” she asked and he nodded. “How?”
“A useful little jinx I picked up,” he shrugged.
“And by any chance, did you pick it up in certain Potions book?” Ginny asked sharply.
“Yes,” he responded rather sheepishly.
“Harry!” she exclaimed frowning. “I thought you were going to be careful with that book.”
“I’m being careful, Ginny.”
“But you said you were only following tips for brewing potions,” she insisted accusatory.
“There are also spells written down in the margins,” Harry said. “I think the Prince made them up.”
“Let me get this straight,” she said in a tone that sounded –even to herself- a lot like Hermione’s. “You are using handwritten spells even when you don’t know what they’re for?”
“They are perfectly harmless,” said Harry defensively and Ginny raised an eyebrow. “Trust me, Ginny. The Prince is nothing like Riddle,” he added reassuringly.
She remained silent. She had a bad feeling about this Half-Blood Prince. There was so much she would have liked to tell him, but she knew very well he would not listen to her words of caution.
“I just saved you from detention,” said Harry tentatively.
Ginny looked at Harry for a long moment, not sure of what to say next. She finally let out a big sigh.
“Well, thank you,” she said somewhat coldly. “And thank the Prince for me.”
She wheeled around but decided there was one more thing she needed to tell Harry and turned around again. He hadn’t moved.
“Just be careful,” she said, looking straight into his eyes.
He didn’t say anything, but smiled at her –one of those heart-stopping smiles of him- and nodded before walking away.
You can read the next chapter here.