Chapter Eleven: Not a Fun Trip
Halfway through October came their first trip of the term to Hogsmeade. With all the terrible things that were happening in the Wizarding World, Ginny had wondered whether these trips would still be allowed, and she was pleased to know that they were going ahead; it was always good to get out of the castle grounds for a few hours.
In the previous weeks she had been successful in avoiding Harry. She only saw him during practice and even then she barely talked to him. She had also managed to spend the least amount of time possible with Dean, so it surprised her a bit when the night before the trip to Hogsmeade he cornered her in the common room and asked her –in a tone that left little room for options- to go with him to town the next day. She had said “yes” although she was not counting on having a romantic date.
Things were not fine between Dean and her. They both knew it even though neither mentioned it. Ginny thought it was time to break up with him, and the idea of doing it while at Hogsmeade sounded pretty good.
The day of the Hogsmeade visit turned out to be cold and stormy. Purplish-gray clouds hung low over the castle and through the windows could be seen a constant fall of sleet. Ginny took this as a bad omen and decided this day would be as dreadful as the weather.
She went down to breakfast early, but didn’t find Dean there. She decided to go back to the common room to get her cloak and her boyfriend, but as she walked by Professor McGonagall’s office the door opened and the Head of Gryffindor House walked out.
“Miss Weasley,” she said, and Ginny stopped walking.
“Have you seen Potter?”
Ginny’s polite smile vanished. She stared at her teacher, dumbfounded. Why would she ask her about Harry? Her, of all people. She was not one of Harry’s friends; they didn’t hang out together; there was no reason in the world why she should have seen Harry at all.
“Well, have you?” asked Professor McGonagall impatiently, and Ginny realized she had been standing there, quite motionless for a long time, staring at her teacher with an almost horror-struck expression.
“No… I… haven’t,” she stuttered.
“Would you be kind enough to run down to the Great Hall to see if he is there and give him this?” Professor McGonagall said, handing Ginny a scroll of parchment. Her tone clearly indicated that instead of asking for a favor she was giving an order.
“Sure, Professor,” Ginny managed to say. “I’ll be glad to.”
“Thank you,” said the older woman before she closed the door again on Ginny’s face.
Ginny looked at the letter in her hand for a long while. She saw Harry’s name written upon it in a thin, slanting writing. She knew it was not Professor McGonagall’s. She would recognize her handwriting anywhere. This one was completely unfamiliar. She wondered what sort of news she would bring Harry and deeply hoped it was good news.
Standing at the entrance of the Great Hall, Ginny looked for Harry with her eyes. She found him sitting at his usual spot, having breakfast with Ron and Hermione. They seemed to be arguing about something because Hermione had the stubborn face she sported every time she was fighting a lost cause, Harry was frowning and Ron was actually brandishing his fork at her.
When Ginny reached the Gryffindor table, however, they had loosened up already: Ron was laughing and Hermione was smiling. Only Harry was still frowning. Once again Ginny hoped to be the bearer of good news.
“Hey, Harry,” she said in what she hoped was a cheerful tone. “I’m supposed to give you this.”
He took the roll of parchment she handed him and his face lit up instantly. He must have recognized the handwriting, thought Ginny.
“Thanks, Ginny. . . It’s Dumbledore’s next lesson!” Harry told Ron and Hermione, pulling open the parchment and quickly reading its contents.
Dumbledore, of course, thought Ginny while she contemplated Harry carefully. She hadn’t had a chance to do that lately. She smiled with satisfaction. It was definitely good news.
“Monday evening!” said Harry when he had finished reading the letter. He sounded happy. “Want to join us in Hogsmeade, Ginny?” he asked, looking up at her.
“I’m going with Dean,” she said, feeling stupid. His invitation had taken her by surprise. “Might see you there,” she added, waving at them as she left.
She hoped no one had noticed her awkwardness, but she was sure that at least Hermione had. She shook the thought out of her head and rushed to the common room to get Dean. If they were planning to go to Hogsmeade today they should leave before the weather got worse.
When she climbed through the portrait hole into the almost deserted common room, she saw Dean talking to Seamus Finnigan. The two boys spotted her, and Seamus left.
“Are you ready?” Dean asked Ginny when she was next to him.
“I’ve been ready for a while,” she responded. “Did you just wake up?”
“No, I’ve been awake for hours. I had a… what should I call it?” he paused for a moment before adding, “a rude awakening.”
“I’m not sure myself, but Harry and Ron created quite a racket this morning.”
“What did they do?” Ginny asked, a lot more interested that she appeared.
“Like I said, I’m not entirely sure,” he said grabbing her hand and leading her to the nearest couch, where they sat. “There I was, sleeping placidly, when I was rudely awaken by your brother’s scream.”
“Ron’s scream?” Ginny exclaimed. “Why was he screaming?”
“Probably because he was hanging upside down,” Dean shrugged.
“Why?” That was so annoying. Why couldn’t he just tell her exactly what happened instead of giving her the information little by little.
“Well, when I open my eyes Ron was dangling upside down in midair. It looked like he was being hoisted up by the ankle with an invisible hook. Harry was yelling apologies and running around looking for a book,” Dean chuckled. “It was very funny. Seamus, Neville and I were laughing our heads off.”
“And then what happened?” Ginny urged him, showing impatience. She had an idea of what might have happened that morning in the six-year Gryffindor boys’ dormitory.
“Harry finally got a hold on the book, there was a flash of light, and Ron fell in a heap onto his bed.”
“Was Ron angry?” Ginny asked.
“Not at all,” said Dean. “He took it rather well. He only said that tomorrow he’d rather Harry set the alarm clock,” he chuckled again. “Had it been me, I would have been mad as hell. I tell you, I would have…”
But Ginny was no longer listening to what Dean might have done to Harry. There was no point in even mentioning the fact that Harry had fought Death Eaters and even Voldemort himself in more than one occasion and there was no chance in hell that Dean could be a remotely worthy adversary for him. For now she would let him indulge in whatever fantasy that made him happy.
Ginny was actually thinking about the book that seemed to be cause of the whole incident. Perhaps after this Harry will realize that the Prince was not as innocent as he believed him to be.
“Can we leave now?” Ginny asked, somewhat brusquely, cutting across Dean’s monologue. He looked at her frowning, but nodded and they went to get their cloaks before they climbed out through the portrait hole.
Once they were outside the Gryffindor common room Dean started talking about soccer. He continued talking as they walked down the flights of stairs lined with portraits of old witches and wizards, all of whom ignored them, being engrossed in their own conversations.
Ginny was not really paying that much attention either. She didn’t understand why anyone would enjoy that game. The players had to run up and down the field; there was only one ball which had to be handled only with the feet, and instead of having three hoops, the points were scored by getting the ball into a huge goal. That didn’t sound challenging or fun at all. However, she knew how much Dean liked it, so she nodded and smiled a lot.
When they got to the entrance hall they saw Argus Filch, who was standing at the oak front doors as usual, checking off the names of people who had permission to go into Hogsmeade. The process took even longer than normal as this morning he was triple-checking everybody with his Secrecy Sensor.
The walk into Hogsmeade was not enjoyable. Ginny wrapped her cloak tightly around her body, but the cold wind that was blowing was stubborn and was finding ways to make her shiver. Very soon Ginny was feeling nostalgic about the warm fire of the common room, and wishing she had stayed inside today.
When they reached the town, they found themselves face to face with Professor Slughorn and Ginny whined inwardly when he motioned her to join him in front of the boarded up Zonko’s Joke Shop.
“Ginny, my dear, how good to see you,” he said in his usual booming voice.
“It’s good to see you too, Professor,” Ginny said politely, without pointing out that they saw each other every single day. She gave Dean a sidelong glance. He had refused to join Ginny and Slughorn and was standing in the middle of the street with his arms crossed over his chest.
“I’ve missed you in my last suppers,” he said, half jokingly, half accusingly.
“Well, I’ve had Quidditch practice, Professor,” said Ginny innocently, knowing very well that Harry had been scheduling practices every time Slughorn had sent him a little, violet ribbon-adorned invitation.
“I know all about it, and I already told Harry that I expect you to win your first match after all the hard work,” said Slughorn. “But I’m planning another get together Monday night, and I expect you to be there. I won’t take no for an answer,” he finished dramatically.
“I’ll have to talk to Harry first,” Ginny said hurriedly, “and make sure we don’t have practice that evening.”
“I already talked to him and he has an appointment with Professor Dumbledore on Monday,” he said and Ginny remembered she was the one who had given Harry Dumbledore’s letter. “There’s no excuse. Miss Granger is also coming and I’ll see you both there.”
Ginny smiled helplessly whilst Slughorn, with a regal wave, walked away, taking absolutely no notice of Dean, as always.
“Are you ready to get out of this cold?” Dean asked grumpily when she rejoined him in the street and Ginny nodded, thinking it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to go to the Three Broomsticks and get a nice glass of butterbeer. “How about we go to Madam Puddifoot’s for some tea?”
“Madam Puddifoot’s?” Ginny grunted. She had been in the little tea shop once last year when she was going out with Michael Corner, and she had truly hated the place. It reminded her of Professor Trelawney’s classroom, although this place was tackier and sillier.
But before she could protest Dean had grabbed her arm and was leading her to the little street where the tea shop was located. Ginny cursed inwardly. That was not the sort of place where you break up with your boyfriend. She hopped that at least –unlike the Valentine’s Day, when she had been there with Michael- today there wouldn’t be little cupids flying around showering everyone with pink confetti.
No matter what she had been thinking during their walk to Madam Puddifoot’s, Ginny was truly grateful when they entered the shop and she was enveloped by its warmth. She took a big breath and filled her lungs with the lemon scented air.
Ginny looked around. The place was crammed with Hogwarts students. She saw Colin and Demelza sitting in a corner. However, they were so absorbed in one another that they didn’t notice Ginny, or anything else around them, for that matter. Ginny smiled. It was so great to see them like that. She was truly happy for Colin.
A stout woman, who Ginny recognized as Madam Puddifoot, led them to an empty table at the end of the shop and brought them two cups of hot tea. Ginny took off her cloak and her gloves and held her cup with both her hands in an attempt to warm them up. She started sipping her tea slowly, not knowing what to talk about.
That didn’t turn out to be a problem, because as soon as he had taken a big gulp from his tea, Dean retook his monologue about soccer right where he had left it. As he talked, Ginny surveyed him attentively. She realized they had never been friends; they had little in common. She certainly liked him and he was a great kisser, but that was not enough to build a relationship, was it?
After soccer Dean started talking about something else without Ginny even trying to pay attention. She was actually surprise when he asked her if she wanted to go to the Three Broomsticks to get some lunch. She had no idea so much time had elapsed.
A few minutes later they entered the crowded pub. Ginny looked around, hoping to see Hermione. She wanted to talk to her about Slughorn’s upcoming meeting.
Liar, said an annoying little voice inside her head. She knew very well that the only reason she was hoping to see Hermione was because of the company she would have, and she didn’t mean her brother.
When she realized Hermione, Harry and Ron were not at the Three Broomsticks, Ginny was about to tell Dean that she preferred to head back to the castle, but she reminded herself that she had decided to break up with Dean today. She was going to do it over a buttlebeer. The drink would give her strength, and it will comfort Dean after she had said what she had to say.
Her plans were foiled, however, when Dean decided to join Seamus, Parvati and Lavender. They were talking about this morning’s incident at the six-year boys’ dormitory.
“I can’t believe Ron didn’t hex Harry,” was saying Parvati.
“Well, they’re best mates,” said Seamus. “And I don’t think Harry did it on purpose.”
“Of course it wasn’t on purpose,” said Ginny impatiently, talking for the first time. She had remained silent throughout the conversation, sipping her butterbeer distractively.
“But it was so sweet of Ron not to retaliate,” mussed Lavender, turning slightly pink.
Ginny looked at her bemused. Did she like Ron? Ginny shuddered at the thought. She had come to accept the fact that Hermione was interested in Ron because, after all, Hermione was weird, but to find out that another girl could find her brother attractive was mind-bugling.
“Can I talk to you for a moment?” Ginny asked Dean once she had finished her butterbeer, leaning closer to him so the others couldn’t hear.
“Sure,” said Dean standing up. He them muttered something to the other Gryffindor six-years and followed Ginny to an empty spot near the entrance door.
“Are you okay?” he asked, taking her hands once they were standing facing each other. “You have been very quiet today.”
“There’s something I need to tell you and…” she swallowed hard, and looked down at her hands. This was going to be more difficult than what she thought.
“Hey,” he said, placing his index finger under her chin and tilting her head up. She looked into his dark, concern-filled eyes. “You can tell me anything,” he added reassuringly.
She took a big breath and started again.
“The thing is that lately I’ve been feeling that…” she never got to finish that sentence.
She turned around and saw Colin and Demelza walking hurriedly toward her. The expression on their faces was of apprehension.
“Ginny,” said Colin once he was standing next to her. “Did you hear?”
“Hear what?” she asked puzzled.
“Someone was cursed on the way back to Hogwarts,” he said.
“Who?” Ginny asked, feeling an increasing pressure in her chest.
“We don’t know,” said Demelza and then she turned to look at Colin. Ginny looked at him too inquiringly.
“What we know,” he started hesitantly, “is that Harry was somehow involved.”
Ginny felt as though she had been hit in the head with a beater’s club. Her mouth went dry and she was having trouble breathing. Without another word she bolted out of the pub, paying no attention to Dean’s calls.
She was already on her way to the castle when Colin and Demelza caught up with her. Colin handed Ginny her cloak and gloves, which in her hurry she had left in the table she had been sitting.
“Dean said he will be right there,” Colin said, raising his voice so she could hear him over the wind. “He was going to tell his friends.”
Ginny nodded and kept going. She wanted to sprint all the way to the castle, but she refrained. The way back to Hogwarts never felt this long before. She was trying to keep her mind blank, but scenes of Harry facing Death Eaters, Dementors, and even Voldemort himself kept creeping into her brain. The pressure in her chest had become unbearable.
By the time they had finally reached the tall entrance doors, Ginny couldn’t take it anymore and started running up the stairs in the direction of the Gryffindor Tower still followed closely by Colin and Demelza. She thought about going directly to the Hospital Wing, but she had refused to accept the possibility of Harry being hurt.
“Dilligrout,” said Ginny breathlessly as they reached the Fat Lady.
The portrait swung open to admit them to the common room. It was quite full and smelled of damp clothing; many people seemed to have returned from Hogsmeade early because of the bad weather. But Ginny didn’t care about any of them. She scanned the room looking for the only person she wanted to see and found him sitting by the fire with Ron and Hermione. She let out the breath she had been holding once she realized none of them seemed injured.
She gazed at Colin and he nodded almost imperceptibly before he led Demelza over to an empty corner of the common room. Ginny then walked over to the fireplace.
“Are you guys okay?” she asked anxiously, looking at them in turn. When her eyes met Harry’s it was with great difficulty that she managed not to throw herself at him and hold him in her arms for the rest of her life.
“Of course we are okay,” said Ron. “Why?”
Ginny didn’t answer. She simply collapsed on the nearest chair muttering “thank goodness.” The pressure in her chest had finally subsided and she was now feeling a wave of relief, and her eyes welled up in tears of solace. Tears that she knew very well she shouldn’t show.
“Did you hear?” asked Hermione.
“I only heard someone had been cursed and that you had been involved,” she said, motioning in the general direction when she said “you,” she didn’t add she had been told only about Harry’s involvement. “I didn’t know if any of you had been the one cursed.”
“It was Katie Bell,” said Harry.
“What happened to her?” Ginny insisted.
It seemed like Harry was going to narrate the whole incident to her, but Hermione was faster.
“She touched a cursed necklace,” she started hurriedly. “Someone gave it to her to bring it into the castle.” Ginny opened her mouth, but Hermione held up a hand and she remained silent. “We don’t know who gave it to her,” she gazed at Harry pointedly when she said this, and he crossed his arms over his chest and slumped on the chair he was sitting. “And we don’t know who she was supposed to give it to.”
“So the curse was not for her,” Ginny said, uneasy, gazing at Harry.
“It could have been for anyone,” Harry shrugged.
“It was scary, actually,” Ron said and Ginny tore her eyes away from Harry to look at her brother. “We were right behind her when it happened. She rose into the air, with her hair all over the place and her eyes closed. Suddenly she screamed and she fell down writhing.”
“Harry had the sound mind to go find help and he came back immediately with Hagrid,” Hermione continued. “Katie was still writhing and screaming, but Hagrid scooped her into his arms, and ran off toward the castle with her.”
“Is she going to be okay?” asked Ginny.
“We don’t know,” Hermione responded.
Ginny looked at Harry for a moment. She was sure he had wanted to say something before, when Hermione interrupted him. She wanted to ask him. She also wanted to tell him she was glad he hadn’t been the one cursed as she had originally thought. She wanted to jump into his arms and hold him tight and keep him safe. But she decided not to do any of that.
“If you hear something please let me know,” she said instead. She then stood up and joined Colin and Demelza, who were waiting for her to come over and tell them what had happened.
She was still talking with them when Dean, Seamus, Lavender and Parvati entered the common room. They went straight toward Harry, Ron and Hermione. By this time almost everyone in the common room was commenting the incident, although no one seemed to know what had really happened.
Ginny would find herself gazing at Harry every so often. He was looking at Ron and Hermione talk, but he was barely participating in their conversation. After the initial relief she had felt, Ginny started thinking that it was highly unlikely that Katie had been the intended target of this attack. She was almost sure it had been another attempt to hurt Harry, and she couldn’t help thinking it will happen again.
You can read the next chapter here.