|SIYE Time:18:11 on 18th October 2017|
(Everybody Loves) Harry's Magical Trunk
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Category: SIYE Challenges, The Potter Trunk Challenge (2016-2)
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Ron Weasley
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery
Story is Complete
Summary: Although Harry remembers little of his parents, they still passed on many things to him: his looks, his love for flying and redheads, and... a trunk?
Hitcount: Story Total: 1667
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
Here's my entry to the Trunk Challenge. Enjoy!
It was the evening before the end of July, 1992, when Harry Potter received a birthday present that would change his life.
The boy in question just had the worst birthday yet, and there was no doubt that the coming summer would be even worse. The manic look in his uncle’s eyes and his purple complexion were good indications of that.
Harry, who was hungry, tired, and weary after his encounter with Dobby, sat on his old mattress and absently plucked a few loose threads off his bedcovers. He looked at his meagre possessions: his snowy owl named Hedwig, the thick pack of letters from his friends that Dobby had given back to him tonight, and finally the moving picture of his parents, where they were dancing, smiling, and waving at him. Harry looked at them longingly, and wished he would one day have a proper birthday, with laughter, friends, and family.
That was when he heard the sound of rushing wings and Hedwig hooted excitedly from her cage. Harry looked up from the picture, and two owls he had never seen before came flying in through the window at number four, Privet Drive, carrying something the size of a loaf of bread between them. They landed beside him on the bed and sat there, as straight and prim as an owl could sit. Harry removed the package, and the owls left through the window before Harry could offer them some owl treats.
He looked at the package they brought and realized it was a very small trunk. It was made of dark wood, had black metal on the edges, and on the top was an elegant “P”. It also had an envelope attached that was addressed to him, but he did not recognize the handwriting. Intrigued, he picked up the letter and opened it:
We left this trunk with the goblins of Gringotts to deliver to you on your twelfth birthday if anything happened to both of us. The trunk has a charm on it that allows you to enlarge and shrink the trunk without the Ministry’s knowledge. Just tap the trunk with your wand and say “Enlarge” or “Shrink” and remove your wand when you’re happy with the size. You cannot enlarge the trunk bigger than its original size or shrink it smaller than a match box.
There is a second letter inside the trunk to explain why we did all this. We love you and hope this trunk can help you in your life.
James & Lily Potter
For a long time, Harry sat perfectly still, oblivious to anything in the world but the letter in his hand. We love you. He traced the scribbly handwriting with his finger, then read the names at the bottom of the yellowing parchment. We love you. He stared longingly at the letter, then at the picture of his parents on his nightstand. Finally he swallowed and reluctantly tore his gaze from the letter.
The trunk was heavy when he picked it up, and he timely figured out he’d rather have it be on the floor instead of in his lap when he enlarged it.
It didn’t come higher than his knees after he’d enlarged it, but its size would prove to be very deceiving.
He clicked the large latches, hoped the Dursleys didn’t wake up from the loud noise, lifted the heavy cover and his expectations proved to be wrong when he encountered a dark hole inside. The dim light of the old light bulb in his room did little to illuminate the inside of the trunk, and the only thing he could see was the beginning of a sturdy wooden ladder, leading down into the darkness. Harry glanced at Hedwig, then at the inside of the trunk again.
His curiosity won.
Careful for anything evil that could lurk within, he slowly descended the ladder with his parents’ letter still clutched in his hand, and his wand in the other. His feet found solid, but comfortably soft ground. He stepped down, let go of the ladder and looked up. A few metres above him, he could see his room, but down here, he couldn’t see past the ray of light that came from above.
“Hello?” He asked. His voice cracked.
No reply. He heard no echo, but became aware of the slightly stale air that hung here. He took a deep breath, remembered the letter in his hand, and took a step forward.
The moment his foot touched the soft, warm floor, the torches on the wall all lit themselves, and Harry was shocked to find himself in a large library, with bookshelves that were filled with books reaching up to the ceiling all around him. The floor turned out to be a luxurious red carpet that felt wonderful under his bare feet. On either side of him were wooden doors.
He didn’t know where to begin. He tried to take it all in, then started going over all the books that were there. He didn’t even think of the world that went on outside of his trunk while he scoured the many bookshelves, finding books that ranged from old versions of “Hogwarts: a History” to books like “Stars of the British Quidditch League, 1903-1904”. After a long time of exploring, leafing through books and examining all the yellowing pages, he finally put “Geology and Wards: a Beautiful Bond” by a man named Melchior Naaktgeboren aside and gave in to his need to explore the rest of the trunk.
He entered the door to his left. Here, too, the torches lit up the moment he stepped inside, revealing an intriguing collection of tables, small desks, and a large amount of potion brewing stands. It reminded him a bit of Professor Snape’s classroom. Only this room was welcoming, not a cold dungeon, and, better yet, it did not feature Snape.
It was no doubt after midnight already, and his eyes were starting to droop, so he reluctantly left the potions room for what it was and entered the last room on the other side of the library.
It was, Harry decided, perfect: a desk with a comfortable chair behind it on one end and a fireplace one the other, the stone hearth surrounded by a set of mismatching sofas and a large couch. It reminded him a lot of the Gryffindor common room. He felt at home here.
His eyes were drawn to the coffee table in front of the fire, and the letter that lay on it. He crossed the room, picked up the envelope, and wiped the layer of dust off it before opening it. This was his parents’ second letter.
Dear, sweet Harry,
This letter is just as hard to write as the last one, and even though everyone close to us urges us to remain realistic, we still hold out hope that ultimately this letter will not be needed.
By now you will probably have explored the insides of this trunk, and I hope you’re impressed as I was when I first saw it as a boy.
Yes, indeed, I grew up with it. So did your grandfather. In fact, this trunk was originally created by your great-great-grandfather, Charles Potter. It has been passed on through the generations ever since.
Me and my friends made lots of use of it when we were in school, and I see It as my fatherly duty to advise you to do exactly the same: have fun with it. Invite your friends to it. And girls!
Your mother insists that I should also tell you to be serious as well and read as much as you can from the library, because there’s a wealth of knowledge in there that will surely be of use to you. But, speaking from father to son: she loved it when I invited her in here the first time. Hint!
With all our love,
James and Lily Potter
When he sank down on his old, rough mattress back in his bedroom later and laid his glasses on his nightstand, he felt happier than he’d felt in a long time, and, just for a moment, he didn’t think of the hardship that lay ahead. Carefully tucking the letter under his pillow, he closed his eyes and sank into a peaceful sleep.
“So, what d’you think?” Harry asked.
It was the weekend after their first week at Hogwarts. Harry had waited to show Ron the trunk until Hermione was there as well. And, as kind as the Weasleys had been towards him while he’d stayed at the Burrow, he still wanted only his two best friends to know about his parents’ gift.
“Wicked!” Ron replied, grinning.
Hermione didn’t say anything. Her mouth still hung open in shock.
“Imagine all the things we could do here! We could play games and stay up all night!” Harry said.
“We could skive off Potions and no one’ll find us!” Ron suggested happily.
“You two,” Hermione said, shaking her head. “Harry, this is incredible! Do you have any idea how much knowledge is stored in this library? This is a treasure-trove!”
“Yeah, I know,” Harry chucked. Ron, who was examining the Quidditch section, sniggered as well. But Hermione was already too engrossed in the library to even notice.
“But really, if you two want to use anything from the trunk you only have to ask, alright?” Harry said.
Hermione looked up from the shelves and beamed at him. Ron looked around uncomfortably.
“I mean, I have it now, so we might as well use it, right?” Harry added.
“Right,” Ron said slowly.
“Thank you, Harry!” Hermione said. She already had a fair amount of books in her arms. “Do you mind if I leaf through these?”
“No, go ahead,” Harry said.
“Oh, and Ron, Harry?” She said before she disappeared into the study. “No skiving off Potions.”
Both boys groaned theatrically.
“Are you absolutely sure you know how to brew it?” Harry asked. “You said Polyjuice Potion is difficult to brew, and I don’t think we-”
“For the last time, yes!” Ron and Harry watched on as Hermione paced around the library.
“And it’s not going to blow up when you do something wrong?”
Hermione stopped pacing and gave him a look. “This is Potions, Harry. Everything can blow up,” she said. “But no, I don’t think it could do any permanent damage to your trunk.” That didn’t put Harry at ease in the slightest, and it must have shown. Hermione sighed.
“Look, we can either do it here, where we’ve got all the means to brew it safely, or we could do it in that girl's bathroom.”
Harry and Ron shared a look.
“Fine, we do it here, then,” Harry relented. “But please be careful.”
“I know, Harry, I will. But we’ll need this if we want to have any chance of catching whoever’s behind all these attacks.”
“She’s right, mate,” Ron supplied.
It was a cold night in February. All of the Hogwarts students were in bed, the stragglers in the Gryffindor wing chased into their dormitories by Percy Weasley and the threats of detention with Filch. The common room, usually loud and lively places, was now quiet and empty. Only Filch, lately without his dearest cat Mrs Norris, and a lonely, confused and scared girl skulked around the dark hallways of the castle. With Dumbledore suspended as Headmaster and all the attacks happening within the school, no one without a purpose dared to wander around at night.
But, behind one of the windows of the tall Gryffindor Tower, in the second year’s boy’s dormitory, in between Neville Longbottom’s and Seamus Finnegan’s beds, down the ladder and inside the dimly lit study of a trunk that lay hidden behind the red bed curtains, an opened diary lay on one of the sofas, glowing faintly and emitting a soft sound that was too high for most humans to hear. The fire in the hearth was reduced to a slumbering pile of ashes, and the two torches illuminating the room rushed slightly in a non-existent wind.
The flames on the torches then started to dance around even more, ash was swept up in the fireplace, the pages of the diary fluttered wildly, and then a deeply troubled Harry Potter appeared on the sofa, with thoughts raging through his head.
Hagrid was the one to open the Chamber of Secrets and killed a student by allowing his pet spider to wander? Who was Tom Riddle? How did this diary work?
He sat there for a long time, staring at the once more empty pages of the diary, but try as he might, he couldn’t make sense of it all. One thing he was sure of: this diary was important. He just didn’t know why.
But the hour was late and Harry had had a busy week. He fell asleep, curled up on the sofa, still holding the diary in his hand.
He dreamt the strangest things. It started out with him entering the Great Hall of Hogwarts for the first time. He was going to get sorted! The Sorting Hat whispered in his ear that he would do great things in Slytherin. No! Harry thought. Not Slytherin!
But the Hat told him it was his destiny, he belonged there now. He had a brief vision of two cat-like, but angry red eyes in the dark. Then the torch went on and it turned out to be Mrs Norris.
Harry coaxed her into his lap and began stroking her head. She purred appreciatively and looked up at him. But her eyes weren’t red anymore. They were brown, and Mrs Norris slowly morphed into… Ginny Weasley? Yes, he was petting Ginny Weasley, Ron’s sister.
“Give it to me,” she said, her eyes flashing red.
“Give me that diary!”
Harry screamed and opened his eyes and found himself inches away from Ginny’s face. Only this time he was awake as well. Ginny squeaked, tumbled backward, and fell down on the carpet in front of the fireplace.
“Wha… Ginny? What are you doing here?”
“I…” She stammered. She could have been part of the carpet, with her red pyjamas, fiery hair and the blush on her cheeks.
“How did you get here?” Harry asked, his bewilderment and sleepiness clouding any embarrassment he would have felt.
“I’m sorry!” She stammered. “I’ll… I’ll leave now!”
She sprung to her feet and awkwardly shuffled towards the door, carefully keeping her right hand hidden in her robes.
“Wait!” Harry called. Ginny froze, her hand on the handle. “What’s that in your hand?”
“My hand?” Ginny peeped.
“Give that diary back!” Harry shouted. He got to his feet.
Ginny didn’t move. Even from across the room Harry could see her start to tremble.
But she didn’t say anything. Harry hesitated. She met his eyes, and Harry was shocked to see nothing but pure agony there. She didn’t look at all like someone caught stealing. There had to be something else going on. She let go of the diary, which fell to the floor with a thud, and wrapped her arms around herself.
Harry slowly approached her. She sank to the floor, not once taking her eyes of the small black book that lay beside her. Harry knelt in front of her and picked up the diary. She didn’t take her eyes of it. He shoved it in the inner pocket of his pyjamas. Ginny stared at the place she last saw the diary.
Ginny looked up. Her eyes shone in the torchlight.
“Help me,” she whispered.
Some time later the two children were seated at Albus Dumbledore’s desk in his office. Minerva McGonagall looked on as well as the headmaster examined the Diary closely.
Ginny hadn’t let go of Harry ever since he’d helped her to her feet in his trunk. They’d made their way through the dark hallways of the castle without saying a word. Harry heard her sniffing beside him, but he didn’t dare to look at her. His hand was sore from Ginny’s death grip by the time they arrived at McGonagall’s office.
Ginny still said nothing while Harry explained to the best of his ability what had happened. Their Head of House had looked different from her normal stern appearance, dressed in tweed pyjamas and bathrobes. But her lips became thinner and thinner while Harry spoke of the diary and how Ginny had reacted to it. She then led them to Dumbledore’s office. Ginny still held Harry’s hand. Once there, the professor stuck her head in the fireplace and moments later the Headmaster stepped out.
“A most fascinating and most vile artefact,” Dumbledore noted, and Harry returned to the present. “It is a good thing you two have brought this to my attention. I have no doubt of the damage this diary could inflict over time.”
“What?” Ginny asked hoarsely. She cleared her throat, but didn’t let go of Harry’s hand. “What damage, sir?”
Dumbledore looked intently at Ginny for a while.
“Tell me, Miss Weasley, why do you ask?”
This time Ginny did let go of Harry . She fidgeted her hands in her lap and refused to meet anyone’s eyes.
“How long have you had this diary in your possession?” Dumbledore pressed.
“Since… since last summer.”
“I see. And-.”
“It was me,” Ginny whispered.
“Excuse me?” Dumbledore asked politely.
“It was me,” Ginny said, a bit louder this time. A tear rolled down her cheek and fell into her lap. “I opened the Chamber of Secrets. I killed the roosters. I petrified all those students and Mrs Noris and… and…” She couldn’t continue. She burst into tears, slipped her arms around herself and rocked back and forth in the chair. Harry looked at McGonagall, but she looked just as clueless as Harry was.
“What do you mean, Ginny?” Harry asked. Taking another glance at McGonagall, he reached out and patted her arm. She looked up, her face and the collar of her pyjamas soaked in tears. Then she tucked her head back between her knees and continued crying, her whole body shaking with every sob.
Dumbledore handed Harry a handkerchief. Harry understood the hint. While Harry was trying to give the handkerchief to Ginny, Dumbledore stood up and whispered something in McGonagall’s ear. She nodded and hurried towards the fireplace again.
Harry, meanwhile, was still patting Ginny’s shoulder. She’d also accepted the handkerchief. He thought he was doing alright with this, but he’d never felt more uncomfortable in his life. He looked away from Ginny when he heard a sound, and saw Mr and Mrs Weasley appearing through the Floo.
“Oh, my dear,” Mrs Weasley said. She and Mr Weasley hurried towards Ginny and took her in their arms, and Harry quickly pulled his arm back. Mr Weasley nodded at him and mouthed “thank you”.
They waited patiently for Ginny to calm down again. Dumbledore transfigured the chair into a loveseat to allow Mrs Weasley to sit beside her daughter while she comforted her. Finally, though, Ginny sniffed the last few times, dried her face, sat up straighter and looked up at the people around her.
“It w…was the diary,” she said shakily. “I wrote in it every day, and sometimes it… it all went black. And then I woke up much later and found out that people w…were petrified.” Mrs Weasley rubbed her back and Mr Weasley tightened his grip on her shoulder.
“Albus?” Professor McGonagall asked quietly.
“Mr Potter said the diary writes back. Is that right, Miss Weasley?” Dumbledore asked.
“Yes,” she admitted. “It was a boy named Tom. He… he wrote back to me.”
Dumbledore looked at Harry for confirmation. Harry nodded.
“And do you know how the students were petrified?”
Ginny shook her head.
“Very well. Miss Weasley, you are not expelled, nor will you be punished in any way,” Dumbledore said. Ginny perked up noticeably. “This Tom you and Mr Potter spoke about, is, or was, or perhaps both, a real person, named Tom Marvolo Riddle, and he would later grow up to become one of the most dangerous and darkest wizards of all time.”
“Voldemort…” Harry whispered. He ducked his head when the others stared at him in shock.
“Indeed. Tom Marvolo Riddle. Miss Weasley, you were tricked by a most powerful and most evil wizard. Many adults in have found themselves in your situation as well. You are not to blame in any of this, and I therefore see no reason whatsoever to lay blame on you.”
“Thank you, Professor,” Mrs Weasley said quietly as Ginny burst into tears again.
“Might I suggest you three visit the Hospital Wing? I think young Miss Weasley is in dire need of a cup of hot chocolate, and then a good night’s sleep.”
Harry watched the Weasleys go until the door closed behind them.
“Now, Mr Potter. I am very thankful for what you’ve done, and surely all the Weasleys as well. I dread to think what would have happened if you hadn’t taken Ginny to Professor McGonagall tonight. Take fifty well-earned points for Gryffindor.”
“It was nothing, Professor,” Harry said demurely. “I just woke up in my trunk and saw a girl in my room. I just didn’t know what else to do.”
“Your trunk?” Dumbledore asked amusedly.
“Oh,” Harry said. He shifted nervously in his seat. “Erm… I have a trunk, you see… and you can enter it, and it has a sort of study area in it, and-”
“Oh, sweet Merlin, they didn’t…” Professor McGonagall muttered.
“Might this be the famed Potter Trunk James and his friends as good as lived in when they were still in school?” Dumbledore asked, his eyes twinkling merrily.
“Erm, yeah,” Harry said.
“How did you get it?” Professor McGonagall asked intently. “I thought it was destroyed years ago!”
“My parents left it to me at Gringotts. I received it this summer with a letter explaining it.” Harry explained.
“Remarkable,” Dumbledore noted. “Harry, I hope I don’t have to remind you that school rules extend to within that trunk as well?”
“Oh, no sir, I understand completely!” Harry nodded vigorously, remembering Hermione brewing Polyjuice Potion inside it.
“Very well. Now, the hour is late, and I’m not supposed to be here. No, Harry, don’t worry,” he added when Harry tried to speak. “A little bird has told me that several board members haven’t exactly signed my suspension out of free will. I expect we’ll hear more of that at a later date. For now, Minerva, would you please escort Harry back to his dormitory?”
“Good. Now, a good night to both of you. And I expect we’ll meet soon. Again, thank you, Harry.”
Things quickly turned back to normal. Dumbledore’s suspension as headmaster was indeed quickly voided and an investigation was opened regarding the blackmailing of several members of the Board of Governors. There weren’t any more attacks now that Dumbledore had the diary in safekeeping, and the paranoid mood of the school slipped further and further away with every passing day.
It was a sunny, but extremely cold day in march when Harry received a letter from Dumbledore during breakfast. He absently offered the school owl a few rashers of bacon while he untied the letter and opened the envelope.
I would like to summon you to my office after breakfast. You are excused from your classes until lunchtime.
P.S.: I very much enjoy Jelly Slugs
“What’s that, Harry?” Ron asked from across the table.
“Letter from Dumbledore,” Harry responded. “He wants me to come up to his office after breakfast.”
“Really?” Hermione asked, peering at the letter. “Why does he tell you he likes Jelly Slugs?”
“That’s probably the password to his office,” Harry said. He leaned back to look past the other Gryffindors looked up at the Head Table. Dumbledore caught his eye and nodded at him. He then stood up and started walking towards the exit of the Great Hall.
“Maybe this is about… you know,” Hermione said. She glanced at Ron briefly. “Ginny and the diary?” She whispered.
“Maybe,” Harry said, noting Ron’s pained look. “But I’d better go now. Don’t want to be late.” He put his hands on the table and got up off the bench.
“But what about your classes? We have potions now!” Hermione said.
“I’m excused,” Harry grinned. “Well, have fun, you two. Don’t give Snape my regards!”
He sniggered at Ron’s betrayed expression and made his way to Dumbledore’s office in a good mood.
“Come in, Harry,” Dumbledore called right before Harry wanted to knock on the door to his office. The door opened before he could grab the handle. Harry took a moment to get over his surprise, then entered.
Dumbledore was seated behind his desk, smiling serenely at him, Fawkes was steadily growing and no longer looked like the wrinkled mess he was a few months ago, there were many noises coming from Dumbledore’s odd and eccentric machines, and on the Headmaster’s desk lay Tom Riddle’s diary.
“Good morning, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “Come on, take a seat.”
Good morning, sir,” Harry said. He eyed the diary suspiciously for a moment, then walked further into the office and took place on one of the two chairs that stood before the desk.
“You’re probably wondered why I summoned you here this morning,” Dumbledore said.
“I am, sir,” Harry replied.
“I will explain my reasons in a moment, but I expected a second person for our little meeting as well, and I believe she’ll be arriving soon…” he trailed off for a moment and glanced beyond Harry. “Come in, Miss Weasley.”
Harry turned around in his chair. The door opened and Ginny came shuffling in, clutching her shoulder bag and looking around nervously. She briefly caught his gaze, but then she blushed and quickly looked down.
“Welcome,” Dumbledore said genially. “Please, take a seat.”
Ginny made her way across the office, but stopped dead once she saw the diary.
“Not to worry, Miss Weasley. I’m confident that the diary won’t hurt you anymore.”
Ginny said nothing. She gave the Headmaster a dubious look, but nonetheless took her seat next to Harry. She didn’t once look at him.
“Now, before we start our meeting, I want you two to know that you have my oath that whatever is said here is fully private, and will stay between us. Miss Weasley, only your family and Professor McGonagall are aware of what the diary did to you, as well as young Harry here of course. The Ministry is not aware that you were forced to open the Chamber of Secrets.”
“Thank you, sir,” Ginny said in a small voice.
“But that isn’t the reason why I summoned you two here. You see, I have studied this artefact over the past weeks, and the more I learn about it, the more I have come to the conclusion that it should be destroyed immediately,” Dumbledore said, picking up the diary. “That is what we’ll be doing today. And I think it is important that you two are witness to it as well. Closure has time and time again proven to be a wonderful thing.”
“How can you destroy it, then?” Ginny asked. “I tried everything myself, but nothing affected it.” She still studiously avoided Harry’s gaze.
“A good question, Miss Weasley. I must admit that it took me quite a while and a lot of research, but I’m certain now that I know the answer now.”
He put the diary back down, opened a drawer and pulled out a small vial containing a black liquid.
“This, children, is Basilisk venom. Highly toxic, extremely rare and even more expensive. Have either of you ever heard of a Basilisk?”
“No, sir,” Harry and Ginny replied in unison. Dumbledore regarded Ginny for a fraction of a second, then pressed on.
“This venom is so toxic, in fact, that it can destroy even the most indestructible things. Like this diary, for example,” he said, waving the small black book around. “But, to be sure, I had Professor Snape mix this venom in with a very strong acid. You can never be too certain, I say. Now, has Professor Snape taught you how to handle toxic and dangerous substances yet?”
“No,” Harry and Ginny replied together. They shared a smile.
“Oh,” Dumbledore said. “Well, now’s as good a time as any, then. The first, and probably the most important step, is you put on your protective gloves.” He pulled on a pair of thick, brown, leather gloves. “Then you prepare where you want to pour the substance onto. This diary will be our receiver today. I’m quite fond of this desk, so we’ll protect it with a nice thick piece of Dragon hide.” He laid the diary on a thick, dark, scaled patch. “Then, you carefully uncork the vial, like… this, Harry, please put your hands under the desk again, and then you pour it on the receiver… like this.”
The three watched on as the basilisk venom made contact with the diary and spread over its surface. It immediately started to eat its way through the cover and empty pages, and black smoke clouds rose up from the book as it slowly disintegrated.
But it wasn’t finished yet. Slowly, the black smoke turned green, the acidic bubbles grew and popped more violently, and was Harry just imagining it, or was there someone screaming?
He wasn’t. The shrill cry grew louder and louder, it became unbearable. He put his hands to his ears and saw Dumbledore and Ginny do the same. A gust of wind flew into the office, pieces of paper fluttered in the gust of wind, Fawkes flapped his wings and cried in distress, ash rose up from the hearth, and on the desk, the diary began glowing brighter and brighter. Harry closed his eyes, but saw the bright shining light of the book shining through his eyelids…
And then it was over. The glow he saw through his eyelids disappeared and the screaming stopped. He opened his eyes and saw Dumbledore blinking at the diary owlishly. Harry followed his gaze. The diary was gone. In its place now lay a black mess of liquid, congealed to the leather patch it lay on. The only thing hinting to the disturbance only moments ago was a penetrating stench that filled the office.
“Is it gone?” Ginny asked the question that was on everyone’s mind.
Dumbledore took out his wand and waved it around in complicated matters, then jabbed it at the mess that used to be the diary.
“It’s gone,” Dumbledore said happily. A small cheer went up around the desk.
“Now, as exciting and fruitful this has been, I’m afraid our little meeting does have to come to an end. I am the headmaster of a school after all, and my colleagues would consider it a crime if I took an entire day’s worth of lessons from you. Miss Weasley, you have transfiguration, I believe?” Ginny nodded. “And Harry, you have Potions?”
“Very well. Off you pop, then!”
Harry and Ginny gathered their bags and walked towards the exit of Dumbledore’s office.
“Thank you, sir,” Ginny said as they went through the doorway.
“Not at all, Miss Weasley. Now off you go.”
Ginny had a smile on her face when the door closed behind them.
“So, you have Transfiguration now?” Harry asked her as they rode down the revolving staircase.
“Yes, I do. We’re learning to transfigure boxes into shoes this week,” Ginny replied, no longer as shy as before.
“Oh really? Hermione taught me and Ron a nifty trick with that. It goes like this…”
“Ginny, will you go out with me?”
Harry shook his head and took a deep breath.
“Ginny, I really like you, and I would be honoured if… Argh!”
He gripped his hair in frustration for a moment, then straightened his shoulders and steeled himself again.
“Harry, are you in there?” Ron’s voice came from the entrance to the trunk.
“Yeah, come in,” Harry called. He quickly stepped away from the mirror and threw himself on one of the sofas near the fireplace.
“Mate,” Ron said as he entered the study of Harry’s trunk. “These girls are mental. How are we supposed to ask one to the ball?”
“Dunno,” Harry grumbled. “Why do they move in packs, anyway? It’s bloody annoying!”
Silence. Ron sprawled himself on the couch and stared morosely into the fireplace.
“The ball’s in… two weeks, right?”
“Fifteen days,” Harry corrected him.
“Right. Do you have a date already?”
“What d’you think?” Ron snorted. “’course I don’t. Hey, Fred did give me some advice the other day. Said if we wait too long, all the good ones will be taken.”
“Right,” Harry said. He tried to ignore the uneasy feeling in his stomach.
“Yeah, I mean, look at Seamus and Dean: Seamus is going with Lavender. Broke Dean’s heart with that.”
“What, did he want to go with Seamus as well?” Harry laughed. Ron threw a pillow at him, but Harry ducked underneath it.
“Harry?” Ron then asked, much more softly than just a moment ago. “Have you noticed Neville?”
“You want to go with Neville?”
“Bloody hell, no, of course I don’t!” Ron shouted. He took a breath. “But, y’know, he’s been looking at Ginny a lot lately. You don’t think… you don’t think he’s going to ask her, is he?”
“Dunno, I haven’t noticed,” Harry lied. He gripped the sofa tightly.
“Yeah. Anyway, we still need to finish that Charms essay tomorrow and- hey, where are you going?” Ron asked.
“I’m going to ask my date to the ball,” Harry said over his shoulder as he quickly strode out of the study. “See you at dinner?”
“Ye-yeah, see you then.”
Laughing, they climbed down the ladder, and they entered Harry’s study hand-in-hand.
“And then he said: “sure! Could you hold my camel for me?””
Ginny threw her head back and laughed heartily. She sat down onto the sofa and pulled Harry down beside her.
“It’s been lovely tonight, Harry. Thank you,” she said, still smiling.
“It’s nothing,” Harry replied. Why was it so hot in here?
“No, it’s not, you silly,” Ginny admonished him. “You’re a really good dancer, d’you know that? All my friends are going to be so jealous! Where did you learn to dance like that?”
Right in this room, Harry thought.
“Just a born natural, of course,” he tried to reply breezily. The effect came undone when he stumbled over the words. “Where did you learn to dance, then?”
“My mum taught me,” Ginny replied.
Conversation came to a halt there.
Harry was examining the dark red wallpapers of the room when he felt a pair of lips touch his cheek. He looked at his left, but Ginny refused to look up from the fireplace. But the corners of her mouth quivered and her cheeks were red. Harry smiled. It had been a while since she’d last blushed like that in his presence.
He stole a quick glance at his armpit, then threw his arm around his date and pulled her closer. He revelled in the feeling of Ginny burrowing close to him. Trying to avoid the free look down her dress, he looked around his study. As always, his eyes fell on his parents’ letter that stood prominently on the hearth.
I love my trunk, Harry thought happily.
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