|SIYE Time:22:05 on 25th September 2017|
The Road not Taken
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Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Sirius Black
Warnings: Mild Language, Violence/Physical Abuse
Story is Complete
Summary: The summer before his third year, Harry stormed out of his relatives' house and met a large dog. Instead of taking the Knight Bus, Harry throws his lot in with Sirius Black. Join him as he fights for his godfather and gets to know his best mate's little sister just a bit better.
Hitcount: Story Total: 18699; Chapter Total: 1619
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thanks again to the wonder Arnel! Thanks for the wonderful review - I really appreciate it.
Hermione was working on her Divination homework when Ron climbed into the common room. She smiled at him in welcome as she hadn’t seen him all day. He didn’t look happy.
Ron barely grunted in response as he sat down across from her. She frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“What’s wrong?” he repeated incredulously. “What isn’t wrong? My parents are apparently unable to perform a simple third year charm and now everyone is laughing at us. My sister should never have been allowed to return to school — I think she should have been expelled. My best mate is outside playing with my stupid sister and some big, black dog.”
“I’m sorry,” Hermione said softly. She knew that while Ron complained about Scabbers all the time, he’d counted the rat as a loyal pet and felt quite betrayed.
“I was mad at Percy, but he pointed out that he was only five when he found the stupid rat. Our parents should have fully checked out the stupid thing,” Ron said angrily. “We both wrote to them telling them how angry and upset we are. A stupid third year charm!”
“I can’t believe Harry didn’t tell us,” Hermione said, repeating the thought that had been on her mind since the night before. “He knew all term that Scabbers was an evil wizard and didn’t say anything. How could he have done that?”
Ron shook his head. “It’s that godfather of his. ‘Sirius is more important’. I can’t believe he’d put his godfather over his best mate. That’s just not right and then telling my idiot sister on top of it. If he thought there was something off with my rat he should have told me.”
“Why? So you’d tell me you didn’t believe me and let Scabbers escape?”
Ron and Hermione turned around to see Harry and Ginny standing right behind them. Ron flushed with a combination of embarrassment and anger. “Why would you think I would do that?”
“Because when I told you, you told me I was mental and you wanted to take him out of his cage to comfort him,” Harry retorted. He looked over at Hermione. “Why would I tell you anything? You’ve been determined to make Sirius out to be a bad guy all term. You’ve told me he’s a killer and a bad man and he brainwashed me. Yesterday afternoon the first thing you said was that I must have done the charm wrong — that’s how little faith you have in me.”
“Well, you’ve never shown such proficiency in new spells before,” Hermione pointed out. “It was a logical deduction that maybe you’d performed the spell wrong.”
“Did you think Professor McGonagall did, too?” Harry asked.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Hermione defended herself. “It didn’t make sense to me that Scabbers could be an Animagus. It’s a very rare skill, there have only been seven Animagi in the past century.”
“That’s not entirely true,” Harry said. “My dad, Sirius, and Peter all became Animagi.”
“What? They didn’t register,” Hermione said. “I checked the register when Professor McGonagall assigned us the essay.”
Harry shrugged. “They did it while they were still in school — in their fifth year. I don’t think they really thought the registration was important.”
“That’s illegal,” Hermione said in a scandalized voice.
“What are they going to do — send him to prison?” Harry asked in a sarcastic voice.
Hermione blushed; she wasn’t used to Harry challenging her. “They could.”
“Sirius was in Azkaban for twelve years for something he didn’t do. Madam Bones already said he wasn’t in trouble, he just needs to register. Peter is a murderer so I don’t think they’ll prosecute him for being an illegal Animagus and my dad is dead so I don’t think any
of them will get in trouble for it.” Harry turned and headed out of the common room.
“You are being an idiot,” Ginny told her brother.
“Me? He didn’t tell me a Death Eater was sleeping in a cage next to my bed. Do you realize he could have killed our whole family?” Ron asked in outrage.
“Yes, I do,” Ginny replied. “That isn’t Harry’s fault. He didn’t know until the summer. It’s Peter’s fault. He wanted to live with a Pure-blood family so he could hear any rumour of his ‘master’ coming back. Peter didn’t want to hurt us; he was a danger to Harry. Harry didn’t want to give him a chance to escape, that’s why he made sure the stupid rat was locked up.”
“So why did Black have to tell everyone whose family was harbouring a Death Eater for twelve years? Did he have to make us look stupid?”
“You’re managing that quite well on your own,” Ginny said. “Could Mum and Dad have checked that the rat Percy brought home wasn’t an Animagus? Sure, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have killed us all if they tried to perform the spell on him. He’s an evil murdered who betrayed Harry’s parents and murdered twelve Muggles just to get away and framed Sirius. Do you really think he would have just let Mum perform the spell on him and wait while she called the Aurors?”
Ron paled as he considered Ginny’s words. “He really could have killed us all.”
“Yes, he could have,” she replied, “but that’s not Harry’s fault.”
Later that night, Ron watched as Harry sat with Ginny during dinner. It hurt that his best mate wouldn’t even look at him. The worst part was he probably deserved it. Hermione had seemed so sincere when she’d told him about that syndrome thing and Ron’s parents had confirmed that Sirius Black was a Dark wizard. How was he supposed to know the two sources he’d come to rely on for information would both be wrong?
Because his best mate swore he was right, a little voice whispered. Ron sighed. That was the crux of his problem. He’d not trusted his best mate. His first and best friend. He’d allowed his jealousy that Harry wanted to be friends with Ginny to cloud his judgement. He would fully admit that he didn’t want to share Harry with Ginny.
Ginny had been an okay playmate when they were little, but she was a girl and who wanted a girl around all the time? Hermione was different, she was smart and a good friend, but Ginny — she was a totally different story. First she had this embarrassing crush on Harry and then there was the whole thing with the diary. Shouldn’t she have known better?
Hermione certainly thought so, but it had been You-Know-Who’s diary. Could an eleven-year-old really be cleverer than the worst Dark Lord in centuries? As he piled another helping of roast beef and potatoes onto his plate, he wondered about that. He’d thrilled to Harry’s stories of seeing You-Know-Who in the forest and fighting off a possessed Quirrell, but Ron had to admit he was glad it had been Harry and not him. If he didn’t want to face You-Know-Who, how could he expect his little sister to?
Shame flooded through him. Over the summer he’d promised his brothers that he would look after Ginny, but at the first opportunity he’d tried to get rid of her. Once again he’d let his jealousy get the better of him. He really hated that he’d have to share everything. As the second youngest of seven kids, almost everything he had was used or second hand. His friendship with Harry was his alone. Sure the twins were friends with him, but they didn’t want to hang around him like Ginny did. What if Harry decided he liked Ginny more than Ron? That was his biggest fear.
Harry slipped into Arithmancy without even a glance at Hermione. He really couldn’t believe how she and Ron were acting. They hadn’t believed or supported him all term, yet they acted all shocked and hurt that he hadn’t told them about Scabbers. Ron had proven him right — the first thing he’d done was call them mental and try to let Scabbers out of his cage.
His musings were cut short as Professor Vector started handing back their homework assignments. He smiled to see an E on top of the paper. It really was amazing that preparing just a little for the class made everything just a little bit easier.
Once all of the homework had been returned, Professor Vector introduced the subject of the Agrippan method of Arithmancy where each letter is assigned a number between one and nine. After explaining the concept, each of the students carefully copied down the Agrippan number table.
“Very well,” Professor Vector said as walked around the room checking everyone’s work. “For your homework assignment, I would like you to calculate the personality number for yourself, at least one of your parents and one of your friends. When you’ve discovered their number, I would like a few paragraphs explaining what the number means and how the person fits into the description. If you wish to calculate both of your parents’ numbers you may, but I don’t wish to read page after page of explanation. I expect no more than four numbers in your essay. You may start now.”
Harry’s heart sank a little on hearing the assignment. When he saw everyone else had started the assignment, he raised his hand. Professor Vector glided over to his desk.
“Yes, Mr Potter, may I help you?”
“Professor, I never knew my parents and don’t think I could write about how they fit in a description.”
The normally stern professor’s face softened. “I’m so sorry, Mr Potter. I didn’t think of that. I normally double check prior to the beginning of the term to make certain none of the students are in your position, but because you signed up for the class at the last minute your name obviously didn’t show up. It didn’t cross my mind, I’m sorry.”
Harry smiled. “I understand. I was wondering can I use my godfather?”
“Of course,” Professor Vector looked extremely relieved that Harry had a solution for his problem.
“I have one other question — do I use a full name or a nickname?”
“Do you mean the shortened version of one’s name — like Jim for James?”
Professor Vector raised her voice so the whole class could hear. “Mr Potter just brought up an excellent question — do you use a full name or a nickname or abbreviated form of the name? Any suggestions?”
Harry was not at all surprised when Hermione’s hand hit the air first. Professor Vector nodded at her. “Yes, Miss Granger.”
“The person’s given name should always be used,” Hermione announced confidently.
“It is the name most often used; however, I’ve found it a good policy to calculate both names and see which is the closest to their personality. Some people relate more easily to their nicknames than their given name.” With that Professor Vector left them to get on with their work.
Harry glanced over at Hermione and was unsurprised to see she’d already calculated her first personality number. Quickly he started
figuring out Sirius’s personality number and discovered that Sirius was a seven. He looked up the number seven on the personality explanations and then started explaining how Sirius fit into the description and how he did not.
When class was over, Harry carefully set the spell to dry his ink and carefully rolled up his scroll. He was actually surprised that he was almost done with the assignment. Glancing out the window, he made a face. It was raining again — honestly, practicing Quidditch in the rain wasn’t one of his favourite things to do.
“Harry,” Hermione called his name almost timidly.
“Yes, Hermione,” Harry replied evenly.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?”
He looked her over assessing her carefully. She’d hurt him quite badly by not believing him — was he ready to forgive her? They were in front of one of the empty classrooms so Harry gestured for her to enter and he followed.
The classroom was obviously not regularly used as everything was covered in dust, but Harry could see a few areas where the dust wasn’t quite so thick. He blushed slightly as he thought of reasons why students might need a private, out of the way, unused classroom.
After casting a quick Scourgify on the desk, Harry leaned up against it. “What do you want, Hermione?”
“Harry, I am so sorry,” Hermione said sincerely. “I’ve been so worried about you all summer and then you show up with a fantastical story and a godfather who ‘rescued’ you from your relatives. Not to mention the fact that he was a wanted man and no one heard from you all summer.”
“I’ve heard all of this before,” Harry said a touch impatiently. “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t tell anyone where I was and I told you the whole story as soon as I saw you on the train.”
“No, you didn’t,” Hermione burst out. “You didn’t tell us about Scabbers.”
Harry flushed a bit. “Hermione, I’m sorry for hurting your feelings or whatever, but I didn’t want Peter to figure out what was happening and escape again. I was waiting to hear from Sirius.”
“You could have told us that,” she pointed out.
“When? Before or after you accused him of brainwashing me?”
She deflated suddenly. “I’m sorry, Harry. I’m doing it again. I just want us to go back to being friends again.”
“I miss you two,” Harry said after a minute. “All summer I was saving up stories to share with you when I got back. I had such an amazing summer — we spent the summer at the beach, I learned to swim, Sirius is such an amazing godfather. I’ve never had anyone who cared about me like that before. I wanted to tell you two all about him and you wouldn’t let me.”
“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “It just seemed like you didn’t need us anymore.”
“What? How did you come up with that?” Harry asked bewildered. “Just because I have someone there for me doesn’t mean I don’t need or want friends. You and Ron both have two parents, Ron has tons of brothers and a sister, I only have Sirius. Just because I have him doesn’t mean I don’t still need my friends.”
Hermione’s face fell; she’d never really considered it from that point of view before. “I’m sorry.”
Harry nodded. “It’s okay, Hermione, but please have a bit more trust in me. It really hurt that you wouldn’t believe me. I just assumed that the two of you would believe me, it never occurred to me that you wouldn’t believe me.”
Hermione wanted to defend herself, but she knew that if she said something now they’d be right back where they’d started. The fact was she’d trusted the adults and authorities more than she’d trusted her best friend.
Walking back to Gryffindor Tower, Harry felt a bit better. He really did hate arguing with his friends. Once back in the common room, Ron approached him. Suddenly Harry didn’t feel like he needed a big apology.
“It’s okay, Ron.”
“Good,” Ron nodded. “So are you two ready for dinner?”
Harry nodded as Hermione burst out, “Is that all you’re going to say?”
Harry’s green eyes met Ron’s blue eyes with amusement. Together they said, “Yeah.”
The rest of the week heading into Gryffindor’s match with Slytherin was great. Sirius was free and undergoing treatment by Madam Pomfrey. Harry was friends once again with Ron and Hermione and he was also friends with Ginny. The only bad part was the weather which was unrelentingly rainy.
He woke early Saturday morning and to his dismay he realized he could hear rain. He tried going back to sleep, but was unable to do so. He realized with excitement that Sirius was going to be able to watch him play today. When he was little, his aunt and uncle had always been so supportive of any little thing Dudley did. He’d always wished for just a tiny bit of that support for himself. Now he had something much better, he had Sirius there for him.
Grinning, he was now excited for the day. They were playing Slytherin and he loved being able to put Malfoy in his place. He lay in bed reviewing all of the new plays Oliver had implemented for this year. Quidditch was something he truly loved and the thought that they might be able to take the Cup this year was exciting. He knew that if he’d not been injured at the end of his first year and if the season hadn’t been cancelled last year, they probably would have won both years. He really hoped that this year they would be able to give Oliver the victory he deserved before he left Hogwarts.
His enthusiasm had dimmed slightly several hours later when he’d found himself sitting on his broom in the rain. It was difficult to see much of anything and to make matters worse it was a rather cold rain. This was the kind of match where he hoped he’d see the Snitch within the first few minutes, but the match had been going on for quite a while. It was difficult to gauge time in a match like this. He was very grateful for the fact that he no longer needed glasses as they would have been near useless at this point.
The Gryffindor Chasers were performing well under the circumstances, but even they had dropped the Quaffle several times. Oliver was doing great job in both keeping out the Quaffle and keeping up his team’s morale. Gryffindor was up 180-40. Harry had to laugh at Malfoy, he looked cold and miserable and half the time he wasn’t even paying attention to the game.
Every time Harry looked over at the stands, he felt a thrill to see Sirius cheering for him. It was the first time that he’d ever had anyone there just for himself. It was an amazing experience to have someone there just for him.
When Dudley was little he’d played football for one season. He’d hated it because of course, Dudley hated any type of exercise and it was something he wasn’t particularly good at. But no matter that Dudley wasn’t good; Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had shown up at every game cheering for their pride and joy. They’d never done that for Harry. He hadn’t even been allowed to play football, something he thought would have been fun.
Quidditch had always been easy for Harry and he loved the game, but somehow having Sirius there cheering just for him was amazing. It made sitting in the rain not quite so bad.
Turning his attention back to the match, Harry scanned the grey sky. He cheered as Alicia scored another goal. She waved to him as she flew under him. He made another circuit of the pitch searching for that elusive flash of gold. It wasn’t coming easily today.
Finally, Harry spotted the Snitch. He dove with reckless abandon for the little ball. He could tell that Malfoy had seen the Snitch as well and he was trying to catch up with Harry. Reaching out for the ball, Harry grabbed the Snitch well before Malfoy was anywhere close to it. Rising into the air with the Snitch held up high, Harry smiled at the cheers of the crowd. Instinctively, he looked for Sirius and found him cheering and whistling in the stands.
“Great job!” Oliver yelled over the noise of the crowd.
“Thanks!” Harry yelled back.
He took a victory lap around the pitch with the Snitch held aloft before he started down. He was half-way down when he heard someone, he thought maybe it was Angelina, yell, “Harry, watch out!”
Looking up, he never saw the Bludger that slammed into the bristles of his broom sending it spiralling out of control. Before he could regain control of his broom, another Bludger hit him in the back and he fell from his broom. He felt himself falling and blackness overtaking him before he hit the ground.
Harry awakened slowly. He could hear the voices of his teammates and it took him a minute to figure out what was going on. He could tell they were upset and he thought maybe the girls were crying. Struggling to open his eyes, he moaned quieting the whole room.
That was Sirius’ voice. Harry managed to open his eyes and found the worried face of his godfather. He tried to smile, but he didn’t think he quite managed it.
“That git Malfoy chucked the Bludgers at you,” Fred said indignantly. The team was arrayed on one side of the bed. They all looked rebellious at the thought of Malfoy going after their Seeker.
Harry’s eyes widened. “My broom! What happened to my broom? I remember falling…”
He trailed off as Alicia lifted up a bag. “I’m sorry,” she said. “When you fell, the broom drifted out over the grounds and hit the Whomping Willow and…well, you know it doesn’t like to be disturbed.” She opened the bag to show the remains of Harry’s beloved broom. It had been broken into hundreds of small pieces. She set the bag down next to him on the bed.
Madam Pomfrey bustled over to the bed. “Okay, enough excitement. You will all be able to visit Mr Potter tomorrow.”
His teammates all said goodbye and left Harry with his godfather and the school nurse. She was running her wand over him. “You fractured some bones, which have been healed. I’m concerned there might be some internal damage. I’m keeping you here overnight for observation. If all goes well, you can be discharged tomorrow.”
Harry nodded and was immediately sorry he did so. His wince didn’t escape the matron’s eagle eye. She Summoned a vial of potion and handed it to him. “This is a mild pain potion.”
“Thank you,” he said.
“You are quite welcome,” she replied tenderly. Straightening his sheets, she nodded to Sirius and headed back to her office.
“Can I have some water?” Harry asked.
“Of course,” Sirius said. He gently helped Harry sit up a bit and held the water so Harry could take a few sips. Once Harry had his fill of water, Sirius helped him lay back down.
“You scared me, kiddo,” Sirius said.
“Sorry,” Harry said sleepily.
“It’s not your fault,” Sirius replied. “It’s my stupid cousin’s son’s fault. Stupid little ponce! He looks just like his father. Damn Death Eater.”
“Malfoy’s father was a Death Eater?” Harry asked. “I guess that’s not very surprising. He’s evil enough. He targeted Ginny just because of her father. He didn’t care that she could have killed people or been killed herself.”
“Old Lucius was one of Voldemort’s favourites,” Sirius explained. “He was Voldemort’s man at the Ministry. He and my slag cousin, Bellatrix, were both in Voldemort’s inner circle.”
Harry smiled. “Your family is worse than mine.”
“Not a contest anyone wants to win,” Sirius laughed. “Go to sleep, kiddo. When you are feeling better we’ll order a new broom for you.”
“Okay,” Harry smiled. “As long as it’s not a Nimbus 2001 — I don’t want anything that Malfoy thinks is good.”
“Not a problem,” Sirius laughed.
“So you can see it was an ill-advised fit of temper,” Dumbledore said genially.
“No, it was the actions of a spoiled child raised in a Dark house with no repercussions for his actions,” Sirius countered. “I want that boy off the team. He could have killed Harry. I think he should be expelled, but I know you won’t do that.”
“Sirius,” Dumbledore chided. “There is no need for such hostility. I agree that Mr Malfoy should not have thrown those Bludgers, but he
says he didn’t mean to injury Harry. He was surprised that he even hit him. He was angry that he wasn’t able to catch the Snitch and he threw the Bludgers in anger. He’s served detention and been reprimanded by his Head of House.”
“Please, Snape probably congratulated him on his aim.”
“Sirius, please, you of all people should know what a difficult position young Mr Malfoy is in. He is being pressured to follow in his father’s footsteps and if we don’t offer him another way he will.”
“So instead he should learn that he can get away with whatever he wants?” Sirius asked incredulously. “I grew up with these people. I was pressured to follow in my family’s footsteps — please don’t use that as an excuse. I do know what it is like. He is going to follow in his father’s footsteps. He’s learned that he can throw his family’s name and wealth around and he will get his way. Why would he want to do something differently? You’ve told him he won’t be punished for any behaviour.”
“He is being punished,” Dumbledore reiterated. “He was given detention.”
“And if Harry had been seriously injured? Malfoy would have had to what…serve two detentions?”
Sirius glared at the older wizard. “I have very serious doubts about the way this school is being run. You let Snape terrorize all non-Slytherins and let the Slytherins get away with anything they want.”
“He can’t be seen to favour Harry or treat him well,” Dumbledore said patiently. “I know that isn’t what you want to hear, but when Voldemort returns Severus needs to be able to re-join him.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Sirius replied. “Malfoy has ingratiated himself into the Ministry and all the rest of his Death Eaters who have faded back into the woodwork have done the same trying to make people forget their past. Why is Snape so different? Why doesn’t he have to make up for his past?”
Dumbledore sighed. “Sirius, I know you are upset. You and James always had an adversarial relationship with Severus -”
“Which he was happy to continue with Harry,” Sirius interrupted. “He’s tormented Harry simply because he’s James’ son. Harry never even knew James.”
“I will speak to Severus and ask him -”
“Never mind,” Sirius interrupted the older wizard again. “He won’t change. I will be filing an official complaint with the Board of Governors and this will be the last year Harry will be taking Potions with the greasy git.”
“You can’t do that,” Dumbledore said angrily. “Harry needs to continue Potions until at least his OWL year and you know that Potions is required for many careers.”
“There is nothing that says he needs to take Potions from that Death Eater,” Sirius returned angrily. “I will hire a Potions tutor.”
“Sirius, no, it is important that Severus has contact with Harry,” Dumbledore said urgently. “Once Voldemort returns, he needs to have that interaction with Harry.”
“I really don’t care,” Sirius said. “I didn’t want Harry to return to this school, but I allowed him to return because he wanted to be with his friends. I don’t care what Voldemort wants or thinks. Snape is the one who joined him, not Harry. I will not allow Harry to be used as a pawn so Snape can maintain his position.”
Sirius stormed out of the room. He’d always respected the old man, but he hated how Dumbledore kept his eye focused on the big picture and missed the smaller details — like people’s lives. He wasn’t going to allow Dumbledore to use his godson. Harry deserved a lot better than that.
Harry smiled when he saw his ‘E’ on his latest Arithmancy homework. He was honestly surprised at how much he was enjoying the more challenging classes. Between Sirius’ encouragement and his earlier estrangement with Hermione, he was working a lot harder, but he was also learning a lot more.
Glancing over at Hermione’s homework, he was unsurprised to see that she had received an ‘O’ on the assignment. Hermione smiled
and glanced over at his assignment.
“You are doing really well,” she said as they left the class. She glanced over at him. “I’m glad that you are taking your studies so seriously.”
“Thank you,” Harry said.
“Please don’t get upset, but are you going to continue Arithmancy next term? You said you were going to try it,” Hermione said.
He looked at her in confusion. “What do you have against me taking Arithmancy? I like the class and I’m doing well in it. I’m doing well in all of my classes and I’m planning to continue taking it.”
“I don’t have anything against you taking Arithmancy,” Hermione said tightly. “I just want to make sure you aren’t taking on too much responsibility.”
“If you were just concerned you would ask about all my electives, but you only ask about Arithmancy. Why?”
“No reason,” Hermione said shrilly.
“Are you having trouble keeping up?” Harry asked. “Do you want me to drop a class so you can drop one?”
“Of course not!” Hermione said outraged. Harry watched in bemusement as she walked away. He really didn’t understand her attitude about Arithmancy.
Ginny swore under her breath as she moved to the next section of trophies. She was cleaning the trophy room as part of her detention for throwing Dungbombs in a girls’ loo full of Slytherins. Snape had lectured her and assigned her two nights of detention. Percy was furious — he’d also lectured her about her behaviour. Ginny was sure he was writing another letter home to complain to their mother.
She started cleaning the next section of trophies. It amused her to read the names of people who had been given trophies. It certainly gave her a list of names not to use for her future children. Elaphina Slaymaker — who would give their child that name? As she started cleaning the next trophy, she read the name and dropped her cloth.
What the hell was his trophy still doing in the case? Looking at the most recent, she saw that Ron and Harry’s trophies had been placed in the case. The each had received a trophy for Special Services to the School dated May 29, 1993. That was as it should be, but why was Tom’s trophy still in case?
Special Services to the School — Dumbledore knew Tom was a murderer. Why did he allow the trophy to stay? Reaching in, she grabbed Tom’s trophy from the case. It made her sick to think that he’d been honoured for terrorizing the school and murdering Myrtle.
She threw the trophy on the floor. What sort of spell could she use to destroy it? Her mind raced as she went through all of the spells she knew or she’d heard her family use. What was that one spell?
To her disappointment, it didn’t dissolve into a pile of scraps as she hoped, but it made a dent in the trophy. She shrugged and tried again, “Reducto!”
A small piece blasted off the trophy. She smiled and was getting ready to blast it again when she heard footsteps behind her.
“What are you doing you foolish girl?”
Damn, it was Snape! Ginny glared at him for a minute. “I’m doing something the Headmaster should have done years ago.”
Snape glared at her and picked up the trophy. His eyes widened when he took in the name on the trophy. “How dare you?! You stupid, insolent, little girl!”
“Upset that I ruined your master’s trophy?” Ginny taunted.
Her confidence faltered in the face of his anger. He was completely enraged; she’d never seen him so angry. She took a step backwards and into a solid body.
“Are you okay, Ginny?” Harry asked from behind her. She felt weak with relief. Harry wouldn’t let Snape hurt her.
“No, Potter, she is not okay! She will be expelled for destroying school property.”
Snape reached out to grab Ginny’s arm, but Harry stepped in front of her. “Don’t grab her.”
“What are you doing?” Snape sneered at him. “You can’t stop me from expelling her.”
“I’m going with you to the Headmaster,” Harry announced.
“Fine, you can be expelled too!”
The two followed the raging Potions Master to the Headmaster’s office. Ginny was actually starting to get a bit nervous as her righteous indignation faded. Professor McGonagall would understand, but would Professor Dumbledore? At least Snape brought the trophy along — with any luck it wouldn’t be going back into the case.
Ginny was amazed at the moving staircase that led up to Professor Dumbledore’s office, but that was nothing compared to his office itself. There were bookcases crammed with books and all sorts of things. She gasped at the large scarlet bird.
Harry smiled at the bird and walked over to pet him. “Hello, Fawkes.”
“He’s beautiful,” Ginny breathed.
Fawkes turned and looked at her, taking away her breath. “Hi, Fawkes,” Ginny whispered. “Thank you for helping Harry last year.”
Fawkes let out a beautiful sound that somehow filled her with a warm feeling, making her think that somehow everything would turn out okay. Turning back to the rest of the office, Ginny realized that Snape was filling Dumbledore in on what had happened.
“Is this true, Miss Weasley? Were you trying to destroy a trophy?”
“Did you see the trophy?” Ginny challenged. “You kept Tom Riddle’s trophy in the case. He got that trophy as a reward for lying and murder! It shouldn’t be in the case.”
Dumbledore’s face softened a bit as he considered her.
“You can’t let her get away with that,” Snape snarled. “Tom Riddle was an important Slytherin Head Boy. It is bad enough that so many of the trophies were awarded to Gryffindors or Ravenclaws. You can’t allow her to ruin one of our most prestigious Slytherins.”
“Ruin? How can she ruin Voldemort’s memory? He shouldn’t be allowed to have a trophy here for his stupid little followers to worship!” Harry exclaimed.
“Severus, enough! Both Harry and Miss Weasley faced Tom Riddle last year in the Chamber of Secrets.” The Headmaster studied the two students. “We don’t generally remove trophies from the case.”
“He was given his award after he terrorized the school and killed Myrtle,” Harry replied hotly. “He didn’t deserve the award.”
“It was given under dubious circumstances,” Dumbledore agreed. “I will remove it from the trophy case.”
The older wizard silenced the Potions Master with a glare. “There will be no further punishment; however, I would ask that in the future you approach a staff member with your concerns, not try to solve them yourselves.”
Harry and Ginny left the Headmaster’s office neither aware that Dumbledore allowed Snape to display Riddle’s trophy in the Slytherin common room.
“Thank you,” Ginny said as they arrived in the corridor.
Harry grinned at her. “No problem. Stupid git! What spell were you using on the trophy? I don’t think I’ve seen that before.”
“It’s called the Reductor Curse,” Ginny explained. “It’s supposed to blast the stupid trophy to bits, but I don’t think I had enough power behind it. It’s an OWL level spell, I think. I’m not exactly sure when you learn it, but I’ve seen my brothers use it before.”
“We should practice that spell,” Harry mused. “You want to try it out tomorrow? We can go to the edge of the forest. There are a bunch of tree stumps — we can try it out. What do you say?”
Thrilled to be included Ginny agreed.
Ginny pulled on her warmest cloak as it had turned rather cold in the past few days. At least it had stopped raining, but the wind and cold had remained. The end of November at Hogwarts was a rather cold place. She looked at her reflection in the mirror in a bit of despair.
She was finally developing a bit of a figure, but she still had a ways to go to have the kind of figure guys would notice. She never really liked her hair or her freckles. They’d been made fun of her often enough that she was convinced no one would find them attractive. Her clothes were older and of course most of them had been her older brothers’. It was rather depressing at times.
Shaking off her dark thoughts, she headed down to the common room. She’d get to spend the afternoon with Harry. While she would probably have to put up with her brother and Hermione, she was at least being included.
“Hi, Ginny,” Harry greeted her. He looked her over. “Good, you dressed warmly.” As they started to leave the common room he commented, “I don’t understand why some girls wear such flimsy robes and then complain they are cold. They should just dress warmly.”
Ginny laughed. “I think they want you to admire how their robes compliment their bodies.”
Colouring slightly Harry said, “All they do is make me think they’re idiots.”
Ginny grinned, glad that she’d at least pleased Harry. “So are you glad this term is almost over?”
Harry nodded with a big smile. “Guess what? I get to go home for Christmas. Sirius has found a great house for us. He’s just renting it for the holidays and he’s going to look for a house for us for the summer.”
“That’s wonderful!” Ginny was pleased for him. “Do you know where the house is?”
Harry shook his head. “No, I don’t. He didn’t want to say in his letter where it was; I guess he didn’t want it to get out.”
She made a face. “I guess that makes sense.”
He shrugged. “Honestly, I couldn’t care less where it is or how big it is. I’m just thrilled I get to spend the holidays with Sirius.”
“He seems really nice,” Ginny said with a smile.
“He’s great,” Harry agreed. “It’s really nice that he was best friends with my dad and knew my mum really well also. I never knew anything about my parents. I’d never seen a picture of them before Hagrid gave me my photo album in my first year.”
Ginny looked at him in confusion. “Don’t you live with your aunt and uncle? Wouldn’t they be able to tell you stories about your parents?”
Harry blushed and looked away. An uneasy silence settled upon them as they walked out of the castle. Ginny’s heart sank — she’d somehow offended Harry. She wasn’t even sure what it was that had upset him.
“I’m sorry, Harry,” she said quietly. “My brothers always tell me I talk too much.”
He startled as if he’d forgotten she was there. “No, Ginny — I’m sorry. I thought you knew. I don’t know why I thought that because I’ve never really talked about it or anything. I don’t even know if Ron and Hermione know.”
He stopped and pulled her to a stop and into the courtyard that was deserted in the cold November afternoon. “My Aunt Petunia is my mum’s sister. She hates my mum. I don’t even know why, but Aunt Petunia never talked about my mum except to tell me how horrible she was or how my parents were drunken lay abouts who got themselves killed and landed me at their house. My aunt and uncle hate magic and they hated me. They never wanted me and they let me know it.”
Ginny was shocked — doubly shocked. She couldn’t believe that his relatives were so awful and she was surprised that he was sharing it with her. Suddenly things made more sense to her. The rags he was wearing before his first and second years that had been replaced this year. She’d heard her brothers tell her parents that Harry had been starved and locked in his room, but like her parents, she’d assumed they were exaggerating so they wouldn’t get into trouble.
“Merlin, Harry, I had no idea. I’m so sorry.”
He shrugged, but as he stood there with his hands jammed into his pockets and head bowed Ginny resolved to make sure he knew he was wanted here. Her whole family really liked him and wanted him around. She really liked him and wanted him around. She shied away from the word loved — she wasn’t ready to say that.
“I survived,” Harry said simply. “Sirius promised I’d never have to go back there. He’s wonderful and he’d never hit me or anything. His
relatives were horrid to him as well so he knows what it’s like.”
“I’m glad he’s there for you,” Ginny said simply.
Harry regarded her for a minute before smiling shyly. “Thank you.”
As they resumed their walk to the edge of the Forbidden Forest, Harry felt a bit lighter. He’d never really shared anything with Ron and Hermione about his relatives. They knew he didn’t get along with them, but he’d never given them instances. Ron…he wasn’t certain how Ron would react, but he imagined Ron’s eyes going wide and stammering something. Emotions weren’t really Ron’s forte and Harry didn’t think he’d know how to respond to information about Harry’s childhood.
He knew instinctively that Ron would never make fun of him as his cousin had, but he was afraid if Ron found how he’d been treated…somehow Ron would treat him differently. Maybe even decide it would be easier not to be friends with Harry than to figure out how to deal with it.
Hermione, on the other hand, would want to talk about it — endlessly. She wouldn’t rest until she’d found out all of his embarrassing secrets and Harry couldn’t handle that. She would feel sorry for him and try to fix him. That would be as bad as Ron ignoring it.
Conversely, Ginny had accepted him. She had secrets of her own and darkness that she didn’t want to talk to others about. He was actually glad he told her. He’d never shared that with anyone except Sirius before.
As they walked, Ginny tried to incorporate what she’d just learned with what she knew of Harry. She had always wondered what it was like at his aunt and uncle’s house, but she never imagined that they were so horrible to him. How could anyone treat a child like that?
She imagined from his actions that there was a lot he hadn’t shared with her. She resolved to be his friend no matter what.
They arrived at the area Harry had mentioned and as he’d described there were many tree stumps. Ginny looked around, she’d assumed that Ron and Hermione were meeting them out here, but Harry wasn’t even looking for them. He’d planned for just the two of them. It took all of her control not to squeal — she didn’t think that would be very mature, even if that’s what she wanted to do. She contented herself with just a smile.
“Okay, Ginny, what is the incantation?” Harry asked as he took out his wand.
“Reducto,” she demonstrated the spell and wand movement.
She watched as an intense look of concentration came over his face. She blushed slightly as she thought that he looked kind of sexy like that.
They both gasped as he managed to obliterate the top of the stump.
“That was wonderful!” Ginny enthused. “You did better than me.”
“Try again,” Harry encouraged her.
They spent an enjoyable afternoon practicing the spell and demolishing a good portion of the stumps in the clearing. While they didn’t return to the emotional topic they’d discussed on the way out, they spent the time talking about all sorts of things. They talked about their classes and Ginny solicited his opinion on what electives she should pick up next year.
“After listening to all of my friends, I would say stay away from Divination. It sounds like a load of bunk. I know Ron and Neville usually make it up.”
Ginny giggled. “I know. I think you are either a seer or you aren’t. My granny taught me how to read palms and she said she’d teach me how to do star charts. I’m not sure why I would ever need to do star charts, but it’s always fun to learn from her.”
“Is she the one who taught you about protection rituals?”
She nodded. “Yes, my Granny Prewett. She’s great. She’s had a lot of sadness in her life, but she keeps going. I think she’s amazing.”
“What happened to her?” Harry asked.
“Both her sons died in the war,” Ginny explained. “They were twins, Gideon and Fabian. They fought against V-voldemort and his Death Eaters. It was before I was born, my mum really misses them.”
“That sucks,” Harry said. “Stupid Voldemort.” He stopped and grinned at her. “You said his name.”
“I figured it’s just a stupid made up name, right?”
“That’s right,” Harry said with a smile.
Together they had a wonderful afternoon. Ginny was proud of herself that she was able to spend so much time with him and not swoon like an idiot. She was also happy that he was able to confide in her.
As they walked up to the castle Harry turned to her and asked, “Do you want to sit with us at the Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff match?”
It took all of her self-control not to squeal. “That would be great,” she managed to squeak.
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