Harry lowered his elbow into the butter dish.
Everyone in the Great Hall looked in amusement at the Boy Who Lived as he rubbed his temples, groaning.
“At least my sister’s not shy around you anymore, mate,” ventured Ron.
The petite redhead in question stormed up the aisle. “Harry James Potter, I’m going to hex you so bad, you won’t be able to sit on your broom for a month!” Ginny didn’t need a sonorous charm to be heard.
Hermione was sympathetic. “Harry, if you believe that, then you need to illustrate it for Ginny.”
Harry gulped. “I know what you mean, but it’s for the best!”
“Whatever you did to make Ginny upset, it better sound good in your eulogy,” Neville said sadly across from Harry. “She looked ready to kill when I saw her upstairs. Just let me get out of the way before you two have a go. I have body parts that I prefer to keep for a long time yet.”
Ron was concentrating on his breakfast. “Harry, would you pass the butter when you’re done with?”
Harry’s morning was not shaping up well.
o o o
“This should be easy unless it’s in her bed with her.”
“Yes. If only I could get in there myself…” Harry frowned, lost in thought.
“So I just grab it tonight and meet up with you down here early.”
“You know I wouldn’t ask you if it wasn’t really important. Hermione thinks I’m over-reacting. It’s like I told you at practice yesterday; she’s been out of sorts, and this has to be the reason why,” Harry insisted. “Dumbledore needs to check it out. When Ginny reads the note, she’ll know it was me, and nobody will suspect you had any involvement.”
“You really are concerned about Ginny, aren’t you?”
“I can’t tell you why, and I’m not really sure myself, but I know this has to be done.” Harry ran his hand through his permanently unkempt mop of hair. “It’s for her own safety. And I can’t get anywhere discussing it with her. But, she’s my best mate’s sister, and … my friend … and I can’t … I won’t let anything happen to her.”
o o o
Ginny stared at the magazine cover. “Luna, you’re holding it upside down.”
Luna sat reading the Quibbler as she finished her sandwich. “I sometimes enjoy reading a story backwards. It can make an otherwise mundane story very amusing, and the beginning is always a surprise.”
Ginny just considered her friend, not knowing what to say to that.
“Harry will come around,” Luna intoned, “he just doesn’t realize what has to happen yet. When he does, everything will be fine. You’ll see.”
“I don’t know, Luna. It’s bad enough that Harry’s been a right prat all weekend. I thought Hogwarts was supposed to fun.” Ginny dropped her head into her hands. “I had really thought I could be something more than Fred, George, and Ron’s little sister here, especially to him. Now I’ve mucked it up. And with everyone acting like Harry has some secret he’s holding over the entire school … it’s just too much.”
o o o
“You know, I really thought I could count on you as a friend, Harry. I see now that you’re no different than my brothers. Always wanting to do what’s best for Ickle Ginny. Well, I don’t need another minder!”
“No one wants to do that to you, Ginny.”
“What, do you think I’m crazy? What about privacy? Did you think that I wanted my life tossed out for everyone to inspect?”
“It would make it a lot easier.”
“The answer is no, Harry, I’m not giving it up.”
“Look, I don’t know what’s happening here, but the diary seems to be mixed up in all this somehow.”
“You believe that stuff that Luna was talking about then?”
“Ginny, I feel like we’ve hashed this over already.”
o o o
“I don’t want to frighten her, sir. I’ll do what I can.”
“Harry, there is no method to determine every possibility with total accuracy, but I fear that this may indeed cause harm, be it a spell or sickness of some type, even death. I must examine it as soon as possible.”
“So you think it may contain dark magic?” Harry spoke to the headmaster, worry evident in his voice.
“Anything that once belonged to Tom Riddle should be treated with great caution.”
Harry shook his head. “I’m just concerned about this diary. And there are rumors of a curse enveloping the whole school …”
The headmaster looked on with concern as Harry spilled his tale of the detention.
o o o
Ginny squinted at the trophy she was polishing. “Hey, I know who this one is — I have his diary!”
Harry frowned at his work. “I wonder what someone has to do to get one of these awards for Special Services.”
“Maybe commit a murder and frame someone else for it?”
“That’s not so bad. What’s the worst sort of crime you can think of?”
“Fred and George once spiked Mrs. Norris’ water dish with hair growth potion. They said she kept tripping in her own fur for a whole week. They said mum’s howler didn’t even spoil the fun.”
Harry gave Ginny a sideways glance. “Sorry for getting you involved in one my messes. At least this detention was for something worthwhile.”
o o o
“Hermione, do you know a spell to fix pillow seams? I appear to have feathers everywhere.” Ginny blew some off her sleeve.
Hermione huffed, “That happens whenever Professor Snape gets upset with Harry.”
“Oh, I must have spilled something in Potions.”
“Ginny, that dark stain on your robes looks like blood.”
“I had the chicken last night. Maybe that’s why…”
“They were complaining of stomach troubles. Madame Pomfrey said the eel soufflé was a little off.”
Ginny greeted Hermione at their usual library table. “I saw Harry and Ron streak out of the portrait hole this morning.”
o o o
The Hogwarts Express rocked gently as it clicked along the rails, punctuating the silence in the compartment.
“They seem to be attracted to dairy products.”
“Luna, you’re not making any sense,” Ginny said, knitting her brow.
The dreamy voice continued. “The Curse of the Setafowt is enacted around two people that have significantly intertwined destinies when one of them signals to the other on three separate occasions. The curse can only be lifted when the other answers in kind. Until then you will experience time in reverse. Quite simple, really.”
“You think that there’s some sort of spell at work here?” Harry didn’t know what to make of the odd looking girl.
“Luckily, the curse is only an inconvenience. It causes no lasting harm.”
“Is that good or bad?”
“It’s plainly obvious that you have been in contact with a Setafowt. It’s a cute little creature but very odd. It always appears to move backwards because it already knows where it's going, but never where it's been. They are extremely rare, and the Curse of the Setafowt has very few documented cases.”
Ginny tried to smother her giggle.
The blonde girl didn’t seem bothered at all to see her old friend Ginny sitting with the Boy Who Lived. She studied Harry closely for a moment. “You don’t like being famous, but you do like treacle tart.”
“Oh, hi, Luna. This is Harry Potter, a good friend of our family. Harry, Luna is a neighbor of sorts. She lives not far from the Burrow.”
A girl with dirty blonde hair and a faraway expression opened the door.
“Harry, your compartment is kind of like the Leaky Cauldron, with all the goings and comings.”
After a few moments, there was a knock on the door.
“Hey, we’re in this together. Don’t worry.”
“Well, there goes my Hogwarts education.”
Percy stuck in his head and surveyed the scene. “I’m sorry, but you know I have to report this.”
“Let’s hope mum doesn’t find out. I don’t need a howler on the first day of classes. That’s Fred and George’s department.”
“That looks really painful,” Harry grimaced. “Good on you, Ginny.”
“It’s called a Bat-Bogey Hex. Bill taught it to me to keep away troublemakers.”
Harry looked down at the blonde Slytherin. “Remind me to keep on your good side.”
Crabbe and Goyle went screaming out of the carriage, clutching their faces.
In the blink of an eye, several spells were fired. Draco fell to the floor, stunned.
“Well, Potter, I see you’ve still got the little gold-digger at your beck and call. Tell me if she’s any good so that after you’re gone this term…”
“Do you need something, Malfoy?” Harry growled.
After a long silence the door opened again. Harry’s least favorite trio stood in the opening.
Ginny blushed furiously.
“Now that I would enjoy.”
Ginny snorted. “I suppose you want me to sing or something?”
“I bet you’ve got your own talents.”
“That is so not true.”
Harry considered the redhead across from him. “I’m not really anything special you know.”
“We’ll be off to find someone who can reverse this.” Hermione was a bit chuffed as they left the compartment.
“Ron, didn’t mum warn you about using grooming spells aimed at the mirror?”
Harry and Ginny almost choked on their laughter.
Ron returned from the carriage loo. His face was on the back of his head. “Hey, Harry, look! I’m Quirrel!”
o o o
Harry caught a glimpse of the girl next to him. Had she just winked at him?
Arthur could barely contain his grin.
“Don’t you dare give your father any silly ideas,” Molly chided.
Ron laughed, “If we miss the train, we could always fly the car to Hogwarts.”
“If this keeps up, we’ll never get to King’s Cross,” moaned Percy.
“At least we didn’t forget Ron this time,” Fred added as Arthur turned once again back towards the Burrow.
“That would be too big a load for Errol to carry,” reasoned George.
“I forgot my broom!” shouted Fred. “We have to go back!”
“There’s no need for that,” called Molly from the front seat.
Even though the Anglia’s interior had been magically expanded, Harry could not escape the heat of Ginny’s blush beside him.
“Too bad we can’t all sit next to the Boy Who Lived,” teased George.
o o o
Harry couldn’t wait to leave for King’s Cross.
Arthur leaned conspiratorially over the table. “Harry, lad, while we wait on breakfast, I don’t suppose you could divulge the secret to Muggle cling film?”
“Language dear,” interjected Molly. “Come over here and let’s fix you up.”
Ron entered carrying a basket of eggs and sporting a series of gashes over the back of his hands. “Bloody mental hen.”
“Her aim has definitely improved with his presence,” mused George.
Fred grinned. “I believe our sister’s affinity for targeting food is surpassed only by her devotion to a certain young dark-haired wizard.”
Harry sat awkwardly at the table. “Err… it’s okay. Strawberry jam suits me fine.”
Ginny was mortified. It happened again!
Molly shook her head. “Ginny, dear, please be more careful. That’s the third time your elbow has landed in the butter dish.”