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Echoes of the Snake
By straykneazle

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Category: Pre-OotP
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Dumbledore, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley
Genres: Angst, Drama, General
Warnings: Mental Abuse, Mild Language
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 7
Summary: Ginny Weasley is returning to Hogwarts after a disastrous first year. People keep whispering in hallways, she doesn't know what to do around those who were hurt by her actions, and strange things are happening at Hogwarts. There's only one person who truly seems to understand, but she can't even manage to speak to him.
Hitcount: Story Total: 2418; Chapter Total: 472
Awards: View Trophy Room

Author's Notes:
Thanks to GreenHatWayfarer for the beta reading! Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction using characters from the Harry Potter world, which is trademarked by J. K. Rowling. I make no claim to her creation or her world. Also, transwomen are women and TERFS are deadly. Unaltered book dialogue appears in bold, that is of course the work of the author.


Ginny gazed up at the great big doors of the entrance hall as the carriage came to a halt and the man who had introduced himself as Professor Lupin, their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, opened the carriage doors. On the steps up ahead was a rather strange sight. Draco Malfoy was standing on the steps facing Ron, blocking Harry and Hermione from advancing, and they looked as if they were deciding between wizard and Muggle duelling.

‘Did you faint as well, Weasley? Did the scary old Dementor frighten you, too, Weasley?’

Malfoy leered as Professor Lupin stepped out of the carriage behind Ginny. 

‘Is there a problem?’ Lupin inquired in a quiet but firm voice. 

The smirk on Crabbe and Goyle’s face was not lost on Ginny as Malfoy mockingly called back ‘Oh, no- er- Professor,’ and fled up the steps into the castle.

Ginny trudged up the steps, but once she reached the entrance hall a hand fell on her shoulder.

‘A word, Miss Weasley?’ Professor Lupin asked. 

He motioned towards a secret corridor hidden behind a tapestry that Fred and George had shown her in her first term. She was surprised that a Professor would know such secrets of the castle but followed him.

‘Are you all right? I’m sorry I neglected to ask earlier,’ he continued.

Professor Lupin’s warm voice was comforting, but the searching eyes told her what she feared. He knew. 

‘I’m fine, Professor,’ she said without inflexion.

Ginny did not want to discuss this any more. It was done.

‘I’ve had some correspondence with Professor Dumbledore over the holiday, regarding the events of last year. Cursed artefacts, possession by Slytherin’s heir, and a near death experience in the fabled Chamber of Secrets? You really must be quite a remarkable young witch to have resisted his effects as much as you did,’ the Professor paused as if sizing her up before continuing. 

‘None the less, moving on from such exposure to dark magic is a tricky matter, as I’m sure you know better than most.’ Lupin paused, as if lost in thought, before continuing hesitantly. ‘You said that you’re fine, but we both know it’s messier than that don’t we? I find the dementors really bring out the worst in one’s life, and I know reliving some of what you’ve experienced would shake me.’

 His eyes met hers with warmth and Ginny trembled, as if she was about to start sobbing like a child. What was wrong with her? Why was she like this now? The only teacher who didn’t know her and she was already embarrassing herself.

‘Yes, professor,’ she breathed.

She made every effort to make her voice sound strong, but it still had that hint of shakiness that was so often there these days. 

‘Look, after the war we saw a lot of very brave witches and wizards struggle greatly with a form of shock that comes about when you experience something horrible. There’s nothing to be ashamed about, from what I’ve heard about the Chamber of Secrets, it’s remarkably brave you even returned to school,’ he said.

His eyes looked so caring and oddly sad, that Ginny summoned her courage.

‘I don’t feel brave,’ she paused, searching, ‘if it wasn’t for Harry I’d be dead. And a lot of other students could have died. All because I was too scared to get help.’

Lupin smiled like he understood and slowly mused, ‘Sometimes, Miss Weasley, the best of people is shown by how they handle their mistakes and not their triumphs. You had a friend there to make sure you survived that nightmare, but nobody experienced what you went through.’ He paused again, ‘I have been told the students are unaware of your involvement, though I suspect Hogwarts hasn’t changed enough since my days here for that to be the case.’

Ginny grimaced, no things definitely had not changed. 

‘I think the ship’s certainly sailed on that, Professor,’ she quipped, putting effort into a carefree voice. She wasn’t sure why she was speaking so cheekily to a professor, but Lupin grinned reassuringly.

‘So, what do you do now?’ he asked before continuing. ‘In Defence Against the Dark Arts, we learn that having a plan for how to confront dark magic is the key to overcoming it. I think that’s the same for such painful memories. They aren’t going to go away, but what are we doing to do now?’

‘Not write in books that write back,’ she said, examining the stone wall behind him.

‘Well, yes, but also make sure you’re not defining yourself by what has happened in the past,’ Lupin paused. ‘Your life is still unwritten and full of promise, never forget that. I once told that to your mother, when she was pregnant with you I believe, and having a rather hard time dealing with the loss of Fabian and Gideon.’

‘Professor, you know my mother?’ Ginny asked in surprise.

‘Not very well, but I was friends with your uncles. We worked together in the resistance, back in the war. If Dumbledore’s account is correct, it seems their fighting spirit lives on quite well in you. So, if nothing else: remember that. If you’re not all right now, you will be,’ said Lupin.

Ginny paused to consider this before the echoes of her peers surfaced in her head. ‘They all hold me responsible. That much was clear at the end of last term. I was so excited to go to Hogwarts, the friends I’d make, the adventure’s I’d have- I’ve been waiting for that practically my whole life. Now that’s never going to happen. I just have to keep my head down and try not to cause more trouble,’ she finished. She had said it, she hadn’t meant to do that. But it was true, they did hold her responsible.

Professor Lupin looked at her with a strange expression. After a long pause, he began, ‘My first few years at Hogwarts were quite lonely. I was rather shy and didn’t have an easy time fitting in. But the few friends I managed to make never failed to stick up for me and encourage me, even beyond Hogwarts. Having people I could trust made all the difference, and those last few years at Hogwarts are the happiest of my life. Seek out friends who understand and have stuck by you despite what happened last year.  Those who will stand up for you and be true friends. And I’m quite sure you will find them if you haven’t already, it seemed like the group you were with on the train seemed to enjoy your company..’

Ginny felt a blush creeping up her cheeks, and stammered out ‘They’re just my brother’s friends. They usually want nothing to do with me,’ even though she knew that wasn’t quite true. 

Hadn’t Harry had made a point of spending time with her last term while everyone else was whispering behind her back?

Lupin continued positively, ‘Well, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of friends and adventures in the years ahead of you. Perhaps even some learning too. Now, I believe the feast is about to begin so we should probably go before we’re missed.’

He motioned Ginny back into the entrance hall, and at the doorway of the now almost full Great Hall, she turned to him.

‘Thank you for that, Professor,’ she whispered.

‘You’re most welcome Miss Weasley, and I look forward to seeing you in class. If you ever want to chat, I keep an open-door policy in my office for anyone seeking a cup of tea,’ the Professor said warmly as he departed for the staff table.

Ginny headed for the Gryffindor House table, looking for room to sit. Haley and Demelza closed the gap between them as she began to approach, and Ginny paused awkwardly looking around. Harry and Hermione were notably absent, leaving Ron sitting alone with Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan. Colin waved enthusiastically at her. She guessed now was as good as ever to make amends. However, before she had finished making up her mind two arms grabbed her under the shoulders. She immediately tensed before recognizing them.

‘Sister, don’t you know that if you stand around like that you’re sure to fall in with the wrong sort of people?’ whispered Fred.

‘You might wind up all boring like Percy. I don’t think we could live with that shame again,’ chimed in George. Percy was eyeing them intently, with his head boy badge gleaming proudly at the head of the table.

‘Can’t have that, quick let’s grab a seat before the worst can happen to you,’ Fred agreed.

They frogmarched her over to a rather squished space that appeared between Lee Jordan and Angelina Johnson just as Professor Flitwick entered the Great Hall leading a group of terrified looking first-years. There was a sizeable lot of first years, much bigger than her year or the one before hers. Plenty of kids who didn’t know about last year.

‘So, Ginny. We have a proposition for you.’ George whispered barely above the din coming from the Ravenclaw table as Derrick Chambers joined them.

‘We have decided that you are a much more promising candidate than Ronald to serve as our apprentice,’ continued Fred.

‘Oh really? And what precisely does that entail?’ said Ginny suspiciously. She had been the pawn in too many of her brothers’ schemes to be easily fooled.

‘Your lack of trust is so disheartening. It wounds us.  We merely thought you’d be interested in aiding us as we develop new means of bringing joy and entertainment to our fellow students,’ said George.

‘Truly disgraceful. And you think you can trust your own flesh and blood,’ agreed Fred.

‘What’s in it for me?’ she asked.

Fred considered his answer for a moment.

‘Well, we thought you could use some more healthy ways of learning the secrets of the castle-’ he paused as if waiting for her to tear up but continued when she remained impassive. She didn’t mind them talking about Tom directly, they never walked on egg-shells around the subject with her like so many others. ‘Can’t have our sister embarrassing us by not even knowing how to steal snacks from the kitchens,’ he finished.

‘And what better way to make friends than showing up with a bunch of Butter-beers and spare puddings. Rotten old snake be damned,’ said George with a smirk.

‘Gold is also a pretty good motivator,’ replied Ginny.

‘I think you’ll find we can compensate you for your aid in ways that will interest you quite satisfactorily,’ grinned Fred.

Their conversation died down as ‘Vane, Romilda’ headed towards the Gryffindor table. The doors of the Great Hall creaked open again as Flitwick was stowing the sorting hat and stool away in a side room, and Harry and Hermione quietly entered in front of Professor McGonagall. A sea of whispers broke out in the hall as they made their way over towards Ron.

Professor Dumbledore rose to address the students, silencing them. ‘Welcome! Welcome to another year at Hogwarts! I have a few things to say to you all, and as one of them is very serious, I think it best to get it out of the way before you become befuddled by our excellent feast-‘ he cleared his throat. ‘As you will all be aware after their search of the Hogwarts Express, our school is presently playing host to some of the Dementors of Azkaban, who are here on Ministry of Magic business.’ He paused here, and Fred placed an arm around Ginny in comfort. She hadn’t realised she was shaking. ‘They are stationed at every entrance to the grounds,’ Dumbledore continued, ‘and while they are with us, I must make it plain that nobody is to leave school without permission. Dementors are not to be fooled by tricks or disguises- or even Invisibility Cloaks. It is not in the nature of a Dementor to understand pleading or excuses. I therefore warn each and every one of you to give them no reason to harm you. I look to the Prefects, and our new Head Boy and Girl, to make sure that no student runs foul of the Dementors.’ At this, Percy popped up in his seat like a rabbit, ridiculously showing his head boy badge off. ‘Embarrassing fuckwad,’ Fred grunted.

‘On a happier note,’ Dumbledore continued, ‘I am pleased to welcome two new teachers to our ranks this year. Firstly, Professor Lupin, who has kindly consented to fill the post of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.’

Ginny was among the very few who clapped enthusiastically.

‘As to our second new appointment,’ Dumbledore continued, as the lukewarm applause for Professor Lupin died away, ‘well, I am sorry to tell you that Professor Kettleburn, our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, retired at the end of last year in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs. However, I am delighted to say that his place will be filled by none other than Rubeus Hagrid, who has agreed to take on this teaching job in addition to his gamekeeping duties.’

The Gryffindor table erupted in applause. She beamed up at the friendly gamekeeper who had been her only true friend last year. If anything good had come from that, Hagrid’s name being cleared was it. With a flourish of his wand, Dumbledore signalled the start of the feast and the plates before her were suddenly filled.

After a lengthy night of Quidditch discussion with the twins, Lee, Angelina, Katie, and Alicia, Ginny’s eyes were growing heavy. It had been a long time since she and Hermione had woken up at the Leaky Cauldron that morning. As Dumbledore dismissed them, Fred whispered ‘We’ll be in touch’ into her ear. They followed Percy as he strutted up the castle’s staircases towards Gryffindor Tower, announcing the new password as they arrived in front of the portrait of the fat lady. Despite the memories it held, she was looking forward to the warmth of her four-poster bed in the smallest girl’s dormitory. She bid the twins good night, as they nestled snugly in front of the fire with the trio of chasers, and she trudged up the spiral stairs.

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