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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: 2416; Chapter Total: 479
Awards: View Trophy Room

Author's Notes:
Whew, no this was not abandoned, just backburnered while I came to terms with planning the scope of what I was biting off. Have a few more chapters nearly done that should keep a reasonable upload schedule for the summer, and feel like I'm in a good place for where I'm going. This will continue through the end of GoF. 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 woke up early the next morning, after a surprisingly restful night of sleep. Sleep had not come easily to her lately, but she supposed yesterday’s events had been enough to ensure deep sleep from the moment her head hit the pillow. She showered and headed down to breakfast before any of her dorm mates had stirred.

She was greeted with four almost empty tables when she made her way into the Great Hall. The only other second-year present at the Gryffindor table this early was Colin. She trudged over to him, no sense in putting this of any longer.

‘Hiya Ginny, have a good holiday?’ he said, beaming, as he passed her a large serving dish of scrambled eggs. Ginny blinked, stunned that  that he could even consider it a 'good holiday' after the events of the past summer. 

‘Yeah,’ she stammered out as she sat down, ‘went to Egypt and saw a bunch of old wizard’s tombs. How ‘bout yours?’ This was not quite what she had expected. Her summer had been lousy. She had barely left her room, unable to sleep without being plagued by nightmares.

Even in Egypt, she hadn’t found anything to be excited about. Plus her mother wouldn’t let her out of her sight or allow her to see anything interesting. So what point was there in even getting excited? She had seen more than enough of damp, smelly underground tombs. Really the only highlight had been Bill sneaking her out at night to play one-on-one quidditch and talk. Bill always understood what was on her mind.

‘…And then I swear I saw a vampire on the ferry home, but, of course, I couldn’t ask him, being out in the muggle world and all, coming from an island full of holidaymakers.’ Colin had rambled about his family’s holiday to the Isle of Wright for almost a full minute and Ginny had heard none of it.

‘Colin, I need to talk to you about something, about last year.’ His face faltered for an instant before he looked at her curiously.

‘Oh? You mean, about Slytherin’s monster? I’m so glad you’re okay. I guess it’s really lucky that Harry managed to reach you in time.’

‘Colin, I opened the Chamber of Secrets.’ 

His smile faltered.

‘What do you mean? You wouldn’t do that. Dumbledore said it was a dark wizard who went here decades ago.’

‘I still opened it. He left a cursed diary that I was foolish enough to write in, and he took control of me. He used me to open the chamber of secrets.’

‘Oh’ Colin said thoughtfully, and after considering it continued ‘Well, if he was controlling you, it’s hardly your fault. It could have happened to any of us.’

‘I should have known better,’ Ginny interjected regretfully.

‘We all make mistakes, and that sounds really scary, terrifying, being possessed like that. You didn’t do anything because you wanted to.’

This was it, time to come clean.

‘But he listened to me sometimes. He was trying to impress me.’ She fidgeted with her robes in her hands. ‘I was annoyed that you wouldn’t shut up about Harry when he was hurt. I told him about that, the night you were attacked after I had told you to go find someone else to answer your questions about Harry Potter. He did it to impress me.’

Colin stared at her, pale-faced, for a long minute before responding. ‘Did you want me to be petrified? Or killed?’

‘No! Of course not!’ Ginny almost shouted, ‘I was sick to my stomach. Horrified. That was when I realised T- the diary wasn’t my friend, that he was evil. I tried to get rid of him.’

Colin suddenly was quite interested in the remaining bacon on his plate for a long while before responding.

‘You didn’t mean it. You were just as much a victim of it as we were. You almost died. I forgive you.’

Ginny didn’t expect it to be that easy, ‘Thanks… and I’m truly really sorry’ she stammered out before starting to eat.

If there was anything more to be said, it was cut off by the appearance of the twins sliding onto the bench next to her.

‘Hey, shrimp, what do you have first?’ Fred asked, gesturing towards pile of timetables in the centre of the table.

Ginny grabbed a second-year timetable and examined it while she chewed ‘Defence with Lupin.’

Fred looked up at the staff table ‘I wonder what he’s like, can’t get much worse than the last few.’

‘He’s nice.’ Ginny responded, ‘He knew what to do on the train yesterday without any hesitation. Drove the dementor away. He said he knew Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon.’

‘Well, that’s interesting… maybe Dumbledore actually managed to get us a competent teacher for the Dark Arts post this year,’ said George.

‘You can’t say ol’ Quirrell wasn’t competent. He knew You-Know-Who like he was in his own head,’ argued Fred with a grimace.

A burst of laughter from the Slytherin table interrupted them as Draco Malfoy began doing a sickening impression of Harry fainting on the train. Ginny reached for her wand, but George placed a hand over it to stop her. ‘Easy now, not in front of the staff table. You gotta be smarter than that if you want to get away with hexing that foul fucker.’

At that moment Harry, Ron, and Hermione entered the Great Hall. Harry blanched when he noticed Malfoy but didn’t break his stride as he continued the Gryffindor House table and sat next to George looking crestfallen.

‘What’s up with you, Harry?’ George asked.

‘Malfoy,’ said Ron with disgust as he sat down next to Ginny.

‘That little git. He wasn’t so cocky last night when the Dementors were down our end of the train. Came running into our compartment, didn’t he, Fred?’ George asked.

‘Nearly wet himself,’ said Fred with a wicked grin directed at Malfoy.

Ginny briefly felt a flicker of empathy for Draco Malfoy, which was immediately extinguished by Malfoy feigning another collapse. She shivered at the memory of the Dementor, and without missing a beat George put an arm around her shoulder.

‘I wasn’t too happy myself, they’re horrible things, those dementors…’ he said as Fred picked up on the cue. 

‘Sort of freeze your insides don’t they?’ Fred mused. 

Ginny felt warmer knowing they had a sense of what she had felt, but it was like Ron: only a sense. They hadn’t heard the all too familiar voice of the most murderous mage in many decades. She glanced over at Harry, who had his face fixed down on his porridge. He knew what their true horror was.

‘You didn’t pass out, though, did you?’ he said quietly, with a slight tremble.

The twins looked at each other before George put on a smile and said ‘Forget it Harry, Dad had to go out to Azkaban one time, remember, Fred?’ George said nonchalantly, while Fred nodded gravely ‘And he said it was the worst place he’d ever been. He came back all weak and shaking.’

Ginny remembered that day; she hadn’t understood at the time, but now she knew. What did her father see? Harry remained passive.

They suck the happiness out of a place, Dementors. Most of the prisoners go mad in there.’ George explained solemnly.

‘Anyway, we’ll see how happy Malfoy looks after our first Quidditch match. Gryffindor versus Slytherin, first game of the season, remember?’ said Fred.

As they delved into quidditch strategy with a much cheerier-looking Harry, Ginny grabbed her bag and set off with a wave to the rest. She headed towards the first-floor corridor and grabbed a seat near the front of the still empty defence classroom. 

Slowly the rest of the Gryffindor and Slytherin second-years took their seats. Colin settled himself right next to Ginny, throwing her an earnest smile. She did her best to return it.

Crawford Harper, a rather short but heavy-set Slytherin settled into the seat on her opposite side. As soon as Ginny looked over at him, he feigned a dramatic pose of one petrified. She locked her eyes straight ahead, locked on the blackboard. 

‘But really, what we all want to know is why Slytherin would choose a filthy blood traitor like you for his heir?’ he whispered just loud enough to make the rest of the Slytherins snicker as Professor Lupin closed the door.

‘Good morning everyone, I am Professor Remus Lupin, and I will be teaching you the basics of defensive magic this year.’ he said as he sat on the desk at the front of the classroom, his legs swinging freely.

‘Professor Dumbledore has unfortunately been unable to provide me with Professor Lockhart’s syllabus or your coursework from last year, or for any of the classes as a matter of fact, so let’s start by talking a bit about what you covered last year and then we’ll get to have some practical demonstration. I understand some students had a highly disrupted year, so I’d like to encourage anyone who has any questions or wishes to further discuss any of the coursework to come see me at my office. I believe in an open door policy so we can work together to help ensure your success in my class,’ he said.

‘Now, I believe last fall you should have covered the basic definitions of dark magic, dark creatures, how we classify dark creatures, and basic steps to protect yourself from an encounter with them long enough to escape.’ he read off of a piece of parchment on the desk.

Demelza’s hand shot up as Lupin continued to squint at the note. 

‘And in the spring term you should have covered the fundamental definitions of hexes, jinxes, and curses; defending yourself from non-magical threats, some 1st level jinxes and hexes, and basic duelling wand work,’ he finished reading as some of the boys broke out in a chorus of chuckles. Lupin looked around the room bemused.

‘Miss… second row?’ he said looking at Demelza. 

‘Demelza Robins, sir. And Professor Lockhart taught us some of that stuff, but he mostly taught using examples from his books. You know, how he protected a muggle village from a Yeti with the curse of the bogies, and how he tricked a werewolf into eating a chicken and garlic pie to save the Armenian wizarding community. Killed him on the spot.’ 

Lupin nodded with a strange expression. 

‘He seemed to believe the best way to teach was to use his accounts of his adventures rather than textbooks. And we really didn’t do much practical spell-casting, more reenactments,’ she finished.

‘That’s because Lockhart couldn’t even handle teaching the Jelly-legs jinx, now could he? Managed to hit himself on his first demonstration and then he dropped his wand and fell over into the desk. Knocked him out cold,’ interjected Haley from the back to another wave of chuckles.

‘We all have our bad days, it could happen to anyone,’ said Demelza.

‘Yes, well, that’s definitely… definitely concerning that you may have some catching up to do, but we’ll work through that. I have full confidence in all of you. Now, before we begin our practical section of today’s review, let’s make sure we all remember the essentials of safe and effective wand work. An auror I know used to tell us “Don’t stick it where you aren’t willing to destroy what it’s pointing at,” and I think that’s a pretty good starting place. Technique and mechanics can be corrected, but basic safety comes first so always be mindful of where your wand is pointed.,’ Lupin said.

He waved his wand and a wooden mannequin sailed out from one of the classrooms cupboards and assumed a duelling stance in the front of the classroom.

‘Now I want you to form a queue down the middle. You are going to show me your best casting form as you stand at the front row and cast a knock-back jinx on this mannequin. In case you don’t remember, the incantation is flipendo. Make sure you emphasise the middle syllable to give the jinx adequate force’ Lupin instructed with an encouraging smile.

The class queued up and Ginny held out for the back. Bridget Fawley, a tall Slytherin girl with olive skin and short brown hair wearing an expression of boredom approached the mark first, casting lazily only to be corrected by Lupin on how her arm posture limited her effectiveness. One by one the class worked its way through the challenge, with most students managing to knock over the mannequin who immediately stood back up like a muggle’s jack-in-the-box toy.  As Ginny’s turn came nearer, she frantically tried to visualise the passage in ‘The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1’ discussing the technique for the jinx. She had no memory of practicing this last year, yet everyone else seemed to be doing so well.

The classroom was suddenly silent as she realised Claire Yaxley had already finished her demonstration and all eyes were on her. She stepped up to the mark, trying to keep her hand from shaking, and swished her wand violently as the jinx stumbled out of her lips. The hex shot wide over the dummy and knocked a row of books off a shelf at the front of the classroom.  

Immediately the class burst into laughter, and Elizabeth Pucey’s shrill voice cut through the rest, ‘Maybe she’d do better if it was a mudblood? Put Creevy up there.’

With a forceful bang the books returned to their shelf, and Lupin’s voice echoed loud and stern throughout the room. ‘Enough! Detention Pucey, for a week, and fifty points from Slytherin for your foul bigotry and cruel harassment of both Miss Weasley and Mr Creevy. That is not tolerated in this classroom, or in this school.’ 

Lupin stormed over to his desk, pulled out a piece of parchment, and began writing quickly as the class took on a sudden hush. He folded the parchment, and tapped it sealed with his wand and quickly approached Pucey’s desk.

‘You will apologise to Weasley and Creevy for your disgusting outburst. Then, you will bring this note to Professor Snape and explain to him what you have done. I will be writing to your parents and speaking with the headmaster about this.’ 

Lupin then turned to the rest of the class, ‘Last year you all experienced a series of traumatic attacks aimed at scaring muggle-borns out of Hogwarts. This is a kind of evil that many of you grew up without direct exposure to. A new generation raised in peace after the time when dark magic and the violence of blood purism threatened to take over our society. And yet the muggle-borns of Hogwarts are still here, because they’re made of stronger stuff than that. In the Great Wizarding War, many young muggle-borns gave their lives fighting to defeat those who wished to eradicate them. They fought while too many stayed silent, and it is their sacrifice has allowed all of us to live without that fear for this last decade.’ 

Lupin looked back at Pucey with a contorted face. ‘Mr Creevy has as much right to be here as you do, and Miss. Weasley was as much a victim of the dark wizard responsible for the attacks as he was. We must not tolerate the rhetoric of blood purity, and no student should ever fear for their life within this castle.’

He stepped back towards his desk at the front of the classroom, as Ginny wavered awkwardly still on her mark, then gazed out at them with a much quieter, almost mourning voice. ‘Defence Against the Dark Arts is a defence of all who dark wizards wish to eradicate from our society. Never forget that, what we learn in this classroom is about protecting lives and building a society that advocates for the rights of all, regardless of blood status or kind. That is why we are here, for those who couldn’t be, and for those who will come after, to not be silent. To build a safer world. Now, Miss Pucey?’

Ginny’s stomach churned as Pucey grabbed her bag and before turning to leave looked at them and muttered ‘I shouldn’t have said it.’ 

She walked quickly out the door, and the class held its silence. 

Lupin was suddenly next to Ginny, addressing the class still. ‘I’m sorry we had to experience that, now let’s finish this up so I can get you all off to your next class.’

He turned towards her, and spoke in a reassuring voice. ‘Alright, the key here is a clear pronunciation, fli-PEN-do. Now, let’s see your stance.’

Ginny took a breath and then raised her wand-arm towards the mannequin.

‘Yes,’ he continued, ‘now loosen your grip a bit so its not so tight, and let your elbow swing freely. If you’re so tight, you will overshoot your target. Try that.’

She let her arm swing lightly as she cast the incantation. Her spell shot out out from her wand-arm and struck the dummy right in its chest, knocking him right ofter. For the first time all day, she felt a warm grin reach her face.

‘Excellent, that is exactly the kind of form you want to use for defensive spell-casting. Five points to Gryffindor.’ He beamed at her and returned to his desk. Ginny took her seat and reciprocated Colin’s waiting high-five.

‘That’s almost all the time we have, so I’ll let you head to your next class. For Tuesday, you will read Chapter 1 of Essential Defence, covering the basic defensive choices a wizard has, and write me a concise six inches on the decision to disarm an opponent versus shielding yourself while preparing to flee a threat.  Now, as I said before, my door is always open if anyone has any questions or wants to discuss anything, have a wonderful rest of your week,’ Lupin finished with a hesitant smile.

Ginny mouthed ‘Thank you’ at Professor Lupin before following her classmates up to the the third floor for Charms. Despite it all, this had been the best lesson she could remember at Hogwarts.

Reviews 7

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