Author's Note: Welcome to the first installment of the sequel to The Year of Secrets! Hopefully you have all read that story before beginning here, so I won't launch into a detailed explanation of where we are right now. Enjoy! ^^
Chapter One: Rebellion
In reality, Harry Potter was not a complex boy. Of course, he had his secrets and his problems, both frivolous and serious, but when it came down to it, he was quite simple. He was a boy in love with a girl who happened to be possessed by his arch-enemy, an enemy he would have to kill to save her and the wizarding world. Oh, and he lived with relatives, who detested the sight of him, because his mother's sacrifice for him had given him protection from Voldemort until he was a legal wizard. Not to mention the fact his godfather had died a year ago trying to save him from death.
Well, Harry thought as he plopped onto his rickety bed, maybe not quite so normal.
He had only been back with the Dursleys for less than two hours, and already he was sick of being in their house. Not even two minutes after he stepped in the house, Vernon had put him to work making their supper. Now, after making the meal, watching them eat it, and cleaning up after them, he was finally up in his room, lying face-up on the dusty bed, and watching his owl fly around the room unhappily. He hadn't bothered to unpack; what was the point? He wasn't staying any longer than he had to.
Closing his eyes, Harry settled upon the very welcome yet very confusing thought of Ginny Weasley. Was she his girlfriend? No, not technically. But she still wore his ring, and she had given him a kiss at the station only a few hours ago. Why? He had been under the impression that she had wanted to keep their contact at a minimum because of her problem with Voldemort, and he had understood that.
But then she had to go and kiss him.
Granted, it was only a kiss on the cheek, but it was skin to skin contact none the less. And it was driving him insane.
Maybe there was hope after all.
Heavy footsteps sounded near his closed door, and Harry rolled his eyes. Vernon and Petunia had been eying his with displeasure since they saw Ginny kiss him, and he had no doubt that Dudley was extremely curious and very angry with Harry; somehow Harry doubted any girl would come within kissing distance of his whale-like cousin, and he reckoned that Dudley was slightly jealous of him.
A smirk crossed his face at that thought. Dudley, jealous of him? It was something to treasure.
The footsteps went back and forth outside his door in a way Harry assumed Dudley thought was secretive; in reality, no one except the extremely hard of hearing would be able to miss the lumbering sound. Hedwig hooted indignantly at the disruption, and the sounds halted abruptly. Trying not to laugh out loud, Harry shook his head and stood up. With quick steps, he was at the door and glancing down at Dudley. Amusement swelled in him; he had grown another few inches at Hogwarts, making him a good five inches taller than Dudley.
"Can I help you, Dudley?" Harry asked casually, leaning against the doorframe.
Dudley glared at him, face as red as his father's was not too long ago. "That girl in the station; who was she?" he demanded, straightening as best as he could to counter Harry's surprising height.
Harry shrugged. "Does it really matter to you? Stop haunting my door; my bird's getting annoyed with you," he said coolly, moving to go inside and shut the door.
"You must be paying her bunches if she's banging you. Is she a mail-order whore? I thought they came prettier than that," Dudley sneered as Harry turned his back.
Harry's first reaction to the anger blasting through him was to calm down, straighten his back, and walk away from Dudley without a word. After all, hadn't he taken his taunts with silence for a long time before this summer? Yes, that was the sensible thing to do.
Then again, he thought, I am leaving in a month. Dudley could use a good knockout. And, he insulted Ginny. Merlin, that's almost exactly what Malfoy said about her!
Sighing, Harry turned and swung.
It was a clean hit, perfectly executed; the training sessions with Remus had helped his technique and skill immensely. Dudley howled as he fell to his knees, holding his bleeding nose and shutting his now-red eye. "You bastard!" he screeched as even heavier footsteps raced up the nearby stairs.
"Don't be such a wimp, Dudley. You deserved it. Besides, you ought to be used to it, with all the people you fight with at school," Harry said coldly as Vernon ascended the stairs and stopped short, face purpling quite unattractively.
His beady eyes latched onto Harry, who returned his furious glare with an icy gaze. Vernon drew himself up in what he must have thought was an imposing way, and took a step forward. "What the hell do you think you're doing to my son?" he roared as Petunia's slight figure came into view behind her husband's giant shoulder.
"Something I should have done a long time ago," Harry replied calmly, leaning against the frame of his door and sticking his hands in the pockets of his jeans. "Why? Would you like one, too?"
Vernon's face was practically black with fury. "You will respect me when you are in my house, boy! Apologize to my son and get downstairs! You have chores to do!" he yelled, startling both his wife and son with his tone.
Harry raised an eyebrow in the wake of this explosion. "I think Dudders here can do his own chores. I've done a lifetime's worth of them for him," he said bitterly. He wasn't going to take this abuse anymore. After dealing with it for near seventeen years, he was bone-tired of being ordered around and taunted and having to take it without retaliation.
Taking another step towards him, Vernon shook his fist at him. "How dare you speak to me that way! After we've fed you-"
Harry snorted. "Barely."
"Clothed you, provided for you—"
"You can stop now. You haven't done a thing for me except torture me. I won't be here for long. Don't bother me," Harry interjected coldly, turning back into his room. Glancing at the whimpering Dudley, he glanced back at Vernon. "You might want to tend to his face; he might bleed to death," he commented lightly before going into his room and closing the door.
"Open this door now!" Vernon roared, pounding a fist on the wood.
What he wouldn't do to be able to cast a wandless spell right now! Damn the Ministry! Harry settled with locking his door manually and headed back to his bed, sitting down with a sudden tiredness. It felt good to finally give back the hell they had given him over the years; now all he had to do was last the month. Grinning, he grabbed a quill, some ink, and parchment from his bag near the bed.
He had a few triumphant letters to write.
Funny, she had thought she would be able to actually sleep, now that Harry wasn't in the same place as she was.
Ginny groaned quietly, rolling onto her back from her side and staring up at the ceiling of her room. The crickets were chirping, a breeze was blowing softly, it was a beautiful moonlit night, and here she was, tossing and turning at two o'clock in the bloody morning.
Wouldn't she ever get a break?
The Burrow was silent as a tomb; not even the ghoul in the attic was clanking around tonight. It was her third night back home, and it was the third night she hadn't slept more than two hours altogether. Her body was about ready to collapse from exhaustion, and yet her eyes would not close. Frustrated, Ginny kicked off the thin blanket, feeling cool air on her legs. Yes, certainly God was a man, if he existed. Why couldn't she sleep?
Maybe it was because no one had heard from Harry since his departure to his uncle's house, and she was worried sick.
Or, maybe it was because Tom had taken to haunting her dreams again, and she was afraid to sleep.
Either way, Ginny was in a bad way. After falling asleep her first night home, Tom had cackled his way back to the front of her mind, telling her just how happy he was she was home. After all, all of her family was involved in the fight against him, weren't they? It would be a wonderful holiday for her.
She had woken in a cold sweat, head pounding, and didn't fall asleep again that night. After spending the majority of the day in her room or outside away from Ron and her parents, she had tried to sleep again that night. Well, that was no good either, because she had nightmares about Harry being killed. Tom had brought those out, of course. Such a thoughtful friend he was to her.
So, she had basically given up on sleep for the time being. Her parents, although obviously concerned for her well-being, were leaving her be, reckoning she was still recovering from her ordeal in the Orkneys. Obviously no one had informed them of Tom's still being inside her, which was fine by her; she didn't need her parents turning into possessive maniacs on her, panicking every time she left the house.
Sitting up in her bed, she sighed, twisting the ring on her finger out of habit. She had taken to doing this when thinking, as if it would amplify any brilliant thoughts she might have. Her parents had raised eyebrows when they saw it on her hand after she had kissed Harry in Kings Cross, but said nothing. Ron had just grinned at her, having just given Hermione a more thorough kiss in farewell.
Frowning slightly, she leaned her head against the wall her bed was pushed against. Really, it was just an innocent kiss on the cheek!
But it had been pulsing with hope, drowning her in the idea that someday they would be able to be together without worrying about a maniacal Dark Lord, and maybe the ring on her finger would mean more than just a ring.
That hope she had felt so strongly had dissipated her first night home, and now she felt nothing but anger and frustration. All she wanted to bloody do was sleep!
A quiet hoot sounded outside her window, and she glanced towards it. An owl perched on the sill, letters on its legs, snow-white feathers gleaming in the soft moonlight. Ginny had to smile as she got off her bed and headed towards the owl. At least one of her fears was subdued.
"Hello Hedwig," she cooed softly, stroking the owl's soft wing as she pulled the letters from her leg. "Do you want a rest?"
Ruffling her feathers, Hedwig sailed into the room, perching on Ginny's small writing desk across from the bed. Ginny grinned and returned to the bed, looking at the letters in her hand. One was for Ron; she put it aside, promising to slide it under his door in the morning. The other had her name scrawled across the front in Harry's messy script, which was quite like his hair when she thought about it. Opening the letter, she sat back and began to read.
Hope you're doing well under the circumstances. Has anything happened to you since I last saw you? A lot can happen in less than six hours.
I know I really can't say anything to you, because you'll either burn this letter right now or have a guilty conscience for the rest of your life, but I just thought I'd write to you anyway. I can't just ignore, can I? I think your brothers would stone me.
Well, I can tell you one thing: I told off the Dursleys this afternoon. Vernon is banging on my door right now, trying to make me come out by yelling up a storm. I'm surprised the neighbours haven't come by to see what's going on. But, I digress. Yes, I told the lot of them off; even gave Dudley a black eye and a busted nose. Kind of a rebellion, in my opinion; the oppressed resisting the oppressors. Only a month more, and then I can leave this place for good. I can't tell you why, but it's the truth. I will tell you soon, though.
Hermione's been really working on ways to help you out; she told me Dumbledore is going to let her come back to Hogwarts for a few days during holiday to use the library's resources. And when Hermione starts looking for something, you know she'll find it. I'm looking in all my books as well. We're going to help you out, Ginny. I promised you that, and I never break my promises.
Keep in touch somehow, all right? I don't want to be exiled from you forever.
P.S.—Thanks for the farewell at the station. I only wish I could have returned the favor.
Blushing, she glanced at the snowy owl perched silently on her desk. It was nice to know he was finally standing up for himself; she had always hoped he would. It's not as if Dudley had any looks to worsen to begin with; Harry probably improved them.
It was too much to hope right now that he or Hermione would find something for her; she wasn't going to excite herself for nothing. Merlin, she wished she could see Harry right now! Somehow she reckoned having him near her would help her fall asleep.
Glancing down at the letter, she reread the third paragraph. Oppressed resisting the oppressors; she liked that. She liked that a lot.
Well, if it isn't dear Harry writing you a letter, Virginia. Shame he didn't give a return address; I have always wondered where he lived during the summer.
Shutting her eyes, Ginny let out a sharp, brief cry of frustration. Tom was back, it seemed. And here she was thinking she might get a break from him tonight.
Oppressed resisting the oppressors.
Setting the letter on her pillow, she placed Ron's letter on the floor before grabbing her thin blanket and lying back down on her bed. By Merlin, she was going to get a somewhat decent night's rest tonight! Tom had too much control on her already; why should he control her sleeping habits too?
Don't you try to sleep, Virginia. I can stop you at any-
Shoving him with great force from the front of her mind, she closed her eyes and settled down on the pillow. One small victory could mean a bigger one later in the fight. All she had to do was keep her faith in Harry; he would pull through for her.
Waking early in the morning, as was her now-usual custom, Ginny had slipped the letter under Ron's door as soon as she woke. She had managed a few hours of sleep, which had left her quite cheerful and Tom quite irritated. He was still pushed to the back of her mind, which was a small rebellion for her. Pleased with herself, she had gone back to her room to wait for her parents to wake up; she was going to take this Tom-free opportunity for everything she could get out of it.
The smell of sausages frying roused her from her room, and as she went down the rickety stairs, she was surprised to hear Ron's voice in the kitchen. He usually milked his summer mornings for all their worth, sleeping in until ten, or even noon on some occasions. But he was in there, voice raised in astonishment as he spoke to his parents. Halting at the foot of the stairs, she listened for a brief moment, wondering what would have Ron so riled up at nine in the morning.
"He finally told them off, Mum! It sounded amazing! And, you know why he always has to go back there? Because when he's in the same house as his mum's bloodline, You-Know Who can't get him! I think he said it ends when he becomes a legal wizard, but I can't be sure. Can you believe that?" Ron exclaimed as Ginny gasped, hands clapping to her mouth in horror.
Interesting. Very interesting. July 31, isn't it, Virginia?
Turning quickly, Ginny raced up the stairs and back to her room. She shut the door with a loud slam, causing the ghoul in the attic to begin his rattling again. Heart pounding painfully against her ribs, she sank to the floor, back leaning against the door. Tom's words echoed in her thoughts; she could almost hear his plans come to life inside her own mind.
So much for her little rebellion; she was right back where she started.
A week after his arrival at the Dursleys, Harry woke up to find Remus Lupin sitting in his room, Hedwig on his shoulder and a smile on his face. He looked almost happy, which was odd for Remus. The youth seemed to have returned to his face in a way; lines were softened, and there was color to his skin. Harry grinned, sitting up and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Fancy seeing you here. Did you sneak in, or did the Dursleys let you up?" he asked.
Remus chuckled lightly. "Oh, they let me in; I think they're petrified of you now since your little rebellion. That cousin of yours still has a black eye, and I think his nose is a bit off-center," he commented as Harry got out of bed and headed for his tiny wardrobe.
"Good. They should be petrified of me. Somehow, I know I'll have trouble not hexing them all into oblivion on my birthday," Harry said as he pulled out a shirt and slipped it over his head.
"Please try not to," Remus said with a slight amount of trepidation.
Harry laughed shortly. "I was only kidding. I won't even stay to say goodbye. By 12:01, I'll be gone."
Nodding, Remus sent Hedwig to her cage with a wave of his hand. "And how do you expect to do that?"
Shrugging, Harry went over and fed Hedwig an owl treat. "I'm not sure. I'll walk to the Burrow if I have to."
"No one will be there. The Weasleys will be moving to Grimmauld Place, as will you. It's safer that way," Remus said as Harry sat on the end of his bed.
"Is someone going to come get me then?" Harry asked, the wheels of his mind turning quickly.
Remus' smile widened. "Now we come to my first order of business: I'm going to teach you how to Apparate."
Eyes wide, Harry gaped at his friend. "D'you expect me to be able to Apparate from Little Whinging to London? In one shot?" he asked, bewildered.
"Not without a break. You'll Apparate to Tonks' place, which is about half-way between here and London. Then you and she will finish the trip together. We'd all come and get you like last year, but we don't want to make a big deal out of this; Voldemort has become increasingly more active since the incident in the Orkneys," Remus explained quietly.
Harry digested this for a moment, feeling like he was forgetting some piece of this puzzle; he was going to Apparate to Tonks', then they were going to go straight to headquarters to join the Weasleys. It all sounded right, except for one thing.
"What about Ginny? She can't go to Grimmauld Place, unless Dumbledore has found something to help her already," he said suddenly, watching as Remus went pale.
"You're right," Remus muttered, standing and beginning to pace. "Why didn't Albus think of that?"
Harry watched him go back and forth in front of him, stomach clenching unhappily. "Don't her parents know why Voldemort wanted her?" he asked incredulously.
Remus shook his head. "No. Albus didn't tell them at Ginny's request. She doesn't want them to know."
"But she can't do that! What if someone slips something about the Order to her? Voldemort could find out our plans!" Harry exclaimed, standing and facing Remus. "You have to go talk to her and tell her to tell her parents; say I sent you if she tries to hex you."
Remus put his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Don't worry, Harry; Albus will figure something out for her. It's possible she may go to Hogwarts; she'll be safe there," he said calmly.
Sitting back down on his bed, Harry frowned deeply. It just didn't seem right for Ginny not to tell her parents about what happened to her. In Ron's return letter, which he had gotten yesterday, Ron said that Ginny was keeping to herself a lot, which made Harry think she knew what kind of a danger she posed to her family. Running a hand through his hair, Harry sighed silently. She hadn't answered his letter yet; he desperately wanted to hear from her, even it was only one word.
"I think you'll want to hear my other piece of news, Harry."
Remus' voice was subdued, which startled Harry out of his thoughts. Looking up, he saw a sign of weariness coming back to the older man's face. "What is it?" he asked.
Sighing, Remus sat back down. "Draco Malfoy escaped from his guards a few days ago; our sources say he's gone back to Voldemort and his father."
Rage boiled in Harry's veins; the urge to commit violence was quite strong within his mind. "I should have killed him when I had the chance," he growled.
"Something tells me you'll have the chance again, Harry. Don't go looking for a chance to act; it will come faster than you think," Remus said, standing and pulling out his wand. "Our lessons will start tomorrow. I will go speak to Albus about Ginny right now."
Harry gave a little wave as Remus Disapparated with a pop, and fell back on his bed with a sigh. Summer looked wonderful already.
She had been dreading this for months, and now it looked like her fears were about to come to fruition.
Albus Dumbledore and Remus Lupin were in the house, talking to her parents.
The second she had heard her mother greet the visitors by name, Ginny had scrambled down the lattice outside her window and raced to the shed. Grabbing her broom, she had flown off to the secluded opening in the woods near her home to escape. In hindsight, it might not have been the best place to go, considering it was where she had shared her first kiss with Harry, but anywhere else she would have been found. Even as she flew over the tops of the trees, she could see Ron running back and forth from the house, calling for her. She wouldn't answer, only dip below the tree-line to avoid being seen.
Her parents' days of ignorant bliss were over; she just knew Dumbledore and Lupin were telling them the real reasons why Voldemort had taken her in May. Whatever the reason for this revelation, she didn't care; she was going to kill whoever thought of telling them. Now they would be breathing down her neck for the rest of the summer, and when Harry came to stay...
It would be her personal hell on Earth.
Sighing, she dived towards the ground, pulling up recklessly and narrowly avoiding a tree branch. Her thinking was purely selfish, and a part of her was horrified; her whole family could be in danger because of her, and she was acting like a spoiled brat whose teddy bear had been taken away from her!
But could she be faulted? Nobility only sustained a person for so long; she had given into herself when she had kissed Harry in the changing rooms back at school. Oddly enough, that was the time when Tom had been effectively silenced from her mind.
"Ah yes, that kiss; I thought I was foiled then."
Hadn't Tom said something to her while she was being tortured? She couldn't quite recall back then.
"There is a way to stop me other than killing me. And you almost found it."
Stopping in mid-air, she pondered on those words as a slight breeze floated through the trees. The sun beat down on her as she thought. Why would he say that the kiss almost foiled him? She was so close to something, so close she could taste it...
Do you think your parents will disown you, Virginia? I can only imagine the shame they'll feel; their only girl possessed once again by the Dark Lord.
The interruption jarred her train of thought, and she shook her head, struggling vainly to shove Tom from her mind. Ever since Harry's letter had arrived almost two weeks ago, Tom had kept a strong grip on her mind, forcing her not to reply to his letter, even briefly. She had no idea if Tom could take control of her actions, and didn't want to risk it.
How was she supposed to stop Tom from taking her over when Harry came? His birthday was less than three weeks away; she was running out of options. Wasn't there an easy solution to this inner monologue in her head?
Of course not. She didn't even know what the word "easy" meant.
She looked down and saw Remus Lupin standing at the edge of the clearing, hand shading his eyes from the sun. With a reluctant sigh, she flew down to him, touching her feet to the ground about ten feet in front of him. When she looked at him, he seemed pleased to see her, and he looked happier than she had ever seen him before. Curiosity ate at her; she knew he had seen Harry, and it was all she could do not to ask about him.
He gazed at her kindly. "Your parents wanted you to know that dinner will be at six," he said softly.
His words took her by surprise, and she gaped slightly. "What? That's all? Didn't you tell them?" she asked incredulously.
"Yes, we did. But they understand why they can't really talk to you, and so they won't ask you any questions," he explained as she came closer to him.
She pondered his words for a moment. "How did they take it?" she asked, voice almost timid.
He smiled slightly. "They were upset, naturally, but they're more concerned for you. You should tell them how you are tonight, even if it is a lie," he said wryly.
Biting her lip, she looked up at him. The urge to ask about Harry was killing her, but she wouldn't say a word. The relief at her parents' reactions was immense, and she felt slightly better about being alive than she had this morning.
Remus glanced at her, and his smile widened. "He wants to see you very badly," he commented quietly, reading the question in her eyes.
Desire rushed through her like a flame, and she smiled at her professor for the first time in a long while. "Really?"
"Yes, and he'd like to know if you got his letter," he said.
She nodded, tightening her grip on her broom. "I did."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Any reply?"
Hesitating, she looked down at her feet. Both Remus and her mind were silent as she thought. What could she say to the man who had tried to sacrifice himself for her life?
Looking up, she knew her answer. It rebelled against all her common sense, but it was the only thing she could say.
"Tell him I love him," she said softly.
As he appeared with a pop at Remus' side, Harry grinned widely at his father's friend. "Did she really say that?" he asked eagerly.
Remus rolled his eyes. "Do you think I would lie to you, Harry? Yes, of course she really said it. I've told you at least ten times today."
Harry sighed, and looked up at the cloudless sky above them through tree branches and leaves. The lessons with Remus were a stress-reliever for him, as they got him out of the Dursleys' house. Today's was even better; Remus had brought news of Ginny.
"Come on, Harry, get ready; we're going to duel," Remus said impatiently, walking a little ways off. The deserted woods by Hogsmeade were perfect for the training Harry was going through, and it was cool, protected from the sun by the tall trees all around.
"No more Apparation today?" Harry asked as he adjusted the grip on his wand.
Remus shook his head, a small smile on his face. "You have it down. We'll do a distance test tomorrow. Now we need to work on your dueling."
Harry waited for Remus to make his move. "How did she look?" he called after a moment, just as the older man opened his mouth.
With an exasperated sigh, Remus shrugged. "She looked fine; I don't think she's been sleeping much, but other than that she looked the same as when you saw her at Kings Cross. Stupefy!"
With a quiet word, Harry cast a wandless Shield Charm and rolled to his side, throwing a Jelly-Legs Curse at Remus. The older man ducked, but wasn't quick enough to avoid Harry's wandless Body-Bind, which he had cast at the same time as his Jelly-Legs Curse. Stiffly, Remus fell to the ground. Sighing, Harry walked over and reversed the spell. "Sorry," he said sheepishly as he helped his friend up.
Remus rubbed his arm with a dry smile. "Don't be sorry; it was a good idea to use both your wand and your wandless magic at the same time," he said.
"Have any arrangements been figured out for her?" Harry asked.
"She'll go to Hogwarts when you move to Grimmauld Place and then stay in Diagon Alley the two days prior to September 1st. Hermione will be at Hogwarts when Ginny arrives; Albus has given her a week's free reign in the library to search for anything that could help Ginny," Remus said quickly, brushing the dirt from his clothes.
Harry frowned. "Does Ginny know that?"
Remus shook his head. "She won't find out until it's time for her to go; it's safer that way."
A wry chuckle escaped Harry's mouth. "I would love to see her reaction to that; she's going to rebel like no one else," he said fondly.
"I'm just glad I don't have to take care of it; Albus is going to do that part," Remus said briskly. He then motioned to Harry with a wave of his wand. "Shall we try again?"
Harry walked back to his side of the wood and prepared to duel again, even though his whole mind was concentrated on the thought of Ginny. The hope that had wavered in the two weeks since he had sent his letter was burning as brightly as ever; she had told Remus to tell him she loved him. With those words, he felt like he could do anything.
A/N: So, how many are still with me? Please read and review. Many thanks to my beta Anne, who keeps the world going round. The teddy bear is dedicated to you! ^.^