A/N: A great big thanks to ninkenate! The best beta in the world! And thanks and hugs to muggle witch and xtrememama2001 my sounding boards and sanity savers! Thank you to everyone that reviewed! You really made my day!
“Ginny!” Katie posted the schedule for Quidditch tryouts!” Ron yelled, as he made his way over to where she was revising.
Ginny looked up from her Herbology book to see Ron standing over her. She gathered all her energy for what she knew was coming.
“I’m not trying out.” Having said that, she focused her attention back on her book.
“What!” Ron exclaimed. “Not trying out? You have to! You were our Seeker....”
“Not anymore,” answered Ginny. “Harry was reinstated to the team. He’s your Seeker. Now leave me alone. I’m trying to study.”
“Well, you said you wanted to be Chaser, what happened to that?” queried Ron. He crossed his arms across his chest and looked hard at his sister.
Ginny sighed. “Look Ron, I don’t have a broom; the school brooms won’t work for the Chaser position, so I’m not even going to bother. With O.W.L.s coming up, I need the time to study anyway.”
That was part of the reason, but also after her confrontation with Harry a couple of weeks ago, she didn’t think it would be a good idea for them to be on the same team together..
“Well I, for one, think it’s commendable that Ginny is concerned about her marks. She at least wants to do well on her O.W.L.s.”
Ron scowled. “Lay off, Hermione, she has months before she has to worry about that.” He declared with annoyance.
“Exactly, you and Harry waited until the last minute and you both had difficulty concentrating on your exams!” Hermione announced, her voice shrill. Her face was set with determination.
“We didn’t wait until the last minute! Harry and I studied....”
Ginny attempted to tune both Ron and Hermione out. They seemed to be arguing a lot more lately. She just wished they would snog each other and be done with it.
‘Yuck, mental image. Ohhhhh, scarred for life.’
“Quidditch is important too! Not everyone wants to stick their noses in dusty old books all day!” Ron yelled angrily.
Hermione threw her shoulders back. “Really, Ronald?” asked Hermione icily. “So I’m a boring bookworm now?”
“You spend all your time reading. It doesn’t make you boring, just a know it all.” Ron announced matter of factly.
‘Uh oh,’ thought Ginny. ‘Open mouth, insert foot. Clueless git.’
“I see,” said Hermione stiffly. “I’m going to the library.” She whirled away, grabbing some books from a table and marching out of the common room.
“What?” asked Ron looking confused. “All I said was....”
Ginny shook her head at him. “Ron, you’re a thick headed prat.” She stood and started gathering her books. “I’m going to the library too. I can’t get any studying done here.”
“We’re not finished, Ginny. You have to go to tryouts on Saturday. You’re still part of the team.”Ron insisted.
“No I don’t, Ron.” Ginny said with exasperation. She let Ron see the annoyance in her expression.
Ron opened his mouth to protest, but caught sight of Harry climbing through the portrait hole.
“Harry, mate! Come over here and convince Ginny to try out on Saturday.” Ron called to his best friend.
Harry looked between them and shook his head. “I’m not getting involved.”
“Of course you wouldn’t,” Ginny snapped. “You never bothered before.”
She saw Harry’s eyes narrow in anger. His hands clenched into fists at his sides.
“Ginny!” said Ron shocked. “What’s wrong with you? Apologize to Harry.”
“I will not.” she retorted. “Why don’t you ask Harry what’s wrong? I’m leaving.”
Ginny turned and made her way to the portrait hole and climbed out. She stomped her way down the hall towards the stairs leading to the library. Everything seemed to be going wrong lately. Instead of healing the rift between her and Harry, she had went and made it worse. It was frustrating, this conflict of emotions she felt. Her crush had developed into something deeper. She didn’t know if she loved Harry, but she felt strong feeling for him. In the last few weeks, she had felt so much animosity towards him. Anger for not recognizing her feelings, for not acknowledging her existence . Was she so terrible? Was she not worth knowing? Was her only saving grace that she was Ron’s younger sister?
In her haste, Ginny failed to notice that someone was standing right in front of her. She was jerked out of her reverie by the cold drawling voice of Draco Malfoy. “Watch where you’re going Muggle lover!”
“Sod off Malfoy!” Ginny seethed.
Looking around, Draco smirked at her. “I don’t see Potter anywhere. Are you lost? Usually you’re dogging his heels hoping he’ll notice your pathetic existence.”
“Be careful of what you say, ferret,” Ginny retorted. “I don’t see your goons hovering over you. I could hex you into next week. Remember my Bat Bogey Hex? I’ve been refining it. You could be my test subject.”
Draco sneered. “That was a lucky shot last time, Weasley. You won’t get another chance.” He had his wand in his hand, lazily caressing the polished wood. “Now, if you want to know true magic, I’d be happy to instruct you.” Draco whispered silkily.
“True magic?” scoffed Ginny. “You mean Dark magic? Not bloody likely. I’ll have you on the floor screaming like the little girl you are before you even get off a spell.”
Ginny saw Malfoy’s face contort with rage. He took a step towards her. “You had better watch yourself.” He leaned close to her, his voice lowered dangerously. “I know your dirty little secret. You’d know all about Dark magic, wouldn’t you?” Ginny found herself backed against a wall in the dim hallway. Draco positioned his arms on either side of her body, effectively trapping her.
A shiver coursed down Ginny’s spine. “What are you going on about?” She inwardly cursed the fact that despite her bravado, her voice trembled. ‘What did he know?’ Ginny thought desperately.
The smirk was back in place. Malfoy brushed his finger slowly down Ginny’s cheek before he turned and walked away from her. Ginny felt as if she had been plunged into the lake during the deepest part of winter. Shudders racked her body. It felt as if ice had seeped into her bones. What was going on? Malfoy had never given her the time of day before; he was always trading insults with Ron, Harry and Hermione. Something wasn’t right, and Ginny had no idea what it was.
Hermione ran up to the younger girl. Concern shone in her eyes as she gazed at Ginny’s trembling form. “What happened? Are you all right? Did Malfoy hurt you? Hermione’s voice, normally controlled, rose in volume.
Ginny’s trembling legs couldn’t support her. Her body slid down the wall to the floor. She tried to speak, but nothing came out. What had happened? Malfoy had only touched her, why was she so affected by fear? There had been something in his eyes, something that reminded her of her first year.
“Ginny...” murmured Hermione gently.
Ginny looked at Hermione and licked her suddenly dry lips. “I’m fine,” she croaked. Her previously frozen vocal cords suddenly started to thaw. “He didn’t hurt me.” She saw disbelief on the older witch’s face. “Really, he didn’t. I don’t know what happened....I feel a bit chilly, could we go somewhere?”
Hermione pondered for a moment. “We can go to the Room of Requirement. It’s private and we can talk,” Hermione helped her distraught friend to her feet. Ginny slowly followed Hermione to the stairs.
A few minutes later, they arrived at the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy. Hermione paced up and down the corridor with an intense look of concentration on her face. Slowly, a door materialized, Hermione walked over and opened it. She looked over her shoulder at Ginny. “Well, come on then.”
Ginny entered the room and shut the door behind her. The Room of Requirement had been used the year before to conduct clandestine meetings of the DA. Now, it was much smaller and had a low backed couch draped in scarlet throws and gold pillows. A large tray of hot chocolate and biscuits was set on a table in front of the couch. A cheerful fire crackled in the fireplace. It was so homey and comfortable looking. Ginny felt herself slowly start to warm as she stood next to the fire.
After taking a few moments to gather her thoughts and composure, Ginny asked, “Can people break?” Ginny fidgeted nervously with the buttons on her jumper.
Hermione seated herself on the couch. She knew exactly what Ginny was talking about. “Some people can, but you didn’t. Remember that.”
“I don’t know, Hermione. I’ve felt different....tainted since my first year. Could he have broken me? Made me evil?” Ginny’s face was filled with hopelessness. She was so confused and scared. Waves of despair propelled off her and filled every hidden crevice with its gloom.
“Oh Ginny,” Hermione patted the couch, inviting the younger girl to sit next to her. “You know it wasn’t your fault. Why are you feeling doubt now?”
“Tom possessed me, I poured my heart and soul out to him, and then, he put a little bit of himself in me. Sometimes, I swear I can hear him, as he is now. Not when he was Tom Riddle, but as Voldemort. It scares me.” Ginny’s voice broke as she choked out her last words. Ginny sat next to Hermione, holding her body stiffly.
“Do you think you have a link to Voldemort, like Harry does with his scar?” asked Hermione worriedly. She put her arm around Ginny’s shoulder offering solace.
Ginny’s brow furrowed with thought. “I don’t know. It’s just random flashes, nothing substantial.” She looked over at Hermione. “Malfoy knows I’m sure of it.”
“But how?” gasped a shocked Hermione.
“His father, I suppose. Lucius Malfoy put the diary with my school books in Flourish and Blotts. I bet he told his son all about Riddle and the Chamber. That’s what the ferret said to me. He knows what happened my first year.”
“We need to tell Ron and Harry. Come on Ginny.” Hermione leapt up from the couch. She was halfway across the room when she noticed Ginny was still sitting. “Ginny?”
Ginny shook her head. Ron and Harry treated her as an outsider. They went off on their adventures and completely excluded her from everything. She had to insist on being included on going to the Ministry of Magic last June. As far as they were concerned, she was just a nuisance. Not a part of their illustrious group. “No, Hermione, it’s none of their business.” Ginny stated firmly.
“Ron’s your brother, and Harry’s your friend. They’ll both want to help you.” Hermione approached Ginny and stood in front of her.
Ginny snorted. “Harry and I are not friends. He’s made that perfectly clear.” Bitterness laced Ginny’s voice as she tried to rein in her emotions.
Hermione started softly, trying to reassure Ginny. “That’s not true Ginny. I’m sure....” Ginny could tell that Hermione was trying to convince herself that Harry saw Ginny as more than being the youngest Weasley sibling.
“He told me so himself! He sat there in the common room and told me I was nothing to him. As for Ron, he never gives me the time of day, unless he thinks a boy is interested in me. Then he goes into protective mode. You’re the only person I can talk to. Please promise me that you won’t say anything to them.”
“What happened between you and Harry?” questioned Hermione. She seemed eager to know about the conflict between two of her friends.
Ginny briefly told Hermione about her encounter with Harry. When she finished, Hermione’s face was flushed with outrage.
“He’s taken Sirius’ death hard, so he’s been pushing everyone away. He blows up at the least little thing and won’t talk to Ron and me at all.” Hermione’s face fell. “I don’t know what to do help him anymore. He won’t even talk to Professor Dumbledore!” She said with astonishment.
“Look Hermione, he’s still your best friend. He’ll never talk to me, so just be there for him. He needs you more than ever this year; he feels all alone with Sirius gone.” Ginny stopped and lowered her head. “Even though I’m still furious with him, he doesn’t deserve everything that has happened to him. He deserves some happiness. He lives with those awful Muggles who don’t care if he lives or dies! He is constantly being told that he has to be careful, that he’s The Boy Who Lived. What kind of life is that?”
Hermione squeezed Ginny’s hand. “You’re a good friend, Ginny, and Harry will realize it soon. Let’s go back to the common room. We can still get some studying done before dinner.”
Ginny laughed. “I’m tired of studying! Let’s go to the kitchens, get some chocolate and pastries and take them to my room. My mum just sent me a bunch of issues of Teen Witch Weekly. They have some great tips for how to get that one special boy to notice you. *Cough* Ron *Cough*”
“As if I would want your brother to notice me!” Hermione exclaimed with a hot blush creeping across her cheeks. The older girl paused and a mischievous gleam entered her cinnamon brown eyes. “Well, what are we waiting for? Do they have any hair straightening spells that doesn’t require two liters of Sleekeasy’s poured on my head?”
Ginny grinned. “I’ll race you back to the common room!” she yelled. The girls both shrieked with laughter as they tried to leave the room at the same time. As they raced down the hall to Gryffindor Tower, Ginny felt at ease for the first time in weeks. She had someone who believed in her, someone whom she could trust and tell her secrets to. She had a sister. That was a lovely thought.