At first it was simply as a reminder of my foolish sixth year crush.
If I’m honest, it was a memento of one of my foolish sixth year crushes. That was me—sixteen and stupid. Now I’m nineteen, but am I any wiser? Perhaps not, but perhaps that’s a good thing, because if I hadn’t kept it, I’d never had discovered what was going on.
It was a token, a sad symbol, a remembrance of what might have been. But last summer, the messages started again. At first, I did not even notice; the Galleon was tucked away at the back of my underwear drawer, forgotten and ignored. When I was clearing out my room, before moving into my flat last November, I noticed that there was a new message on it.
I kept it with me after that, not doing anything, simply feeling its occasional heat and reading the words whenever they changed. That was when I began wondering what was going on and who these mysterious messages were for. Some were obviously within, and about, the school. But not all of them.
I worked in the Muggle-liaison Office; in those days, it was hard and undervalued work. I could see the hurt we were inflicting on unsuspecting Muggles, and I was working to cover it up, because even some of the most bigoted fools at the Ministry realised that breaching the International Statute of Secrecy would not be a good idea. Our neighbours had not interfered but everyone knew that if we breached international law, breached the statute, they would. Some, I am sure, were simply waiting to see if the Muggle-haters would win. I often wondered how many other nations would follow the lead of “The British Experiment” and how many would fight against it. This British problem could have consumed the world, and I knew that I could not let that happen.
In December, not long after I’d moved out, Umbridge’s Commission came for my mum. Things were so bad, both at work and at my parents’ house, that I could no longer ignore what was happening. I decided to write a message myself. It took me several days to work out exactly how to do it. I finally succeeded a week before Christmas.
“How can I help?” I wrote.
“Who?” the reply came back within the hour.
“CC”, I wrote, not wanting to give too much away until I knew who I was talking to.
“CC: Victoria/Victoria Line North noon”, was the response that evening.
So, at noon the following day, I was nervously standing on the northbound platform of Victoria Underground station. I was wearing my best Muggle business suit and trying to blend in, which wasn’t difficult because my mum is Muggle-born (or simply “Muggle,” under her new Ministry classification). She gave up her wand in order to protect Dad and me, and Granddad paid a huge fine to keep her out of Azkaban.
I stood on the platform, not knowing what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect what actually happened. Someone stepped up behind me and grabbed my arm. I was taken from the platform by Side-Along Apparition. I didn’t even get the chance to see who had grabbed me.
We arrived on the side of a windswept hill. It was blowing a gale; a few flakes of snow flurried around me and the wind whistled wildly. I shivered and stumbled – a pinstripe jacket and skirt were no protection from the wind, and my heels were sinking into the grass.
I turned and finally discovered who my abductor was. It was one of the Gryffindor Chasers, Katie. She had her wand trained at me. I was surrounded by four other people, all wearing Shield Cloaks and Headless Hats, and all pointing wands at me.
‘Where are we?’ I asked.
‘North side of Skiddaw, if you must know. And don’t try to Apparate, because you can’t,’ Katie said; she pronounced the name of the hill as “Skidder.”
Skiddaw? I was none the wiser, but I nodded anyway. I later discovered that I’d been in Cumbria. It was cold, wet and bleak.
‘We knew you weren’t Colin Creevey,’ Katie announced, ‘because we know where he is. Sorry for the abduction, but we need to be sure that you are who you claim to be. So prove it.’
‘That you’re Cho Chang, not someone using Polyjuice and a stolen Galleon,’ said a deep male voice I did not recognise. The Headless Hats added a sense of bizarre unreality to the encounter. Joke-shop items used to disguise identity – ironic, I thought.
‘How?’ I asked.
Katie rolled her eyes, and I suddenly remembered Harry’s DA lessons.
‘My Patronus is a swan. Harry taught us the spell, and I’ve never cast it since the DA lessons, so only the DA would know that,’ I told her as I shivered.
That was a start, but Katie asked me a lot more questions before finally accepting me. As soon as they were satisfied that I was who I claimed to be, they gave me my first job.
There was one missing Galleon, and they wanted me to get it. Every DA member was now accounted for apart from Harry, Ron, Hermione and Dean Thomas. They had found Dean’s Galleon at his mother’s house and retrieved it. The only “spare” Galleon belonged to Marietta Edgecombe, and they wanted me to get it.
I told them that Marietta was my friend, and that she wouldn’t betray us, but Katie wouldn’t believe me, nor would any of the others.
I called on Marietta that evening. The pimples on her face were faded, but were still visible, if you knew where to look under her heavy make-up.
She seemed pleased to see me, and we chatted and gossiped like the old friends we were for over an hour. Finally, I asked the question.
‘Marietta, do you remember the Galleon that we got when we joined the DA?’ I asked.
Her hand made an involuntary movement up towards the pimples, and I realised that I’d started the conversation badly. She looked at me in disbelief.
‘How could I forget?’ she asked. It was as if a door had suddenly blown open. The warmth between us was replaced by an icy chill; the atmosphere in that room seemed to be even colder than on that bleak snow-swept hillside. ‘Why do you want to know?’
‘Do you still have it?’ I asked.
‘Why would I keep that thing?’ she asked. She was suddenly hostile. I could see suspicion and fear in her eyes. I wondered if Katie had been right to be worried. Marietta … Marietta had betrayed us before, I realised; not just Harry, all of us, even me. I’d defended her, afterwards, but I was supposed to be her best friend, yet she had gone behind my back to Umbridge. I wasn’t certain what to do or what to say next. This time it wouldn’t be detentions; peoples’ lives were at stake. I suddenly understood why Katie had asked me.
‘I’d like you to give it to me,’ I said. I was struck by an inspiration. ‘The jinx that Granger put on the Galleons is still active, so you’d best not lie to me,’ I warned her. Although in fact I had no idea whether it was. I tried to keep my voice friendly, but I saw her face and knew immediately that the trust between us was broken, probably forever.
‘They’re using it,’ Marietta said. It wasn’t a question; it was a statement. She knew, so she’d been reading the messages. I nodded.
‘You haven’t told anyone, have you?’ I asked. She shook her head and again rubbed her pimples.
‘Will you fetch it for me, please?’ She didn’t reply, she simply walked over to the table, picked up her purse, opened it and threw a Galleon at me. I wasn’t expecting such a violent action and the Galleon caught me just under my left eye. I wasn’t even close to catching it; it’s no wonder no one wanted me as a professional Seeker. With tears in my eyes, I picked up the Galleon and read the latest message. It was about a DA meeting at Hogwarts.
‘Get out, and don’t come back,’ Marietta told me, her voice a harsh whisper. I did, and I have not seen her since. I sent her a Christmas card, but she didn’t send me one in return.
For four months, I have worked for the resistance. I do what I can to help from my lowly paid job within the Ministry. With enchanted Galleons and messages on beer mats passed along by another DA member, a blonde barmaid who no one pays any attention to (apart from for the obvious reasons). My friends and I plot and plan and carry out our acts of defiance.
Sometimes they are big, like the mass release of all of those Muggle-borns in Cardiff. Sometimes they are small, like the anti-Voldemort graffiti. Throw one of the Weasley twins “truth-bombs” at Harry’s wanted poster and it transforms the words “Undesirable Number One” into “Desirable Number One,” complete with a flashing pink heart surrounding his face. It’s nothing more than a simple, magically-guided paint-ball, and people (me included) are taking them into the Ministry. Someone managed to get one into Umbridge’s office last week. She was furious, but it’s her fault for coming up with such a ridiculous name for Harry. Though I don’t suppose he’ll like the twin’s alternative, either.
Since Christmas this Galleon has taken me to places I never imagined; it has led me into danger for months, and now it is doing so again. I look down at the still-warm gold coin in my hand; the message reads: “He’s at Hogwarts. We’re fighting. Hog’s Head Inn”. It’s from Neville Longbottom, an even less likely hero than I am. There is no doubt who “He” is; the elusive Harry Potter has turned up at last. I concentrate on that dingy pub where we first met and Disapparate. I arrive in the empty bar.
‘Upstairs,’ the barman says grumpily, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. I reach the upstairs room in time to see Lee Jordan climbing through a portrait. I hear others behind me, too, so I hurry through this strange secret passage and into my old school.
‘I got the message,’* I tell everyone as I look around the room. Harry looks astonished. He looks careworn and skinny and older than his years, too. But he’s still rather cute.
Ginny Weasley is watching me. She went out with Harry for a few weeks last year, but they finished when Professor Dumbledore was killed. Harry can be so moody and intense that it’s difficult to like him, but I still do. I spot Michael and his friends, so I go and sit with them and listen while they make plans.
Harry is looking for something to help him defeat Voldemort, but he won’t tell us what. All is confusion, but Harry is, as usual, flanked by Ron and Hermione, and Ron seems to be giving him advice. For some reason, Harry is interested in the Ravenclaw Diadem. As usual, Luna Lovegood goes off at a fanciful tangent until Michaels shuts her up. I volunteer to take Harry to our common room and I stand to lead the way. But Ginny, rather forcefully, suggests that Luna do it!
He’s not your property now, Ginny – he finished with you, I think. But Harry looks eagerly at Luna, not me, so I sit down and try not to look disappointed. I wanted to show him how much I’ve changed, but it appears that he’d rather be with Luna Lovegood than with Cho Chang.
*Authors Note: Dialogue from Deathly Hallows p468 (UK Edition).