Professor Snape waited until Ginny Weasley left the Headmaster's office before he stepped out of the shadows.
"Do you think that is the wisest course of action?" he asked the Headmaster.
"No Severus, I do not, but I also think that Miss Weasley will undertake this foolhardy plan of hers with or without our approval. I feel that we can safely allow her to try and gain information from the offspring of the Death Eaters. She must not, however be allowed to join them, no matter what she thinks is best," said Dumbledore. "And if her plan to snap Harry out of this depression that he is in works, all the better."
"How do you think she will begin?" asked Snape
"I'm not sure," said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling through his glasses. "But knowing Miss Weasley, it will be loud. Severus, I trust you will keep all knowledge of this to yourself?" asked Dumbledore.
"Yes Headmaster," said Snape through gritted teeth. "I've managed to keep Voldemort convinced that I am still one of his loyal followers for all these years. I think I can manage to keep the secrets of one insignificant schoolgirl."
"Not so insignificant Severus. Anyone willing to take the risks she wants to take is anything but insignificant."
Ron and Harry sat in the Gryffindor common room and munched on Chocolate Frogs while they waited for Hermione to come back from Dumbledore's office.
"Ron, do you have any idea why Ginny would act like that?" asked Harry. "When we were at the Burrow, they were getting along fine. Did they have a fight while we were at Diagon Alley picking up our school stuff for this year?"
"No," mused Ron. "I don't think so. Ginny was kind of quiet on the train today, but nothing out of the ordinary. Do you suppose she's jealous of Hermione making Head Girl this year?"
"I doubt it, after all, Ginny's a prefect this year. Besides, the way Ginny acted tonight was strange. Whatever's bugging her is bigger than Hermione being Head Girl."
Hermione scrambled through the portrait hole and entered the Gryffindor common room to find Harry and Ron both staring at her expectantly.
"I don't want to talk about it," was all she said as she headed towards the steps leading to the girls' dormitory.
"Hermione, come on, you can't walk in here and say that and expect us to just accept it!" shouted Ron.
"I can, and I do," she said smartly as she walked across the common room.
"Hermione, Ron's just worried about you," Harry said. "We both are."
"Yeah, Ginny acted like a stupid git at dinner tonight. She shouldn't have said those things to you," Ron said as he walked over to Hermione and put his arms around her.
Hermione's face suffused with color as she looked first at Ron, then at Harry. She and Ron had finally acknowledged their feelings for one another this summer at the Burrow, but she still wasn't comfortable with public displays of affection. Harry was quick to grasp what was going on, and after he muttered goodnight, he made his way to the seventh year dormitory. He entered the dormitory quietly because Neville, Seamus and Dean were asleep already. He made his way to his trunk, and grabbed his Invisibility Cloak, then quickly climbed into his bed and drew the curtains. A short time later, Ron entered the room.
"Harry, are you awake?" whispered Ron from the other side of the bed curtains.
Harry forced himself to lie still, and keep his breathing even. After a few minutes, he heard Ron leave his bedside and walk to his own bed. As Head Boy, Ron had the option of a separate sleeping area, but had chosen to remain with the rest of the boys in his year. Harry half suspected it was because Ron wanted to be near him in case anything -- anything being Voldemort -- happened. Harry waited several more minutes to make sure Ron was asleep, before he covered himself in his Invisibility Cloak and made his way down the steps to the common room, and up the steps leading to the girls' dormitory. Harry made his way to Ginny's bedside, but found that she had not yet returned. He left the dormitory, walking softly, and headed back down into the common room. He slipped out the portrait hole, found a space behind a suit of armor and waited for Ginny to arrive.
"Somebody's here," a disembodied voice called out from above him. Peeves, the castle poltergeist floated by, bent on making some type of mischief. "I can't see you, but I know you are here." Peeves made his way over to the suit of armor that Harry was hiding behind. He began to rattle it violently. The loud cry of a cat cut through the night as Mrs. Norris, the bedraggled cat belonging to Argus Filch, the caretaker, came into view.
"Go away kitty, go away. Don't be spoilin' Peeves' fun now will ya?" said Peeves in a singsong voice.
"Peeves, is that you making that racket? You get out of here right now or I'll set the Bloody Baron on you!" shouted Filch as he came into view. Just the mention of the Bloody Baron was enough to scare Peeves into submission and he flew off to wreak havoc in some other part of the castle.
Harry let out a sigh of relief as he settled back down to wait for Ginny. He didn't have a long wait. Five minutes later, Ginny Weasley was standing before the portrait of the Fat Lady.
"Oh damn, damn, and double damn, what is that password?" she cried.
"Now dear, you're a prefect this year. You're supposed to know what the password is," said the Fat Lady. "You know I can't let you in without it."
"Oh do shut up and let me think!" shouted Ginny. "Let me see, Ron came up with it. Could it be 'Sugar Quills?"
"No dear, and I must ask you, don't speak to me in such a tone, it isn't becoming of a young lady such as your self.
Ginny rolled her eyes, but apologized to the portrait. "I'm sorry. I - well, I'm under a lot of pressure right now."
"You're forgiven dear. Now, what about that password?"
She thought for a few minutes and asked, "Is it 'Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans'?"
"No dear, I'm afraid not."
"Can't you just let me in, you know it's me?" she pleaded with the portrait.
"Yes, and I knew Sirius Black as well, and imagine what would have happened had I let him in four years ago," snapped the Fat Lady. "I don't know what it is with these witches today. Always wanting me to let things slide."
"Ok, ok, is it 'Cauldron Cakes then?"
"Try 'Chocolate Frogs,'" said a disembodied voice.
Ginny let out a small scream as the portrait covering the hole moved aside.
"Harry Potter, is that you?" she hissed.
Harry removed the Cloak from his head, allowing his head to become visible.
"Yes, Ginny, it's me, and I've been waiting for you. I want to talk with you."
"Well, I don't want to speak with you," Ginny said in a haughty voice. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed."
She began to climb through the portrait hole, but Harry grabbed her by the arm. "Why did you say such hurtful things to Hermione tonight, Ginny? That's not like you."
"As if you'd even know what I'm like, Harry," she snapped. "Draco Malfoy is right about you and about Hermione." She wrenched her arm from his hand and climbed through the portrait hole. "Good night!"
Harry watched as she headed into the common room. After a few minutes, the Fat Lady looked at him and said, "Well, dear, are you going in or not? I can't hang open like this all night, you know."
"What? Oh, er, sorry," he said as he climbed through the portrait hole and into the common room. He cast a worried glance towards the girls' dormitory before heading off to bed.