Ginny watched the Underground tunnel as it zipped by the windows of the train. She was uncomfortably conscious of Harry sitting next to her, and too conscious that he was barely aware of her. Whenever her mother leaned across to talk to Harry or the train swayed, her shoulder touched his. Whenever she glanced at him he was scowling. He answered her mother’s questions in monosyllables or grunts, or not at all.
She tried distracting herself by looking around the car. The Muggles were all uninteresting and uninterested. George and Fred sat across from her and stared at Harry. She wished they wouldn’t, and glared at them, trying to make them stop, but they ignored her. Ron was sitting on the other side of Harry and she couldn’t see him. Mad-Eye and Tonks stood side by side in the aisle, holding onto the same pole, watching opposite ends of the car. Some of the Muggles were starting to notice Moody. His bowler had slipped, revealing part of his magical eye, but the eye was looking out the back of his head, not twirling around like it usually did, and he was oblivious to the hat.
Ginny wanted to say something to Harry, but he was obviously not in the mood for talking. And even if he wanted to talk, it would be foolish to say anything here in public about St. Mungo’s or her father; Moody would just tell her to shut up. So rather than solicit grunts from Harry, she sat for an unhappy half–hour until they arrived at their station.
They filed off the train and up to the surface, and Harry lagged towards the back of the group as he had on the way into London. He was trailed by Moody, who had adjusted his bowler to hide his eye once again, now that it was rotating in every direction and he could tell that the hat had slipped. Twelve Grimmauld Place appeared from between its two neighbors, and Ginny trouped inside with the others. The house seemed even more dank, dark, and depressing than usual, even though Sirius was in a good mood. He tried to start a conversation with Harry, but he got the same response as Ginny’s mum had on the Underground.
Ginny, Harry, and Ron followed the others down to the kitchen. After a few minutes Harry left, looking tired, angry, and dispirited. Ron sat down to eat a sandwich, and Ginny poked around for a few minutes trying to help her mother, but could not keep her mind on anything. She soon left and went upstairs to the dingy parlor, hoping not to encounter Kreacher or arouse Sirius’s mother into another screaming fit.
She sat in one of the ancient, dusty, decrepit overstuffed armchairs, and stared into the fire that Sirius had lit as soon as they had returned from the hospital. She was depressed, probably not as much as Harry, but she felt the house and the circumstances getting the better of her. Too much had happened in a day and a half: awakened in the middle of the night by Professor McGonagall with news that her father had been attacked; Portkeyed from Hogwarts to Grimmauld Place; a sleepless night waiting for her mother to arrive; all the bizarreness of St. Mungo’s; and Harry’s foul mood. Now they would be spending Christmas in this dump, not at the Burrow. Ginny had spent every Christmas of her life either at home or at Hogwarts. She felt very sorry for herself.
There was a loud thump on the ceiling from the room above. The cobwebs on the chandelier fluttered and a haze of dust rose from it. Then came the sound of something quite heavy being dragged across the floor, and Ginny looked up. The room above was Ron’s and Harry’s. It sounded like a piece of furniture being moved, but why would Harry be moving furniture? Besides, there was hardly anything there except for the two beds. The only other heavy things would be... Ginny abruptly stood up. Harry must be dragging his trunk across the floor, and in the direction of the door. Why would he be doing that? She knew, with a sudden lurch of fear, that Harry was going to leave.
She put her hands on her temples as she stared up at the ceiling, biting her lip. What could he be thinking? If he walked out and started wandering around the city, he would be spotted by a Death Eater for sure. They must be on the lookout for him, for anyone connected to the Order. They would certainly know by now that Harry and the rest of them had been at St. Mungo’s. Harry would be dead within hours if he went out without an escort. And if he used magic to fend off an attack, or a Patronus to ward off a dementor, the Ministry would haul him in for another hearing, and who knew what would happen then.
She moved toward the door, feeling panic. She would stop Harry from leaving, and even if she couldn’t forcibly prevent him, at least she could make enough of a racket to bring Sirius and her mother.
The noise from above stopped. For a moment there was quiet, but then she heard Harry talking loudly. Then quiet again. Then Harry talking loudly. Then quiet. Then Harry shouting, and Ginny could make out a few words; one of them was “Dumbledore.” After a moment, the trunk was dragged away from the door, and there was silence.
The silence went on. Ginny stood for several minutes in the middle of the room staring at the ceiling. When nothing happened, she went back to the chair and sat down. She had no idea what it all meant, but obviously Harry intended to leave Grimmauld Place. How did he think he could he get past Sirius, Mad-Eye, her mother, and, thank you, herself, carrying that ridiculous trunk? But what if he tried to sneak off without the trunk? He could easily slip out at night. Ginny jumped up and started to pace around the room. For as long as she had known him, Harry had always done exactly what he wanted to do, even if it was exactly what the adults around him did not want. But maybe he would listen to a friend.
There was still no sound from the room above. Ginny slipped out of the parlor, listened for anyone nearby, and quietly went up the stairs. Outside Harry’s room she took a breath, and knocked on the door.
“What?” came from inside.
‘Harry, it’s me. Can I come in?” Ginny said in a low voice.
“What? I can’t hear – oh, come on in.” Harry sounded annoyed. Ginny opened the door. Harry was lying on the bed, and sat up when he saw her. Ginny stepped inside and closed the door.
“Harry, are you okay?” He just looked at her, and she realized what that must have sounded like. “No,” she gestured and shook her head. “Stupid question. How could you be okay? I’m sorry.” Now she was embarrassed and becoming nervous. She glanced around the room. There was no one else in it, and it was as rundown and sad as the rest of the house. The only unusual thing in it was an empty portrait frame on the wall. For some reason it looked familiar.
Ginny turned to Harry, who seemed just as annoyed as when she had come in. He was looking out the window, which showed, through cobwebs and grime, nothing but grey sky.
“I heard you shouting. Was anyone here?” Ginny said.
“No.” Harry did not look at her.
Ginny stared at him for a moment. This was not a good idea, she thought, then said aloud, “Okay, I’ll see you later.” She walked out and closed the door. She paused with her hand on the door handle, wondering why she had done that.
She met Moody and Tonks coming up the stairs. “How’s Harry?” said Tonks. Mad-Eye had his good eye on Ginny and the magical one staring at right angles at the wall to Harry’s room.
Ginny did not want them to get involved with Harry’s problem; it would only make it worse. “I think he’s all right. I just asked if he needed anything.” Mad-Eye grunted and looked at her with both eyes. “He’s been through a lot, you know,” Ginny added. Tonks stared at her with non-magical but decidedly female eyes. Ginny blushed, and was instantly furious with herself, and she pushed past them. A few steps down she turned. “Do you know where Ron is?” She tried to sound busy.
“In the kitchen with everyone else,” Tonks answered, and they followed Ginny back to the basement.
Ginny knew that Moody had seen her go into Harry’s room. She was angry that they had gone upstairs after her, but then thought that maybe they were afraid that she would help Harry leave. After all, they must have also heard the trunk being dragged across the floor.
In the kitchen the crowd was sitting around the large wooden table, except for Mrs. Weasley who was directing a brush cleaning pots in a tub of water with her wand. Everyone looked up as they entered.
“Where’s Harry?” Sirius asked. “He needs to eat something.” Ginny did not answer; she did not want any more adults wondering about her motives.
Moody spoke. “Up in his room, stewing. The boy needs to get over it. Doesn’t he know he saved a man’s life?”
“Give him a break,” said Tonks, picking up a butterbeer from the table. “He’s having a bad day.” She looked at it and blinked, and the cork flew out, hit the ceiling, and dropped to the floor. She sat down.
‘Why don’t you pick up your trash?” said Sirius. “It’s not like the elf does it.” Tonks raised her eyebrows and gave him a smirk.
“Whatever you say. It’s your house, and welcome to it.” She blinked again and the cork flew off the floor and deposited itself on top of Sirius’s head, where it burrowed into his hair. Sirius picked it out with a disgusted look and threw it at her, but, with another blink she made it vanish in mid–air. The twins and Ron hooted.
While this entertainment was happening, Ginny sat down between Ron and Fred. The adults started a conversation about magical possession and whether or not Harry would know if Lord Voldemort somehow did manage to take over his body. Ginny nudged Ron. “We need to talk,” she said in a low voice. “Alone.”
Ron indicated upstairs, and they left the room together; no one took notice except for Moody’s magical eye. Ginny knew it was useless to hide from it, so she decided it was better to act openly. But no one seemed to care that they left. When they got upstairs Ginny steered Ron into the parlor. “What’s up?’ he asked.
“Harry. I tried to talk to him. He won’t even look at me. He’s just lying on his bed thinking that the world is about to end.”
“Yeah, I know,” Ron grimaced. “I tried talking to him, too. He just has to get over it.”
That annoyed Ginny; Ron seemed much too casual about Harry. “What do you mean, ‘get over it’? He may not get over it. He was up there talking to himself, yelling actually. He was dragging hi