The latch on Harry's trunk closed, and his packing for his return to Hogwarts was finished. Most of the work had been done yesterday evening, but there were still a couple of necessities he required this morning. Turning around, his eyes fell on his best mate, Ron. He was sprawled across his bed, the Chudley Cannons bedsheets twisted about him as he snored and drooled on his pillow.
Harry sighed and shook his head. If he had not seen it, he would never believe that Ron could focus enough to beat McGonagall's chess set. His laziness had epic proportions, and Ron's trunk stood as a monument to that fact. It looked like a tribe of garden gnomes had been playing Exploding Snap inside. Clothes, books, candy, and what looked like a tart from last year's leaving feast had bubbled over the sides and coated the floor.
Hearing movement downstairs, Harry knew he should wake Ron up. Especially if he – and the rest of the Weasleys – wanted to get to the Hogwarts Express on time.
"Ron! Wake up!"
The redhead's response was an unarticulated grunt which, Harry thought, would sound right at home in the Forbidden Forest.
"Oi! Ron, you need to pack!"
"M' sleepin', Mum," Ron mumbled and burrowed into the pillow.
In any other situation, Harry might have laughed. "Ron, I have a Sugar Quill waiting just for you."
"Sweets! Gimme!" He was wide awake and sitting in a split-second. Harry was reminded of old vampire horror movies he sometimes caught playing on TV at the Dursleys'. The scene was utterly ridiculous, and he could not help but laugh.
"Git! Whatcha do that for?" Ron was slightly red, and Harry could not decide if it was anger or sheer embarrassment.
"It's about time you got up. You still haven't packed, and I really don't want to be late for the Express." He was looking forward to the start of his second year at Hogwarts. The summer had been boring. The Dursleys had left him alone for most of the time, giving him only an occasional chore. Harry mused that it was partially because they were afraid of him now that he had learned some actual magic. The only highlights had been the letters from his friends and Mr. Weasley's unexpected arrival a couple of weeks ago to pick him up.
"...turning into Percy? Harry? Harry! Are you even listening to me?" Ron's voice drew him out of his memories.
"Sorry, Ron. I was thinking."
"Mate, you were miles away. Anyway, now that I've been so rudely awakened, I might as well finish my packing."
Harry stood up. "Sure, Ron. Need any help?"
"Nah. I'm fine. You go downstairs, get some breakfast. I'm sure Mum has it ready by now," Ron said, picking up a discarded shirt and throwing it into his trunk.
Harry was suddenly concerned. "Are you OK, Ron? Packing instead of going to breakfast really doesn't sound like you. You might be coming down with something." As soon as he finished, he started laughing. He simply could not hold it in anymore.
"You really are a git!" Ron's voice told a different story, though. "For your information, if I get this all done, then Mum can't make me leave the kitchen table early to pack. That means more food, y'know."
"Wow! If your parents had known that from the start, they might have brought you up properly." Apparently, Ron did not find that statement as funny as Harry did. His Seeker reflexes helped him to avoid the thrown shoe by jumping out of the room and pulling the door closed behind him; the shoe hit the other side of the door with a thump.
There was a howl and the clanking of chains from the attic; the impact of the trainer against the wooden door had apparently awakened the ghoul. Chuckling, Harry followed the smell of freshly fried bacon that was emanating from the kitchen downstairs.
He was looking forward to breakfast. Although the Dursleys had given him enough food to eat that summer, it was nothing compared to Mrs Weasley's cooking. Not to mention that the woman was obviously trying to make sure gravity had more of an affect on him. It was a welcome change in his life.
Rounding the stairs on the third floor, he bumped into someone. Quickly returning from his thoughts, he noticed a curtain of red hair. In fact, it occupied so much of his vision that it was hard to notice anything else.
"Watch where you're..." the high-pitched voice trailed off with a squeak as two large brown orbs emerged from the fiery tresses. The Burrow's youngest occupant stood frozen in front of Harry. She was still wearing her pyjamas, though the clothes under her arm suggested she was going to the bathroom to get ready for the day.
Harry was still uncertain how to act around Ginny Weasley. She did not bother him, but he did feel a certain level of unease around her. Harry had spent the whole past year with Hermione, and while that did not help him in understanding girls, he reckoned he could at least function around them. The trouble was that the petite redhead was something completely different, and her impressive lack of vocabulary when she was around him did not help in the slightest.
Deciding that an apology was appropriate, he took a step back to actually see her before saying anything. Her eyes were wide and terrified as her mouth hung open in shock.
"Er," Harry said. That was enough for Ginny. With a squeak, she rushed into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her as fast as possible.
Harry stood motionless for a moment, trying to decide if it was his fault in some way. The conclusion remained the same. He would never understand girls.
Taking a deep breath, he continued his path to the kitchen. Ron had it partially right, he mused. There was a time for food, and there was a time for other things. At this moment, the former was much more appealing.
As he entered the living room, a strong wave of delicious aroma made his stomach grumble. He hurried towards the kitchen to find Percy already at the table, helping himself to some buttered toast, and Mrs Weasley frying a second portion of bacon.
"Good morning! Do you need any help, Mrs Weasley?"
Percy only nodded curtly, while his mother turned around, holding a cloth in her left hand and her wand in her right. "Oh, good morning, dear! You're up already? Oh, I do hope Ron picks up some of your habits." She immediately Summoned a clean plate and brought it to an empty seat at the table. "You just sit down and eat. You still need to gain some weight. I'll need to have a word with those Muggles, keeping you so thin."
"Thank you, Mrs Weasley." Harry approached the seat in front of the plate from the right side, using his left hand to pull out the chair. He had developed that habit while he still went to school in Surrey. That way his right hand was free to defend himself from Dudley's Neanderthal attempts at humour.
He took two pieces of bacon, some eggs and a piece of toast, arranging them on the plate. Mrs Weasley appeared next to him and poured him a glass of pumpkin juice. "Be sure to take a second helping, dear."
He swallowed his first bite. "Yes, ma'am!" The Weasley matriarch smiled at him and returned to the stove.
The rest of the Weasley children made their appearances successively. The twins were the first to arrive, taking the seats just left of Percy. Harry watched them whispering and grinning. The only pauses in their scheming were when they took covert glances in Percy's direction. Harry was not sure what they were planning, but it did not bode well for their older brother.
Ron was next to arrive. He immediately took a seat next to Harry. "Hey, Mum! Where's Dad?"
"Your father already had breakfast. He's preparing the car. He said it would do the Anglia good to go out for a turn." Harry faced Ron with a grin, but it left his face quickly when he noticed that his friend did not find anything wrong with that statement. Turning back to his food, he noticed one of the twins winking at him. He smiled and returned to his bacon.
Ginny was the last to arrive, which surprised Harry, as he was sure she had been the first one to get ready that morning. Looking around the table, Harry saw that for some unknown reason, there was only one more chair free, and it was right next to him. Judging by the sudden blush on Ginny's face, she had seen it, too.
Harry could easily see her nose scrunching up in concentration as she looked at her mother. He figured she was trying to decide how to proceed. Not knowing how to make the situation less complicated, he returned his attention to the plate in front of him. As he continued his struggle with a slippery piece of bacon, he heard the chair scraping the floor on his left.
His peripheral vision caught the now familiar red curtain, though due to his poor eyesight and the limited coverage of his spectacles, it looked like a crimson blob.
Harry's hearing had become attuned to soft noises, as it had been the only perception of the outside world he had while locked in the cupboard. He attributed the harsh sound of Ginny's breathing to panic. From what he could tell, he was the cause of such a reaction, and it bothered him. Even if he knew how to address it, however, the table full of other Weasleys was hardly the place to do so.
He tried to avoid looking at the small redhead to keep her discomfort as low as possible. The conversation around the table proceeded normally and lightly, but a certain tension remained for him. And for Ginny, he supposed.
The rest of the breakfast passed in the same manner. Ron was the first to finish, though Harry was certain he had eaten the most. Judging by how quickly he left for the living room and the stairs, he probably had some more packing to do.
Harry finished next, but he glanced in Ginny's direction before leaving the room. She stared intently at her plate as if it might make a run for the door, but the tinge on her cheeks told Harry that she was aware of his gaze. He left for the stairs to make sure everything was packed, but as he climbed he thought about the situation that had transpired that morning.
The ride in the Anglia was comfortable and uneventful, mostly due to Mr Weasley's Charms work, which provided them with more space than physically possible in such a small vehicle. Ginny sat in the front with her mother, so Harry managed to avoid further discomfort, at least during the car ride.
Even though Ron had packed before breakfast, the Weasleys were still late, so all of them rushed through the barrier. This would be Harry's third ride on the crimson engine, yet it still amazed him. A quick look around the platform revealed Neville's grandmother seeing off her grandson. There were more familiar faces, but Harry did not have the time to count them all. The train was scheduled to leave in a couple of minutes, so he and Ron rushed to find a compartment. Hermione was nowhere to be seen in the corridors, but she was waiting for them in the third compartment. She was holding a book with an unintelligible title and looking slightly browner than usual.
He only realised how much he had missed his bookish friend when she bombarded him with an endless stream of questions while hugging him fiercely. Harry was amused to see that she greeted Ron with only a handshake. As he and Ron sat across from Hermione, Harry thought about how good it was to be going back home.
Ginny was fuming. To anyone who knew her well enough, that was obvious. Her face was red, darker than when she was embarrassed, and her eyes had a special glint, like there were candles lit behind them. Her mum had apparently decided to ignore these symptoms, as she was listing everything once again: how to behave, what to avoid, whom to talk to, and so on. The advice was certainly useful, but Ginny had heard it at least two dozen times since receiving her Hogwarts letter.
However, that was only part of the reason for her anger. She was mostly angry because of the way she had acted around Harry this morning and every other day since he joined them at The Burrow. Today, however, she had spent more time with him than before.
The trouble was that her vocal cords refused to operate when she was near him. To top it all, her face turned a shade of pink that clashed horribly with her hair. Very unappealing, or so she thought. It was no secret that Ginny liked Harry Potter. She liked him a lot. She really wanted to be appealing to him.
That was the reason for her bitterness, and the older woman's rant was not helpful at all. Looking at her mum to stop the tirade, Ginny noticed that her mum was quiet and probably expecting an answer.
"Yes, Mum, I will write," she said, hazarding a guess.
It was obviously the correct response, as her mum smiled and hugged her again. Through her anger, she still managed to enjoy the hug, knowing that it was the last one until the Christmas holidays.
Standing on her tiptoes, Ginny kissed her mum's cheek and rushed to hug her dad, too.
"Be careful on the train, and don't cause too much mischief," he told her.
She gave her father a slightly forced smile and boarded the train as she said goodbye. The train started moving, and she waved to her parents once more before entering the corridor.
The corridor was almost empty, as the majority of the children had already found compartments. For a moment, she thought about finding Luna, her dearest friend who was also starting school this year, but decided that she would find Harry and use her anger to steel herself enough to talk to him.
Mustering up her courage, she went in search of Harry's and Ron's compartment. It did not take too long to find as it was near the entrance to the coach. Taking a moment to collect herself, she took a deep breath and opened the door.
As she expected, there were only three people inside. Hermione, the girl she had met while they were all shopping for school supplies in Diagon Alley, sat reading by herself. Harry and Ron were talking on the other bench. The brown-haired girl looked up from her book and smiled.
"Hello! Ginny, right?"
The redhead smiled back and nodded. This was hard for her, but she stacked up her negative emotions to build a wall of resolve. She turned slightly to Harry and Ron, trying desperately to focus on Harry. "Hi! Could I sit with you?"
She noticed Hermione already moving her things to make room beside her, but before Ginny could even move to sit down, her brother spoke.
"Go away, Ginny! Go find some first years!"
In any other situation, she would have stood her ground and fought her brother, but with her anger still surging and Harry just sitting there and saying nothing, she immediately turned around and left the compartment, slamming the door behind her. As all negative things did, the wall she had built in her mind crumbled, and her resolve collapsed with it.
She heard Hermione shouting at her brother and calling for her to come back, but she was beyond caring. It was just too much for her. She had thought that anger could help her; instead, it had only led to more anger. The problem was that this new fury needed a target, and her subconscious was only too happy to oblige. Not really noticing where she was going, she entered a compartment that looked empty from the outside.
Storming in, she threw her things onto the bench. The sheer fury was almost painful. She was mad at her brother for discarding her without a second thought. She was mad at Hermione for putting up with her brother, though she knew that was irrational. She was even mad at Harry for not sticking up for her.
That was why she almost jumped when a serene voice spoke from behind her. "You are angry, Ginevra."
Ginny spun around, her hand reaching for her wand. Her blonde friend Luna was sitting in the corner of the compartment. A pale blue dress covered in what looked like runes hung loosely about her slight frame, and her hair was held up by an olive branch. Her blue eyes shone with an intelligence that almost seemed out of place. Ginny relaxed, welcoming the familiar face.
"Hello, Luna! It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you, too, but you are still angry. Anger can change many things, you know."
"Well, maybe it's time for a change."
Luna only nodded and returned to tracing her left palm with the index finger of her right hand.
Ginny was sure she could change everything. If they did not need or want her, she did not need them. It was simple as that.
Harry was not happy with how things turned out. If he were to judge the school year according to its start, the future was looking glum. First, Ron sent Ginny off, which bothered Harry because he was hoping to start some kind of rapport with her. It was strange to him to have spent several weeks sharing a house with her and to not even know her favourite Quidditch team. Besides, he liked all of Ron's brothers so far. There was no reason why he should not like his sister, too. Second, Hermione was now mad at Ron for acting that way, and while Harry could understand her feelings, the tension in the compartment was a bit too much for him. Last of all, he was irritated with himself for letting Ginny just storm off like that. If he planned to do something about the discomfort both of them experienced each time they met, he should have done something. Anything, really.
He looked around again. Hermione was ignoring everyone for the sake of her book, and Ron appeared to be sulking. That irritated Harry even more, as in his mind Ron had no right to act that way after what he had done.
The compartment suddenly seemed too small for Harry's taste. He decided that a short walk through the coach might actually calm his nerves. Maybe he would even run into Ginny and have a chance to apologise. He was not sure how to go about that, but he would cross that bridge later.
The narrow corridor was empty. It was still too early for the witch with the trolley to make her rounds, and all of the students were probably talking about their summers.
One of the windows in the corridor was slightly pulled down, and Harry approached it. Air was rushing inside, making even more of a mess of his hair. Still, it had a calming effect on him, so he stayed there, watching the scenery go by.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he probably would have stayed there for the rest of the journey if not for the mocking voice that came from behind him.
"Potter! Filling up your head with air won't make you any smarter."
Harry did not need to turn around to find out who was talking to him. He could recognise Malfoy's snarl anywhere. However, the past year had taught him not to keep his back turned to the blond Slytherin. The fact that he turned around with his wand drawn was just an added bonus.
The first thing Harry noticed was that Malfoy was alone. It struck him how unusual it was to see the self-acclaimed prince of Slytherin without his usual entourage. The second thing Harry noticed was that Malfoy had grown considerably since last year. He was not gigantic by any means, but he stood half a head taller than Harry. He wondered how he managed to miss that during their unfortunate meeting in Flourish and Blotts over the summer.
"That's a good thing, Malfoy. Otherwise you'd probably have trouble understanding me." The response was harsher than Harry had planned, but all things considered, he was rather proud that he did not outright hex the git.
"You're too funny, Potter. Especially for someone about to meet his dead parents." Malfoy seemed unconcerned about the wand in Harry's hand.
"And what is that supposed to mean?" Harry did his best to convey a warning in his question.
"It's supposed to mean exactly what I said. You were lucky too many times last year. Your luck is running out, and I'll be there to laugh at you when it does."
Malfoy was baiting him. On some level, Harry was aware of that, but it did not prevent his hand from raising the wand. Suddenly, hexing Malfoy seemed like the best thing in the world. It would certainly help him to get rid of a part of his frustration.
"What do we have here?"
Harry did not recognise the new voice. He did his best to train his wand on the newcomer while keeping Malfoy in his line of sight.
"Ah, Potter! Attacking a student, and threatening a prefect. My, my, and the train ride barely started."
While Harry did not recognise the older student, the green-trimmed robes and silver badge gave him enough clues that he was in trouble.
"I didn't threaten or attack anyone." He knew such an attempt was futile, but it was the best he could do.
"Oh, I'm sure you didn't. I'll let Professor Snape decide. Now return to your compartment!"
Unable to tolerate Draco's smirk, Harry did just that. Things were really getting worse with each passing second.
Ginny knew what the Sorting would be like. Fred and George had tried to fill her head with ridiculous ideas, but a quick chat with her mum had given her all the necessary information. She did not need to be worried about anything but simply being herself.
Standing in line with the other students was rather boring. Sure, there were ghosts flying around and new sights to be seen, but Ginny was not really interested in all of that. She had heard about it all, and in her current frame of mind that was enough. She only wanted the Sorting and the feast to end so she could retire for the evening.
She recognised the elderly witch who appeared a few moments later as Professor McGonagall. She was going to be Ginny's Head of House. No, that was not true. She was Ron's and Harry's Head of House. Ginny decided that she had yet to be Sorted, and therefore such ideas were not appropriate at that time. Her thoughts about Harry and her brother caused another spike of anger.
Ginny accompanied her fellow first-years into the Great Hall at McGonagall's prompt. Although she had often been told about it, she felt some awe upon entering the room. The ceiling glowed with the wonder of the night sky, and the candles floating around were a certain sign that these were halls of magic. Her thoughts took a turn for worse as soon as her eyes found her brother sitting next to Harry. Looking at the smiling faces of other members of Gryffindor, who seemed not to care that they had such idiots in their midst, her anger extended to the whole house.
She was aware that such anger was inappropriate at a time like this, so she turned her head to the stool on the other end of the Hall. Deep breathing helped her to calm herself as much as possible.
Her anger intermingled with her newfound frustration with her family name. Ginny had been taught to be proud of being a Weasley, just like her brothers. However, that did not really help in a line formed by alphabetical order. Even though there were only thirty or so students to be Sorted, the passing minutes seemed to have run out of Floo powder.
Ginny did not recognise any of the names being called until Luna was summoned to sit on the stool. Ginny watched her friend, who seemed almost unconcerned about everything around her. The hat took its time deciding where to put the blonde, and Ginny began to wonder if her friend had broken it. After what seemed like ages, the hat managed to proclaim the girl a Ravenclaw. Ginny was amused to hear the hat's voice wobble a bit.
The group of students around her thinned down after another barrage of unknown names. Soon it was all down to her and a pudgy brunette. Ginny was surprised to hear her name called next, as she had already decided that she was going to be last as usual.
With some trepidation, she approached the stool, trying to ignore the fact that all eyes in the Hall were on her. She sat down, and just before the hat covered her eyes, she saw Ron and Harry looking at her. Hermione was next to them, and they were all smiling. Ginny wondered how they could smile after what had happened on the train. Another flare of irritation disrupted her thoughts.
Oh my! In all my years…
While her mother had told her the hat was going to Sort her, she did not know that it was going to speak to her. "Er… Are you the Hat?"
I certainly am, but there is no need to speak out loud, child. I can hear you in your head just fine.
Ginny was still trying to understand this concept, so she did not reply. The Hat chose to continue.
Another Weasley. And smart, this one. But so much anger. And directed at her own brother.
He's a prat, Ginny replied.
Be that as it may, but it is unhealthy. You feel like you need to do everything alone, even if you have six brothers.
What else can I do? No matter what, I always end up being the foolish risk-taker who can't take care of herself.
The Hat paused for a moment. You feel overshadowed by them?
Yes, they don't let me do anything on my own.
Hufflepuff isn't for you. Your loyalty isn't exemplary, really. Not in this matter. Hmm… You are smart, and you are brave. Do you really want to prove yourself?
Yes! Ginny suddenly was looking forward to joining Luna in her house.
Very well. Then better be a…
Harry was shocked. He had no idea how a Weasley could end up in Slytherin. How could Ginny, of all people, get sorted with those… snakes? Taking a quick look around the table, he noticed the same shocked looks on her brothers' faces. Hermione just seemed surprised, while Ron looked angry.
Harry returned his gaze at the stool, where a flustered Professor McGonagall showed Ginny the way to the Slytherin table. Harry thought he noticed a flash of fear on Ginny's face, but it was quickly replaced by a look of determination, so he decided he imagined it.
Ginny sat down at the end of the table next to another first-year girl. She kept her gaze firmly on the table, not meeting anyone's eyes. There was no applause to greet her. The Slytherins seemed as shocked as the Gryffindors. Harry caught Malfoy looking outraged and whispering something to Goyle.
Ron muttered something angrily, but Harry only caught a couple of words. "What's wrong with her?"
Harry remembered Ginny entering their compartment earlier that day. She had looked nervous but determined. Her face had fallen into sadness and something else when she ran from them. Harry's mind flashed to his own sorting. He remembered the choice he was given. Then it hit him. She had had the same choice, but her decision had been completely different. It was because she hated them. She hated him. She hated them all. That was why she had ended up in Slytherin. She wanted to be as far from them as possible. It was their fault. Harry silently cursed himself for not saying anything when Ginny had wanted to join them. He could have made the difference.
During the feast, Harry played with his food. He had lost his appetite when he realised that he was culpable for Ginny's situation. Ron was not eating with his usual gusto either, which was strange to see. Currently, however, Harry had no sympathy for his best friend. The fault lied with Ron, too.
Just as he was getting up to join his housemates on their way back to the tower, Snape approached him.
"Potter! Mr Sovereign informed me about your little attack aboard the Express. It saddens me that I can't take any points from you, as school wasn't officially in session. Instead you will be joining me each night this week at ten o'clock sharp, starting tonight. Hopefully, these detentions will teach your bloated head that unprovoked attacks on helpless students are not condoned at this school."
Harry only nodded and watched the Potions Master leave. Somehow, he felt he deserved these detentions and even more. He walked back to the tower listlessly. He saw the Weasleys talking in one corner of the common room. Ron was with them, and Harry thought it was for the best, as he was not really in the mood for his company. He climbed the stairs to the second-years' dormitory and sat on his bed, absently noting that his trunk had been delivered. Taking a quick look at his watch, he noticed that he had almost forty minutes before his detention.
Sighing, he started thinking about what he was going to do about Ginny. He had to do something. It was his responsibility.
The corridors were empty, and the sound of Harry's footsteps reverberated from the stone walls. Snape had never told him where to go for the detentions, but Harry had concluded that they would be somewhere in the dungeons, most certainly the Potions classroom.
As he descended to the dungeons, he thought he noticed a flash of red hair at the far end of the corridor. He attributed it to his now constant thoughts about Ginny, so it was no small surprise when he found her sitting in the Potions classroom. She looked surprised to see him there, but then her eyes narrowed. She turned away and gazed at the front of the room.
Harry was confused. He had a hard time imagining what Ginny could have done to earn this detention. Knowing Snape, she might have gotten it simply for ending up in Slytherin. The Potions professor was sitting at his desk, watching Harry with an expression of disgust.
"I see you managed to join us on time. Pity. I was rather looking forward to deducting points from Gryffindor." Snape rose to his feet. "You will serve your detentions with Weasley. Each night you will clean a different part of the dungeons. You will start with this classroom. No magic!"
Harry looked at Ginny again. She was still sitting in her chair, and there were no signs that she had moved at all. Harry thought she looked pale in the torchlight.
"What are you waiting for?" Snape snarled. "The cleaning supplies are in the corner. I have other things to do."
Ginny got up, and Harry followed her to the corner. He watched her as she picked up an old rag and a bottle of cleaning solution. She brushed past him without looking at him. His stomach churned as his suspicions about Ginny were confirmed. Not wanting to get another earful from Snape, he picked up the same things Ginny had and went to the shelves at the back of the classroom.
Dusting was not hard, but he had to be careful not to break any of the containers. He carefully lifted one and wiped the shelf beneath with a cloth. He returned the jar back to its place and repeated the dull procedure with the next item on the shelf.
Harry sneaked a look at Ginny, who was busy polishing cauldrons. He watched her for a moment and then returned to his work with a sigh.
He finished with the shelves in a few minutes and started polishing the desks. He began with those in the back, which gave him a clear view of Snape. His teacher sat behind his desk, writing something on a piece of parchment. Harry assumed that Snape was already preparing some kind of test, probably to scare the first-years.
When Harry started on his fifth desk, Snape suddenly stood up and picked up his things. "I will return shortly," he announced. "Keep doing your work."
He left them alone in the classroom, closing the door behind him. Harry looked at the redhead again. She was almost finished with the cauldrons. He wanted to take the opportunity to talk to her, but he was unsure how to start that particular conversation.
He continued cleaning his current desk and caught Ginny moving to the glass-encased cupboard near the teacher's desk. Deciding that he had to start somewhere, he let go of the cloth.
"Ginny? Err... Why did you get a detention?"
She cleaned the glass without acknowledging that she had heard him. Harry tried asking the question again, only louder this time.
This time he caught a flash of what looked like irritation on her face. "Ginny, I'm sorry..." he began.
She looked at him, though it seemed as though she did not really want to. "Sorry? What for? I got exactly what I wanted." She turned her back on him again.
Harry wanted to say more, to ask her what she meant by that, but the classroom doors opened and Snape entered. He threw a look at Harry and returned to his desk. Harry continued his work, and his already burdened heart felt much heavier.
When Snape decided they were finished for the night, Harry quickly returned to Gryffindor tower. He had hoped to speak to Ginny one more time, but Snape's presence prevented him from getting her alone.
He barely noticed giving the password at the Fat Lady's portrait. As he climbed the stairs to his dormitory, he vowed he would make it up to Ginny in some way.
Almost two hours later, Harry finally fell into a restless sleep.
First of all, this story was inspired by SIYE's 'First Week' challenge, and was originally supposed to be one of the entries. (Un)Fortunately, I didn't make the deadline and the story suddenly became bigger. For me, that's a good thing.
This particular bunny was conceived by Sovran and he has my heartfelt thanks for letting me twist it and create a story out of it.
Additional thanks goes to Sovran, Jonathan Avery and Ilovecats for editing. Without them, it would have been difficult to read this.
With the current state of the plot, I cannot help but nod in Parakletos' direction for his And On The Eight Day?, where I first encountered Slytherin Ginny.