A/N: As always, thanks to my alpha and beta readers, CrimsonHippogriff and Jedi B.
Oh, Joanna, I'm so tired, but I have so much to tell you, and I have to tell you tonight.
Are you sure, Ginny? You could wait until tomorrow.
No, I can't. You're not going to believe this, Joanna, but I hugged Harry Potter.
You did? How? Why? Start at the beginning, Ginny.
Right, you like that. Well, the beginning was that we got to Platform 9 3/4 okay, though a little late, because Miriam absolutely hates waking up in the morning, so we got off late. Anyway, almost everyone was on the train already. I was truthfully getting a little sick of William's really obvious crush on me by that time. However did Harry put up with me all that time, he must have the patience of Professor Flitwick! So I took William to Fred and George's compartment, where their friend Lee had a new pet. He has one every year, and they're all dangerous, so Professor McGonagall confiscates each one. I don't know why he keeps trying. Anyway, I thought William would like to see it, and I knew I could leave him safely with Angelina and Katie. I didn't even stay long enough to see what this year's pet was; I just told George that I was going to see Hermione, and left. The twins exchanged looks as I was leaving, and I know exactly what they were thinking, but I don't care. I really did want to see Hermione, and when I found the compartment, I practically threw myself on her, I was so glad to see a witch. I barely noticed Harry and Ron were there.
Really. But then, I said to Hermione that it was really great to see her again, and Ron wanted to know why itwasn't really great to see him and Harry again, too. Honestly, Ron makes me wonder sometimes. I mean, he practically ignores me for years, but then, when I'm not paying attention to him every single second, he gets hurt.
Typical Ron, or typical boy?
Both. What did Harry say?
Nothing, right then, because I said something like, "Oh, you," and hugged both Ron and Harry.
You did? What did he think? And what kind of hug are we talking about here?
Well, I really don't know what he thought, but we're just talking about a normal, friendly hug. I was really proud of myself, Joanna, I didn't let myself linger over Harry, even though it did feel absolutely wonderful to have my arms around him. I can still feel it - I'm sort of tingly. He didn't hug me back, of course - he was too surprised - but one thing at a time.
Ginny, you're doing wonderfully. Nothing piques a boy's interest more than having a girl he was sure was interested in him stop.
I don't see why he would think I've stopped, but I do hope so. He somehow got even better looking this summer, more mature, maybe. His eyes seem to know more, and he's just the perfect height - taller than I am, but not too much. Looking up into his eyes felt just perfect. Oh, Joanna, sorry for the relapse.
That's quite all right, Ginny. You're in love with the boy, it's to be expected that you'll have to gush about him occasionally. If you didn't, I'd be worried. By the way, when did you have this perfect moment of looking up into his eyes?
Well, after I hugged him, I sat down (next to him!) and asked them all what had been happening. Ron started telling me, but he mentioned someone named Snuffles, and, of course, I asked who that was. I got these weird looks from all three of them - Hermione looked sorry, almost pitying, Ron looked guilty, and Harry...Harry just looked blank. That did it for me. They have a perfect right to keep secrets from me, but if they were going to, then I certainly wasn't going to tag along everywhere after them, like some little groupie. I jumped up and told them that if they weren't going to trust me, I'd leave, and that I could handle quite a bit. I had my hands on my hips, and when I turned to leave, I almost hit Harry in the head with my elbow, but I wasn't much sorry at that point.
Good for you, breila.
Thank you. It gets better, though. I started stalking out, but Harry came after me. He put his hands on my upper arms, turned me around, and said, "Please don't go, Ginny. We haven't told you things - we've kept secrets from you - and that's not fair. But that's going to change right now. Come, sit down, and get ready for a long story." Or something like that. I...well, I just couldn't believe it, you know. I was standing so close to him - he smelled wonderful, sort of fresh and airy and pure - and looking up into his eyes. He was looking into my eyes, so seriously, the way he does...completely focused, like I was the only person in the world at that moment. I've dreamed of him looking at me like that for years. Not that there was anything romantic about it. I know he's looked like that at Hermione, and Ron. But he never had at me before, and I felt like bursting into tears. My eyes did water a bit, and he noticed, but I brushed the tears away and sat down to hear his story. And what a story, Joanna!
Wait a minute, Ginny, let me catch my breath. You've had a busy day.
That's not the half of it. You've got to hear this. First of all, remember how I said it was strange that after my second year, the Dementors left Hogwarts and everything went back to normal, even though Sirius Black hadn't been caught? Well, it turns out that he was caught - by Harry, Ron, and Hermione - but he was innocent.
What? Ginny, how is that possible?
He wasn't the Potters' Secret Keeper after all! He had convinced them to use one of their other friends, Peter Pettigrew, and he was the one who betrayed them to Voldemort.
But, Ginny, Peter Pettigrew was killed by Sirius Black after he...oh, I see. Sirius killed him, because he betrayed Harry's parents.
No, it's even better than that, Joanna! Sirius didn't kill Pettigrew, Pettigrew faked his own death. You see, Pettigrew, Sirius, and James Potter were all friends with Professor Lupin (he was our DADA teacher my second year), and he's a werewolf.
You had a werewolf as a teacher?
Well, we didn't know it at the time, though, looking back, it should have been obvious. Professor Snape let it slip at the end of the year - apparently, all the staff knew - because he was upset that Sirius escaped again.
I thought you said he was caught, but he was innocent. Why would he have to escape again?
Because no one, except Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Professor Dumbledore believes that he's innocent.
Ginny, you're not making any sense. What does all of this have to do with Pettigrew faking his own death?
See, Pettigrew, Sirius, and James were friends with Professor Lupin when they were all in school. They noticed that he went away at every full moon, and figured out that he's a werewolf. So, to keep him company, they became Animagi.
While they were still at school? That's amazing, Ginny. Not to mention illegal.
I know. And they kept it secret for Professor Lupin's sake, and that's how Pettigrew faked his own death - he turned into his Animagus form of a rat and disappeared. Sirius knew he hadn't died, but he also knew that no one would believe him - especially since the only person who could substantiate his story was Lupin, who still thought Sirius had been the Secret Keeper, and, besides...well, you know how our community treats werewolves. So Sirius spent twelve years in Azkaban as a convicted murderer. And Pettigrew spent twelve years as a rat. Our rat, as a matter of fact.
Your rat? You...you can't mean Scabbers?
Got it in one. I can't even imagine how Ron felt when he found out. Harry's like a brother to him - closer than a brother, really - and here he was, harboring his parents' killer. Letting him sleep in his bed. Shielding him from Hermione's cat, and not speaking to Hermione for months when he thought Crookshanks had killed Scabbers. Oh, that was a horrible time, and, again, I couldn't do anything. Ron wouldn't listen to reason, and though I think Harry forgave Hermione, he sided with Ron, like always.
Everything about that year makes so much more sense now. Hermione was acting very strangely, barely talking to anyone. Hermione's not a very social person, anyway, but that year she took it to extremes, and she was always studying. Well, the reason was that she was using a Time Turner (given to her by Professor McGonagall, and what was she thinking?) to take lots of extra classes. Joanna, it's official. Hermione is crazy. But it's lucky that she is, because after Pettigrew escaped again, Harry and Hermione had use her Time Turner to save Sirius before Fudge administered the Dementor's Kiss.
What? But that's just horrible, Ginny. Why couldn't they put him back into Azkaban, if they still thought he was guilty?
Because Fudge is a - no, I won't say it. They felt it was necessary, I suppose.
Oh, Ginny. And Harry had to see that.
Yes, he had to say good-bye to Sirius, not an hour after learning that Sirius was his godfather, and that he wanted to take care of Harry. Harry wouldn't have had to go back to the Dursleys', ever. This is why Dad clammed up when he mentioned Harry's godfather - people think he's a horrible murderer, so of course Harry can't live with him. But he writes to him, and gave him a Firebolt - that's the best broom there is - and I can tell that Harry loves him a lot.
Oh, Ginny, that's just wonderful. Harry needs a family so much, and this is a step, at least. Has he seen Sirius since then?
Yes, last year Sirius actually lived in a cave near Hogsmeade to support Harry in the Triwizard Tournament, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione saw him a couple of times. He was in his Animagus form of a big, black dog most of the time, scavenging for food, and eating rats, which really shows how much he cares about Harry. And speaking of Sirius eating rats, doesn't my vision make sense now?
Hmm...so, Sirius is the dog, Pettigrew is the rat, and your DADA teacher is the wolf?
That's how we see it. Now I know why everyone was so interested in the status of the rat when the dog brought him back in his mouth. Hermione thinks that the vision might show both the past and the present, maybe even the future. The past is the flickering back to Harry's parents. The dog bringing the rat back could be the recent past, with Sirius exposing Pettigrew as Scabbers, and as the true traitor. But Harry doesn't think it is, because, as he put it, "Ginny wasn't there then." I think he wants to believe it's in the future, because then Sirius could catch Pettigrew. Harry thinks, and I agree with him, that if Sirius could do that, he might feel some closure about Harry's parents.
Harry said that, did he?
Well...I've interpreted what he said.
Ginny, what time is it?
It's midnight, you know that. But I still have so much more to tell you.
It can wait.
No, wait, I have to tell you what happened after we got off the Hogwarts Express.
It's about Draco Malfoy. You wouldn't believe what he did. See, we got off the train, and Hagrid wasn't there. He's the Hogwarts groundskeeper, and the Care of Magical Creatures Professor. We found out last year that he's a half-giant, but he's the sweetest, most supportive person you could possibly imagine. He's the person who usually escorts the first years across the lake to the Sorting Ceremony. But this year he wasn't there - Harry said that he's probably gone as an envoy to the giants from Professor Dumbledore. Along with Madam Maxime, who's the headmistress of Beauxbatons. She was here last year for the Triwizard Tournament, and she's just as large as Hagrid, and -
Ginny, I think you're more tired than you realize. You're not making any sense. Maybe tomorrow...
No, wait. Where was I? Right, Hagrid. Who wasn't there. Instead, it was Fleur Delacour - remember, I said that Ron had asked her to the Yule Ball last year? She was the champion from Beauxbatons in the Triwizard Tournament. She's...well, she's absolutely stunning. Long, silky blonde hair, perfect features, slender - of course, she's part veela, so that explains it. She had been really snobby last year, too, until Harry rescued her sister Gabrielle, who had been her hostage in the second task. You remember, I told you that Harry stayed behind to rescue all the hostages, in case the champions didn't show up. Well, Fleur didn't, she was held up by grindylows (grindylows, honestly!) so Harry rescued Gabrielle. So, Fleur is much friendlier to Harry now, and she waved at him, and said that Hagrid's find, she's just filling in. Unfortunately, she is part veela, and Ron seems to be especially susceptible to them. He...he just stared at her, but I could tell what he was thinking, and so could Harry, and, unfortunately, so could Hermione. She looked like she was going to burst into tears on the spot. Honestly, I know Ron cares for Hermione, even if he doesn't quite know himself yet, so why does he get all googly-eyed over Fleur?
Some men just have a harder time resisting the veela charm.
Hmph. He'll just have to learn to deal with it. Anyway, I was furious, so I reached up and smacked him on the back of his head to snap him out of it. I said something like, "Wake up!" too, and that's when Draco Malfoy came along. I told you we'd get to him eventually.
And I've been patiently waiting.
I can tell. Anyway, Malfoy said, "Listen to her, Weasley, it sounds like she got all the brains of the family." Then he looked me up and down - like, like I was a fish in a display case that he decided wasn't quite good enough for his plate - and added, "All the beauty, too, but then, that's not saying much."
I don't care. I really don't, Joanna. I should have - I mean, I would have last year. But all of a sudden, he seemed just pathetic, and a little sad. Besides, Harry and Ron tried to attack him, though Hermione caught them before they could reach him. I could tell that she's had lots of practice at that. I thought they were being silly, though, so I walked out in front of them, and told them to just ignore Malfoy - he just wanted attention, so they shouldn't give it to him.
Yes, well, I had turned my back on Malfoy to do it, and he apparently has a death wish or something, because he grabbed hold of my arms - right where Harry had, curse him - and turned me around to face him. He said, "You face me when I'm talking to you!"
You got it. Ron managed to slip out of Hermione's grasp, and I knew that if he reached Malfoy, he'd kill him. He'd just beat him to a pulp, and then would get beaten to a pulp himself by Crabbe and Goyle, Malfoy's "bodyguards." So I yelled at him to stop, that I could handle it. And I did.
What did you do?
Just convinced Malfoy to let me go. Harry told me afterwards that he thought I was going to curse Malfoy even without my wand, and Malfoy must have thought so, too, because he let me go, and left, trailing his goons behind him. It was such a wonderful feeling, Joanna! And even better was all of the looks everyone was giving me - they couldn't believe I could make him back down like that, even Ron, who should have known better. I tried to act like it was nothing, and climbed into a carriage to come up to the castle - hold on a second, Joanna. Someone's coming down the girls' dormitory steps.
Oh, Joanna. It's Hermione, and she's being all prefecty, saying I have to go to bed, "...to get a good night's sleep for our classes tomorrow." And I haven't even told you about -
Ginny. Tomorrow will do just fine. Go to sleep.
Yes, ma'am. Good night.
Hi Joanna! I'm in History of Magic, and you wouldn't believe this class. It's the first class back, and Binns is already going on about goblin rebellions. It's all he ever talks about! There's so much else that's interesting in history, especially the history of magic. Why does he never talk about any of that? I asked Mum, and she said she didn't know either, but that's all Binns ever taught them, too. She gave me some books to read, about the Founders, and Grindelwald, since she knew we'd never learn about any of that.
I'm glad to hear that, and that you're interested in history. But should you be writing to me in class, Ginny?
Well, it's either you, or falling asleep, and at least this way I look like I'm taking notes. I'd be the only one, too. Almost everyone else is asleep. Colin's the only other person who isn't, and he's...well, he's looking at me. Which is another reason to keep writing.
Colin is the boy who takes great pictures?
And he's staring at you.
Yes. Joanna, I don't really know how to deal with this. I recognize that look - how could I not, when it's the look I had every time I looked at Harry for years?
You're becoming quite the heart-breaker, aren't you, Ginny?
But, Joanna, William doesn't count. He's only eleven, and he sorted into Ravenclaw, so I'm sure he'll soon have other things to think about. But Colin's a Gryffindor, in my year, and in every single one of my classes except for Arithmancy.
Well, Ginny, it seems to me that you have two options, as long as you're sure he's interested in you. You can make it quite clear that you're not, or you can sit back and enjoy it.
Is there another option?
Well, I don't want to hurt him, you know. And it's a little embarrassing. Colin's a friend - he's actually my only real friend in my year. And I don't want to ruin that.
Oh, well, that makes it trickier. Does Colin know how you feel about Harry?
Everyone knows, Joanna. So he's got to know that it's hopeless. I'll just ignore it, and it'll go away eventually.
Anyway, I still have lots to tell you from yesterday. I'm sorry I was so incoherent last night, Joanna. You probably couldn't understand me at all.
Better than I understand you today.
Sorry, Ginny. If you don't want to talk about it, you don't. What was it you wanted to tell me?
Well, the important thing is that we're going to be having extra classes to prepare ourselves for Voldemort and the coming war.
Who's we? The whole school?
No, just some of us. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, of course, and Fred, George, and me. I don't know who else, but I don't think anyone in Gryffindor, or we'd have heard about it. One of the classes is going to be the beginning of Auror training, which both interests and terrifies me. But the others are supposed to play to our strengths. Harry says that he knows he's going to be trained as a Seer - Professor Moody told him so - and he thinks I will, too.
That sounds likely.
Yes, but I don't know that I want to be. I remember what you said about the Sight not being an unmixed blessing, and I'm not sure I want the...responsibility of it.
I can understand that.
On the other hand, though, if I can have a vision that helps our fight against Voldemort, that's worth some uncomfortable feelings, don't you think?
Ginny, only you can decide that, truly. But there's one good thing - that will be one class you'll share with Harry.
What? Don't tell me you haven't thought of that.
Well...hopefully something will happen, but I don't really think so. Although...I think he may be over his crush on Cho.
Really? What makes you think that?
Well, at the Welcoming Feast, when the Sorting Hat sang of Hufflepuffs being loyal and true, I thought of Cedric, and looked over at Harry, since I was sure he'd be thinking of him, too. He was looking at Cho, and the funniest set of emotions passed over his face - first, he looked like he wanted to be infatuated, then he looked surprised, then just sad. I couldn't stand that, so I asked him if he was all right, and he said he was, in this completely shocked voice, still staring at Cho. Am I interpreting this right, do you think?
Maybe. Or maybe he was surprised at something she was doing?
She was crying - he couldn't have been surprised at that.
You don't know that, Ginny. Maybe he was surprised that she hadn't gotten over Cedric already.
Oh, no, not Harry. Ron might be that clueless, but never Harry. He's the last person to expect anyone to get over anything.
Hmm...you're probably right.
I hope so. Oh, Joanna, there's the bell. I'll talk to you later.
Joanna, I'm so sorry I haven't written to you in a while, but I've been so busy.
That's all right, Ginny. So, are the extra classes running you ragged?
They really are. They're very interesting, of course - I'm learning the theory behind creating charms! - but there's such a lot. But there have been a number of strange things that I had to tell you. First of all, we have a new DADA teacher.
Well, since the last one was a werewolf -
No, no, the last one wasn't a werewolf, that was two teachers ago. The last one turned out to be a Death Eater who was impersonating an Auror to get to Harry.
Ginny, how can you just write out the bald fact like that?
I don't know. I suppose I'm becoming desensitized, being around Harry, Ron, and Hermione so much. So much has happened to them, Joanna, and they expect so much more to happen to them - they just accept it. I suppose I'll have to learn to accept it, too.
I'm not sure I like hearing that, Ginny.
I'm not sure I like saying it, but it's true, for all that, and we're both going to have to come to terms with it.
I suppose. So, what's strange about your new DADA teacher? It sounds like just the fact that you have a new one isn't strange at all.
Too true. Well, her name is Arabella Figg, and for the past fourteen years, she's been living as a Muggle, as Harry's neighbor, to watch over him.
I know. Harry's not happy with her - he thinks she should have told him he was a wizard, or at least something about his parents, but she was under orders from Professor Dumbledore not to. She had all of us to tea in her rooms. She has five cats, and they're all so friendly. But Harry hasn't forgiven her, though of course he's polite enough in class.
Class - oh - Fleur Delacour - remember, the veela? - is teaching Care of Magical Creatures. I don't take it, of course, but Harry told me that Ron spends most of the class staring at Fleur with a besotted look on his face. At least he's not the only one to do it, Harry says, and at least he spends the rest of the class staring at Hermione, so it's not so obvious.
Yes. Hermione told me that Harry's not affected by Fleur. But you wouldn't believe what else Ron did.
Bet I would.
You bet - Joanna, however did you guess? Ron bet Hermione - wait. I'll have to go further back. Last year's DADA teacher was supposed to be Alastor Moody, a friend of my dad's, and one of the best Aurors ever. He was impersonated by a Death Eater, I told you about that. But apparently, the impersonation was really, really good - it would have to be to fool Professor Dumbledore, I suppose. One of the things the impersonator always said was, "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" - yelled, so as to make us all jump. It's a good thing for an Auror to practice, of course. So while Harry, Ron, and Hermione were in Diagon Alley, while I was at Miriam's, Ron was being his usual self, scared out of his wits when Hermione said, "Voldemort." She told him that he was being ridiculous, that the first thing out of Professor Moody's mouth in our Auror classes was going to be that we shouldn't say You-Know-Who, we shouldn't be afraid of a name. So he bet her that it wouldn't be - and she accepted the bet! If he won, she was to go to the Yule Ball (Mum's been hinting that there's going to be one again this year) with him. And Moody did say that in our first Auror class, but it wasn't the first thing he said, that was "CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" Which is what Harry had said back in Diagon Alley would be the case. So, after the class, Hermione thought that she'd won the bet, but Ron said that he did, and that Harry had been right. So Hermione snapped, "Maybe you should go to the ball with Harry!" and ran off.
You heard all this from Harry?
No - Hermione. I was there after the class, of course, and I ran after her, and she told me everything. It explained the way Harry reacted when Professor Moody said, "constant vigilance" - he gave this sort of gasp, and looked like he was going to cry. Harry never cries. Ron, Fred, George, and one of the other students laughed, but I couldn't. It would have been funny, if it weren't for Harry, but he was so obviously upset, remembering everything the impostor did last year. He seems all right now, though.
The other strange thing is Harry and my classes with the Seer. Her name is October Stuart, and she was Harry's mom's best friend and maid of honour.
What? Ginny, you're making that up.
No, I'm not, and you should have seen Harry's face when she told him. Even worse, she had had a vision, before Harry was born, that Sirius would betray the Potters, that he would cause their deaths. She and Sirius were very close - she said that people expected them to get married, though they themselves hadn't really talked about it - and she couldn't handle the vision. She ran away, and hid herself on her family's estate, where she had to watch as everything she had seen come to pass, or at least, so it seemed. I...well, I'm afraid I yelled at her a bit for running away and not telling anyone of her vision. I mean, imagine if she'd told someone - maybe Sirius would have reconsidered when he told the Potters to use Pettigrew as their Secret Keeper.
Or maybe he would have been even more adamant, because the vision said that he would betray them.
Oh! I hadn't thought of it that way, but I suppose...but maybe they would have used Professor Lupin, or even Professor Dumbledore, which would have meant that Harry's parents would still be alive.
And Voldemort might not have been defeated.
Joanna! Surely someone would have defeated him by now. It just wouldn't have been Harry.
You don't know that. Ginny, it's so easy to second guess what people did years ago, because you have the benefit of knowing what happened. But they didn't. What October Stuart must have thought was that the person she loved was going to betray her best friend. Imagine that, Ginny. What if you had a vision that Harry was going to betray Hermione in some way. How would you react? Also, think how little you understood your vision until some of the pieces were explained to you - and you still don't understand it completely. Miss Stuart probably couldn't have explained to Sirius what exactly he was going to do to betray the Potters, and how much would that have helped?
I...don't know. But I still think -
6 Yes, of course, it would have been better if she had told people. Remember that, breila, when you have a vision that you think will hurt people.
I will. Joanna, you've given me a lot to think about. Do you mind if I say good night?