“Mr. Weasley,” Professor McGonagall said, suddenly appearing behind him as he sat at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall.
“Professor!” Ron exclaimed, jumping and immediately turning away from his breakfast.
“Mr. Weasley,” Professor McGonagall repeated, “I trust you are finished with your breakfast?”
“Err…” Ron hesitated, throwing a longing look at the fourth piece of toast he’d had his eye on. “I guess so.”
“Then would you follow me?” Professor McGonagall replied, raising her voice slightly. “We need to discuss your falling marks in my office.”
“But…” Ron exclaimed. Surely his marks were as good as could be expected, given the state of the school. He would have thought McGonagall would understand that.
“Don’t argue with me, Mr. Weasley,” she interrupted him. “Now follow me.”
Feeling completely baffled, Ron followed the professor to her office. Once they were inside, she closed the door, cast a spell and, finally, seemed to relax.
“Mr. Weasley,” she began, “I hope you will forgive my subterfuge and be pleased to learn that your marks are currently acceptable.”
“But…” Ron said weakly. If his marks were acceptable, why had he been dragged into Professor McGonagall’s office?
“Mr. Weasley, please relax and take a seat,” Professor McGonagall said, gesturing to one of the chairs near her desk. “I needed an excuse to bring you to see me in private. There is a matter I need to discuss with you and it wouldn’t do for certain…” she paused, “…persons at the school to know about our conversation. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m no longer allowed to deal with disciplinary matters outside of my classroom, so I had to make it seem as if it was to do with my class.”
Still feeling somewhat baffled, Ron took a seat in front of the professor’s desk and, once he was seated, Professor McGonagall continued softly, “I’ve heard that you and your friends have been looking out for the younger students.”
Ron immediately tensed. Did she know about the DA?
“Mr. Weasley… Ron, relax. Naturally, the school’s current authorities are largely unaware of your actions, but I just wanted to tell you how proud I am that you and your friends have stepped up when the staff could not.”
“T-Thanks, Professor,” Ron replied hesitantly. “Err…If that’s all, can I go?”
Professor McGonagall sighed in response. “In a minute, Mr. Weasley. There is some information I need you to pass onto your friends,” she paused. “Discretely, of course.”
“What, Professor?” Ron replied, suddenly feeling a burst of excitement at the prospect of new information.
“In a few weeks, the Carrows will begin teaching the new compulsory Muggle Studies course. It will, of course, be filled with lies, but some pure-blood students, especially the younger ones, are extremely impressionable and I cannot bear the thought of a young witch or wizard believing the lies that will be taught in that class.”
“But…” Ron began. “What can I do?”
“Snape is watching me closely,” Professor McGonagall replied with a tight smile. “If he was in the school now, he would already have been here to check on us.” She paused. “I cannot correct the lies that will spread by the Carrows myself, but you, Mr. Weasley, even though you are a pure-blood, have been friends with Muggle-borns for years and will stand a much better chance of achieving this. Will you help me?”
“Of course!” Ron replied eagerly.
“Thank you,” McGonagall replied, looking relieved. “We must all do what we can to oppose the current regime.”
“Er, Professor,” Ron asked hesitantly, “what, exactly, is happening? You know, in the outside world. All we hear is what they put in the Prophet.”
Professor McGonagall hesitated for a moment and then said, “I shouldn’t tell you this, but I will. I think you deserve to know.” She paused again. “The Order has finally accepted that, with Snape’s obvious betrayal, he was behind Dumbledore’s death and not Adam.”
“Finally!” Ron exclaimed. His friend was cleared!
“Don’t get too excited, the fact that the Order has accepted it means little in the grand scheme of things. The Ministry’s view remains that Adam is responsible for Albus’ death.”
“But the Ministry is basically controlled by You-Know-Who right now, aren’t they?”
“Correct,” Professor McGonagall replied. “However, what the Ministry says is still believed by many witches and wizards across the country.” She paused, smiling slightly. “Even so, it seems that Adam is helping us in the fight against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
“Yeah,” Ron replied, “him, Harry and Ginny.”
“It was despicable what the Ministry did to your sister,” Professor McGonagall added. “You do know they did it only because she and Adam did everything together?”
“Yeah,” Ron answered. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out,” Ron paused, both of them sitting in silence for several seconds before he finally ventured, “Was there anything else, Professor?”
“Actually, yes, there was,” Professor McGonagall replied. “Do you have any way of contacting Harry Potter?”
“No,” Ron answered immediately. Then he froze. The DA Galleon! But they had been using it all year and there had been no sign that Harry was receiving those messages. Hermione had made the coins and he had no idea how close together they had to be to work. Harry was probably much too far away. “No,” he repeated, trying to make it sound like a more definite answer. “Why?”
“The Ministry attempted to seize his vault at Gringotts.”
“What!” Ron exclaimed.
“The goblins did not allow them access to the vault and it has caused significant tension between the bank and the Ministry, but it might be somewhat awkward if he were to return to his vault anytime soon. I—” she hesitated. “If you are able to get a message to him, will you tell him to stay away from Gringotts? At least for now.”
“I will,” Ron replied. “But I really don’t have any way to contact him.”
“I understand,” Professor McGonagall replied. “You can go now, Ron, if you want.”
“O-Okay,” Ron answered and rose to his feet. “Thanks, Professor. It’s good to know that you’re trying to help.”
“Of course, I am,” Professor McGonagall replied. “I may not be able to do much, but if you ever need anything, or if it all becomes too much, you can always come to me.”
“Thanks,” Ron replied, hoping that things wouldn’t get so bad that he would need to take her up on the offer.
With the conversation seemingly finished, Ron walked back towards the door.
“Mr. Weasley!” Professor McGonagall called from her desk, just as he was about to open the door. “If…” she paused. “If you see Adam or Ginny, will you,” she hesitated, “will you pass on my best wishes to them?”
“I will, Professor,” Ron replied, feeling a sudden surge of emotion. Even he didn’t know when he would get to see them again, if ever. No! he chastised himself, I won’t think like that, they’ll make it. They’ll be fine.
With that, Ron let himself out of the office and paused in the corridor for a minute to collect himself. He was amazed at the conversation he’d just had with the professor.
He had a lot to tell the DA at the next meeting.
Adam October 13th 1997
As Adam woke up, he was immediately aware that Ginny was lying next to him on the bed, seemingly watching him sleep.
“Ginny?” he murmured sleepily, seeing that Ginny was already awake. “What…?”
“’Morning, love,” Ginny replied, giving him a kiss. “Did you sleep okay?”
“Yeah…” Adam replied, positioning himself on the bed so the two of them could lie together more comfortably, “…I think,” he paused. “Have you been here all night?”
Ginny seemed to pause apprehensively for a second, and she rubbed her hands together. “You kept muttering Gregorovitch over and over again,” she paused. “I came in to check you were alright and I fell asleep.”
“Sorry,” Adam apologised immediately.
“No!” Ginny exclaimed. “You don’t have anything to be sorry about,” she laughed. “You’re the only one who gets visions. I was worried.”
“I’m fine!” Adam insisted. Then he added, “But thanks anyway.”
Ginny grinned back at him. “It’s my job to keep an eye on you.”
A short time later, once Adam had finally succeeded in dragging Ginny out of bed, they decided to make breakfast together.
“Adam!” Ginny exclaimed when she went to grab the breakfast things from the pantry. “There’s hardly anything here.”
“What?” Adam called from across the kitchen. “I thought we had enough for breakfast.”
“Well,” Ginny replied, “we have plenty of bread, but not much else.”
“Oh,” Adam replied, moving so he was standing next to her. “I’ll have a quick piece of toast and then I’ll pop down to the shops.”
Adam saw Ginny’s expression brighten at this. “I’ll come, too.”
“I’ll be fine, really,” Adam responded. “Besides, someone should stay with the tent… just in case.”
“No,” Ginny responded adamantly, standing up and putting her hands on her hips so that she looked scarily like her mother. “I want to come, too.”
“But…” Adam protested weakly, knowing he had already lost the argument. “Why?”
“I just do, alright?” Ginny responded bluntly.
Adam sighed. “Okay then.” He couldn’t understand how things seemed to deteriorate into an argument between them so quickly. “I’m sure our things will be fine.”
Once they had eaten their toast, they disguised themselves and began the journey, in silence, to the nearest shop.
“So,” Adam said, still feeling slightly annoyed with her. “Here we are.”
Ginny didn’t answer; instead, she was gazing around the supermarket with an amazed expression on her face. “I’ve never been to a Muggle shop this big before,” she commented.
“It’s called a supermarket,” Adam added, quickening his pace so he was walking alongside her. Then it dawned on him and he stared at her in surprise. Was this why she wanted to come so badly?Why didn’t she say anything? “Ginny?” he questioned shyly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you’ve never been to one of these shops before.”
Ginny stopped walking and allowed Adam to pull her into a hug.
“Thanks,” she said quietly. “I’m sorry, too. I hate it when we argue. We seem to be doing more of than recently.” She paused, as if in thought. “Let’s get the shopping.”
They took their time with the shopping, wandering around the shop at a leisurely pace, picking up the things that they needed while Ginny examined, with great interest, practically everything that was on display.
“Adam,” Ginny whispered as they joined the queue for the checkout. “What is that girl doing, making that thing beep?”
“Oh,” Adam replied, feeling amazed, once again, at how many things about the Muggle worlds wizards were oblivious to. “She scans all the stuff, so they can quickly work out how much it costs.”
“Oh, wow,” Ginny said, still in a quiet voice. “Muggles are clever.”
Adam laughed in response and whispered conspiratorially, “Magic is pretty amazing, too.”
As the queue moved, they passed a magazine rack. Adam saw Ginny’s eyes immediately being drawn to one of the Muggle magazines. She picked up the magazine and began flicking through.
“Anything interesting?” he asked.
“Mmm,” Ginny commented as they moved forward in the queue. “It seems that girls my age are interested in make-up, boys and this guy called Will Smith.”
Adam laughed in response to this as he began to load their purchases onto the conveyor belt.
“I mean,” Ginny said, looking at the magazine with a strange expression on her face, “don’t they play sports?” She lowered her voice. “Don’t Muggles have something like Quidditch?”
“Well,” Adam replied, “there’s football, but from what I remember, it was mainly the boys that played.”
“Oh,” Ginny continued. “Well, there’s also an article here on what birthday present to get your boyfriend, based on something called a star sign.”
“Um,” Adam replied weakly, “is that interesting?”
Ginny giggled suddenly. “Well, it says here that you’re a Leo, oh!” She paused. “We’re both the same star sign! Anyway, it says I should get you something that helps you stand out from the crowd. Well,” she paused and winked at him, “at least I know for next year.”
Adam looked at Ginny with a horrified expression on his face, not quite sure if she was kidding or not.
Suddenly, he realised that it was their turn at the checkout. “Ginny,” Adam said, “do you want to buy that magazine?”
“Oh,” Ginny replied. “No.”
“You need to go and put it back or we’ll have to pay for it.”
Ginny squeezed her way back up the queue that had formed at the checkout while Adam waited to pay for the shopping.
“That’s £15.76 please,” the assistant, a young girl not much older than Adam with long blonde hair, said once she had scanned all the items.
Adam counted out the correct money and passed it to the girl. She smiled at him and seemed to flutter her eyelids. Adam, feeling decidedly uneasy, smiled back politely.
Suddenly, before he could even pick up the shopping bags, something slammed into him, making him stagger backwards.
“How dare you!” Ginny shouted, prodding him painfully. Her eyes were blazing and her face was twisted with anger. “How dare you!”
“Ginny!” Adam founding himself squeaking in alarm. “What?”
“You were flirting with that girl!” Ginny raged. “HOW DARE YOU! After all we’ve been through!”
Adam, and everyone around them, stared at Ginny in shock. Then, before he could even defend himself, Ginny stormed out of the shop.
Adam just stood there in complete shock. He couldn’t believe that Ginny had behaved that way. He hadn’t done anything wrong! Had he?
Now feeling incredible uncomfortable under the stares of the other shoppers, Adam grabbed the shopping and dashed out of the shop and looked around.
There was no sign of Ginny and Adam now felt worry forming in the pit of his stomach. She had run off on her own and he now had no idea where she was. She was on her own, they were both wanted by the wizarding authorities, and she had on the Horcrux. Oh Merlin, anything could happen to her!
The Horcrux! Adam realised with a start. That was why she was behaving strangely. How could I have been so stupid? I forgot all about the Horcrux, I was glad to be rid of it and left Ginny to suffer!
Feeling wretched with himself, Adam walked around the local area looking for Ginny, hoping against hope that nothing had happened to her.
He found her twenty minutes later, sitting alone on a bench at a bus stop. She had quite obviously been crying.
As quietly as he could, Adam put down the bags of shopping and sat down next to her.
“Ginny…” Adam said tentatively. “You need to take off the Horcrux.”
Ginny turned to face him, and Adam saw that the Horcrux was already in her hand.
“I know,” she replied quietly, in a strained voice. Adam could still see the tracks of recent tears on her cheeks.
Adam instinctively put his arm around her and, much to his delight, Ginny responded by leaning against him.
“I’m…” Adam began.
“No!” Ginny snapped, then she sighed heavily. “I’m the one who should apologise, I don’t know what I thought I saw, but I realise now it must be the Horcrux twisting how I see things. I know you wouldn’t cheat on me.”
“Oh, Ginny,” Adam replied, his voice cracking with emotion. “I love you. I would never.”
“I know,” Ginny responded. “I know you’d never but…” she stopped, “…I think it’s similar to what happened when I drank the potion.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, when you wore the Horcrux. You were so scared that something would happen to me it paralysed you,” Ginny prompted.
Adam nodded in response, feeling a surge of embarrassment at his actions when he’d been under the Horcrux’s influence.
“Well, I feel the same thing and I’m terrified that something might happen to you… but also part of me is equally scared…” Ginny’s voice fell, so that it was barely loud enough to hear, “…that you’ll survive and then decide you don’t want me.”
“Ginny!” Adam began to protest.
“No!” Ginny responded emphatically. “My head knows that you wouldn’t, but I can’t seem to help it. There’s a little voice inside me that says when you win you’ll be famous. You could have any girl in the world. I’m—” Ginny gestured to her body, “—I’m… Adam, I’m not even that pretty.”
“Ginny,” Adam began softly, “you’re beautiful! I love you! Maybe it’s true that I could have any girl, but there’s only one I want and, well, I already have her.”
They sat there in silence for several minutes until, trying to get Ginny to talk again, Adam gently brushed the tears off her face.
“I wasn’t crying,” Ginny said with a small smile. “Honest…”
Adam grinned back at her. “We can’t let this thing—” he said, pointing derisively at the locket, “—make us like this again. It’s clear it affects both of us. So I say, swap once a day. I’ll wear it for the rest of the day and you wear it tomorrow. Deal?”
“Yes,” Ginny replied, sounding more like her old self. “Hopefully we’ll be able to destroy it soon.”
Adam took the Horcrux from Ginny’s hand and he placed it around his neck. He shuddered a bit when it touched his skin.
“Can…” Ginny ventured, “Can we get back to the tent, please? I feel exhausted and I want to lie down.”
“Sure,” Adam replied, standing up and pulling Ginny to her feet. “We have plenty of food now, so I’ll cook us something nice when we get back.”
They shared the shopping bags between them, and set off back down the street, looking for somewhere to Disapparate.
Ginny October 20th 1997
Ginny stared at the village of Hogsmeade. It had been only a few months since the last time she had been to the village and it had changed beyond recognition.
They had come to Hogsmeade as part of their plan to get into Hogwarts. For today, Plan A was to attempt to sneak in via the secret tunnel that Adam had used in his third year to escape Dumbledore’s ban on him visiting the village. Plan B was to find out when the next Hogsmeade weekend was so they could make contact with Ron.
They had Apparated to the small cave that they had used in their fourth year for their meetings with Sirius and they had walked from there, under the Cloak, down into the village.
“What have they done to the place?” Ginny asked in a quiet voice.
“I…” Adam whispered back. “It’s awful.”
The village seemed completely deserted. It was the middle of the day, and the streets were empty. Even when the students from the school weren’t visiting, surely there should still be people around?
Worse than that, several of the buildings that had become so familiar to her over the years appeared to have been boarded up. Some even had wanted posters of the two of them displayed prominently.
It was very disconcerting to see your own face displayed on a large poster. Plus, Ginny was reasonably sure the Death Eaters had messed with their photos, making them both look slightly crazy.
As they walked down the high street, every single shop seemed to be closed: Honeydukes, Zonko’s and even Gladrags. The only thing that seemed to be open was the Owl Post Office, but when they peered inside, it too was deserted. There wasn’t even anyone behind the counter.
“Even the Three Broomsticks…” Adam murmured, sounding distressed.
Ginny couldn’t help but gasp. The pub looked dilapidated and run down. Several of the windows had been smashed, and the door was boarded shut with a large sign that read, ‘Closed’.
“What have they done?” Ginny exclaimed. “It’s like everyone ran away.”
“Maybe they scared them off,” Adam replied in a dull tone. “Come on, I don’t think those up at the school will be visiting here anytime soon. Let’s check out Honeydukes.”
As they walked back down the street towards Honeydukes, Ginny saw the first sign of life that she’d seen all day. She froze. Standing still in a doorway to one of the houses at the side of the street was a man wearing black robes.
Ginny and Adam stood still in the middle of the street, covered by the Cloak. Ginny watched as the man seemed to scan up and down the street. She fought down the sense of alarm and the visions of disaster that ran through her mind. They hadn’t seen the man as they’d walked up the street in the opposite direction! Had he been hiding? Had he seen them?
They stood there like statues for many minutes. Still the man did not move.
“I…” Adam whispered softly — he was so close to her that she could almost feel his lips on her ear. “I don’t think he’s seen us. He’s probably just watching the street.”
They stood there for a couple more minutes and still the man didn’t move.
“Let’s walk, slowly,” Adam continued, putting his hands on her shoulders. Ginny nodded, so the two of them crept back down the street towards Honeydukes.
When they reached the sweet shop a short time later, they saw yet another Death Eater standing right outside the Owl Post Office, which was opposite Honeydukes.
“Where did he come from?” Ginny whispered urgently. “We can’t get into Honeydukes with him there.”
Adam didn’t answer. The two of them had no choice but to wait and hope he would leave so that they could sneak into the sweet shop.
While they waited for him to leave, Ginny and Adam moved slowly closer to the shop, until they were standing right next to the door. They would only need a few seconds to unlock the door and slip inside.
They had their chance just over fifteen minutes later. The Death Eater took one last look up and down the street then, turning on the spot, he walked back into the post office where he disappeared from sight.
Taking their chance, they moved quickly. While Adam kept his wand trained on the shop in case the Death Eater came back, Ginny cast the Unlocking Charm on the door and the two of them slipped inside.
The sight that met her eyes was heartbreaking. Ginny had many fond memories of this shop, going back as far as her first visit when she had stood in awe of the shop and all its wonders. That had been the first of many times she and Adam had shared Honeydukes sweets, although they’d had to do it back at the school as Adam wasn’t allowed to come to Hogsmeade.
Now, the shop had been trashed. Sweets and broken glass were scattered on the floor, the shelves that lined the walls of the shop had been smashed and broken, and the counter seemed to have been blasted into splinters.
“Oh!” Ginny exclaimed, feeling at a complete loss.
“Are they…” Adam growled, sounding like he was barely keeping his anger in check, “Are they trying to spoil everything that’s nice?”
“I know,” Ginny responded numbly. “That’s why we have —” she hesitated. “That’s why we will beat him.”
“Yes,” Adam responded, “we will.” He paused. “Now, let’s find that tunnel.”
Still under the Cloak, the two of them quickly made their way down into the cellar, opened the trapdoor that led into the tunnel, and descended into the darkness.
“Lumos,” Ginny whispered, then, turning to look at Adam, she continued with a small smile. “It’s been a while since we’ve been down here.”
“Yeah,” Adam replied.
It soon became obvious that they had both grown significantly since the last time they had used the tunnel back in their third year. The last time they had been down here, they had both been able to stand upright. Now, Ginny had to bend over slightly in order to walk down the tunnel and Adam, who had overtaken her in height, had to hunch over even more. In the cramped conditions, it was impossible to keep the Cloak on, so Adam pulled it off and stuffed it into his pocket.
As they moved further down the tunnel, their hopes grew. Every step took them closer to the school and to the Horcrux that might be inside.
“We’re nearly there now,” Adam announced in a suddenly hopeful voice, as they approached a slight bend in the tunnel.
They quickened their pace and rounded the final bend in the tunnel where, if Ginny remembered correctly, the tunnel should soon begin to slope upwards until they reached the school. However, on the other side of the bend there was no slope up to the school. Instead, they encountered a large, solid wall.
Adam swore and Ginny thought for a second that he was about to punch the wall.
“They sealed it!” he exclaimed angrily.
Ginny, too, stared angrily at the wall, hoping that if she became angry enough, it would go away.
“And I bet if we try and blast our way through, they’ll know about it up in the school,” Adam said, sighing heavily. “It’s too dangerous to risk, anyway. Snape obviously knows about this tunnel.”
“And it doesn’t look like the village will have anyone visiting it, at least not in its current state,” Ginny added in exasperation.
“I just don’t know what to do now…” Adam muttered. “The village is crawling with Death Eaters and Snape is obviously expecting us to try to get into the school…”
All Ginny could do was nod in agreement and grip Adam’s hand tightly. Then, feeling angry, disappointed and, not that she would admit it, slightly relieved that they wouldn’t have to venture into the school today, Ginny led the way back down the tunnel towards Honeydukes.
Once they reached the trap door, Adam gave her a leg up and Ginny climbed up into the stock room.
“Stop where you are!” a voice called from behind her.
Ginny reacted automatically, and, without conscious thought, she spun around to face the source of the voice.
Then she froze. The man in front of her was not a cloaked Death Eater, but an older man who was standing in front of a woman who seemed to be the same age as him. Suddenly she realised who these people were: the owners of Honeydukes! They must think she was a Death Eater!
Before she could say anything to reassure them, Adam shot up out of the trapdoor with his wand drawn and Ginny saw the elderly couple flinch backwards.
“No!” Ginny exclaimed, both to Adam and the couple. “We’re not your enemies! We won’t hurt you!”
Ginny watched as Adam turned to face her with an unsure expression on his face, but she knew he would trust her to know what she was doing.
“I…” Ginny began, searching for the right words. “I’m sorry we broke in. My name is Ginny Weasley and this is A —” she paused, “—this is Harry Potter. We were trying to get into the school.”
“You…” The man began hesitantly, in a very faint voice, “You’re not Death Eaters?”
“No,” Ginny responded. “It’s all lies,” she forced a smile onto her face. “I don’t know if you remember, but I used to come into the shop when I was at school. All my brothers did, too.”
“I…” the woman spoke hesitantly, “I remember you. You were always such a polite girl.”
Adam snorted with slight laughter at this comment.
As the four of them stared at each other, the man slowly began to lower his wand. In turn, Ginny did the same and finally, after a poke from her, Adam followed.
“So,” the man began, sounding much more like the confident, happy man that used to work behind the Honeydukes counter, “I can’t believe it…Harry Potter. I knew you couldn’t have joined them.”
Adam suddenly began looking extremely uncomfortable.
“We —” Ginny began, trying to save Adam from the embarrassment, “—We can’t stay long, but…” she hesitated, “what happened to the place?”
“Well,” the man began, suddenly sounding very tired, “when they cancelled all the school visits…”
“Cancelled?” Adam blurted suddenly.
“Yeah,” the man replied sadly. “They’re keeping the kids locked in that school like prisoners. So without the school visits, the Death Eaters came around and closed all the shops down, trashed them pretty well in the process.” He sighed, but then his expression suddenly hardened. “Many of the others just packed up and left, but this place isn’t just our shop, it’s our home and I’m not going to let them have it.”
Ginny stared, feeling a new sense of respect for the man. He looked fairly old, and she didn’t know how well he could fight, but he was still going to stay and defend his home.
“Are there people out there fighting these Death Eaters?” the man continued. “I remember the last war, Dumbledore led the fight then, but now…” he seemed to hesitate, “Well, he’s not around anymore, is he?”
“There are people fighting,” Adam answered. “And we’re doing our part, too.”
“Was that why you were trying to use the tunnel?”
Adam nodded. “They’ve sealed it up. So we were…”
“No. Don’t tell me,” the man interrupted. “It’s best that I don’t know and we won’t be telling anyone you were here. You can count on that.”
“Thanks,” Ginny smiled in response. “We’ll be on our way, then.”
“You can Apparate from in here,” the man supplied. “They haven’t locked down the village that tightly yet.”
At the news that they would easily be able to Apparate out, Ginny felt Adam move to her side and they linked arms.
“Ah,” the woman said, just as they were about to Disapparate. “Before you go, do you need anything? Drink? Food?”
“No, thanks,” Adam replied. “But, thank you and best of luck. If only there were more people like you who are prepared to stand up to the Death Eaters.”
Then, taking one last look at the couple, Ginny felt the pull of Apparition as Adam carried the two of them back to their hiding place.
Adam October 21st 1997
“Give it to me, Gregorovitch.”
His voice was high, clear, and cold, his wand held in front of him by a long-fingered white hand. The man at whom he was pointing was suspended upside down in midair. Though there were no ropes holding him he swung there, invisibly and eerily bound, his limbs wrapped about him, his terrified face, on a level with his own, ruddy due to the blood that had rushed to his head. He had pure-white hair and a thick, bushy beard: a trussed-up Father Christmas.
“I have it not, I have it no more! It was, many years ago, stolen from me!”
“Do not lie to Lord Voldemort, Gregorovitch. He knows … He always knows.”
The hanging man’s pupils were wide, dilated with fear, and they seemed to swell, bigger and bigger until their blackness swallowed him whole.
Then he was hurrying along a dark corridor in stout little Gregorovitch’s wake as he held a lantern aloft: Gregorovitch burst into the room at the end of the passage and his lantern illuminated what looked like a workshop; wood shavings and gold gleamed in the swinging pool of light, and there on the window ledge sat perched, like a giant bird, a young man with golden hair. In the split second that the lantern’s light illuminated him, Harry saw the delight upon his handsome face, then the intruder shot a Stunning Spell from his wand and jumped neatly backward out of the window with a crow of laughter.
And then he was hurtling back out of those wide, tunnel-like pupils and Gregorovitch’s face was stricken with terror.
“Who was the thief, Gregorovitch?” said the high cold voice.
“I do not know, I never knew, a young man — no — please — PLEASE!”
A scream that went on and on only to be stopped by a burst of green light.
Adam shot upright in his bed like a coiled spring, only to find himself staring straight into Ginny’s eyes.
She was sitting on a chair next to his bed and he could see she had a worried expression on her face.
“Oh, Adam,” she said, coming to sit next to him on the bed. “Another one?”
“Y-Yeah,” Adam croaked out, struggling to regain his composure.
“You kept screaming the name Gregorovitch.”
“He’s dead,” Adam added numbly.
“What?” Ginny asked, suddenly looking puzzled.
Ginny nodded, then, reaching down to her feet, she picked up a glass of water and passed it to him.
“You should go back to sleep,” Ginny advised, once Adam had slurped down the last of the water. “It’s only just gone one.”
Adam sat there in his bed for a moment, before pushing off the covers and standing up.
“I can’t,” he said. “My heart’s racing, and I feel very energetic. Like I’m about to duel or play Quidditch. I don’t think I can sleep.” He paused. “You want to go sit and talk for a bit? Or do you want to go to bed?”
“Let’s talk,” Ginny said, then she smiled shyly. “As long as we can cuddle, too.”
“Who am I to argue?” Adam said with a grin.
Adam grabbed the quilt from his bed, and he and Ginny moved to the sofa, where they cuddled together under the quilt.
“Hogsmeade really worried me today,” Adam eventually admitted. “I don’t think I realised how bad it was out there. I mean, we haven’t been to any wizarding places for over a month. I know he’s after us, and well, I’m sort of used to that by now, but now the entire wizarding world seems to be going bad.”
“Yeah,” Ginny added. “I wonder what it’s like at Hogwarts; I hope Ron’s okay,” Ginny gave a sudden short, sharp laugh. “It never even occurred to me that he might not be okay at school.”
“And now I can’t see any way for us to get into Hogwarts,” Adam continued. “The Honeydukes tunnel was the only one I knew about.” He sighed. “I was thinking about trying the tunnel from the Shrieking Shack, but that will only get us into the grounds and still leaves us to figure out how to get into the castle itself. Plus, if Snape knew about the Honeydukes tunnel then he probably knows about the one to the shack as well.”
“I did have another idea,” Ginny added. “I was thinking that, based on what the owners of Honeydukes said, maybe we don’t want to break into the school. Perhaps we can wait for Ron to come home for Christmas and try and get a message to him then. If we have someone who can help us on the inside, it will be a lot easier to get in.”
Adam stared at Ginny for a second; he hadn’t thought of that. It seemed absurdly simple, although it would mean sitting around doing nothing for over a month.
“The only downside,” Ginny continued rapidly, “is that it means us sitting around for ages, but it seems loads safer….”
“It puts Ron in danger…” Adam added.
“He’s already in danger by just being at school,” Ginny replied. “Anyway, after what they did to me and you, I bet all my brothers will be itching to do anything they can to help.”
Adam lay there, with Ginny cuddled up against his chest, mulling over the options.
“Well,” Ginny continued, “in my mind, that’s our best bet.”
“I can’t see any other options,” Adam answered. “It’s probably the best plan we’ve had so far. “
“Well, we can’t do anything towards that plan until Christmas time, so we have plenty of time to think up some new ideas,” Ginny mused.
“We need to keep our skills sharp, too,” Adam continued. “If you want to, that is, I would like to teach you how to Apparate. I don’t like the idea of you being stranded if something happens to me. To be honest, I should have taught you ages ago.”
“Of course I want to learn!” Ginny exclaimed in response. “We have plenty of time!” Then her face broke into a grin and she winked at him. “Plus, I’m sure you’ll give me top marks.”
“What?” Adam questioned. He wasn’t quite sure what she was on about. “I’m not going to grade you.”
Ginny sighed. “You spoilt my joke,” she said, pouting slightly. “I was going to say ‘I’ll always get top marks because the teacher is my boyfriend’.”
“Oh!” Adam exclaimed, suddenly catching on. “Well, a teacher has to have his favourite, hasn’t he?”
Ron November 3rd 1997
“Welcome, everyone,” Alecto Carrow announced from her position at the front of the Great Hall. “It is my pleasure to welcome you all to our new Muggle Studies lessons!”
The entire school had been forced to come to the Carrows’ new Muggle Studies lesson, which was being held in the Great Hall so the entire school could be taught at once.
Ron, feeling miserable and wishing he could be anywhere other than in the lesson, had sat as far towards the back of the Great Hall as possible.
“During this lesson, we will aim to dispel many of the myths about Muggles and Muggle-borns that have been spread by the likes of Albus Dumbledore over many years,” Carrow continued.
“The key point that everyone must understand,” Amycus Carrow picked up immediately from where his sister had left off, “is that Muggles are inferior to us.”
The room filled will a series of mutterings at this, but no one spoke up.
“Muggles,” Alecto Carrow continued, silencing the mutterings with a stern gaze, “are nothing more than animals. Intelligent animals, yes, but nothing compared to us. Never forget that wizards were made in order to rule this world and that is why it is perfectly appropriate for a wizard or witch to do what they see fit with the Muggle population.”
Ron closed his eyes, feeling his hands clench in anger. This wasn’t right. They were talking as if Muggles weren’t people. So what if they couldn’t do magic? They still had a right to life.
“Now,” Alecto continued to speak, her vile voice gnawing into Ron’s brain, “we come onto the evilest of all Muggles: the Muggle-borns.”
Ron felt his anger roar to new heights. Hermione was a Muggle-born! She wasn’t evil!
“Muggle-borns are Muggles that have the gall to pretend that they are one of us,” Amycus continued smoothly, as if speaking from a well-rehearsed speech. “It is not widely known that the only way a Muggle becomes magical is by stealing magic from a well-deserving witch or wizard.” He paused. “Imagine that you are a wizard born to a fine, pure-blood family, but suddenly, in your infancy, your magic is stolen from you and you become a Squib. It is shameful for both the family and the individual and it’s…” he paused again, before continuing in a louder voice, “…this hell is forced on you because some Muggle was greedy and stole your magic! They stole your rightful life within the wizarding world. They stole your very birthright!”
As Ron listened to Amycus preaching this rubbish, he looked around the room. He saw older Slytherins looking on with awe and older kids from the other houses looking on with disgust. Then he noticed some of the first-years from other Houses. Much to his horror, he realised they were staring at Carrow as if enthralled by what he was saying. Oh no, Ron realised with horror. He’d failed them.
Ron felt himself fill with rage, they were just little kids. They didn’t know any better, and these…monsters… were filling their heads with lies.
“This is rubbish!” Ron roared, jumping to his feet in anger.
Before he had even finished speaking, he felt a wand being pressed into his back. He tried to turn, only to come face to face with Draco Malfoy.
“Oh,” Malfoy whispered gleefully, “you’re in for it now, Weasel.” Then he spoke at full volume, “Professor, I found the troublemaker.”
By now the entire room had turned to face him and they stared as Malfoy held Ron at a wand-point.
“Well done, Mr. Malfoy,” Amycus Carrow called from the front of the room. “Take him to my office and I will join you shortly.”
As Ron was pushed from the completely silent room at wand-point, he suddenly felt a spike a fear shoot through him. Would they actually hurt him?
“So, Weasley,” Malfoy gloated, as they walked the short distance to Carrow’s office. “I hear they’re really going to give it to anyone who disrupts the Muggle Studies lessons.”
Ron ignored him.
“Oh,” Malfoy continued, sounding like he was enjoying himself tremendously, “I also hear your sister’s shacked up with both Winters and Potter now. I bet she’s having plenty of fun with both of them.”
“Don’t you dare talk about my sister that way!” Ron shouted and spun around, only to find Malfoy’s wand pointing right at his forehead.
“What’s this?” Malfoy drawled. “Defending her?”
Ron balled his fists, trying to prevent himself from doing anything that would end up getting him in worse trouble. With a sigh, he accepted defeat and allowed Malfoy to prod him along until they reached Carrow’s office.
Once they entered the office, Malfoy sauntered across the room and sat behind Carrow’s desk, while Ron was instructed to remain standing.
“You see, Weasel, class does come through eventually. Not that your,” he sneered, “family know anything about class.”
Before Ron could speak in response to Malfoy’s insult, Carrow burst into the room.
“Malfoy! I told you to bring Weasley here, not make yourself comfortable,” he snapped. “Now get out.”
Ron couldn’t help but smile as he watched Malfoy being summarily dismissed by Carrow.
“I don’t know what you’re smiling about, Weasley,” Carrow began, standing in front of him. “Well, I suppose you can be thankful that your pure blood means that I can’t seriously harm you. However, it doesn’t stop me having some fun, and,” he paused, running his fingers along his wand, “Snape isn’t here this time to stop me.”
Now, as Carrow pointed his wand towards him, Ron felt scared. What were they going to do to him?
The pain hit Ron as if from nowhere. It was the worst thing he’d ever felt. He couldn’t even begin to describe it.
“Crucio!” Carrow hissed again.
The pain continued, consuming everything; it drove all thought from his mind. Everything, except a final, desperate hope that the pain would soon stop.
When it did stop, Ron found himself lying on the floor.
“Well,” Carrow said, grabbing Ron around the collar and pulling him to his feet, “that was fun. Let this be a lesson to you. Now get out and I’ll see you for detention tomorrow evening!”
With that, Carrow opened the door to his office and, giving Ron a firm push, sent him stumbling out into the corridor.
With his limbs screaming as phantom surges of pain seemed to still roam up and down his body, Ron stumbled several feet down the corridor before collapsing in a heap. He lay there, feeling completely drained and numb, trying to get his body to work again. After several painful minutes, he was able to lever himself back to his feet and begin the long, slow journey back to Gryffindor Tower.