Harry was once again disappointed in his trip on the Hogwarts Express.
had been happy enough on the way to the train station, but then Ron and
Hermione had beaten a hasty departure. If he had thought about it, he
would have known it was coming. But he hadn't thought. He had totally
forgotten. And when the pair made their apologies and headed to the
prefect carriage, Harry was left with a sinking feeling of deja vu.
say that he had hated the previous year would be an egregious
understatement. From start to finish the whole thing had been bad.
Okay, there had been a few alright moments. Kissing, obviously, had
been quite nice, but even that was dimmed by the severe emotional
awkwardness he had almost always felt with Cho. It was of utmost
importance that this year be much, much better. Even if Voldemort was
still plotting to kill him. And the repeat disappearance of his two
best friends right in the opening moments sat uneasily in his stomach.
was with him, that was good. It was true that they had sat together the
year before, but this was the one thing he was happy remained the same.
had somehow also eluded the honour of being named a prefect, although
the snub seemed to roll off her much more easily than it had Harry the
previous summer. When he asked her about it, she had shrugged and said
that chasing people around making sure they followed the rules didn't
really appeal to her anyway. Harry suspected part of her acceptance may
have had something to do with the party Fred and George had thrown the
day she had not received a badge.
Harry was amazed at the
bravery of the twins. They had brought a cake and even erected a
"Congratulations, Ginny!" banner. Mrs. Weasley had been obviously
furious at their antics, but it seemed she held her temper and allowed
the festivities to continue in an effort not to hurt the feelings of
her only daughter. Harry figured it was probably a good thing Fred and
George no longer lived at home and were thus safe from a telling-off
that would have happened later that night otherwise.
Ron and Hermione had left them on the train, Harry was quite pleased
when he and Ginny had found a place where they could sit by themselves.
For about two minutes. He didn't seem to be holding her attention. In
fact, she appeared quite distracted and kept staring out the door of
their compartment. It didn't take him long to remember that she was
looking forward to seeing a sixteen-year-old boy that wasn't him. The
disappointment that set in was profound.
though, despite all the little details, the absence of Ron and Hermione
and Ginny's apparent interest in the hallway, the true source of his
mood was actually due to an incident the night before.
Remus Lupin had come to Grimmauld Place to speak to him.
had managed to avoid his old professor the entire summer. He wasn't
sure why exactly, but Harry felt very strongly about not talking to
Lupin. It wasn't that he was angry with him. It was just that, somehow,
any further relationship between the two of them seemed like a very bad
idea. Every time Harry had seen Lupin around the house he had been
overcome with such anxiety that it made him feel sick.
last night, Lupin had appeared and insisted on a meeting with him -
alone in the kitchen. Having his prerogative overruled had at once put
Harry in a disagreeable mood. Then, when he had discovered the topic of
discussion, his ire rose even further.
The conversation replayed itself in Harry's mind.
sat before him, somewhat nervously fidgeting with some papers. "It is
an old will, from before... From before Sirius' incarceration." He
glanced at Harry and then returned his focus to the documents before
him. "There are three bequests dividing the estate among your parents,
Peter and me. Peter's portion is a bit of a quandary. Since he is
legally dead with no heirs, it should revert back to the estate to be
divided among the remaining beneficiaries. In the event of your
parents' death their portion is to be given to their son." He looked up
and gave a small smile. "You."
Harry didn't have anything to say. "Oh."
"The inheritance will be transferred to your bank vault at Gringotts."
was a pause before Lupin carried on earnestly, trying to make Harry
understand the magnitude of what was happening. "The house is no longer
part of the estate as Sirius made a gift of it to the Order last year,
but, Harry, this is a very large legacy, which has been left to you."
His voice still cool, Harry answered, "Thanks."
folded his hands and tried to cautiously soldier on. "I realize this is
too early to be thinking of now, but perhaps in a bit of time we maybe
should talk - about appropriate investments and other issues."
Harry didn't respond.
rose from the table and moved over to the fire. He stared into it for a
moment before he spoke again. "Last year Sirius asked me to look out
for you if anything should happen to him."
Harry wasn't moved. "He thought about who would take care of me in case he died, but he didn't bother to make a new will?"
turned around and smiled wryly. "I think it was the spirit of the
matter that was always more important to him than the legal monetary
When it was clear Harry wasn't going to reply,
Lupin moved towards him again, his posture bent slightly forward as he
made his appeal. "I realize you have come to me in the past for advice,
but somehow things seem a bit awkward now. It is important to me to
keep my promise to Sirius. I was thinking my helping you with this
might be a good way to start."
Harry was incredulous. "You
want to get past the awkwardness between us by helping me decide how to
spend the money I inherited from my godfather's death?"
Lupin tried for a small lopsided smile. "Perhaps not the best choice."
decided to end the conversation. "I think I would rather talk to Mr.
Weasley." This was a lie. The last person Harry would want to discuss
his new inheritance with would be any member of the Weasley family.
Accepting defeat, Lupin answered, "As you wish, Harry."
a day later, as he was left with his own thoughts, watching scenery
pass by, Harry was feeling very nettled by the memory. Guilty. On some
level he understood that Remus had been trying to reach out to him. And
he also realized that his own actions had served as a rejection. But it
really just seemed as though it were all for the best.
Ron and Hermione returned, bickering quietly as they walked through the
door, something about Ron antagonizing Malfoy. "Honestly, Ron,"
Hermione said with exasperation. "I am just as unhappy as you are about
him still being a prefect, but do you really need to bait him in the
first two minutes?"
"What?" Ron asked innocently. "I just
asked him if his dad would be able to order the team new brooms again
this year. I reckon it might be hard to arrange such a thing from
Azkaban. What could possibly be wrong with that?"
glared at him. "I had to listen to about thirty more minutes of pompous
garbage from that berk than usual, for a start."
"Hermione!" Ron exclaimed.
"You said 'berk.'" Ron appeared stunned.
"Well, he is," she said, plunking herself down in her seat.
Ron sat down beside her, looking at her as though he had never been more proud.
next couple of hours seemed almost like old times. They ordered a wide
selection of food from the trolley. Hermione and Ginny read newspapers
and magazines. And Ron beat Harry at chess. Harry was beginning to feel
himself slip sideways into being content until a group of Gryffindor
boys happened to pass by their compartment window.
could tell that Ginny was waiting an appropriate amount of time before
she nonchalantly rose from her seat. "Well," she said a bit too
casually, "I'm off for a few minutes, then." Before she opened the door
she ran her fingers through her hair a few times and surreptitiously
attempted to check her breath.
After watching his sister's odd departure, Ron asked, "What's up with her?"
"She's going to flirt with Dean," Harry grumbled. Then a wicked idea popped in his head. "Maybe you should go stop her."
"Not likely," Ron groaned. "I don't need to see that."
slouched in his seat and felt himself sliding into a serious grump. The
fact that he was clearly jealous of a boy Ginny hadn't even decided if
she had a crush on yet was deeply troubling. Though not nearly as
troubling as the frighteningly perceptive stare he was receiving from
Hermione right at that moment. "What?" he demanded.
eyebrows rose and she shook her head innocently. "Nothing, Harry.
Nothing at all." Then she smirked and popped an Every Flavour Bean into
If the first of
September wasn't everything that Harry had hoped for, the second did a
decidedly better job of putting the year back on track. McGonagall
asked for Harry and Ron to stay after their first Transfiguration
class. Knowing that there was no way both of them could have got into
trouble already, Harry hoped he knew what the meeting was about.
McGonagall announced as the two boys stood before her desk. Then she
allowed a slight smile. "Potter, I am happy to announce that with that
horrible woman gone from our school, Professor Dumbledore and I both
agree that you should be reinstated to the team immediately."
had dared to hope a little, but actually hearing the words from the
woman in charge made him feel like... Well, it made him feel like
hugging her, honestly. Somehow, he managed to restrain himself,
offering a heartfelt "Thank you, Professor" instead.
think I should caution you," she said, her voice taking on a very
serious tone. "Though the punishment last year was unduly harsh, even
ridiculous, it would be best for all concerned if you avoided any
further incidents of violence while on the pitch. I don't want anyone
anywhere to have any reason to question our faith in your ability to
control your temper and behave with some propriety. Do I make myself
Abundantly. There was no mistaking the frighteningly
stern gaze with which she fixed him over her glasses. "Yes, Professor,"
Harry assured. "I won't let you down."
"Good," she nodded. "That settled, now we have the small matter of assigning the role of Captain."
Ron spoke first, "I thought that Katie..."
offered the position to Miss Bell, but she declined." A flicker of
amusement passed behind McGonagall's eyes. "Something about preferring
to enjoy her last year on the field rather than turning into a crazed
lunatic. Which leaves me with the two of you."
penetrating gaze appraised them both. "Potter has seniority and I
cannot overlook the fact that you were the youngest player on a
Hogwarts team in a century. You are one of the best flyers I have ever
seen. However, you were, unfortunately, off the field, off your broom
entirely, for almost a full year. Mr. Weasley, on the other hand,
though giving a somewhat dismal performance in the beginning, has shown
marked improvement. And I cannot forget that you managed to beat my
chess set when you had only just turned twelve. An accomplishment which
seems to imply you may be something of a rather cunning strategist."
was stunned. He wanted it, but he didn't want to be in competition with
his friend. A flicker of an old memory slipped through his brain. Here
was Ron, standing on the precipice of finally having almost everything
he had ever wanted. "Professor, if you don't mind," he said before he
lost his nerve, "Ron should have it."
"Have you gone bonkers?" Ron exclaimed beside him. "No way, Harry. You deserve this. Even I can admit that."
don't be daft," Harry said tersely. "I can barely keep track of the
rest of the game while I'm off looking for the Snitch. As Keeper you
have a much better idea of how everyone else is playing."
seemed to consider it. "Well, you do have a point there." He turned to
McGonagall. "Is there any way... I mean, could we both do it? As
"It is unusual, but the two of you have
certainly proven in the past a rather remarkable ability to work
together." She graced them with one of her rare warm smiles. "I think
that would be fine."
The return to the common room felt like
a momentous occasion. Ron kept up a constant monologue of possible
strategies and formations. He had clearly been thinking about this day
for a long time. Harry kept mostly silent. He couldn't stop smiling and
he really just wanted to enjoy the hour. It had been so long since he
had felt this good. He was a little afraid that if he spoke,
interrupted Ron's stream of consciousness, other realities might find a
way to slink into his momentary bliss.
they made their announcement to Hermione and Ginny, the two girls leapt
from their chairs and gave them both congratulatory hugs. Harry felt a
little alarmed and awkward at how good it felt to have Ginny in his
arms for that fleeting second. He ran his hands through his hair
nervously and attempted to cover. "Well, it's good news for all three
of us, really. You'll be our new Chaser, obviously."
Ginny looked stunned. "What?"
Harry grinned at her. "You said you wanted to be Chaser last year, didn't you?"
"I did," she stuttered, "but, Harry..."
interrupted, "Harry we really ought to have tryouts. No offence Gin,"
he continued gingerly. "I'm sure you'll make it. But we need to tryout
the other Chaser position anyway. And well, it would be proper."
it's okay, Ron," Ginny assured her brother. "I expected to have to
tryout. Thanks, Harry, but I think Ron is right. Besides," she added a
bit cheekily, "I wouldn't want anyone thinking I got the spot just
because my brother is Captain."
Ron turned a bit pink. Then he suddenly exclaimed, "I need Pig! We have to owl Mum and Dad!"
"I think he's in the Owlery," Ginny offered. "And I want to come with you."
the two siblings happily stumbled through the portrait hole, Hermione
reclaimed her seat by the fire and fixed Harry with a curious stare.
"Are you ever going to tell her?"
"What?" Harry sat down in the seat beside her.
"Are you ever going to tell Ginny you like her?" she asked as though it were a perfectly normal thing to say.
grimaced. He hadn't totally accepted the idea himself yet. He hadn't
even considered actually telling her. "Is it that obvious?"
Hermione shrugged. "Probably just to me."
don't know," Harry frowned, suddenly feeling horribly self-conscious.
"Ginny told me you can always tell when someone likes you."
I'd say she's right," Hermione agreed. "But when you've been rejected
enough times by a person, it would be hard to believe that he has
actually decided to notice you."
Harry hadn't missed the
irony of the situation. But what he really felt was more important was,
"Do you know she's engaged in a highly organized campaign to seduce
"Yes," Hermione grinned. "She's in the middle of phase one: Charm and Obfuscate."
"It must be nice, to get that sort of attention," Harry grumbled.
from Ginny, you mean," Hermione said. "Since you hate attention from
anyone else." Harry glared at her. "And, Harry, she gave you that kind
of attention for years and you didn't want it."
"Hermione," Harry objected, "I was twelve and it was embarrassing."
"Twelve through Fourteen," Hermione corrected. "And if you want it back you should talk to her. And make it good, by the way."
Harry found that comment rather alarming despite the offhand way she had added it. "Wait, why do I have to make it good?"
suddenly looked sympathetic. "She carried a torch for you for a long
time. And I think she feels extremely liberated to be free of it. I'm
not entirely sure she'll want to pick it up again."
This was definitely not good news. "I was that horrible?"
Harry," Hermione said supportively. "You were always very polite and
kind to her and did your best to a make sure she didn't feel any more
embarrassed than she already did. But, Harry, she didn't exactly make
her feelings a secret, and yet you never even considered her. You were
desperate to find someone to go to the Yule Ball with and it didn't
even cross your mind that she was an option. It hurt her. I should
know. It might help if you grovel a bit. Tell her how stupid you are,
that sort of thing."
Suddenly Harry was finding himself
becoming quite defensive. "You know, it isn't my fault that I didn't
like her before. She wouldn't even talk to me! She ran away and slammed
doors in my face. How was I supposed to like her when I didn't even
have a chance to know her?" Hermione tried to interrupt by calling his
name, but he was in full rant mode. "I like her now! A lot. It isn't
bloody fair that I should be punished for something that happened when
I was twelve. I was barely even noticing girls at all back then, for
crying out loud."
Hermione was looking at him with a calm glare. "Are you finished?"
Harry thought about it. "I guess." For the moment.
being so melodramatic," Hermione sighed. "You are not being punished. I
am just saying that what Ginny remembers is that you didn't want her.
She doesn't necessarily understand all the sensible reasons why you
never had a chance to like her. We are talking about emotions, not
logic. And she felt that you rejected her, that you were never going to
change your mind." She smiled at him sympathetically. "Believe me
Harry, I was there, I understand why you didn't like her then, but I'm
not the one who worked so hard to get over you. There is a fair amount
of emotional baggage between the two of you and if you want to win her
now, you might have to work for it."
Harry was starting to think the whole thing was a lost cause. "This is very encouraging. Maybe I shouldn't even bother."
"No," Hermione admonished. "You definitely should bother. And as soon as possible."
"Why? Since you seem to think it's so hopeless," he grumbled.
Hermione said thoughtfully, "for one thing I think the role reversal
will be very good for you. More importantly, I think she's perfect for
you. Exactly what you need."
There was another doubt, which
had been lingering in the back of his mind. Now that Hermione knew of
his feelings, maybe he could talk about it. "Do you suppose maybe I
shouldn't tell her?"
As though it were ridiculous, Hermione laughed. "No."
"Because it might endanger her, I mean," Harry said quietly. "If we became involved."
immediately sobered. She seemed to think about it for a moment. When
she started to speak it was obvious she was choosing her words with
care. "I know, considering everything that has happened, it must be
hard for you sometimes to understand, but not everything is about you,
Harry was incredulous. "Are you kidding? Sirius died because of me. My parents died because of me."
all died to save you," she agreed. "That's true. But there is never
going to be anything you can do to stop that. Including hiding your
feelings for Ginny." Hermione took a deep breath. "Look, the point that
I am trying to make is that although your parents and Sirius died to
save you, they were already in danger because of other choices they had
made. Because they were in the Order. It is the same with all the
Weasleys - they are in danger, not just because of their relationship
with you, but because they have joined Dumbledore. Ginny was targeted
in her first year because of who her father was, not because of her
This was rich, considering the argument
they had had before going to the Ministry last spring. "You said
yourself that Riddle took her down to the Chamber to lure me in."
that's true," Hermione said unabashed. "He used her knowing you would
follow, so he could have a chance to fight you alone. But he was
already possessing her. He had probably always been intending to use
her life force to regain his form, ultimately killing her. Luring you
into the Chamber was just a slightly different strategy. And, Harry,
you are arguing against yourself. That happened before you decided you
liked her romantically, which just proves my point. She was already
vulnerable. I really don't see how dating you could possibly make it
Harry thought about everything she had said. "So I guess you're saying it doesn't matter."
"Isn't that the answer you wanted?"
Harry fidgeted in his chair. "I just want to be sure. If I am going to
die, I want to actually live my life a bit first, you know? But I would
never forgive myself if something happened to her because of me.
Because I was selfish."
Hermione shrugged. "But something
could happen anyway. And then you would never forgive yourself for not
being with her when you had the chance."
fatalistic, but Harry knew it was true. He was starting to understand
that having no life at all was definitely not an option.
Author's note: Just a preemptive bit here. Don't worry, Lupin will appear again and this will be all worked out.