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The Second Departure
Ginny Weasley is lying in her dormitory at Hogwarts. The velvet red covers rise up and down with her breath, but not fast enough for her to be asleep. She must be awake. Her eyes are closed, but she isn’t seeing the strange and sparkled blackness that accompanies the drawn optical curtains on a normal night. She is instead seeing the lake that lies not a mile away from where she is right now.
It’s not the lake of early spring, though. It’s the lake of early summer. Crystalline blues are refracted across its deep, glassy surface, twinkling back and forth. A warm gust absent-mindedly drifts across the water, a wave parting for it, and it comes to tousle the hair of a skinny boy with hair the color of a raven and eyes the color of jade. The light is softly bouncing off of his perfectly round eyeglasses. He is reaching towards Ginny’s face with an outstretched palm, fingers spread out gently. His hand meets her cheek, and she puts a hand to it. She is conscious of the fact that while her hands are cool and trembling, his are warm and strong. She shuts her eyes within her eyes, and when she opens the inner eyes again, he is still there. He is still there smiling at her, with a face far older than it should be.
They are leaning towards each other now, and he is tilting his head to her right, so she cups his chin with her free palm and cocks her countenance to the left side, and all is right within the world. Just as they are about to touch even deeper than before, just as her lips are about to melt into his, the sky goes black, and green mist surrounds them. Screams fly from her mouth into his fearful eyes, and she stands up, drawing a small branch of hazel that has been carved into a thing of power…she turns to the boy, asking him if he is ready to fight…
But he is not there.
That is when Ginny’s eyes snap open- her real eyes, her true eyes, the ones that can see the dismal world around her. Her waking dream of night has passed, and now she is forced to look around at the other girls- the girls who often cry themselves to sleep now, the girls who have scars from the Carrows and the students who are pleased by making others weep and cry out in anguish and agony. Ginny has her fair share of scars, as well. But she has never wept for
herself. Because if he were here, she wouldn’t want him to know she was crying.
Ginny slowly sits up in bed, and looks out the window at the lake now. Ghostly nightmares flutter across it, their tattered cloaks drifting with them. There is no way to get out of Hogwarts through the grounds, because no one could ever conjure a Patronus with enough might to vanquish them all. Well…no one except for him, perhaps. She believes he could do it, if he were here.
She slides forward on the velvet covers, blinking the weariness out of her eyes as she slides her feet into her slippers. She quietly pulls on her pink bathrobe over her pajamas, and shuffles out onto the dimly lit staircase. The stairs are cold, even through her slippers. She thinks that maybe it’s because of the iciness that has stretched over the school this year.
Ginny has been through hard times before. Her brothers Bill and George have been gravely injured before, as has her father. She has been taken advantage of by the boy-she-loves’ enemy. She has feared for her life.
But she has fought for it, too. She has soared on her broom across a Quidditch pitch, dodging bludgers and tasting adrenaline and victory in her mouth. She has shot hexes and wielded countercurses against those who would kill her, her friends, and the boy-she-loves. She has prayed that the liquid luck she gulped down would help her as she spun and dodged terrible dark magic. She has done this because it is the right thing to do, and no matter how scared she is or how dangerous the circumstances may be, she keeps going. She swallows down the fear and acknowledges it, but doesn’t let it stop her. He taught her to do that, whether he knows it or not.
That’s why she doesn’t want to do this. She doesn’t want to leave, no matter what the message on the old D.A. coin that Fred sent her said. She has to stay here, she has to keep fighting back. Luna has already been taken…it’s just Neville and her now, leading the second incarnation of Dumbledore’s Army. The group is all about people joining together to fight against injustice in Hogwarts, and it has never been needed more than it is right now. Now that evil itself is controlling the school and Voldemort is out there, winning…nothing is sacred anymore. It feels like they’ve lost.
Ginny can’t let them lose. The skinny boy with the raven-black hair and the jade eyes with the round spectacles is out there, doing something. Something important. Something that will help them.
She hears the rumors every day. “He’s dead.” “He’s run away abroad.” “He’s in Azkaban.” “He’s dead.” “He’s betrayed us, why isn’t he here?” “Just took his friends and left.” “He dumped you, why do you care?”
She can feel the hopelessness like it’s a tangible thing, and that’s why she can’t leave. Dumbledore’s Army is the only thing that people have to believe in anymore. When they wake up and see the Carrows angrily waving their wands at an expanse of sparkling graffiti spreading across the floor, they smile a bit. When Terry or Ernie or even Lavender step in front of a first-year and take the cruel punishments not intended for them from the Death Eaters, the teachers and students are reminded that not all is lost. Dumbledore’s Army still believes in him- in both of them, The Headmaster and The Chosen One- and so they still live on at the school.
Ginny will stay and fight to keep them alive, and she is going to go downstairs right now and explain that to her mother or her father or Bill or whoever is there at the fireplace right now. Fred has told her in his message that the family has managed to secure a special incantation, one that can briefly override the lock on travel by Floo powder. Fred says this used to use it in case of emergency back when Fudge was Minister, in case there was something broken in the network. It will give Ginny two minutes to go through the fireplace. That’s the plan, at least. Actually, it will be two minutes to explain to her family that she will not be going. He is still out there, fighting. She cannot just sit on the sidelines doing nothing…she simply can’t.
She makes her way down the stairs and out into the Common Room for Gryffindor. The embers are softly glowing, but in five minutes, at three past two this morning, they will surge up, alive and erupting with green flames and a familiar face within. It will be one that she misses, and hasn’t seen for so long, but…not one she wants to see right now. She will have to stand her ground, and-
A person rises up from the couch, and according to an instinct she has developed, Ginny whips her hazel wand out of her bathrobe pocket and shoots a Disarming spell at the figure, concentrating on the incantation within her mind. The figure’s wand flies out of his palm, and he puts his hands up, palms out, showing that he means no harm. He is not a Death Eater, he is not Snape or a Carrow spying on or guarding them… He is Neville.
“Ooh- ‘m sorry, Neville,” she apologizes hastily, feeling a bit guilty. She mutters “Wingardium Leviosa,” since nonverbal spells can be so tricky, and the wand rises back into Neville’s right hand. He grasps it and chuckles a bit nervously.
“You’re a bit jumpy tonight,” he comments. Ginny looks at the ground. Neville is more than a friend now- he is a compatriot, an ally, a fellow leader, like Luna was. If she goes, she will be leaving him all alone- how can she ever do that? It’s selfish of her family, really- to try and get her to abandon all of these people, just to be with them and give them some peace of mind.
“Yeah, well… I’m a bit tired,” she lies, not able to keep from looking at the fire. There must be only four minutes or so now, until she will have to stand at the fire and explain that even though she is always scared, she can’t give into that- she has to stay, because he didn’t. Sometimes, even though she knows he had a reason…she feels angry at him. She is angry that he can’t be here with her, angry at the situation, angry that Dumbledore wants him to do all of this. She tries to get rid of the feelings of betrayal, because she knows they aren’t true, but sometimes it’s harder than others to have faith. Ginny doesn’t want everyone here to feel that way about her, especially because she doesn’t have a reason to leave like he did. She doesn’t have a greater cause, something she can do to save them all from out there. Everyone at Hogwarts needs here to hold on as long as she can…
“Me, too,” Neville says. It is the Easter holidays, but they have both decided to stay here at Hogwarts for those students that can’t go home.
“I couldn’t sleep, y’know?” he explains to her as she takes a seat on the sofa next to him. “Bad dreams. They’re the only ones I have anymore…”
Ginny speaks up softly, not able to raise her eyes to Neville. She hasn’t told him about the message yet. She has plenty of dreams, all about better times. It only makes it the crueler, though, when her eyes open and she remembers where she is and how corrupted the place has become.
He turns his head to her curiously. “Yeah?”
She bites her lip, takes a deep breath and explains. “I got a message from Fred- on the coin, y’know?” She holds up her golden Dumbledore’s Army pseudo-Galleon, and shows Neville the message ringing around its edge. 2:03 tonight- Floo network open through GCR FP. Need you home.
“ ‘GCR FP…’ Gryffindor Common Room Fireplace?” Neville correctly guesses. Ginny nods.
“I’m going to tell them ‘No’, though. I need to stay here,” she declares firmly, gazing at the fireplace as if to defy the coming disembodied head of an undecided member of her family. “This place needs me.”
Neville looks in the fireplace, too, looking as if he is subduing his shock, but he doesn’t hide his sadness. “ ‘Need you home?’ That makes it sound like…like they’ve got a real reason, though, doesn’t it?”
Ginny shakes her head a bit, trembling as her body prepares for a verbal confrontation. “It means they think they’ve got one.”
The two friends sit in silence, both concentrating on the seemingly-dying fire before them. Neville looks like he wants to say something, but each time, he finds that he can’t, because Ginny looks so determined. Finally, he takes a breath and speaks.
“Ginny, we need you here, but-“ He is interrupted by the embers bursting into thousands of green sparks, making a large flash across the room. When he looks back, he can see that Ginny is also blinking her eyes, and the flames have surged up with green light. Ginny stands up and moves forward, then stops to kneel in front of the fireplace, which now contains the floating countenance of her father.
“Thank God, Ginny. Quick- we haven’t got much time-“ Mr. Weasley begins, his hushed voice charged with urgency. Ginny cuts him off with a stern shake of her head.
“Dad, I’m not going.” It isn’t a wish or a plea, but a fact. Ginny sees no possible way that she will be convinced to go through that Floo network and out of Hogwarts. “I have to stay here. They need me here.”
Now it is Mr. Weasley’s turn to shake his head. “I’m sorry, Ginny, but there’s no choice in the matter. They know, Ginny. They’ve found out that Ron is with Harry, I don’t know how, but they know that the ghoul here is fake, they know, Ginny!”
Ginny’s eyes widen; her choice has just become all the more serious and complicated. She knows why her family wants her to go, now. If Ron is with Harry, then the whole Weasley family is now at even greater risk for covering this up. The Death Eaters will come after them…
“Ginny, the message should be arriving at the school any minute now,” Weasley continues, now frantic- he knows they have just about a minute left before the portal will close once more. “The Carrows, and Snape- they’ll get it, and they’ll know, and they’ll come for you. You have to come, now. I’m sorry, but if you stay…”
Her father doesn’t finish. He knows his daughter is intelligent, and knows exactly what the Death Eaters will do to her. Torture and death won’t even be the worse of it, though, because they will try to use her as bait, just like Voldemort did five years ago, during her very first year at Hogwarts. They will use her to lure the boy with raven hair and jade eyes, as well as Ginny’s brother and their friend into a trap.
Suddenly Neville is kneeling next to Ginny, a hand on her shoulder. “Ginny,” he whispers, “they took Luna.”
Ginny nods, remembering how they had all been on the train home at Christmastime when Death Eaters- not the Dementors sent to patrol the train- had swept in as pillars of smoke, Apparating in, grabbing Luna, and whisking her away in a second. Neville and Ginny hadn’t even had time to fire a spell at them.
“It can’t happen to you, too.”
“But I can’t just run away,” Ginny protests quietly, for fear someone will hear. Neville gently shakes his head, his eyes a bit watery.
“Don’t be daft. It’s not runnin’ away, it’s more like…a tactical retreat. Living now to come back and fight another day,” Neville reassures her. Ginny doesn’t want to go, she doesn’t want to abandon everyone, but…she knows Neville is speaking the truth. She does have to get out of here, or she will be caught and tortured and die, at the expense of those she cares most for.
Ginny wipes a furious tear out of her eye, angry that she now has to give up her part in this war for the time being. She is going into hiding, she knows it. She slowly stands up and turns to Neville, embracing him in a hug.
“I’ll be back, you know,” she promises him, “As soon as I can, I’ll be back.”
Neville nods, smiling weakly in an attempt to comfort her. “I’ll manage the D.A.,” he promises right back. “Don’t worry about us.”
“Ginny!” her father calls. “You have to come now, the fireplace’s about to shut down again!”
Ginny takes a deep breath. She is sorry she has to go, but she knows that he would understand. He’d be happy she’s getting to safety…she’s not, though. She wants to be here, fighting just as hard as he is…she doesn’t want to leave the D.A. and the students like he left her, even if she has a reason.
He had to go so he could come back later. Now she must do the same. With that thought, Ginny Weasley steps into the warm but not scorching green tongues of flame, and she can feel her father’s strong hand grasping hers. Everything around her is spinning, so she shuts her eyes, feeling ashes scatter across her clothes and her hair whirling around, as if impersonating the fire that surrounds it.
At last, or perhaps too soon, she collapses forward, her father catching her and hugging her close. She wraps her arms around him as well, grateful to see him again for the first time since Christmas, so many grim months separating that occasion from this moment. She separates herself from him and looks around. Fred, George, her mum, and her Auntie Muriel are all standing there, looking at her with a mix of cautiousness and joy.
“Oh, Ginny…” her mum cries in relief, melting into Ginny and clutching her tightly, her dad standing up. Ginny meets his eyes, and he nods. He knows she is glad to see them all again, but doesn’t want to be there. Aunt Muriel, whose kitchen Ginny realizes it is, soon breaks into her normal personality with a declaration of “Ginevra’s dirty clothing” and insists Ginny go off to take a bath in the small bathroom upstairs, filled with various lotions and scented candles. Ginny temporarily bids goodbye to her family to go and get cleaned up, feeling quiet and still in a state of shock.
She is not in Hogwarts anymore. She is now on the sidelines, waiting to be called back into the fray. Neville is alone now, and is going to have to lead the second Dumbledore’s Army by himself, while she is sitting in a safehouse protected from all the turmoil of the rest of the world.
Later that night, Fred tells her how they had heard rumors at nine o’clock that night of an occurrence at Malfoy Manor involving the boy Ginny loves, and that Ron and Hermione were there, too. He tells her how he and George Apparated to the Burrow immediately from their shop at Diagon Alley to warn their mother and father, and how they all fled to Aunt Muriel’s home just as Death Eaters were arriving at their home.
“Dad knew,” Fred explains somberly, both sitting on Ginny’s bed in the room she will be getting to herself, because she’s the girl, as Aunt Muriel said.
“He knew they’d go for you next, that they’d realize the whole ‘ghoul’ thing was all a trick. He told me to contact you, and lucky for us George and I both still had our old D.A. coins.”
Now Ginny Weasley is lying in her new bedroom that is not at Hogwarts. The scratchy brown covers rise up and down with her breath, but not fast enough for her to be asleep. She must be awake. Her eyes are closed, but she isn’t seeing the strange and sparkled blackness that accompanies the drawn optical curtains on a normal early morning. She is instead seeing a magnificent castle, a place of wonder and learning and friendship and love that has been corrupted by the darkest of darknesses. She wishes she could be there, doing her part just as he is doing his.
“I’m going back, as soon as I can,” she gravely recites, repeating her promise to Neville. “And when I do, I’m going to finish this…”
She knew that somewhere in this new dark world, he was thinking the same thing.