Author's Notes: Sorry about the delay, guys. Real Life has pushed me away with lots of things going on. On top of that, my PC broke, and my offline notes are lost, so I'm just trying to recall any plot-points I had by memory. I'm still not as free as I'd like, and I also got Writer's Block due to the delay. However, I'm still working on the chapters as much as I can. Thanks for the support.


Chapter 41

Everything was turning out perfectly.

I really thought that, didn't I?

Ron Weasley, you were a fucking moron. You knew how much Life in this world loved to screw you over. Honestly, hadn't you learned your lesson yet? Why tempt fate so brazenly when she had it out for you? At Samhain, of all times?

Pacing back and forth, mind whirling, I tried to find out where I'd messed up. Maybe I'd been too optimistic. If I had been more cynical, maybe I wouldn't have found myself—figuratively—bent over, inside Dumbledore's office, waiting for judgement.

Part of me wondered if the circumstances that put me here had been some sort of setup, but after going through my memories, while there was a possibility, I doubted it. The events that happened were far too circumstantial for me to believe in foul play. Besides, who was I going to blame this on? Violet? If she decided to kill me, damn the Vow, she wouldn't have gone this route; it wouldn't make sense. My friends? They lacked the skill, power, or means to do this. Hell, I'd as soon claim Dobby was some sort of super-elf and had done this on behest of Lucius Malfoy.

In a word, improbable. This had to be Life. She was the one that did this. A punch wasn't enough for this mess. If I ever saw her, I would wreck her so badly that both universes would implode at the violence of action that I would inflict—

"Mr. Weasley?"

I stopped, turning towards the door. Dumbledore and Snape had walked in behind me, the former giving me a very neutral look while the latter looked like he needed to defecate.

That wasn't a good sign.

"Yes, Headmaster," I asked as respectfully as I could.

His eyes weren't shining. Add that to the fact that his expression was stiff and his lips were forming a subtle frown, it meant that he was ready to bring down the hammer on me. "Please, take a seat."

"Is she okay?" I asked, trying to cut through Dumbledore's suspicions.

"Miss Granger is now in capable hands."

"Oh, thank Merlin," I replied with relief. "I… I didn't know what to do when I saw her like that! S—she was so—!"

"Mister Weasley, please, calm down," Dumbledore said, his cold demeanor cracking slightly. "Take a seat. Let's discuss what happened, shall we?"

"I… yeah, okay," I said softly as I wandered absently towards one of the free seats behind the desk. Dumbledore and Snape began walking towards me at a brisk pace, the older man taking his rightful place. Snape, however, surprised me by choosing to stand behind me, hands resting on my shoulders.

Was he trying to comfort me?

"First, let me begin that you're not in trouble." Leaving out the implied 'yet'? Gotcha. "I was hoping you could tell me the circumstances that led you to finding Miss Granger."

I began to shake, gently, just to give the impression of deep shock. Not that hard, considering I was actually shocked. Everything that happened tonight just made me wonder what the bloody hell was going on.

"Whe—where should I start?" I asked.

"Well, you can start with the meetings that you and your friends had with Miss Granger and Miss Potter every lunch time."

Okay, resist a little here. Information given easily was rarely credible. I needed to make him think he was pressuring me to earn his belief. "Sir?" I asked, eyes widening and shivering. "Lunch? What are you talking about?"

"Come now, Mister Weasley," Dumbledore replied. "I've talked with both Professor Snape and Professor McGonagall and they have told me that for the past two months, a group of students have been coincidentally missing during lunches."

I felt Snape squeezing my shoulders gently. Was that supposed to be a signal?

"I've also talked to your friends and Miss Potter," Dumbledore continued. "My aim is to to clear out a few things and to avoid any misunderstanding. You understand, right, Mister Weasley?"

I stiffened slightly. I wasn't worried too much about Dumbledore pulling out a Prisoner's Dilemma on me; I could handle that. However, if he did talk to my friends, I would need to be careful. My thoughts went to Daphne. She was holding a rather hot item for me, and if he discovered that, things would get complicated fast.

Still, assume nothing, Ron.

"We have, sir," I said softly, almost a whisper. "Are… are we in trouble?"

"No, my boy," Dumbledore assured, smiling. Was he thinking he got me? Hoped so. It would mean his gentler nature would come out, and if I was going to retell the events that had happened, I needed a bit of leeway to omit the details. "I was just curious, considering that you and Miss Potter had acted at the end of last year that You were such good friends, then for some reason… both of you stopped talking to each other."

"Violet's a good friend," I said, shaking my head. "We just had a stupid fight, and… I didn't want to leave it at that. I wanted to write her a letter, but with the tournament in France—"

"Congratulations, by the way," Dumbledore interjected, eyes sparkling.

Trying to unbalance me? Nice try. "Um, thank you?" I said, sounding unsure.

"You're welcome. Now, if you please."

I nodded. "Anyway, I was busy that I forgot all about it, until we met again on the train. We both apologized to each other, and we wanted to be friends again, you know? I also wanted my friends to be her friends as well."

"An admirable goal," the Headmaster replied, though he was looking at Snape when he said that. Then, he relaxed, leaning back on his chair. "Indulge this old man's curiosity, Ronald… can I call you Ronald?"

"Of course, sir."

He nodded happily. "Ronald, what exactly are you seven doing during your lunch meetings?"

Don't lie. Avoid instead. "Well, mostly go through what we learned earlier that day. Granger is the top of our year, and we asked her and Violet if they could help us. They agreed."

"Miss Davis has been showing some considerable improvement," Snape drawled behind me.

Dumbledore seemed to nod at the man. Was that some sort of acquiescence? Then, he turned to me. "The reason why I am curious is because I want to make sure who last saw Miss Granger."

"I think that would be Violet, sir," I replied. "They left together."

He frowned. "Ah, yes. Miss Potter might have mentioned that."

I wanted to snort. He hadn't talked to her, had he? Well, there goes the credibility of his underlying threat of having information, which was the vital component of any proper Prisoner's Dilemma.

"Could you tell me what happened after the meeting?" he asked, probably trying to cover up his fib.

I nodded slowly, thinking back earlier this afternoon. I needed to substitute a lot of terms if I was going to retell the events to him. I concentrated both on recalling everything I could from my memory as well as making sure I watched what information I was conveying. "Well, we were just done talking about our History homework. I think it was about some of the Gringott Founders? Anyway, I noticed that some weren't feeling well, so I asked—"


"Exhausted, are we?"

Daphne gave me a sullen glare before turning her back on me. I raised an eyebrow at that but she ignored me. Shrugging, I turned to Milly with a big smile.

"You were amazing during that practice," I commented.

She beamed. "Thank you."

Turning to Zabini, he raised his hands. "No need to tell me, Weasley. Greengrass and I sucked."

Daphne grunted, and I couldn't help but smile. "I wouldn't exactly say that," I replied easily. "Look, Violet makes it look easy. It's not. She either trained really hard on that kind of style, or it comes naturally to her."

"Is it viable, though?" he asked.

"Any technique is viable, as long as you can get it to work with you," I said. "The best example is Milly. She used what she felt suited for her, and ran down her target with ease. If you liked Violet's style, improve on it, make it work with you."

Zabini nodded, and when I looked at Daphne, I found her back was turned to me. I could still feel her annoyance from here, though. What's gotten into her?

"Anyway, let's eat up and get back to the common room. I'll speak to Violet so we can set up what we're doing next—"

"That's what you always do!" Daphne growled, turning around and glaring at me. "You're always talking to her, always conferring to her!"

I blinked. "Daphne, I'm just making sure that the meets will be consistently good. I mean, we don't want a repeat of the first one, do we?"

"I know!" she replied with a sniff. "But you don't talk to m—us anymore!"

"I do," I countered, narrowing my eyes. "We talk all the time in the common room after each meet."

"You only ask us for ideas, then reject those that won't mix well with Potter's!"

"Well, she is kinda our leader for these meets—"

"Of course she is. So go talk to her!" Daphne abruptly walked away towards Tracey and Granger. "Tracey! Let's go to the library! I want to go through your notes!"

"Daph—!" I began, stretching out my hand to catch her, but Zabini gently grabbed my arm. Looking at him, he shook his head. Then, I felt Milly also grab my shoulder gently, giving me a sad smile.

"Weasley, let her calm down," Zabini said.

"Agreed," Milly added. "Now's not the time."

I looked at Daphne's retreating figure and saw Tracey looking at her friend, bewildered, while Granger was absently smirking. I really didn't like that look on her face. After a moment, my other two friends walked briskly towards the exit.


Dumbledore's chuckle took me out of my not-so-truthful narrative.

"Ah, the difficulties of youth," he said absently.

It took me a second before I asked, as innocently as I could, "What do you mean, sir? Why was Daphne so mad?"

He shook his head. "Nothing. Please, continue."

I paused to look at him for a moment before nodding slowly. "Well, we went back to the common room. There really wasn't much to talk about because I still wanted to get Daphne's and Tracey's opinion for the next meet, so—"


I sighed as I laid down in bed. The meetings had been getting better and better. Violet was slowly opening up, my friends were finally getting the hang of it, and Granger hadn't tried to overtly try and sabotage me. Not yet at least.

Still, the memory of her smirk when Daphne had angrily stalked away made me slightly frustrated.

Honestly, what a time for Daphne's jealousy spring up. Granted, I had been concentrating on Violet the past two months, but it was absurd that my contracted friend, my unsaid betrothed, would accuse me of not talking to her.

Yeah, I caught her mid-word correction.

Was she hoping that we would be like it was during the hols? Probably, now that I thought about it. Daphne spoke with a grain of truth. A lot of my time was devoted to helping Violet ensure that our meets wouldn't bog down, to be the successes she and I wanted. It was getting a little harder to only just hang around my friends, even if it was to talk about unimportant things, especially when I was busily planning. Not to mention trying to keep up appearances with my school life as well.

I reminded myself that Daphne was still a growing kid. She was currently at the point in her life when emotions began to push through to the surface more frequently. Her non-human heritage may have added to her emotional turmoil, and her probable lack of occlumency training meant that outbursts like these could be a reoccurring situation.

As annoying as that was, I understood, and if I got angry at her, I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world. I was far worse when I was her age. My First Year, I made Hermione cry. The Third Year, I raged at Hermione because I thought Crookshanks killed Scabbers, and again when she told McGonagall about Harry's Firebolt. During my Fourth Year, my anger targeted Harry for his involvement at the Triwizard Tournament and I even got on Hermione's case about Krum.

Honestly, I was lucky my two best friends put up with me.

Zabini and Milly were right; Daphne was going to calm down. I could imagine both her and Tracey in the library, the former having a quiet ranting period to get it out of her system. Later, I was going to see if she was going to apologize or just not talk about it. Maybe I could tease her a little bit, do what I did during the hols to push her into making another apology. Probably wouldn't work, considering I had her on the ropes for days before forcing the issue, but at least it would show her that I haven't really forgotten about her.

I got off my bed, my hand snaking towards my pocket to grab my trunk. I had started carrying it with me after the incident two months ago, and by habit, I took out my wand and cast a privacy charm. Once that was done, I unshrunk my trunk on the floor, opened it, and took out the Death Eater cloak.

As I slowly unwrapped it, I saw the Diary, locked tightly with three belts. I didn't want to take any chances with this one. I didn't even dare touch it bare-handed. I just looked at it, studying the details, feeling its dark magic to make sure no one had pulled a fast one on me and replaced it with some sort of simulacrum.

Nope. It was still a horcrux. I was, literally, holding a piece of Voldemort's soul.

Shaking my head, I wrapped it up again before putting it back in my trunk. Shrinking it once more, I put it back into my pocket, and stood up.

"Tempus," I chanted, and the time appeared in front of me. It was almost time for the feast. Sighing one more time, I made my way to the exit and towards the common room.

No one was there anymore. Not surprising, considering that Samhain was one of the more sacred events in the magical society. Of course, that meant that all the kids considered it free time to run around, waste all their energy, just so they could eat more during the upcoming feast.

As I walked out of the dungeons towards the Great Hall, I felt a cold shiver creep up my spine. I stopped and looked around, just to make sure I hadn't noticed something off subconsciously.

"Hello?" I asked, getting my wand ready. No response. The eerie darkness that was a natural part of the lower levels didn't help the mood. Not one bit. So, I raised my hand and cast a diagnostic and scanning spell, just to make sure there was no one invisible near my presence.

That was when I felt like my blood had turned to ice. Not from an attack, but the result of my detection spell suddenly ringing alarms. Nearby, there were remnants of a very dark spell. There wasn't much of a bleeding effect, so it didn't feel powerful, but there was enough complexity to it that indicated something very bad just happened. I took a moment to wonder what I was supposed to do next. My pathway to the Great Hall was going to cross that particular area, and just rushing in there sounded completely idiotic. Instead, I began to ensure I had a spell-link ready in case things went pear shaped and stalked forward as slowly as I could, my wand pointed in front of me.

One step. Two. Three.

Five. Six.

Eight. Ten.

No bad guys popped out yet, and as I began to escape the confines of the dungeons, my trepidation slowly decreased. The next area was one of the bigger corridors, which meant a more open spaces, brighter lights, and higher chances that I would be heard if I called for help.

Basically, a bad place to set up an ambush.

As I took a left, I began to twirl my wand in a general pattern, one that would allow me to either cast an offensive or defensive spell in a hurry. However, as I took ten more steps, I could only stare in shock.

The Chamber of Secrets has been opened

Enemies of the heir… beware

Below that was a frozen figure, her eyes open wide in shock, arms raised up defensively, completely still and stiff. Even her curly hair hadn't flowed down right, as if she was a still muggle photo.

Granger.

There was no way this was happening. No bloody way!

I scanned the area immediately—no spiders, no basilisk tail, no water on the floor. Just one frozen girl-slash-maybe-woman on the ground, and red writing on the nearby wall.

For a few moments, I didn't know what to do. The Diary was still with me. There was only one Parselmouth in this school, and I doubted Violet would dare do this to her friend and lover.

Unless… had Voldemort's spirit come back to Hogwarts? Had he possessed another person? I shook my head. He didn't do that in my previous life, so why would he—

Wormtail. Was that it? Had his arrest somehow brought forth this change? I honestly couldn't see it. The logic didn't follow!

Then again, when you're a insane dark wizard, logic isn't really on the table, now is it?

I wondered if I should call for help, but discounted that for the moment. I was alone and had unimpeded access to a fresh crime scene. If there was an enemy in the school, someone who could unleash the basilisk, I needed more information.

Approaching the still-frozen Granger, I began to cast more diagnostic spells, hoping to get more information. All I got was a more concentrated dose of dark magic, but nothing tangible enough to know if this was done by a spell or by the natural ability of a dark creature. I was surprised though by the writing on the wall, though. Unlike my previous life, it was written in human blood, not chicken blood, and it was also missing that extra protective layer that made it hard to remove.

As I neared her, I gently went to one knee, and put two fingers on her neck. No pulse. Solid as stone. I brushed the shoulders of her cloak, and same thing. I stared into her blank eyes, probably wondering if there was any clue I could glean from her to clue me into what had happened.

"Rascally little Weasley!"

I almost jumped, pointed my wand behind me, only to see a grinning Peeves. He was about to say more when his eyes left me to focus on Granger on the floor. His eyes returned to stare at me before returning to her once more. Before I could say anything, he suddenly screamed.

"MURDER!"

"No, wait—"

It was too late. Peeves shot away as if the Bloody Baron was on his trail, his shouts continually echoing the hall.

"WEASLEY MURDERED GRANGER! WEASLEY MURDERED GRANGER!"


Dumbledore closed his eyes, frown on his face. I waited for a moment, wondering how he'd react, while I felt Snape tighten his hold to the point that it became uncomfortable. A second later, the Headmaster opened his eyes. "So, you didn't attack Miss Granger?"

"No sir!" I replied, shaking my head. "I just found her like that, believe me! I wouldn't murder Granger! No!" I shook my head, trying to make myself as vulnerable as possible.

He sighed. "A lot of Gryffindors have stated that you and Miss Granger aren't exactly friends. In fact, from what I hear, she doesn't like you very much and has been quite open about it."

"Headmaster," Snape began, but I didn't let him continue. I didn't need Dumbledore to suspect that I was hiding behind my Head of House, especially when he was trying to gauge me.

"Well, yes," I interjected, earning another squeeze from Snape. I guess he didn't want me continuing that line of thought, but there was no way Dumbledore would forget if I was reticent in answering. "But I don't hate her, sir! She's been a great help to us! She explained all about Hagar the Horrible and Drago the Blood Fist earlier. She makes boring History so easy to understand. She even helped is with our charms. I… I can't hate someone who helps me and my friends, how could I?"

Dumbledore nodded, and a small smile found itself on his face. Good, I played this one well. Probably. The man was as deceptive as it got, but he wore his heart on his sleeve.

Should I cry or not? Latter. Former may be too much. "Sir," I begged, "what happened to her? Please, tell me if she's okay!"

The Headmaster began to look relaxed. "Miss Granger was hit by a powerful and advanced dark spell. She's been petrified."

"D—does that mean she's dead?" I asked with the best dread tone I could pull off.

He warmed up to me even more. He stood up and walked towards me and patted me on my shoulder. "No. We can cure her."

"Thank Merlin," I said, closing my eyes in relief. "She… she doesn't like me very much, but she's Violet's best friend. She must be really worried."

Ah, that got Dumbledore to fully smile. Sorry for pushing your buttons, Headmaster, but I don't need you as an enemy. Especially now. Still, I wished Snape would act the same way. Glancing at him, he looked almost uncomfortable that one of his snakes were actually friends with a Gryffindor, nevermind that particular Gryffindor.

"Headmaster, Mr. Weasley clearly isn't as involved as we thought," he muttered in that monotone of his.

"W-what?" I asked, pretending to be confused. Dumbledore gave Snape an annoyed look. That clearly told me that the Headmaster didn't want to me think of this as an interrogation.

A little too late, if you asked me.

"I'm just making sure we get the whole story, Severus," Dumbledore replied. "After all, we—" He suddenly stopped and looked at the door, a frown on his face. "Come in, Lady Black, Miss Potter."

That had me turning my head. Violet. Merlin. Was I about to find accusation in her eyes?

Bellatrix Black strolled in, not in her uniform, but wearing official-looking robes. That made me stiffen. Was this it? All my hard work to build trust with Violet, gone, and I was going to be led away? To be officially accused by Lady Black of murder?

I looked at Violet, and she was… frowning. No, wait, a frown sounded too tame. The girl-slash-woman actually looked like she was barely controlling herself. Her shoulders shook, though not in a way that displayed shock, but anger. Her eyes were almost glowing furiously, as if she was warring with something.

When our eyes met, though, she gave me a sad smile. I felt relieved. It seemed like her anger was aimed at someone else. Did she believe me? If so, then why was Lady Black dressed up like she was here on business beyond her station of being a Professor?

"Good evening, Headmaster," Bellatrix greeted.

"Good evening as well, Lady Black," Dumbledore replied. "What do I owe the pleasure of your visit?"

"I'm here under the official capacity as Hermione Granger's Magical Guardian."

I blinked. I turned to Dumbledore and noticed that he was a little confused as well.

"That's a bold claim," he said. "As I understand, Miss Granger was born from non-magical parents."

"I've contacted them, and due to their daughter's close relationship with my Heiress, I offered my services to be their daughter's representative." She then searched the inner pocket of her robe. "I have the contract agreement, signed with their blood for confirmation."

"Headmaster," Snape interjected, making everyone look at him. "Shall we dismiss the students? It's almost past curfew. Unless you have any other questions for my ward?"

Dumbledore shook his head. "Thank you, Severus. Please, escort them out."

"Of course," Snape said, not completely sneering as he gave Violet a look. She in turn just stared at the man neutrally. "Come with me."

He then took a sharp turn that made his cloak flow like there was wind blowing in front of him. I gave Violet a raised eyebrow, and she in turn almost snorted. As the two of us followed Snape outside, I took one last look at Dumbledore and Lady Black. They were discussing something and there was a contract laid bare on the Headmaster's table.

Once the door closed, both Violet and I looked at Snape who was standing to the side. He glanced at Violet one last time before he steadied his eyes on me.

"I suggest both of you go back to your common rooms," he said softly. "You do remember the way there, Mister Weasley?"

"I do."

"Good. Try not to dally." Then, he turned around and entered the Headmaster's office without preamble, and closed the door.

"Didn't even bother knocking," Violet muttered. "What an arrogant ass."

I wanted to say something smart, but didn't. Looking at her, I said, "Violet, I didn't hurt Granger. You… you know that, right?"

"I know," she said with a sigh. She shook her head.

"Someone attacked her, Violet," I whispered. "This secret chamber, this heir? What's going on?"

She gave me such a sharp look that I almost took a step back. "Ron, leave this alone," she warned, the undertone of a growl slipping through.

"Why?" I insisted. "I can't just ignore this!"

"Don't say anymore," Violet replied, shaking her head, glancing at the entrance of the Headmaster's office.

I paused, looking at her with wide eyes, as if something had dawned to me. "Is… is this about earlier?" I asked as softly as I could.

It took her a moment to understand what I meant. When she did, though, she only sighed. "Yes."

Grabbing her arm gently, I whispered, "I can help."

"Again, no," she insisted. "Ron, just don't think about this anymore, okay?" She hesitated before adding, "We might have to cancel our meets."

"I… yeah," I replied, trying to sound a little lost and confused. "I'll tell my friends." Looking at her, I asked, "Will… she be okay?"

"I'll take care of her," Violet promised.

What else could I do but nod? Giving her arm one last squeeze, I slowly made my way towards the dungeon, mind still going all over the place.

Violet knew who did this. That much I could gleam. Did that mean the plan that she, Granger, and Lady Black were working on was to stop this new threat? I had worried over the changes she had made compared to my previous life, but as long as she knew what was happening, I could at least have faith in her to intervene when necessary. Granger getting attacked was most likely not part of her plan, but as long as Violet was making moves, I could sit back a bit and wait until I got more information.

I felt a little sick thinking this, but with Granger gone temporarily, I could jump up the next phase of my plan. I needed to get involved in whatever those three were planning, earn more trust, before finally offering the Diary and my story to finally end this tumultuous situation we were all in.

Ironically, ever since our foundation of trust was built, Violet had gotten a bit overprotective. While it spoke well of her personality, it wasn't helpful considering I needed to prove my worth to her. I had to find another angle.

Lady Black. If she knew about Violet's plan, maybe it was more prudent to approach her instead. I needed to time this right, though, or I might only succeed in pushing them away. As experienced as Violet may be, Lady Black had grown up in a family that lived in politics and most likely tradecraft as well. Manipulating her emotions like I did with Violet wasn't going to get me anywhere with her.

"Lumos," I chanted as I entered the stairway that would bring me down towards the dungeons. As I approached the entrance of the Slytherin common room, I noted a shadowy figure waiting, making me pause as she walked towards me.

"Ron," Daphne called.

"Hey," I said, a little surprised at how tired I sounded and felt. Then again, it had been a long day filled with a few shocking swerves. Nevermind that tense conversation I just had with Dumbledore.

"Are you okay?" she asked gently.

"Just need to sleep," I muttered, shaking my head. "It's… been a long day."

"Agreed," she replied, frowning. "Is Granger really dead?"

"No, just petrified. Dark magic, powerful." I spotted a question in her eyes and shook my head preemptively. "I didn't do it."

"Never said you did," she countered.

"Nor will you ever have to." I paused. "Unless you don't believe me."

"The fact that you seem to kowtow to those two?" Daphne sniffed. "I don't see you doing anything like that." She offered her hand to me, and on the top of her palm, I saw my shrunken trunk. "Here you go. I'm assuming you have something in there that you don't want the Headmaster to discover."

I nodded. "Yeah, thanks for holding onto it. He said he talked to all of you, and I was a little nervous."

Her eyes narrowed. "I wouldn't betray you."

"Of course not," I replied easily, soothingly. "Why do you think I gave it to you, Daphne? I trust you."

That got her to smile for a few moments before it disappeared. "He did try, but I told him that I needed to contact my father before I would talk with him. The Headmaster was smart enough to leave us alone after that."

Snorting, I said, "There was no harm speaking to the Headmaster."

"He basically detained you, like you were already guilty," Daphne growled, shaking her head. "My father is looking for a solicitor in case you need one."

That was rather heartwarming, if a bit paranoid of them. Shaking my head, I replied, "The Headmaster and Professor Snape don't believe I'm involved. Even Violet agrees with them."

She stiffened slightly when I mentioned her name. "Saw her, did you?"

"Saw her with Lady Black. Apparently, the latter is now Granger's legal Magical Guardian. I was escorted out before they could discuss that business any further."

Daphne frowned. "So, Granger is really under House Black's protection."

"Yup, which means I'm glad that I'm not a suspect anymore." I yawned.

"So… how will this affect our meets?"

"She said we'd probably stop for a while," I replied. "That means we'll continue our own meetings without her."

There was no mistaking the relief in her expression. "Does this mean that your plan has failed?"

"Not yet," I muttered, yawning again. "I have… something to do. I wanted to hear your thoughts on—" I shook my head "—on it."

"Go to bed, Ron," she said suddenly. "Tell me when you're awake."

I just nodded. Too tired to think about any more plans. Sleep now. Think tomorrow.