Author's Note

I'm currently working hard on two novel length stories ("Strangers at Drakeshaugh" and "James and Me") Both are first-person, and both have Muggle narrators. I love writing them, and I hope to get at least one of them (Strangers at Drakeshaugh) completed before the year end. However, over recent weeks (while I've been working on the next "Interlude" chapter of "Strangers") I've come to realise that I miss writing from a third-person perspective, and using the familiar setting of Hogwarts. I joined the Golden Snitch Community last year, and became a brave Gryffindor at Hogwarts. Since then, I have been conspicuous by my absence from the community.

The "Tomato Day" Challenge offered the opportunity to write some short, Hogwarts set, stories, so I embraced it. With chapter lengths of 1000-2500 words, these stories will be closer to "Tales of the Battle", "Moon", Moons" & "Epithalamium" than they are to my other stuff.

Prompt 1. Write a story set in the Prefect's bathroom. (10 points)

Bonus prompts: (word) tomato, (word) soil, (object) towel, (dialogue) "Are you sure we're alone in here?", (character) Moaning Myrtle. (5 points for each prompt). This story features all five, so is worth 35 points.

Exactly 2000 words (not including this note).


'Um… Where are you going?' the Prefect asked hesitantly. The girl was carrying a damp towel, and was standing in front of the door Ginny wanted to go through.

Taking a good look at the far-from-forceful female in front of her, Ginny assessed her options. The prefect was very tall, but her stance was an awkward slouch that rendered her impressive height ineffectual. Her thick black hair gleamed in the flickering candlelight and the flames reflected in the thick-lensed, black rimmed glasses she wore. Unable to see her eyes, Ginny found it difficult to get the measure of this barrier to her progress.

As she faced the Prefect, Ginny dredged through her mind looking for a name. She couldn't find it, but something about the girl made her think of Colin Creevey. That was enough to make her bite off the sarcastic response she'd been forming. Instead, she replied to the Prefect's question with one of her own.

'Are you in the Hogwarts camera club?'

Startled, the girl nodded.

'I think Colin mentioned you.' The girl slumped even further when Ginny spoke the name.

Her suspicions confirmed, Ginny wished she'd paid more attention to Colin's enthusiastic chattering about photography. In an attempt to hold back the waves of concern she felt for her missing classmate, she concentrated on remembering his words. "She's in the camera club with me, and she's been made Prefect! It's amazing! She's really nice, and a technically brilliant photographer, but she wouldn't say boo to a goose. You must know her, she's in our potions class. Really tall, black hair, glasses." The Colin in her mind was, like the missing real person, an enthusiastic chatterbox.

'Have…' the tall girl's voice was no more than a whisper, and her head swivelled frantically as she tried to assure herself that there was no one else in the vicinity. 'Have you heard from… him… is he alright?'

Surprised by the girl's apparent concern, Ginny answered. 'There's a rumour he's on the run, but I don't actually know.' As she reassessed the girl, she remembered another extremely important piece of information, "…she's been made Slytherin Prefect…" Alarm bells rang in her brain, and common sense took over. 'He was a Mudblood, we weren't that close,' she added dismissively.

The girl was obviously shocked by Ginny's response. Even through the distorting lenses of the girl's glasses, Ginny could see her eyes blinking rapidly.

'Granger…' the Prefect began suspiciously.

'Granger was close to Harry,' Ginny snapped. 'I had to pretend to like her. Not that it did any good. That git Potter dumped me! Now, can I go to the hospital wing?' She raised her bandaged hand.

Seeing the red oozing through the bandage, the Prefect went pale. 'Yes,' she whispered.

Hurrying past the girl, Ginny turned the next corner, checked to make sure that the corridor she now stood in was completely deserted, and waited. Listening to the receding footsteps, she was wondering whether it was too soon to check to see if the girl was out of sight, when a voice whispered in her ear. 'Fenella has gone, Ginny, the corridor is clear.'

'Hngh!' Years of pretending that her twin brothers hadn't actually frightened her when they'd rigged a trap or trick, or simply jumped out at her, allowed Ginny to divert the scream and turn it into a rather squeaky nasal whine.

'Sorry. Did I startle you?' Luna Lovegood asked, removing a Disillusionment Charm from herself.

'Of course you didn't!' Ginny's protestation was assessed, and dismissed. She found herself caught in her grey-eyed friend's searching stare.

'You're very good at lying, Ginny,' Luna observed.

'I couldn't exactly tell that Slytherin Prefect the truth, could I?' Ginny replied, still denying her surprise, and answering the question she wanted Luna to have asked. Before her friend could correct her, Ginny gently placed a forefinger on the Ravenclaw student's lips. 'Let's go, before someone else arrives,' she whispered.

Luna nodded, and they crept quietly along the corridor towards the Prefect's bathroom. They'd almost reached their goal, the door where she'd met the Prefect, when Ginny heard a faint noise. She flung her arm over Luna's shoulder and began limping. 'You're taking me to the Hospital Wing,' she whispered.

Luna tilted her head to one side, sniffed, and called out softly, 'It's us, Neville.'

Neville Longbottom was scratching his head as he stepped out from the shadows. 'How did you know it was me?'

'I saw you two hours ago, before curfew. You were helping Professor Sprout in greenhouse three.'

As was often the case, Luna's reply left Ginny, and—based on his expression—Neville, none the wiser. 'What?' Ginny asked.

'Can't you smell the soil on his shoes?' Luna asked.

'Soil?' Ginny asked. As Neville approached, she sniffed. Wrinkling her nose in distaste, she added, 'Whatever that is, it isn't soil.'

'Hippogriff dung, probably,' said Neville cheerfully. 'It's an important ingredient in one of Professor Sprout's compost mixes. This year she's growing as much Dittany as she can; she's worried we'll need it.' He stared at Ginny's bandaged hand. 'It looks like you already do. What happened? Are you badly hurt?'

'No,' Luna interjected before her friend could reply, and turned her disconcerting gaze on Ginny. 'Why do you have a bandage full of tomato ketchup on your hand, Ginny?' she asked.

'It was my excuse to be out of bounds,' Ginny protested, suddenly feeling a little foolish. 'I'm on my way to the hospital wing. It worked, that prefect thought it was blood.'

'Then her olfactory abilities must be severely impaired,' Luna observed.

'What?' asked Neville.

'No sense of smell,' Ginny explained.

'Exactly, if she'd smelt the tomato, she'd have known you were trying to fool her. You told me to be careful, so I Disillusioned myself. You aren't thinking straight, Ginny. You are much too worried about Harry, Ron and Hermione.'

'Let's get out of the corridor and into the Prefect's bathroom,' Neville suggested. 'We can talk inside.'

Seething from Luna's comment, Ginny stoppered her annoyance and turned to the door. 'Damp squib,' she told it. It silently swung open, and Ginny led her friends inside. Bolting the door behind them, she turned on Luna. 'What do you mean, "much too worried"?' she demanded. The stresses of the lies she'd been telling everyone who asked—and herself, she suddenly realised—caused a collapse in her defences. Her façade of indifference fell. 'They vanished from the middle of Bill's wedding. You were there, Luna! The Death Eaters are after them! Aren't you worried about them?'

'Of course I am,' said Luna evenly.

'We're all worried, Ginny,' Neville added. 'That's why we're here!'

'But we're under age, Ginny, and we're at Hogwarts,' Luna continued evenly. 'We don't know where they are, or what they are doing. Worrying won't help them, and it won't help us. Harry needs us to help him, not to worry about him. We need to…'

'We need to plan, we need to resist the Carrows, and Snape, we need to fight back,' Neville's voice was firm and commanding. The two girls looked at him in amazement, and he faltered. 'Don't we?' he asked.

'Damn right we do, mate,' Ginny told him, smiling.

'This is a really remarkable room,' Luna observed. 'I almost wish I'd been made a Prefect. Are you sure we're alone in here?'

'Possibly not,' admitted Ginny worriedly. 'Myrtle!'

The spectacle-wearing spectre floated up through the floor. 'How did you know I was here?'

'Harry,' Ginny began.

Myrtle floated rapidly forwards, stopping only when her translucent nose was inches away from Ginny's. 'Harry? Harry Potter? Where is he?' Myrtle demanded. Ginny tried to focus on the girl's eyes, but Luna had walked behind the ghost, so she found herself looking through Myrtle at Luna.

'Who are you? Are you his girlfriend?' Myrtle continued to fire questions at Ginny.

'Who are you?' Neville asked, staring in surprise at the ghost.

Myrtle began to wail.

'You're the ghost of Myrtle Elizabeth Warren, aren't you?' said Luna. 'You're supposed to haunt the girl's bathroom. You're the newest ghost in the school, and the only one who actually died here.'

'You've heard of me?' Myrtle sounded pleased.

'Of course,' Luna said.

'So do I. Harry told me all about you,' Ginny told the ghost. 'You're famous,' she added, remembering what Harry had said. 'Could you do us a favour, could you keep lookout in the corridor. If you see anyone coming, let us know. Please?'

'Why, what are you doing in here?' Myrtle asked. 'Two girls and a boy sharing the Prefect's bathroom? You're plotting something, aren't you?' She peered at them through glasses even thicker than those worn by the Prefect. 'And, none of you have Prefect's badges,' she added suspiciously. 'How did you get in?'

'I'm Gryffindor Quidditch Captain,' said Ginny. 'I was given the password when I got the Captain's badge.'

'And we're simply here to talk,' Neville said.

'You helped Harry,' Ginny said. 'Would you please help us, too?'

'He hurt that blond boy, last year,' Myrtle said.

'He was really sorry about it afterwards,' said Ginny. 'Harry cast a spell he'd read in a book, and he didn't know what it did. Do you know who invented the spell?'

Myrtle shook her head.

'I'll tell you, if you keep watch for us,' Ginny said.

'Tell me now!' Myrtle demanded.

'When we leave,' Ginny countered firmly. 'If you keep watch outside.'

'Huh!' Myrtle exclaimed, silently stamping a ghostly foot. Despite her annoyance, she floated out through the bolted door.

'That was clever, Ginny.' Luna stared at the door. 'Myrtle's a Ravenclaw, she's always looking for answers.'

'If she's going to be here all the time,' Neville said. 'We need to find somewhere else to meet.'

'You're serious then?' Ginny asked.

'Yes,' he told her. 'It's time to reform Dumbledore's Army.'

'There aren't many of us left,' Ginny pointed out. 'Fred, George, Lee, Angelina, Alicia, and Katie have all left school.'

'You forgot Cho Chang, Ginny,' Luna added.

Ginny shrugged. 'And all of the Muggleborn's are on the run,' she added. 'The Creeveys, Dean, and that Hufflepuff boy.'

'Justin Finch-Fletchley,' Neville supplied. 'And Hannah Abbott left school at the beginning of last year, when her mother was murdered. No one has seen her since. That's almost halved our numbers. Even if we assume that all of the others will still be interested, that's no more than a dozen people, including us. I'll speak to Seamus when I get back to the dorm, I know he only attended one meeting, but…'

'Seamus will be fine,' Ginny said. 'I'll speak to Lavender and Parvati.'

'Lavender?' Neville queried. 'Are you sure? She seems a bit…'

'She was sorted into Gryffindor, Neville,' Ginny reminded him, and there's no way I could tell Parvati and not invite Lavender, too.'

'True,' Neville gave a rather reluctant nod of agreement. 'Luna, can you talk to the Ravenclaws? But only if you think they can be trusted.'

'Of course they can,' Luna assured him. 'I'll speak to them tomorrow.'

'Great,' Neville gave her a grateful smile. 'I'll have a word with Ernie Macmillan; there's only him, Susan Bones, and…'

'No!' said Ginny forcefully. 'Zacharius Smith is an idiot, and besides, he hates me.'

'Hates you?' Neville adked.

'I accidentally crashed my broom into him last year,' Ginny reminded Neville.

'Accidentally?' Luna queried.

'Accidentally on purpose. The twins do that sort of thing all the time.' Ginny shrugged. 'I don't trust him, Neville. Make sure that Ernie and Susan don't say anything to him.'

'If you're sure.' Neville nodded. 'I'm going to see if I can figure out how to get into that hidden practice room Harry used.'

'Harry told me how it works,' Ginny said. 'He called it the Room of Requirement.'

'It will be better than this place,' Neville nodded. 'No nosy ghosts to worry about. But Harry's not here, so who's going to be our leader?'

'You!' Ginny and Luna said in unison.