You must read Declaro and Pervinco first. Find links to those stories here or (in slightly revised versions) at skyehawke under my author link.
Concensio 1: The Glass Menagerie (A)
Ginny listened to the feet passing in the hall, and when they had passed without stopping she gave a tiny huff of relief and turned another page. In the photograph, Harry Potter smiled an abashed smile and waved half-heartedly, as if he'd been asked too many times. He was framed by applauding hands, and smiling and interested faces moved in and out of view. Harry ducked his head a little and glanced off to the side. After watching the photograph for hours, probably, if you added all the minutes together, she knew he was glancing at a specific dark shoulder to his left. It turned aside, revealing other happy faces, but it would be back. In the small picture on page two, she knew, the same shoulder stood beside the Headmaster and shifted in annoyance at the Minister's speech. She'd glared at that picture of Professor Snape quite a lot as well, but she hated this one far more for the way it made Harry blush and hide a smile.
There was a knock at the door and Ginny kept quiet, hoping they'd just do whatever they were doing without her. She did know a concealing charm, but if it was her mother that would only cause more of a fuss – Mother absolutely forbade them to do magic in the house, not that it had ever stopped the twins. There was another knock.
"Ginny?" her father said, from outside the door. Dad never came to her room.
She shoved the Witch Weekly under her pillow and threw herself under the covers just before he opened the door.
"Are you asleep?"
"Hmm. Dad?" she said, sleepily.
"It's the middle of the day, Ginny. As we've got this extra day together and it's so nice, your Mother's organised a picnic – we do hope you're going to join us."
"If it's all right, can I just stay here? You know, all that chaos last night."
He nodded, looking around her room as if for something they could talk about. "Of course. Yes. Ron says everyone is well, though."
"He talked to Harry?" Ginny said, straightening the ruffle on the edge of her quilt.
"To Professor Snape, I believe. But he's sure Harry is fine."
What Professor Snape told Ron wasn't any kind of reassurance as far as Ginny was concerned.
"Do you need another day at home?" he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if things were rather in an uproar at Hogwarts, although I'm sure they'll do their best."
She'd overheard enough of her father's conversation with Bill last night – and Bill knew about the little alcove at the top of the stairs, they all did, so it wasn't really spying on him – to know he was disturbed by something at the school. And she could probably guess what it was.
"Dad?" she said quietly, and he came over and rather awkwardly settled beside her. After a moment he ruffled her hair.
"What's the matter, Miss Ginny?"
"It's wrong isn't it, what's going on at Hogwarts?"
His hand stilled on her shoulder. "What do you mean?"
And even if she wasn't exactly right, it was worth the risk, and she had a right to know.
"You know what I mean, Dad. And well, I don't think they should let teachers make declarations to students, not that anyone thinks Professor Sprout isn't just offering Neville a job but. . . you know what I mean."
Her father didn't say anything, but he did look more worried, so she ventured, "And it's nothing to do with them both being wizards," just to be absolutely clear who they were talking about, "but it's creepy to think that teachers might be looking at you that way."
He hesitated for a minute and then looked at her rather sternly. "You shouldn't be implying that kind of thing, Ginny. It's not nice, and. . ."
"Everybody knows, Dad."
He rubbed anxiously at his brow and she knew it was true. Professor Snape really was having sex with Harry.
"It's the Rite, of course, and people used to do things differently. . . not that it's any excuse because there are decent limits, and I'm surprised, I really am, at everyone concerned, and. . . and even if the situation is complicated. . ."
"It's just so wrong, Dad."
"Yes, Ginny. Really, I do agree. Even if there are special circumstances."
"What will you do?" Ginny said, sitting up eagerly.
"I'll have to think about it," he said, looking at her worriedly and then glancing down beside her. With one hand he pulled the Weekly out from under her pillow. Harry waved tentatively at them and glanced off to one side with a barely there smile.
"It's a nice picture," he said, a little sadly, and she nodded, embarrassed even though they all knew how she felt.
"You know, your mother's still very worried that you. . . that you spend too much time thinking about Harry."
"Dad," she said, with obvious exasperation.
"I know you like him very much. . ."
"I'm seventeen." She tugged the magazine back out of his hands. "Seventeen. The same age Mother was when she met you." He looked a little taken aback although Merlin knew she'd said this so many times. "I don't like Harry very much; I love him."
He put a careful hand on her shoulder and she forced herself not to petulantly shake it off. "But you do realise, don't you, that Harry isn't in love with you."
"He just doesn't understand," she said. "Do you remember saying that almost as soon as you met Mother you just knew how things would work out because you complemented each other so perfectly?"
"I. . ." She was just going to scream if he tried to say it was different. "Yes. I do say that, don't I?"
"Well that's how it is with Harry and I, and you know his childhood was just awful and it's no wonder he's confused and thinks crazy things. All of what's happening now, it doesn't make him happy."
"Ginny," her father said tiredly. "I like Harry very much, and if things were different I'd be happy to see you spend time getting to know him. . ." He caught Ginny's angry look and stopped. "You know who you should talk to about this? Hermione."
Ginny threw herself back on her pillow in frustration.
"She's been one of Harry's best friends for years and your own age and while she's here. . . I think it would be good for you to talk to her." He patted her shoulder helpfully.
Ginny bit down on the urge to say there were only three people she was less interested in talking to about Harry than Hermione Granger. But this was obviously all Mother's idea.
"All right, Dad."
"Oh good," he said, looking so relieved she almost felt bad for worrying him. "So, you're really too tired for a picnic?"
"Do you mind?" The last thing she wanted was to watch Ron and Her-perfectness mooning over each other, as if it wasn't bad enough she had to share her room with Hermione for another day while Harry was already at Hogwarts with Snape.
Well Dad could talk to the Minister who would force Dumbledore to at least make him leave Harry alone.
"I said we'll be in the usual spot by the willow if you change your mind."
He gave her hand a little squeeze and got up.
"You will do something, won't you Dad? About the other thing? Cause it's just awful, creepy, we all think so, especially the girls."
He gave her another concerned look. "I'm sure that it was completely mutual, you know, that none of the Hogwarts staff would. . ."
"But he's confused, Dad, and the Professors all seem so important, and it's even worse because he's really lonely and it's cutting him off from his friends even more."
"Yes. Yes. Just leave it to me."
Ginny watched him close the door quietly behind him and curled up much more happily with her magazine, enjoying the rare sound of The Burrow in silence.
Hermione watched Ginny cross the room to the stairs, still avoiding her. Despite her best efforts last night, because the girl was quite expert at sheltering behind a house full of people, she still had no idea why Ginny was getting her father in such a state about Malfoy and Remus. Hermione would have expected that to seem more like an opportunity than a threat to Ginny, but evidently not. Mr Weasley hadn't been appeased at all by Hermione's insistence that if the relationship was sexual, and no one really knew that it was, there would never have been any coercion involved.
Hermione took a chair by the fire and curled her feet up beneath her because the room still wasn't warm yet. She couldn't quite concentrate on First Principles of the Animagii though. She was in two minds about whether she should just confront Ginny. As Head Girl she could give Ginny detention with Professor McGonagall and duck in beforehand to have it out, but it did seem a bit hypocritical given that she couldn't deny that there was something quite wrong with the whole thing. The real problem was that while she wasn't sure about Remus and Malfoy, she was sure about Professor Snape and Harry. The last time Harry had talked about it, things hadn't gone very far, really, and Hermione thought she'd know if things had become more serious, but there was something very inappropriate about it all, for which the Rite might be just a cover.
The other Gryffindors gathered rather quietly, a lot of whispering but none of the usual noisy gossip. Harry made a brief appearance and was hugged and quietly congratulated on the way to somewhere else, and even Hermione wasn't demanding to know where. They'd all become so invested in and just so used to the Rite in the last few months that it was almost impossible to believe it was just another trap for the Boy-Who-Lived. Hermione had heard an edited version of the attack and rescue from Ron, who had heard it from Snape, which probably made it accurate. She'd heard several more detailed and farfetched versions since she stepped through the Floo this morning. The invitation from Cho to join a Ravenclaw study group had also included a note on the back of the card in Cho's tiny neat hand saying she'd heard that the Combined Magics exhibition had been rigged so that Harry would get the cursed pin. The same story had reached other Gryffindors too and only Ginny seemed to utterly disbelieve it.
Although she might be biased to the point of being obsessed with Harry's virtues, Ginny was cleverer than most people assumed, although Mrs Weasley seemed to have a fair idea what she was like. Possibly everyone else just assumed she was as straightforward as Ron and the twins. If they knew her brothers better, people generally thought of Ginny as sweet and young and probably put upon, or if they knew her better, as sporty, quite clever, and maybe a little reserved. But she was also very observant, and not only with people she was virtually stalking, manipulative too, and probably the most intelligent person in her family or her year. Hermione sometimes wondered if she should have taken Ginny in hand when the thing with Harry started becoming more than just a crush, but Ginny was hard to approach. And now things were even worse.
They were waiting at least another half hour before the call to a seventh-year assembly finally came, but Hermione still hadn't really read a word, or rather she'd read the same paragraph at least ten times without understanding it. She gathered her things together quite crossly.
It wasn't her responsibility, and if Remus was. . . even if Harry was. . . well it wasn't her place to defend it or even protect them. Of course she didn't want things getting out of hand either, and you could be sure Malfoy wasn't some innocent victim in it all even though Remus would be the one in trouble, but he really should know better. As everyone else gossiped and laughed down the stairs, Hermione worried about whether it would be crazy to try and talk to him, or maybe Professor McGonagall. And what about Ginny, and how were things really going with Harry, he seemed so distracted now, and what would Ron say if he knew about either of them. Then there was the problem of how the latest complications would interfere with the study programme they'd planned for after Halloween - it had always been 'we'll worry about the exams after Halloween, Hermione' and now it was after Halloween and still all anyone cared or talked about was the Rite. But then she'd always known she would probably have to rely on the Ravenclaws to understand her long lists of NEWTs and her firm intention to make the most of their increased free study periods after Christmas.
Harry and Ron were waiting outside the staff common room, heads bent together. It was wonderful to know they'd managed to stay friends through all the changes of this year, although Hermione couldn't help feeling a bit cut out. They'd each had their problems this year, some of which seemed finally to be under control - Hermione was instantly aware of the heavy ring on her finger - but somehow Harry and Ron managed to get by just not talking about it, and that wasn't enough for her. They gave her warm smiles, though, and immediately included her in chatting about Nearly Headless Nick's weird behaviour today, appearing all over the place insisting to apparently random Gryffindors that he never spread gossip of any kind and they wouldn't be getting any gossip out of him. It was strange, but you couldn't actually worry about something like that, and Hermione was let into the assembly with all the others feeling quite a lot happier, with Ron's hand brushing pleasant tingles across her back as they found three seats together.
The upper end of the Gryffindor table watched the Ravenclaw seventh year arrive at breakfast as a group, Cho and Lisa in the middle, defiantly wearing their white robes, Terry watching responses at the high table, others looking around the student body. It was a unified statement, despite the fact that everyone else wore standard black robes as instructed.
"Why are they bothering?" Seamus asked.
"Maybe if you've been really focused on getting it exactly how you want," Pavarti said, "it's infuriating to be told it's all been cancelled."
"Is Padma upset?" Neville asked, and Pavarti looked pretty upset herself, and they'd all noticed that she and Padma appeared to be arguing about something or other, but they never got to hear her answer because there was a wave of excited noise as the mail came in. Amid the fluster of more letters and news than they'd seen in ages everyone still noticed, or at least with some nudging and pointing they all noticed, Sinistra and McGonagall's animated conversation at the teacher's table. The space between them was usually filled by Flitwick, but no one had seen him since the end of the Trial. Dumbledore intervened, and Sinistra got up and, with a very upright and imposing air, came down from the high table to speak with her senior students.
Seamus did manage to unfurl the Prophet and scan the front page. "Fudge still refuses to issue a formal statement on behalf of the Ministry until 'certain information has been confirmed'. That would be the 'which side was Malfoy on' information, I bet." Most of them laughed and even Hermione smiled. "And there's something here by Vermeel defending the Rite too. . . blah blah. . . . Hah! Basically saying people are always attacking Harry so that doesn't prove anything!"
Dean's "Where is Harry, anyway?" was lost in the rush of murmuring as the Ravenclaw seventh year all got up to leave again after a few minutes of whispering with their Head of House.
"Since when are Ravenclaws such team players?" Dean said, but most people were watching McGonagall stride off in the other direction, towards the Tower.