Title: Veritas Amo

Author: Rosa di Corte

Category: Romance/Mystery

Pairing: Draco/Ginny, Ginny/Draco

Summary: Amidst the Second War, in a changing world, two people – Ginevra Weasley and Draco Malfoy – find themselves; and each other... D/G

Spoilers: Books 1-5; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Quidditch Through the Ages

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related characters and concepts are the property of J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic, and Warner Bros., among others. Only the plot and any unfamiliar characters are mine.


CHAPTER 1

The sparse rays of the winter sun filtered through the closed windows of the fifth year girls' dormitory in the Gryffindor Tower. Four beds were arranged in a circle, leaving room for a spacious maroon rug to lie in the center, complementing the surrounding scarlet and gold décor. The occupants of the beds should have all been still slumbering, enjoying the last hour of dream time available before they would be forced to awaken and face another day of classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They all should have been asleep, but one was not.

Ginevra Weasley – or Ginny, as she has been called by family and friends for as long as she can remember – sat on the sill of the window closest to her bed, wrapped in a comforter and gazing out onto the grounds of Hogwarts. For the past few years – or, more specifically, since the end of her first year – this had become somewhat of a ritual. Sleep, when it came, was not kind to her psyche. So, more often than not, Ginny would find herself rising with Apollo himself. Over the years, dawn had grown to be her favorite time of day. She had discovered the magic present in the beginning of a new day, especially the peaceful moments before the rest of the world would wake, and reality would slide back into focus.

Ginny sighed as she realized that the other girls would be waking within the hour to ready for classes – too soon for her liking. But in a few days, all three of her roommates would be leaving for their respective destinations – whether vacation sites or homes – for the Christmas holidays. Then she would have the room all to herself, which was something Ginny was much anticipating. Her need for personal space and time alone was one of the reasons she strove so hard to be at the top in her classes, and maintain good standing with the faculty. She knew she was a leading contender for Head Girl in her seventh year, and that such a position stipulated a private bedroom.

Ginny did not like to think of the other factor of her academic success: Tom Riddle, whose ambition – among other traits – seemed have rubbed off on her a bit.

She shivered as snippets of memory from her first year – the confusion, terror, and utter betrayal – returned to taunt her. Almost by instinct, her vision swept over to the lake, and she took a long, deep breath as she felt her heart rate calm a bit. There was some soothing effect that water seemed to have on her, even from this distance. As a child, she would often wander down to the pond behind the Burrow, sitting by the small body of water to read, write, draw, or simply just to get lost in thought while gazing at the water's surface. Here at Hogwarts, she loved to sit by the lake and watch the wind move ripples across previously smooth planes, unbelying of the enchanted world of merpeople and sea-creatures below.

A movement caught out of the corner of her eye rose Ginny out of her scattered reverie, and she turned to face the disturbance. Her roommate, Theresa Kensington, was stirring, a sure indication that it would not be long before she, as well as the other two girls in the dorm, woke. Ginny threw one last wistful glance toward the lake before silently making her way back to her own bed. After depositing her blanket on the bed, she stopped at her trunk to gather her clothing for the day and her shower kit, before making her way to the lavatory located adjacent to the fifth year girls' dorm. Although she had access to the Prefects' Bathroom, Ginny usually preferred to get ready in her dorm. After quickly brushing her teeth and scrubbing her face, she spent more than a few minutes under the spray of a steaming hot shower, to compensate for the blanket she had had to relinquish at the official start of the new day.

Stepping out of the shower, Ginny hurriedly cast a drying charm and threw on her school ensemble – a once-white button-down shirt passed down from some indeterminable brother, a gray pleated skirt from the second-hand store, and Ron's old robes that he grew out of in his third year. She ran a brush through her long red hair before giving herself a quick once over in the mirror by the bathroom doorway. Ginny sighed a bit dejectedly at the picture she presented, before shrugging it off and entering her dorm room to grab her prefect pin – Fred and George had been so disappointed when that had arrived in the mail last summer. She then headed down to the common room, and, upon finding it blissfully empty, walked confidently out of the portrait hole.

After a quiet "Good morning" to the Fat Lady in the portrait, Ginny made her way down to the Great Hall. She was usually one of the first to arrive for breakfast, although she rarely had much of an appetite. When she reached her destination, Ginny found that, as was usual for this time on a weekday, it was barely filled – a few studious Ravenclaws were talking quietly amongst themselves, one or two Hufflepuffs lay half asleep in their plates, and a handful of grim-looking Slytherins were scattered across the table of the snake house. Ginny found herself to be the only Gryffindor present, but as this was not unusual, she simply took a seat and began to fill her plate. Some days Hermione Granger would be down here, with her nose stuck in some ancient volume or other, but Ginny knew that Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley – her own dear brother – had returned to the common room quite late last night, so she did not expect the older girl to be present too early this morning.

Ah, the "Dream Team," as Harry, Hermione, and Ron had been affectionately – or not so affectionately – dubbed. The trio was an inseparable unit that worked each year to keep the wizarding world safe.

Yeah.

Right.

It would be more appropriate to describe them as three extremely curious, adventure-seeking teenagers who have a lot of luck – and smarts (Hermione), and power (Harry) – on their side, and manage to foil evil's plans time and time again. Ginny snorted quietly to herself as she considered the three sixth years in question. She had no real harsh feelings towards the trio, she just found them at many times to be quite wrapped up in their own little world, inadvertently alienating other students, especially 'little sisters.'

Ginny was quite used to being shut out by now.

Before arriving at Hogwarts, she had lived in the Burrow with her parents and brothers. Being the only girl had limited her social growth somewhat in the house, and she had rarely played with other children, as Molly Weasley had liked to keep her close so as to keep an eye on her. When the boys had played quidditch or decided to rough-house, she had simply sat alone and watched, as they laughed and fought with each other. This had not kept her from learning how to fly or picking up a few techniques to defend herself – behind their backs, of course. At times, Ron would play with her – usually when the twins had been heavily picking on him – and they would go down to the pond by their lop-sided house, or venture into the small woods to play hide and seek. Ron had been the one to teach her how to play wizard's chess, and he had been the one who would listen when she felt like being a chatter-box and no one else would pay attention – which, in a house of nine people, happened more often than not. In those years, Ron had been her closest confidant, her best friend, and her favorite brother.

But then the time had come for Ron to go to Hogwarts, where he had met Harry and Hermione – and the rest, as they say, is history. Ginny had spent her first year hoping Ron would acknowledge her as a friend once more, not to mention majorly crushing on Harry Potter; but both had been in vain. She had formed tentative friendships with the other three girls in her dorm, but had ended up feeling left out when much of the conversation steered towards clothes and boys – clothes she could not afford, and the one boy she had eyes for treated her as though she were invisible; and the girls in her dorm had known it. In her loneliness, she had turned to a diary.

The diary.

Ginny shivered and continued to play absentmindedly with the food on her plate as the memories overcame her.

Tom Riddle had seemed to be the perfect friend: he had listened to what she had to say – or write – and had offered advice when it was requested. He had comforted her when the other girls giggled at her faded robes and worn- out shoes, told her stories to take her mind off of how dejected she felt when being ignored by Ron and Harry, and helped her with her homework when she was stuck on a particularly tricky spell or potion. She should have known that it was too good to be true – that someone who actually cared to listen to what she had to say, liked her for who she was, and understood her in ways she had never thought possible, could not be real.

It had started with missing time. She could not remember where she had been during the Halloween feast, and other random intervals; she had woken up with a substance that looked suspiciously like blood on her robes, and feathers surrounding her. When she had told Tom about it, he simply replied that she should not worry. It had taken her too long to stop trusting that damn diary, and when she had finally thought she had disposed of it, who should find it but Harry Potter himself. Valentine's Day that year, after that horrid singing Valentine – sent by Fred and George for the sole purpose of seeing how red Ginny could get – had been delivered, Ginny had seen the book of her nightmares in the hands of Draco Malfoy, who had picked it up from Harry's belongings.

In hindsight, stealing the book back had probably not been the best move, but she had been desperate to ensure that the devil in the diary – one of the less colorful references she had devised for Tom Riddle – would not betray her further by revealing her secrets to the boy she had fancied herself in love with. Pathetic, yes, Ginny was willing to concede that much. But she had been only twelve at the time, and was allowed some error in judgment. In the end, her misplaced trust and determination to keep what she had told Tom secret had landed her on the cold, damp floors of the Chamber of Secrets. After having been saved by Harry, and facing a solemn Dumbledore and her worried parents following the incident, Ginny had decided that trust was not something she would ever give lightly again.

Her next few years at Hogwarts had passed relatively uneventfully... for her personally that is. When the dementors had boarded the Hogwarts Express at the beginning of her second year, it was Tom's voice, Tom's laugh that she had heard in the darkness. The escape of Sirius Black had had everyone on edge, and Ginny had managed to gather, from the snippets of conversation she caught before Harry, Hermione, and Ron would notice her presence, that Black was after Harry – not too unbelievable considering he had been thought to be one of Voldemort's most loyal followers.

Ginny's third year had brought the Tri-wizard tournament, and with it the Yule Ball and the final demise of her romantic feelings for Harry Potter. While her crush on Harry had lasted for over three years (beginning with her glimpse of him at Platform 9 ¾ in his first year), its end had come swiftly – or so she would like to think – when it had become clear to her that he cared very little for any feelings she may harbor toward him. When he had stated right in front of her that he had been turned down by the pretty Ravenclaw seeker Cho Chang when he had asked her to the Yule Ball, Ginny had thought her heart may never heal from the rip that seemed to tear into her chest. She gave up on Harry Potter ever caring for her as anything more than 'Ron's little sister' that day.

"Good morning, Ginny!" came a very familiar voice, breaking her away from the thoughts that had been consuming her. She looked up in time to see Hermione slide into the seat directly across from her. The elder girl smoothed over her crisp uniform in her seat and tucked a strand of her now- tamed honey-brown hair behind her ear, before helping herself to some toast and scrambled eggs.

"Morning, Hermione," Ginny replied with a convincing smile. "Late night?" she asked – although she already knew the answer – as she vaguely directed her free hand to the ill-concealed dark circles under the sixth year's eyes.

Hermione returned a strained smile and replied carefully, "Yes, well, there is so much work to do before the winter holidays begin. The sixth years have seven feet of parchment due in Potions alone!"

Ginny decided to accept this answer for the sake of her sanity, and nodded before returning her attentions to her breakfast, and her thoughts.

While Ginny no longer acted as the living and breathing shadow of the Dream Team, she longed for them to acknowledge that she was not some child, and could help in the fight against Tom Riddle, or Lord Voldemort. This was a battle she fought with not only Harry, Hermione, and Ron, but with the rest of her family as well. She was the youngest, and the only girl, so the members of her family took it upon themselves to make sure she was shielded from anything having to do with the dark arts. This behavior was even more fervently practiced due to the events of her first year, she knew, but it aggravated Ginny to no end that the others could not see that she had learned and grown from the lessons taught by that experience.

In fact, it was because of her first year that she felt so acutely the desire to be working actively against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. What Tom Riddle had done to her may not have been as horrible as what he had done to Harry or the Longbottoms or Cedric Diggory. But that bastard had been in her head for almost a year, manipulating her into his willing puppet. She wanted to show him that he could not break her – that she was not some helpless little girl anymore. That was why she had been so determined to go to the Department of Mysteries last year with the trio and Neville and Luna – she needed to show them she had grown up and could take care of herself. She needed to show Tom that she was a force to be reckoned with.

And what had happened at the Department of Mysteries? She had been utterly useless. She had been threatened, only to have Harry step in front of her as a protector, and she had managed to get her ankle broken. Neville and Luna had at least aided the mission somewhat with their actions, but Ginny could do nothing but limp around. She couldn't even save Ron when that brain had been wrapping itself around him! And of course, that had been the day Sirius fell through the veil, never to return.

She had gone to prove herself, and ended up learning that she was not up to the challenge. No one had said anything to this effect, but the following summer at the Order Headquarters had found her once again outside of the loop, a trend that continued well through the school year to this morning.

Ginny set her fork down on her barely eaten plate of food, before gathering up her things and nodding farewell to Hermione. She exchanged quick hellos as she passed Ron and Harry, trudging through the doors of the Great Hall as she exited, both looking in dire need of a few more hours of sleep. Ginny fought away the niggling thoughts invading her mind regarding whatever new mystery the trio was investigating now – probably for the Order – and made her way out onto the castle grounds for a quick walk before she would need to arrive at Greenhouse Five for Herbology.

It absolutely galled Ginny that everyone else in her family, and Harry and Hermione, were notified of, and involved in the goings-on of the Order of the Phoenix. Still, her mother refused to allow her access to Order information, or to have Ginny in any way included in the various missions currently employed. Molly Weasley would listen to no one when it came to this issue: not the half-hearted attempts of Arthur, or Bill or Charlie. Even Dumbledore had tried to persuade her! It had been an early summer morning when Ginny had made her way downstairs after another night of scarce sleep, when she had come upon them: Ginny had hidden herself in the shadows as she listened to Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard of the age, try to persuade Molly to see that Ginevra was growing up, and she needed to be aware of what was going on around her to be able to protect herself. But had her mum listened? Of course not!

Ginny strode swiftly and deliberately through the snow towards the iced- over lake, trying to rid herself of the rage and frustration building steadily within. She knew her mother's decision influenced, at least in part, the trio's exclusion of her in their research this year – it was Order business, and she was not authorized access to such privileged information. The three conveniently overlooked how often they had sought out and retrieved information that was to be kept confidential from them, when they told her she could not know what they were researching or doing. Hermione, at least, had the decency to look a bit guilty at the patronization, but Harry and Ron seemed to prefer having Ginny out of the way. If she were thinking more clearly, Ginny would concede that Harry and Ron preferred having Ginny out of harm's way, but she was not feeling so generous this December morning.

After a few deep, calming breaths enjoyed by the lakeside, Ginny made her way to the Greenhouse for her first class. The fifth year Gryffindors had Herbology with the Ravenclaws, something Ginny looked forward to. When she arrived, Ginny found Luna Lovegood waiting outside for her, absently twirling a strand of her light blonde hair. Although many of her classmates found Luna to be weird – bordering crazy – Ginny found the other girl's calm, neutral mannerisms quite comforting. They had met during one of Ginny's visits to the Ravenclaw common room in her third year. Though an invitation had been extended by Michael Corner, the older boy had been running late for their get-together, and Luna had kindly let Ginny into the common room so she would not have to wait out in the halls. The girls had begun as casual acquaintances who, in the absence of other substantial company, grew closer to each other. Now that Ginny knew Luna, she was grateful for the spacey girl, and the humor Luna often unwittingly brought to conversation usually lightened Ginny's mood.

"Did you know that the Siberian Crupses have been rumored to be migrating north this winter, a behavior totally unlike their normal patterns of movement?" Luna asked in her dreamy voice, without so much as a greeting. But then again, their relationship was comfortable without such formalities. "Daddy said we could go look for them after Christmas Day. It would be quite a story for The Quibbler if we were to find anything on our expedition."

Ginny bit her lip to keep from smiling and answered in the most serious voice she could muster, "That sounds fascinating, Luna! Now tell me, what is a Siberian Crupse again?" As Luna went into detail about the six-legged furry being that could supposedly breathe fire, Ginny felt her earlier tension ease. This was why she adored her friend so – Luna's wonder and belief of things wizarding children stop believing in at the age of six was refreshing for Ginny.

The girls made their way to their seats and waited as the rest of the class arrived. Ginny waved as Alessa Rimone – a nice girl she had met through Michael Corner last year – said hello as she passed by to her seat with her Ravenclaw friends. Colin Creevey arrived with another fifth year Gryffindor, Noah Van Clauspen, and they seemed to be talking quidditch. While Ginny enjoyed the sport – as it would be impossible to grow up with six brothers and not gain an appreciation for the game – she thought it was way too early in the morning to be talking quidditch, but obviously Colin and Noah felt differently. Colin came to sit by Ginny and Luna as Noah went to save two seats for the other Gryffindor boys that were expected. Ginny smiled a hello to Colin while noticing her dorm mates enter the classroom with the missing Gryffindor boys. Amanda Nolsen was giggling at something Derrick Spinnet had said – the two had been dating for five weeks, as Amanda would smugly tell anyone who would listen. Bradley Ferguson pulled Derrick away from Amanda to sit in the seats Noah had saved, while Theresa Kensington and Kari Wong joined Amanda in her earlier giggling as they took their seats across from the boys. Ginny looked back to Colin, who had also noticed the exchange, and rolled her chocolate-brown eyes as he grinned at her in response.

Colin Creevey was not the mousy little first year who had followed Harry Potter around with a camera permanently glued to his forehead anymore. No, while Colin still enjoyed photography, he outgrew his hero-worship and revealed himself to be not only a great guy, but also a good friend. Ginny and Luna had gotten to know him and his brother Dennis better through the D.A., or Dumbledore's Army as the group was appropriately titled. Colin was very close to his brother, but after his fourth year, he and Dennis had drifted apart a bit – Colin spent time with Ginny and Luna, and sometimes Neville, while Dennis started to hang around the other Gryffindor third years more often. Ginny knew Colin sometimes missed the time he would spend with his brother, but Ginny saw that their time apart did not hurt their relationship at all – it made their bond all the stronger. If only my bond with Ron were anything like that, we'd have to be the best of friends by now, Ginny thought sourly.

She snapped out of her thoughts as Colin nudged her shoulder, and looked up to see that Professor Sprout had arrived and had begun lecturing. Ginny took out some parchment and a quill, and began taking down notes – there was a good chance that this material would be on the O.W.L.'s all of the fifth years would be taking at the end of the year...

.

.

Draco Malfoy maneuvered confidently through the halls of Hogwarts, smirking as the students parted to make room for him to pass. He was heading down to the dungeons for Potions after two abysmal hours of Transfiguration with McGonagall. It was not that he did not like the subject, he just found the lessons to be tedious – the tutors his father insisted he have during his summer holidays ensured that he was always well- prepared for the school-year. Draco sneered at the thought of his father, who was still rotting in Azkaban. Not for long, thought Draco. He knew that the Death Eaters would be moving soon to free their comrades from the prison. The dementors had already left months ago, and the new guards employed with the task of keeping the prisoners behind bars were a sorry replacement. The upcoming holidays presented an ideal time for attack, when people – victims, Draco thought irately – would be gathered together, creating appealing targets.

Draco shook is head slightly to rid himself of the angry and morbid thoughts, displacing a few strands of his platinum blond hair, before placing the cool, unemotional façade back on his pale, pointed face. As he continued down the stairwell, his silver-gray eyes revealed nothing of his thoughts. Less than six months ago, Draco had wanted nothing more than to join the ranks of the Death Eaters, serve Lord Voldemort, and gain power while ridding the world of muggle filth. When his father had been sent to Azkaban because of the meddling of Potter and his little gang, Draco's anger and hatred of the Boy Who Lived had reached a pinnacle. He had sworn vengeance, and had made sure Potter knew that it was coming. Of course, the incident with Potter's little club on the return trip of the Hogwarts Express had only added to the fiery rage that grew beneath Draco's cold exterior.

But when he had returned home to his mother, who had been all alone in their manor with only house elves for company after the imprisonment of her husband Lucius Malfoy, Draco had been met with a situation he could not have previously conceived. His mother – his beautiful, noble, elegant mother – had not been pining for her husband, or sending threats to the "right people" demanding her husband's return. Instead, she had been filled with an excitement he had never seen in her before. That summer, without the critical supervision of Lucius Malfoy, Draco had begun to know the woman who had played the part of distant matron all his life. And he had realized that the person he had always seen in the shadows of his father, was not the real Narcissa Black Malfoy at all.

"Draco," he heard the voice through his mental haze and turned to face the speaker. Blaise Zabini gave him a look that asked where he had just been. Draco slightly shook his head in a negative fashion, and Blaise simply raised a dark eyebrow before turning back to the cauldron and materials in front of him. Without realizing it, Draco had arrived at his seat in the Potions dungeon. He quickly looked up to the blackboard to see what potion was to be made. Draco smirked as he saw it was the Viscerion potion – one he had made over the summer. The potion had many meticulous steps, and the ingredients had to be carefully measured, but Draco found the process of making potions to be an art, and it calmed him greatly. He looked over in time to see the Mudblood scolding Weasel for starting the fire too soon – certain ingredients for this potion had to be mixed before being put to heat. Draco snorted, quietly – as the habit was not considered polite at all – and wondered, not for the first time, how Weasley and Potter had managed to get into N.E.W.T.'s level Potions. Draco would bet galleons that that was a question Snape pondered often as well, as the Professor in question took five points from Gryffindor when Potty added too much root of asphodel, and his potion began to emit a purple cloud.

Potter glared at Snape's back when the Professor turned to "assist" another student, and Draco could not resist the impulse to throw a superior smirk his way. Potter saw Draco and scowled, before turning his attention to trying to salvage his potion.

"Do you think they let the Gryffs in this class based on 'special circumstances?'" Pansy Parkinson drawled loud enough for the Gryffindors to hear. She glanced quickly at Snape, who was back at his desk, grading papers and studiously ignoring his students. "Really, think about it. They certainly did not get in on merit, so it must be charity. I mean, Weasley has no money, Granger has no proper heritage, and Potter has no parents," Pansy finished with a smirk that could only be worn by a Slytherin.

The Slytherins chuckled, as expected, while Draco's customary smirk graced his face. "If that's the criteria their using, Longbottom should be in here too," he drawled.

Weasley and Potter, who were previously being barely held back by Granger, wrestled out of her flimsy grasp to attack the Slytherins.

"POTTER! WEASLEY! What is going on here?" Draco sat back, satisfied, and watched the scene unfold. "Attacking other students? 50 points from Gryffindor, and a detention for each of you," Snape said with a sadistically pleased smirk on his face. "I will expect you tonight at seven, Mr. Weasley; and, Mr. Potter, tomorrow, same time."

"But Malfoy – " the Weasel began, but was cut of by Snape.

"But nothing Mr. Weasley, and 10 more points for your further insolence. Now return to your seats and complete the assigned potion before I decide to have you in for detention every night until the beginning of the holidays!" Snape announced before sweeping back to his desk.

A fuming Weasley – with his face as red as his hair – and a decidedly pissed off Potter returned to Granger's side to complete their work, as the chuckles of the Slytherins died down. Draco watched how the dumb-arse duo were cutting up their ingredients, and knew immediately their potions would not turn out as desired. Draco smiled – no, smirked – inwardly before returning to his own potion.

As he added ingredient after ingredient, and stirred when appropriate, Draco let his mind wander. While he was no longer certain of his stance toward Voldemort and his Death Eaters, Draco definitely still despised the Gryffindor "Dream Team." He was, however, feeling less than pleased about his comment regarding Longbottom – it was after all his Aunt Bellatrix that had tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom to the point of mental deficiency. Draco shrugged off the troublesome thoughts and turned back to his memories of the previous summer.

During his two and a half months at home, Draco had grown to know the woman his mother had been before Lucius' control, the woman she still was, away from that cold-hearted bastard. After his tutoring sessions each morning, which Narcissa Malfoy insisted he continue for his own benefit, the two would have lunch, and then proceed to spend the afternoon together. Some times he would work on summer assignments from the Hogwarts professors, while his mother would sit herself gracefully on a grand piece of furniture in the tearoom, reading a book of poetry. Other times they would spend time in the gardens, where he would help her with her prized rosebushes, or just out on the grounds of the Malfoy lands. Once they had even ridden their old steeds to the quaint village that remained standing as monument to the generations when Malfoy Lords had ruled over the province. That was one of his favorite memories, as he hadn't ridden with his mother since he was six, when Lucius deemed the activity "unfit for the Malfoy heir."

Most days, however, they would sit together and talk, while sharing tea and various pastries. Early on, Draco had learned of his mother's true views regarding Voldemort. While Narcissa Black Malfoy was a proud, pureblooded Lady, she abhorred the senseless and unnecessary violence promoted by the Dark Lord. Draco had sensed that she had been waiting long for an opportunity, out of Lucius' watchful eye, to speak with him about the harsh realities of Death Eater life.

"I understand that you are your father's son, Draco," she had said. "I would expect nothing less from you than to be the man Lucius has been trying to mold since your birth." She had paused then, and seemed to be gathering herself. "But, you are a Black, as well as a Malfoy, and for that reason I expect more for you than a life as the Dark Lord's servant."

And that had been the end of discussions regarding Voldemort and Death Eaters. After her quiet declaration, Narcissa had taken their time together to teach Draco about her ancestors, the Blacks, and their importance in the wizarding world.

Draco had never known much more than some general historical facts about his mother's family – his family. The Black line, much like the Malfoy line, was a noble one, and could be traced back to the Middle Ages. One afternoon, Narcissa had taken Draco to a room he had never before entered in the East Wing of Malfoy Manor. There, a tapestry hung in tribute to The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black. He had listened as his mother spoke of the legacy of the Blacks, which was linked to the very crux of the wizarding world. Draco had seen that at the top of the extensive family tree was Frederick Ellison Black, who was one of the twelve original founders of the Wizards' Council – the governmental body in power prior to the creation of the Ministry of Magic. Draco had already known of the Council, as the Malfoy line could be traced back to Jacques Anton Malfoy, another one of the original founders.

Narcissa had sometimes repeated historical knowledge he – as the Malfoy heir – had learned at a very early age. He had already known of the twelve founders of the first cohesive, political body created for the wizarding world – separately and secretly away from the muggle world. After Hogwarts had been founded in the early 900s, and Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor had sought out students to bring to their school, the wizarding community had grown more connected. Hogwarts, the first wizarding school built in Europe, brought together wizards who were scattered all over the continent and isles – mostly among muggles. Some of the first graduates of the school saw – amidst the blatant persecution of witches and wizards by muggles – the need for secrecy and a separate society for wizard-kind. The times of Merlin and Morgana – when wizards were properly respected and feared – were over. Twelve Hogwarts graduates – Black, Malfoy, Lestrange, Dolohov, Gideon, Kensington, Lendelle, Bragge, Tucker, Zabini, Muldoon, and Clagg – representing all four school founders, worked together to create a system upon which wizard-kind could thrive.

By studying the political history of muggles – both the mistakes and progress made – they created the Wizards' Council, which acted much like Arthur's Round Table. The twelve Lords of the council were equally powerful, and equally responsible for the provinces they had been designated. Land was not to be fought over and titles would not be gained by bloodshed, as was the custom in the earlier Middle Ages of muggle history. After a few generations, it was decided that a chief should be named for the council, for representative and negotiation purposes with other magical beings. The balance of power within the council, however – among the twelve Lords – remained unaltered by the changing chiefs, who were chosen by their fellow Lords.

This form of government worked well for centuries. However, in the early eighteenth century, the muggle concept of democracy spread into the wizarding world, and the people demanded that their voices be heard. The Lords of the Wizards' Council tried to hold off this increasingly popular political system, but the bloodbath that was the French Revolution caused the Nobles to realize that they could either change with their people, or their people could get rid of them and change on their own. The Wizards' Council cooperatively disbanded, but the Lords did not lose their titles, and were allowed to keep fractions of their lands. The Ministry of Magic was established in the late eighteenth century – a symbolic tribute to democracy.

And that was exactly what it was – a symbol. The Lords of the disbanded Wizard's Council were society's wealthiest citizens, and they played a large part in constructing the new government. If their titles could no longer wield the power they were used to possessing, then their wealth, influence, and positions in the newly developed wizarding society surely would. A few of the Lords took up high-ranking positions in the ministry, while some others ventured into the private sector.

The power and influence of the twelve Houses was not eradicated by the new form of government; in fact, most thrived on it, and the House of Black was no exception. Over the years, the Blacks, much like the Malfoys, amassed great fortunes. Narcissa had taken great pride in sharing with Draco the accomplishments of the members of the Black lineage. Various Lords of the House contributed to the honor of the Black name, including Lord Duncan Black, who acted as Minister of Magic for a short period in the late 1800s. Lord Rembrandt Black was Britain's first ambassador to the International Wizards' Confederation. Lord Galahad Black made great progress in the field of transportation with the Floo Network. And Narcissa's own great- great grandfather Phineas Nigellus Black passed on his title to his son before taking up the position of Headmaster of Hogwarts, the school which had first permitted and cultivated the creation of a world for wizards separate and safe from muggles.

Draco had been enthralled by the rich history of his family. His minimal prior knowledge of the House of Black, learned from his father's lessons on the progress of the twelve Houses, could not possibly have adequately encompassed what it meant to be a Black. Much like the Lord of the House of Malfoy, the Black Lord carried great power through societal standing and wealth; and with that power came great responsibility – responsibility for his House, for his people remaining on his ancestral lands, and for the greater wizarding society at large.

On the night before his journey on the Hogwarts Express to his sixth year of school, Narcissa had come to Draco's room as he sat reading quietly on his bed. The house elves had already packed his trunk and set it by the door, ready to be taken to the private Malfoy coach for the trip to King's Cross Station the next morning. She had seated herself in the antique chair which complemented his desk, and had looked at him before beginning. When she had spoken, her voice had taken on a tone that had indicated to Draco the importance of what was being revealed. Draco had put away the literature he had been reading, and turned his attention to her. Looking at her, he had seen that her eyes held a sincerity and quiet truth he had never before witnessed, as she shared a last bit of knowledge with him.

"You will be a man soon, Draco," she had begun quietly, and he had not dared interrupt, or insisted that he already was a man, but had listened intently. "You will come of legal age and graduate as a fully-trained wizard in less than two years." She had paused, and Draco had nodded slightly, whether in agreement or encouragement he himself had not been sure. "You must understand this, Draco: As much wealth as the twelve Lords of the Noble Houses possess, their power amongst themselves – in their inner Council – has always been balanced, and has always been passed on to the next heir in line." She had paused again and licked her lips, a nervous tendency she had never dared show in front of her son before. "What most do not realize, however, is that there is a distinct magic underlying the Lord of each house." Draco had attempted to keep his surprise from showing at this statement. "When the original twelve founders created a separate world for wizards, a raw magic was harnessed from the surrounding elements. Power was gathered from the flowing music of the wind, the deep currents of the water, the burning embers of the fire, and the very life of the land itself. This magic, this power, Draco, is the foundation for the world we live in. This same magic has run through the veins of every House Lord to inherit, and has been passed down innately to the rightful heir of each line for generations." Here, she had stopped again, and Draco could have sworn that, for a moment, she looked as though she would continue. Instead, she had studied him, with her emotions unusually unmasked, and a look on her face that he could not quite decipher, but had worried him nonetheless. She had shaken her head slightly then, and given him a slight smile, seeming to have come to some decision. She had stood slowly before coming over to where he sat unmoving, and brushed back loose silver-blond strands to lay a sweet kiss on his forehead, reminiscent of his early childhood. "That is enough for now," she had whispered. "Sleep well, my little Dragon." And with that, she had left his presence.

Draco had not slept well at all on that night, or any night since, really. His father had never mentioned anything about the magical power his mother had spoken of that night, but he did not doubt the truth in her statement. From the way she had voiced her words so deliberately – and hesitantly – it seemed as though Narcissa had been trying to tell him something more, something hidden just beneath the surface of her story. She had been trying to prepare him for something...

A sharp "Class dismissed!" broke Draco out of his reverie as he bottled up his potion to turn in for grading. He quickly gathered his things and made his way to the Great Hall after handing Snape his vial.

"Where did you go off to Draco?" Pansy Parkinson's voice floated into his ear as he took a seat between her and Blaise Zabini. Vincent Crabbe grunted, and Gregory Goyle nodded in greeting as Draco settled himself across from them. His former 'bodyguards' no longer shadowed him constantly, mostly because they had not been accepted into many of the NEWT level classes he was expected to take. Although Goyle did manage to earn a decent number of OWLs, Crabbe proved himself to be utterly useless in the exams.

"Whatever do you mean, Pansy?" Draco replied as he piled a sandwich and crisps onto his plate. "We had classes together all this morning, and I came here straight from the dungeons after Potions."

"No. I meant where did you go off to during class, Draco? Your body may have been there, but your mind most certainly was not."

Draco was starting to grow annoyed.

"Pansy, where I go, whether physically or astrally, as you are proposing, is none of your concern," Draco bit back.

A look of hurt flashed across her blue eyes, but it passed quickly, and she calmly raised a dark eyebrow and smirked.

"Well, well, someone needs a nap," she drawled happily. "Did Windholm wear you out last night, Draco baby?"

She smirked as Draco glared at her.

"Hmm... that seems unlikely," Blaise interjected amusedly, "as my sources place her in the Astronomy Tower all last night. Under Thomas Nott," he finished with obvious relish.

Draco turned his glare full force onto Blaise. The report of Windholm's activities the previous night held no bearing on his mood – he and the fifth year had an understanding, and he had invested little to no emotion in the girl.

"Well, she is ridden more often than a broomstick," Pansy retorted scathingly.

"Too true," Blaise consented, nodding, before returning to his lunch. He smirked when he looked up to see his cousin, Delilah Windholm, sitting a few seats away, directing a potent death stare at them, obviously having heard the whole exchange.

Blaise shrugged it off as Pansy gave the younger girl a decidedly evil grin. Draco gave Delilah a small smirk and turned away. Pansy absolutely despised Delilah, and Blaise was not too fond of the girl either. Why, then, did Draco insist on being involved with her? Thinking about it would get him nowhere, so he decided to clear his mind by simply taking in his surroundings.

The Great Hall was filled with chattering students as they discussed their holiday plans. Draco himself would be staying at Hogwarts, as his mother wanted to take the time to get reacquainted with her second older sister, Andromeda, whom she had not properly spent time with since Andromeda's marriage to the muggle-born Ted Tonks. Both he and his mother knew that once Lucius returned – and he would – no such family reunion would be permitted. At least, not a happy family reunion...

The atmosphere of the Great Hall was far too jovial for his liking, Draco decided. Nonetheless, he winked at a group of Hufflepuff fourth year girls who were eyeing him hungrily, and smirked as they began giggling and blushing madly. He let his eyes roam to the Ravenclaw table, and pasted on an appropriately seductive grin when he caught the eye of Cho Chang, whom he had had... er-... relations with a few months prior. Draco's attention was diverted from Cho's inviting gaze when he saw a flash of red out of the corner of his eye.

It was Weasley's little sister. She had just entered the Hall with her dandy boyfriend right beside her. Draco tried to remember his name, but the best he came up with was "Creaton," so he settled for referring to the dirty-blonde as Camera Boy, as he remembered seeing the boy carrying a camera in earlier years. The Weaslette and Camera Boy took their seats across from Longbottom, a few seats away from the Gryffindor trio. Draco was a bit surprised, the last time he had checked, the little Weasley had been a Potterette in training. Well, the last time he had actually been faced with her was in Umbridge's office last year, but he had been a bit too preoccupied with the flying bogies she had expertly sent his way to analyze the mannerisms of the girl. Draco slightly shuddered as he recalled that well-placed hex that allowed the captives of the Inquisitorial Squad to escape, and turned his attention back to the little red head. He wondered what had changed her, before mentally slapping himself. She was a Weasley, and therefore beneath him. Well, not beneath him in the literal sense. Although, Draco thought, as another one of his decidedly dangerously attractive smirks formed on his lips, that would be an interesting experience.

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Ginny picked at her lunch as she listened inattentively to Colin and Neville's discussion of a new band – The Witch's Brew – that had been introduced over the Wizarding Wireless Network earlier that week. Colin seemed to like their music, while Neville did not appear too impressed. Ginny herself thought the band's music was decent, but did not find the topic enthralling enough to add her own opinion.

She sighed and swept her eyes over the students in the Great Hall, and stopped as she caught Draco Malfoy looking at her with a smirk on his face that indicated things did not bode well for her. He gave her a slight nod of his head when he saw her looking back, then turned to speak with the dark-haired boy beside him, whom Ginny recognized as Blaise Zabini.

She turned her eyes away from the sixth year Slytherins and returned her attention to the somewhat boring, but safe, discussion taking place beside her. What was that about? she pondered, confused. I haven't even spoken to Malfoy this year! What is that slime-ball playing at?

Ginny figured Malfoy was playing one of his Slytherin mind games with her, and she was in no mood. She had had enough of Slytherins messing with her mind to last her a lifetime, and decided Malfoy would not succeed in getting to her.

The warning bell rang and Ginny gathered her belongings, as others around the Great Hall did the same, and headed out. She nodded in farewell to Neville as she and Colin separated from him in the halls, and managed to take a few steps before she was stopped abruptly by a solid, human wall.

Ginny looked up into a pair of deeply golden eyes, and she let her lips fall into a suspiciously Slytherin smirk.

"Watch where you're going, Weasley," came the cold drawl of Draco Malfoy from beside her. "Your filth has no place near us," he sneered.

Ginny felt her face grow red, but before she could force Malfoy to choke on his own words – a feat she was sorely tempted to accomplish – a smooth voice cut in.

"Now, now, Draco. Play nicely," Blaise Zabini smirked as he smoothed over the nonexistent wrinkles formed on his robes from his crash with Ginny, but his eyes held a glint of warning towards his house mate. Malfoy looked at his friend as though he had lost his mind, which he may as well have, if he was promoting good relations between Slytherins and Gryffindors. Blaise turned to Ginny and continued, "Dear Ginny, you really must learn not to throw yourself at me. I know it's hard to resist, but I simply do not feel the same way for you," he gave an exaggerated sigh.

Ginny snorted slightly and raised a single eyebrow – remarkably similar to the popular Slytherin expression – before speaking. "Oh, but Blaise," she returned in a sugary sweet tone, "how am I to properly deflate your dangerously over-sized head, if I can't even launch a proper attack?"

Blaise chuckled a bit and opened his mouth to respond when he was rudely cut off by the bellowing of an angry Weasel.

"GET AWAY FROM MY SISTER!" the senior Weasley demanded loudly, as he stomped over to the group, with Harry and Hermione following quickly at his heels.

Ron came to stand between Ginny and the sixth year Slytherins, poised at the ready, like a dog waiting to attack. His face was quickly turning an unattractive shade of red. Harry and Hermione took their positions on either side of him, ready to face the "evil" Slytherins.

"Well, it didn't take long for your nannies to arrive, now did it, Baby Weasley?" Malfoy drawled smugly. Ginny felt her face grow hot with anger once more. "As fascinating as it is to watch the commoners gather around their helpless," Ginny bristled as he cast a quick glance her way, "I for one have a class to attend."

With that, he swept past them, with Pansy Parkinson and Blaise Zabini a step behind him, leaving the trio to wonder what had just happened and why Draco Malfoy was walking away without insulting them. Blaise turned once to give Ginny a look that Colin could not quite decipher, before the look and the Slytherins were gone. Students who had gathered at Ron's yells began to disperse, seeing as any further altercation at this time was unlikely due to the unexpectedly early exit of the Slytherins.

It took Ron less time than Ginny estimated to remember his anger amidst the confusion caused by Slytherins not acting openly hostile. "Ginny, what do you think you were doing talking to those Slytherins? They're evil!"

Ginny grimaced as some of his spit sprayed her face during his tirade. She took a deep breath to calm herself – and to keep herself from physically harming her thick-headed brother with a well-placed hex.

"Ron, we just bumped into each other on the way to class. You know, that place where you should be heading right now," she said in as patient a tone as she could muster. "In that direction," she finished as she gestured vaguely toward where the trio had arrived from.

"Ginny," the ever-sensible Hermione cut in, "we were just worried," she continued in her patient, motherly voice. "The Slytherins are dangerous, and we just wanted to make sure you were safe. There are things you don't know, so please listen when we give you advice," she finished sanctimoniously.

"She's right, Ginny." Harry just had to put in his two knuts worth.

Ginny grit her teeth together in an attempt to keep from screaming. How dare they preach to her and try to dictate her life? How dare they act as though her ignorance in matters concerning the Order was of her own volition? Colin could see the rage growing behind Ginny's honey eyes, and laid a gentle hand on her arm. She stiffened, and her gaze became cool once more, though her cheeks were still flushed a healthy pink. She nodded slightly to Colin in gratitude.

"Ginny," Hermione continued speaking in what she must have thought was a comforting tone – Ginny simply found it irritating. "Ginny, I know that you are upset with us, but we really do have your best interest at heart. If we could tell you what was going on, we would." The fact that the older girl had focused her vision at some point above Ginny's head was not helping her case. "But just understand that when we say that those Slytherins are not to be trusted, and to stay away from them, we know what we are talking about."

Harry nodded in agreement while Ron blurted out "Just stay away from them, Ginny!"

Ginny calmly raised an eyebrow, and only her clenched jaw and fiery eyes revealed to Colin how upset she was. Then, without uttering a word, she swiftly turned on her heel and began to walk towards her next class, gesturing for Colin to follow her. The trio simply stood dumbfounded for a moment, having been left abruptly for the second time in a span of mere minutes, before Hermione realized the time and hurried the boys off to their own class.

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.

Later that evening, Ginny was still silently fuming as she sat on the same window sill she had occupied just that morning. And she knew why she was so upset. She felt betrayed. That horrid feeling that overwhelmed her whenever she thought of her earlier days with Tom Riddle was again coursing through her.

Harry she had learned not to expect much support from in her endeavors to aid the fight against the Dark. Hades, he could barely remember that she had been possessed by the 16-year-old Voldemort for nearly a year. But she could not begrudge him too much, as he did have many of his own issues to deal with.

Ron she stopped depending on when it became clear that he could not see that she was no longer a naïve 11-year-old girl. He, like all of her other brothers, saw her as the baby, the little girl to be protected. Her parents' refusal to allow her involvement in anything involving Order business only promoted their beliefs.

No, the betrayal came mostly from Hermione, who, until the previous summer, had been one of Ginny's best friends. The two girls had grown close during Hermione's stay with the Weasleys during the Quidditch World Cup. Sharing a room had turned out to be an enjoyable experience for both girls. Ginny had found in Hermione a kind of big sister and confidant, while Hermione had found in Ginny female companionship that was not limited to talk of hair, make-up, clothes, and boys – though the two girls definitely had touched on these topics. Hermione had been the first to learn of Ginny's decision to give up on Harry, of her meeting Michael Corner at the Yule Ball, and then finally Michael asking her out near the end of her third year. Ginny in turn had listened to Hermione speak of her friendship with Victor Krum and a passing crush she had had on a muggle boy who lived in her neighborhood.

Ginny had known, in the back of her mind, that Ron and Harry would always come first for Hermione, but she had not thought that the older girl would side with the boys in treating her like a five-year-old. Hermione knew that Ginny despised being treated as the baby, needing to be protected. While Ginny had never truly opened up to Hermione regarding her first year, and its lasting effects on her psyche, Hermione had been observant enough to learn that the experience had affected Ginny greatly. The girls had shared a respectful, genial relationship until about mid- summer, when Ginny had once again found herself on the outside looking in.

On the summer evening when Fred and George and the trio had joined the rest of her family – excepting Percy who was still being a Ministry-arse-kissing git – and various Order members, for the first time in an official meeting of the Order of the Phoenix, Ginny had sat on her bed in the room she shared with Hermione at Number 12 Grimmauld Place and had waited impatiently for her friend to return. When Hermione had finally come up to bed, she had avoided Ginny's questions and would not look the younger girl in the eye. Ginny had continued to try to coax some information out of Hermione, but had ceased her persistence when the older girl's silence made it clear that Ginny was not to be entrusted with such knowledge. Over the next few weeks, as Hermione had become more involved in Order business with Harry and Ron, the girls had drifted apart, and their friendship had still not recovered.

Ginny continued to look out of the window, onto the frozen surface of the lake, until she heard her roommates return from dinner. With a sigh, she lifted herself off of the sill, gathered her Arithmancy books, along with some parchment and quills, and made her way down through the common room and out of the portrait hole.

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Draco Malfoy stiffened in his seat in the library as his eagle owl landed on the table in front of him, a scroll attached to its left talon. He was not expecting any post, so the arrival of this letter unnerved him. Draco carefully relieved his owl of its delivery, and sent the noble bird to the owlery for some food, water, and rest. Draco closed his books and put away the Potions essay he had been working on – he would need to read the letter in a more private setting than the library.

As Draco exited he saw the little Weasley girl walking down the hallway towards his location. He noticed her gaze grow wary as she spotted him, and he smirked. No matter Blaise's odd behavior around the girl, she was a Weasley, and that fact would always define his view of her. She carefully approached the entrance to the library, where he stood watching her. He stepped aside to allow her passage, giving a deep mocking bow and a sweep of his hand. He almost chuckled aloud as she hurriedly brushed past him. Draco straightened, and watched her enter the library with a glint of amusement in his silver eyes – he loved the power he could hold over others. His self-satisfaction was proven to be too early enjoyed as the little weasel turned to speak to him from just within the confines of the library.

"You know," she started in a falsely thoughtful tone, as she let her eyes fall squarely with his, "I never pegged you as a gentleman, Malfoy." Draco simply raised an eyebrow. "Well then, where are my manners?" she questioned with a sickeningly sweet smile. Before Draco could counter with an undoubtedly scathing remark, she lightly lifted the sides of her robes with her hands, and sank into a surprisingly graceful curtsy. Whatever cutting insult had been on his lips was lost as Draco admired her lean form, as her usually awkward limbs straightened delicately. Her lips curved – Is that a smirk? Draco thought – as she said "Good evening, Ferret Prince." And then she turned and disappeared into the room before he could even form a glare.

Draco's blood boiled at her reference to the unfortunate incident that took place in his fourth year – it was still a sensitive subject for him. He turned and angrily strode away from the library doorway, cursing the "little red-haired bint" all the way back to the Slytherin common room.

He snarled the password – "Veritas" – and entered the green and silver adorned dungeon. He nodded curtly in greeting to a group of 7th years, before heading up the stairwell to the sixth year dorms. Unfortunately, most of his roommates were present.

"Crabbe, Goyle, get out," he commanded.

Crabbe and Goyle did not look happy about this order, but they complied, Crabbe grumbling all the way.

Draco then turned to look at Blaise. "I received a letter," was all he said. Blaise nodded, closed the book he had been reading, and headed out of the room.

Once the door had been closed, and Draco had placed a strong locking charm on it, he turned to the letter. He recognized the seal as his mother's, before unrolling the parchment. As he slowly read through her message, Draco felt a numbness permeate his every pore. By the time he had finished, he was a sickly pale. He never knew how long he sat there, digesting what his mother had revealed to him.

He was brought out of his musings by a knock on the door. Draco quickly encoded the letter and hid it with a spell that would allow only his eyes to find it again. He then lay back on his bed, a cool, unemotional mask firmly in place. He whispered the spell to unlock the door and waited for the visitor to enter, for he knew none of his dorm mates would return until he signaled for it.

"Draco, darling," came the seductive voice of fifth year Delilah Windholm. "I saw all of your roommates were occupied in the common room, so I thought you may want to spend some time with me," she finished with a come-hither look.

Draco shook his head at Delilah's self-involvement. He took a moment to take in her physical beauty – from her long mahogany locks, her hazel eyes and pouty lips, to her curvaceous young body. "What are you proposing?" he drawled.

Gods knew he needed to do something to get his mind off of the contents of that letter.

Delilah smirked and began to unbutton her blouse. When she finished slipping off her top, she unhooked her skirt and slid it slowly down her long legs. She walked over to where Draco lay watching her, her hips swinging hypnotically, and blanketed her body across his. Draco could only dimly recall his earlier questioning of his involvement with her. Ah, he thought hazily, how could I forget the sex? That was the last conscious thought to cross his mind for the next few hours.

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Ginny gave a little sigh of relief as she closed her Arithmancy book, and began rolling up the finished scroll she had let dry for a few minutes. After her encounter with Malfoy upon reaching the library, she had gone directly to one of the tables in the very back, near the Restricted Section. She had set to work immediately, not allowing her thoughts to linger on the silver-eyed blonde whom she knew made the hearts of more than half the school's female population flutter. Ginny was defiantly not one of those girls. Or so she told herself. Repeatedly.

Luna had found Ginny in her little hideaway about an hour into her Arithmancy essay, and had joined her friend at the table.

"So do you have anything special planned for tomorrow?" Luna asked once she saw Ginny's things had been put away. Luna herself had finished her work a few minutes before, and was now flipping through the latest issue of The Quibbler.

Ginny furrowed her brow in confusion at the question.

Luna, seeing this, gave an indignant huff. "You can't really have forgotten, Ginny?" She implored. But the look on Ginny's face must have told her she had, and Luna shook her head and tutted. "Ginny, the celebration of the sixteenth year is a very important event. Some of the old clans hiding in the highlands of Scotland prepare a ritual fire, and dance for the goddess of the moon on such an occasion." She continued in all seriousness.

Despite Luna's odd explanation, Ginny realized what her friend was referring to. Her eyes grew wide. "I – I can't believe I forgot," she gasped. How could she forget? After all of her mental tirades regarding her family and the Dream Team treating her like a baby, and she forgets her sixteenth birthday? Well, she admitted to herself, she really did not forget it entirely – she knew the date was coming up, but did not realize how close it really was. Piles of homework and frustrations regarding the ongoing war served as heavy distractions. "I really don't have any special plans," she recovered quickly, answering the Ravenclaw's earlier question.

Luna nodded as though she completely understood – and for all Ginny knew, she may – before setting down The Quibbler and leaning over the table towards her friend as though to share a secret. "Well, we must participate in the proper festivities. Your new year of life must begin in celebration for the coming year to be prosperous," she related wisely.

Ginny just nodded with a small smile on her face. "That would be lovely, Luna. We'll see what Colin and Neville are up to, and then do something just smashing, alright?"

Luna returned her smile and began to gather her things. Ginny pushed away from the table and lifted her book bag, where she had placed her supplies in a neat pile earlier. The girls walked in a companionable silence out of the library, and through the halls, until it was necessary to separate to reach their common rooms.

"Goodnight, Ginny," Luna said, her voice sounding tired.

"'Night, Luna. I'll see you in the morning," Ginny returned just as tiredly, before heading off towards Gryffindor Tower. Twenty-five minutes later found the fifth year Gryffindor snuggled under the covers of her thick blanket, and waiting for Morpheus, no matter how unkind, to arrive.


"With great power comes great responsibility." -- Spiderman, The Movie

NOTE: Thanks for reading. Please review and let me know what you think.