Chapter 6 - Lifting Angel

Malfoy bumped hard into Harry in the corridor the next day as they walked from dinner back to the tower. Harry pulled his wand out, making Malfoy back up mockingly. "You wouldn't dare, Potter," he scoffed.

"Thinking of casting a spell between classes, Mr. Potter?" Snape's loud voice echoed along the stone walls.

Harry lowered his wand as Hermione and Ron flanked him. He gave Snape a dark look and hoped it was convincing. Passing students slowed to see what was happening. Snape grabbed the front of Harry's robe and pulled him aside and gave the other loitering students a sharp look; Malfoy, he waved on specifically. In a low voice he said to Harry, "You returned to my class untreated yesterday." Dropping his eyes, Harry frowned. "Mr. Weasley, you are about to get a ten point deduction from Gryffindor. Back off," Snape threatened.

Harry spun and shot Ron a look, only partially because he was worried about the points. He really didn't want his friends to hear anything. Ron gave their professor a dangerous look and backed away to where Hermione stood near the next window down the hall.

"Do you have an explanation, Mr. Potter?" Snape sounded angry, but in the way Mrs. Weasley always was when her kids did something dangerous.

"I went to the dispensary but Pomfrey left suddenly and after a while I went to look for her and a bunch of people appeared in the hospital wing and when I opened the door they were dumping Mundungus' body on the floor and . . ." He took a hard breath. "I didn't feel so injured anymore."

Snape spun him around suddenly. Surprised, Harry grabbed for the hand on his robe before he realized that his professor didn't want Ron and Hermione to see his face. It had gone a little odd in that instant. "You should have told someone--even myself after class. I would have thought you would trust me."

"It wasn't that," Harry explained. His eyes darted over to his friends who had been inching forward.

Snape spun on them and they backed off again. "On another topic," his professor said in a low voice. "You are confusing Mr. Malfoy by not behaving jealously enough."

"What!?" Harry exclaimed in disbelief. His face flushed darkly at the implication of that.

Snape grabbed his robes up harder. "A longer talk is in order, but not at the moment." He released him and stalked off with a last meaningless admonishment about between-class magic.

Harry, angry for real, growled and walked the other way. His friends followed with sympathetic comments about Snape's unfairness.

"Malfoy is his favorite, face it," Hermione said as they reached the Fat Lady. "They have gotten pretty chummy."

"I'd like to change that," Harry said.

"Why?" Ron asked, horrified at the notion of any involvement.

"Just to make trouble," Harry explained. "Hermione, do you have some time tonight? I want to know the answer to any question Snape might ask in class tomorrow."

"I can make time to help you study for Potions, Harry."

"Ugh," Ron breathed. "Maybe I'll go to the library instead."

"Good idea, Ron!" Hermione said brightly.

They studied hard that night, until Harry's eyes blurred and he simply could not read anymore. Often when he asked Hermione to explain something in the text, she made him read a chapter of the fourth or fifth year textbook. This was frustrating, but at the same time he was amazed at how much more he understood the older texts than he did the first time. Hermione also insisted he read from two other supplemental Potions books she had ordered by owl post for her own studies.

At breakfast Harry blushed several times as he imagined the gazes of both the Potions professor and the headmaster on him as he ate. Neither one probably paid him the least attention, but he didn't dare glance at the head table to find out for certain. Harry ate a large breakfast. After their marathon study session, he had slept like a rock and felt good this morning.

Girded as though for battle, Harry entered the Potions classroom. Malfoy and Nott still wore oddly sickening, grinning expressions. Remembering what Snape had said, Harry gave them a haughty look in return which diminished their smiles quite a bit.

"What is up with them?" Hermione asked Harry.

"Who knows?" Harry responded.

Snape entered, clearly back to his old self, and dove right into the lecture. "Today's anti-venom is a variation on a ginseng elixir. Who can tell me what three forms root-based elixirs take?" Snape's dark eyes darted around the room. Hermione didn't raise her hand, she nudged Harry to raise his instead. Seeing this, the professor said with a hint of sarcasm, "Mr. Potter?"

Harry spared a moment to give his friend a dark look. "There are five forms, sir," Harry said in a plodding voice. "Sugar crystalized, alcohol isolated, heat activated, vapor concentrated, and fermented." Harry and the professor shared a long look.

"Correct, Mr. Potter."

"You said three," Malfoy complained.

"Your textbook only lists the three most common," Snape commented and waved at the blackboard. The day's potion instructions appeared there. "Mr. Potter has apparently been studying beyond the assigned text, as amazing as that notion is."

Harry waited for Snape to look his way just so he could roll his eyes and be certain the other saw it. Hermione gave Harry a proud look which made him feel better than anything.

At the end of class, Malfoy moved in close to Snape's desk again, Harry urged Hermione to go on without him. "I have to ask Snape something."

"What?" she asked him.

"Something not related to Potions. It's complicated to explain."

Hermione shrugged and shouldered her bag before leaving. Harry put his things in his bag and left it on their bench. He wasn't up to this, but felt obliged to give it a try. He stepped over to where Malfoy stood with his body pressed against Snape's chair.

Harry found his voice. "Need more help, Malfoy? Potions isn't a required class, you know. If you are that slow maybe you should drop."

The blonde boy stepped over between Harry and the professor's desk. "You get one question right and now you think you know it all?" Malfoy taunted him in return.

Harry stood with a casual posture, one hand propped on the last bench. "I just find it amazing that I studied hard one night and now I know more than you."

Malfoy grabbed Harry by the front of his robes but stopped when Snape's voice rang out. "That is enough. Mr. Potter, you have class, do you not?"

"Yes," Harry admitted. With a grudging attitude he picked up his bag and departed with one last intentionally furious look at Malfoy.

As he walked slowly to Transfiguration, Harry could feel the reality behind the act he had just put on. He certainly didn't like Malfoy getting that close to Snape. Didn't like the blonde boy's sweet looks or his automatic better treatment. His slow pace as he mulled all this over meant he just made it to class on time. Hermione gave him a strong look as he sat down. McGonagall also marked Harry's entrance with a stern attitude. If they only knew, Harry thought.


During his next classes, Harry thought about how he could intentionally get detention with Snape. The very notion of deciding to twist the rules so blatantly made him quiver in his stomach with nerves. He decided that the next opportunity to push the bounds of the rules, he would do it, and make sure to enjoy every moment of it.

The next opportunity came during the next Potions class. Nott, at Malfoy's urging, threw another spell at a dangerous bottle of something, this time at Justin's bench. The bottle didn't break until it hit the floor. Snape gave Justin and Callo a talking to about being careful with the supplies which made Harry livid to watch.

Harry raised his hand. Snape didn't come over, just put his hands on his hips and said, "Yes, Mr. Potter?"

"Sir, why do you let the Slytherins get away with everything?" Harry asked. Snape looked surprised by the question. Harry dove into the space left by the silence. The entire class had stopped to listen. "McGonagall is much fairer; she gives Gryffindors deductions and detentions when they deserve it. You let Malfoy, especially, get away with anything--even throwing dangerous potions around the classroom."

Hermione tugged silently on Harry's sleeve. Snape crossed his arms and glared at him.

"Why doesn't Nott deserve detention for what he just did?" Harry asked. He had messed this up, he realized--he really was pissing Snape off, not just lining himself up for punishment.

"You are so out of line, Mr. Potter." Snape stated calmly. "Anything else you would like to add while you have the opportunity--the hole you are in can get deeper."

Harry glanced at Malfoy, whose expression of glee had turned to concern. He would not want Harry to get detention once he had thought about it. "I think you should help the students who aren't in your house as much as you help the Slytherins."

Snape narrowed his eyes. "You believe I don't."

Feeling trapped now, Harry said. "I believe you intimidate them instead."

The entire class watched this exchange, wide-eyed, as though at a tennis match. Harry now wished he hadn't opened his mouth.

"Has it ever occurred to you, Potter, that Slytherins simply may not be as easily intimidated?"

Harry's brow furrowed--he had not thought of that. Malfoy gave Harry a superior look. Snape stepped a row closer. "This class is not required, Mr. Potter, as you are well aware. You do not have to take it if you do not like it."

"Yes I do, sir. It is required for the program I want to take after Hogwarts." Should I live that long, Harry thought wryly.

Snape gave him his best doubtful look. "Should we even dare ask what that might be." He stepped over to directly across from their bench. "Let's see, something that would feed a hero complex." Snape pretended to look thoughtful.

Harry blinked at him, his heart picking up as he realized they were having a fight--right in the middle of Potions. And he, the idiot, had started it. He thought about pointing out that every non-Slytherin in this class was only there because they had to be, but he feared pissing more people off by dragging them into it. He put his head down in defeat instead. He hadn't wanted an argument, just detention.

Snape shook his head and with a huff, turned and stalked back to the front of the room. "Twenty points from Gryffindor for speaking out of line and three evenings detention."

Harry forced himself to frown and slowly raised his eyes to Malfoy, letting a little victorious emotion make them sparkle.

"He's going to serve it with Filch, right?" Malfoy said to Snape.

"Mr. Malfoy, you are not also trying to tell me how to run my class, are you?" he asked dangerously.

"No, sir," the blonde boy responded, cowed.

The class gradually returned to their brewing. "What the hell was that?" Hermione whispered to Harry.

Harry frowned and shrugged. "Nott meant that to blow up in Justin's face. It pushed me too far."

"Not that some of that didn't need to be said," Neville whispered. "We'll get the points back for you, Harry."

"Thanks, Neville," Harry said. He wondered what the point total was, and suddenly felt selfish for not thinking of that.


During lulls in his afternoon classes, Harry became unable to think about anything other than that evening. He took bad notes in Herbology and Divination. During dinner, Ron commented on Harry's demeanor. "You haven't said anything all day."

Hermione scoffed. "He said too much this morning and got detention with Professor Snape."

Neville broke in. "Yeah, you missed Harry telling Snape off. Glad I didn't miss it--I plan to treasure the memory."

Ron, who now seemed to over worry about everything, said, "What did you do that for?"

Harry shook his head. "His unfairness got to me."

"Life is unfair, Harry. Deal with it," Ron commented in a bit of a whine.

Frowning, because he was supposed to cheer Ron up rather than bring him down, Harry said. "I enjoyed getting it off my chest. I'll gladly take the detention in return." Harry thought of asking how Ginny was, but held back.

Ron shuddered. "The less time spent with Snape the better, I'd say."

Harry didn't reply to that.


Harry knocked on the Potions master's door that evening with a complex trepidation. He had wanted this, but at the same time, Snape might still be pissed off by what Harry had said. The door swung open suddenly. "Come in, Potter," Snape intoned and strode back to his desk. Harry walked in sheepishly.

"Uh sir, I-" Harry stopped when he saw Snape had his finger to his lips for silence. He could then hear that someone was in the smaller side supplies room.

"You can assist Mr. Malfoy with the washing of cauldrons," Snape said.

Harry gave him a look of confusion, but obeyed. Malfoy grinned darkly at Harry as he came aside the sink. "You wash. I'll dry," the boy said.

"What did you get detention for?" Harry asked as he added more soap and neutralizer to the water.

"Same as you," Malfoy answered innocently. "Mouthing off."

"Sorry to have missed that," Harry mumbled.

Harry, skilled at this, washed the large pile quickly, leaving Malfoy with a large number to dry before hanging them on the rods that protruded from the wall beside the sink. Harry was hanging the rags up when Snape stepped over, "You can re-shelve potions, Potter, while Mr. Malfoy finishes with that."

Back in the office, Snape set a wooden box of full bottles on the floor before the ceiling-high shelves. Harry crouched down to look at a few of the labels. Snape crouched beside him and said, "These are new, put them in the back if there already are bottles on the shelf." Quietly, very close to Harry's ear, he added, "Malfoy needs to believe. That is important."

Harry took a deep breath of frustration. Snape stood, brushing Harry's back and shoulder with his fingertips as he did so. Harry's whole body woke up and went tense and quivery at that. As Snape went back to his desk, Harry glanced coyly over at him, trying to read him. Surely Dumbledore must have come down on him hard, Harry thought. Part of him argued that it didn't care what the headmaster thought. He forced himself to pull out a potion bottle and find its spot on the shelf.

There were four more crates to shelve. Harry's neck was aching by the time he finished. He piled the crates in the supply room, pausing just a moment to watch Malfoy very slowly hanging up cauldrons, and walked back to the desk. Detention really looked like it was going to go normally. He stretched his neck as he asked what else he should do. Snape gestured with his head that Harry should come around the desk. Harry stepped over as Snape stood up. In the next room came the sound of a cauldron bumping the marble sink as it was dried. Snape moved his finger in a circle to indicate that Harry should turn around.

As Harry turned, Snape said, "There is not much more to be done and only forty-five minutes left in your detention." Snape's hands grasped Harry's shoulders and squeezed. Harry had to swallow a noise of surprised pleasure. He tried to relax as the massage continued, listening closely to the noise from the supply room for any sign that Malfoy was finishing up. "Perhaps you should just read ahead for the next lecture," Snape went on as he tipped Harry's head to one side and rubbed the muscles up the side of his neck and repeated on the other side.

Snape removed his hands and Harry turned back around and sighed a silent, "Thanks." It took him a moment to recall what Snape had just said. With a much more comfortable stretch of his neck, he accepted Snape's copy of the textbook and took a seat at the nearest bench.

Harry didn't sleep as well that night. He kept thinking about being touched. Every moment from that evening replayed in his mind in excruciating detail as he stared up at the inside of the bed drapes. Maybe he was obsessing, Harry thought. He should have asked how long Malfoy's detention was. It would really be unfortunate if it lined up perfectly with Harry's; the detention would be a total waste then, especially since he had pulled their point total down below the Slytherin one with his stunt.


The next night, Malfoy was there in the dungeon again, making Harry's heart sink. Again they washed cauldrons and did a general cleanup. Malfoy was then assigned to do inventory of the hazardous ingredients cabinet while Harry shelved yet another batch of new potions. Harry carefully removed each existing row of bottles, pushed the new one to the back and put the old ones back in the same order. The task quickly fell into a mindless rhythm.

Malfoy closed the cabinet and set the inventory parchment on the professor's desk. "Finished, Professor," Malfoy said in a best-boy voice.

"You may go then, Mr. Malfoy," Snape said offhandedly as he made notes in a large ledger. Harry held his breath at that. When Malfoy didn't move, Snape looked up. "Do not behave irrationally, Mr. Malfoy. Your detention is over."

Scowling, Malfoy left with noisy footsteps. Calmly, Harry finished shelving. He picked up the empty box and set it in the supplies room on top of the stack. When he returned to the office, Snape was standing in the doorway.

"Would you like some tea, Harry?" he asked in an almost friendly voice.

Harry nodded. "Yes, sir."

Snape glanced at him a little sharply and led the way into his chambers. Harry looked around at the hearth, the two dark, unremarkable landscape paintings, the four-poster bed. He took the armchair by the fire and sat down, his body alert again. Snape handed him a cup of tea. "Thank you, sir," Harry said as he cradled the warm ceramic in his hands.

Snape sighed and pulled a straightbacked chair over by the fire. "Potter," he began. "I would prefer, if we are in a casual setting such as this, that you drop any titles or honorifics."

Harry took that in. "Um, you want me to call you, Severus?" Harry asked in surprise.

Snape settled back in his seat. "That is my name." He stared into his teacup for a while, rotating it in his long hands. "You asked for this detention. Why?"

"You said we needed to talk about this Malfoy thing," Harry explained.

"That is the reason?"

Harry hesitated. He couldn't find the words to explain the twisting, shifting emotions of longing, emptiness, curiosity, fear, and excitement that caught him every time he let his mind wander. "Not really. I . . . wanted to spend time with you," Harry managed and felt a stab of unexpected fear, as though he had stepped out over empty air. He sipped his tea as a distraction.

Snape's face softened. "That is amazing, Harry."

"What is?"

Snape rubbed his forehead and shook his head. "Are you sure about this?" he asked in a low voice.

Harry swallowed to smother his stomach flutter. "Dumbledore didn't say anything to you?"

Snape still stared into his cup. "He did. He said he was very disappointed, but protecting you is most important to him."

"I don't get it."

"I have arranged for you, rather accidentally I will admit, some protection from the Dark Lord. This is weighing heavily on Dumbledore since the attack on Hogsmeade."

"Which was to get me," Harry added. When this brought Snape's head up sharply, Harry commented, "Not everyone keeps things from me." He shifted down in the chair and put one leg casually up on the armrest.

"The Dark Lord discovered that I had taken you. I had to explain that it was for personal reasons. Very personal reasons."

Harry's mouth fell open. "So much for privacy," he said, disgusted.

"I do apologize for that break of your trust, but my life, and the Order, were at stake."

Brow furrowed in concern, Harry sat forward. "That was the day you were so ornery."

"Yes," Snape reluctantly admitted. "But the Dark Lord said I could keep you as long as I assured him I have you under complete control."

Harry sat straighter. "He isn't trying to kill me now?" He fell back in the chair in relief and looked at the ceiling. He huffed out a long breath and said, "Thanks." Remembering his tea cooling in his hand, Harry took a gulp and watched Snape watching him.

The far wall flared orange and Snape stood up and opened the door to the suite. Dumbledore stepped in, ducking to get his hat through the doorway. "I thought maybe I would find you here, Harry." Harry sat up and set his teacup aside. The headmaster turned to Snape. "I need to borrow Harry for a little while, Severus. I'll return him to the Gryffindor Tower when we are finished."

Snape bowed his head. Dumbledore pulled out another one of the metal balls. He tapped it with his wand and held it out to Harry, who looked between the two of them curiously before standing and putting his hand on the warm, shiny surface. The headmaster counted down and with a jerk they landed in a brightly lit room with few decorations. The smell was very familiar, like the Potions classroom but less nose tickling.

Dumbledore stepped to the doorway and through it. Harry recognized it now as they approached the greetingwitch. He thought of asking why they were here, but held back--he had thought of a reason that made his heart pound. When Dumbledore told the witch that he and the boy were going up to the Magical Maladies department, Harry was certain it was to see Ginny.

"Come, Harry," Dumbledore urged when Harry froze in that spot by the desk.

They walked down a long corridor and up a set of stairs. Many Healers in the corridor nodded at Dumbledore as he passed then gave Harry a surprised look as he passed. Harry sped up to walk beside the headmaster.

At an otherwise unremarkable, numbered door Dumbledore stopped and knocked softly before opening it. Inside, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley sat in straightbacked chairs beside Ginny's bed. They turned and stood to greet Dumbledore with tired voices. "Harry," Mrs. Weasley said, hugging him quickly.

"I am certain you could use a break," Dumbledore said to them kindly. "We will stay and visit with Ginny until you return."

Harry, who had stepped up beside the bed, watched the bent backs of his best friend's parents as they departed, talking in monotonous hushed voices. He turned back to Ginny, who lay utterly still, her pale face almost matching the white sheets. The weight came down hard on Harry at that moment, like a hundred pound blanket that he couldn't get out from under.

"Harry," Dumbledore said, "I want to teach you a spell." When Harry finally looked over at him with pain-filled eyes, he went on, "Do you know that when one person saves the life of another a bond is created between them?" Harry shook his head. "That link can be drawn upon; I want you to do that. Put your hands around Ginny's arm."

Harry felt dizzy now, vacillating violently between grief and hope. He shifted the sheet aside to reveal Ginny's thin, freckled arm. He put both hands around her forearm. This has to work , he thought fearfully.

Dumbledore's calm voice continued. "Remember back to when you saved Ginny in the Chamber of Secrets. Remember the moment you saved her life. As you do that, feel for the tie between you."

Harry closed his eyes and remembered putting the sword through the Basilisk's head. He couldn't feel anything. He sorted through the panicked memories of that moment. Ginny was still dying at that point, he remembered--it was destroying Riddle that saved her. Harry remembered picking up the Basilisk tooth and stabbing the diary with it, making its ink drain from it like blood. Harry held his breath; he had felt something there, a heavy thing, tied to him the way the portkey hook grabbed hold. He repeated the memory and felt it again even stronger.

"Very good, Harry," Dumbledore intoned with real pride. "Now I want you to open it and let it loose. It will feel like a wind blowing upward when you release it. Let it lift Ginny up but hold her so that it does not take her away."

Harry's brow furrowed. He didn't understand any of that, but he couldn't not try. He felt for the stone-like thing and imagined it cracking open as though it were an eggshell or a mollusk. The resulting rush caught him completely by surprise. Except that he could feel her still arm lying on the sheet, he would have sworn she had left the bed. He steered her in the stream and tried to imagine her as weightless or with wings, able to catch the wind as it rushed up from beneath them both.

Gradually the wind died off and Harry didn't move, just opened his eyes. Ginny's eyes were open as well, and looked around the ceiling in confusion. "Harry?" she asked. "What happened?"

Harry swallowed and pulled his hands back. "I'm the wrong person to ask that."

"Professor," she said weakly as Dumbledore stepped closer. She looked over the ceiling again. "What day is it?"

"Don't worry about anything, Ginny." Dumbledore said kindly. "Just rest, my dear girl."

Harry stood watching her. The weight hadn't lifted from him, but it had shifted to the side making him believe, for the moment, he could overcome everything and survive. The door to the room opened and still whispering, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley reentered. Harry's heart started to race, and when Ginny said, "Mum?" it skipped a few beats.

Arthur and Molly Weasley stood stunned for a moment before rushing forward. "Ginny!" Mrs. Weasley said, instantly in tears. "You're awake." She took her daughter's hand and turned to them. "Albus . . ." she began, then couldn't speak. Dumbledore stepped back slightly and gestured at Harry.

"Wha . . .?" Harry started. Mrs. Weasley set Ginny's hand down, stepped over to him and hugged him again, much harder this time. Harry didn't imagine she was that strong. "I had help," he insisted. She backed off and just gripped his upper arms. With a startlingly affectionate gaze, she looked him over and sighed.

Dumbledore stepped over to Mr. Weasley. "Arthur, perhaps you should fetch the Healer."

With an exhausted and relieved smile at his daughter, he did as suggested.

In the corridor, Arthur walked down to where he knew the Healer's break room was. The door was open and soft conversation flowed out of it. He stepped into the doorway, attracting the attention of the two witches and one wizard. At one point or another over the last week and a half, he had spoken with each of them. "We need a Healer," he said shakily. He couldn't put more words together so he pointed down the hallway instead.

In grim silence they followed. Inside the room Mrs. Weasley sat beside the bed holding her daughter's hand again. The visitors stood at the end of the bed. One of them really had hoped to get away before more people appeared.

"She's awake," one of the witches said in surprise. The Healers all turned to Dumbledore as though connected by strings.

"I walked Harry Potter through a spell to revive her," he said. The Healers then all turned to Harry in much more surprise. He tried to keep a level expression, even when one of the Healers muttered, "The Harry Potter?"

"What spell?" the wizard asked as they each inspected Ginny. It was clear from her now flushed cheeks and curious questions that she was doing much better.

Dumbledore hesitated. "A Lifting Angel spell," he replied factually. Harry turned to him. He had never heard of that, but that didn't mean much. The Healers apparently had; they stared at Harry with various expressions: stunned, startled, and aghast. He wished they would go back to looking over Ginny; their attention made him feel strange.

"I need to take Harry back to school," Dumbledore said as he stepped toward the center of the room.

Mr. Weasley came over and wrapped Harry in a bear hug as he stood beside the headmaster. "Thank you, Harry," he said with a sob.

"Uh, anytime, Mr. Weasley," Harry said, eager to escape.

"Arthur, I think Ginny would like to talk to you about what happened," Dumbledore said.

Mr. Weasley released Harry suddenly. "Oh, right," he said and patted Harry on the top of the head before turning away. When Dumbledore held out the metal sphere, Harry grabbed hold of it immediately. They reappeared in the corridor leading to the Gryffindor Tower. Dumbledore put the portkey in his pocket and reached down and grasped Harry's shoulder. "Thank you, Harry," he said sincerely.

"I would have done it sooner, if I'd known."

"I wasn't certain it was needed until I received a message this evening from Arthur. Also, I was hesitant to remove you from the protection of the school. I don't like you to be out, Harry. I have reinforced the spells here to protect you."

Surprised, Harry said, "That isn't fair to everyone else, is it?"

"These are trying times, Harry. And you are very important to us all surviving them." He gave Harry a small push. "Go on up to your room and rest, I suspect you will need it."

"Yes, sir."

Harry walked slowly down the long corridor and reached the portrait hole just as it opened. "Mr. Potter," McGonagall snapped at him. "You are late."

Harry glanced behind him at the empty hallway. "I was with the headmaster, ma'am," Harry insisted.

"Hm, I shall verify that tomorrow," she threatened and held open the portrait for him.

Harry stepped inside and over to his friends. "Harry, you are late," Hermione said.

"You sound like . . . " he turned and looked at McGonagall watching him carefully. " . . . a teacher," he finished. "Dumbledore took me to St. Mungo's," Harry explained quietly.

Ron froze upon hearing this, his quill dripping dark blotches onto his essay. He glanced up fearfully. "What did you go there for?" he asked, seeming afraid of the answer.

"To see Ginny." Harry said and then held up his hand to stop Hermione's outburst, presumably about her and Ron not getting to go. "Dumbledore wanted to try a spell on her."

"What spell?" Hermione asked.

"A Lifting Angel spell," Harry replied and then grinned. "She's all right, Ron. She was talking to your parents."

Ron gasped. Hermione pulled her mouth closed. "You did a what?" She was interrupted by Ron launching himself across her and onto Harry. They both fell backward over the arm of a chair.

"Ron!" Harry said in surprise. His friend clung to him, breathing heavily. Harry gave in and patted his friend's arms.

"Is everything all right?" McGonagall asked as she stepped over to them.

"Yes, ma'am," Harry said from deep in the armchair. "It is, even though it doesn't look it. He's happy that Ginny is going to be all right, is all."

McGonagall seemed very relieved as well. "Well, that is good news, Harry. I hadn't heard that she was doing better."

Hermione piped up. "That is because Harry just got back from doing a spell on her." McGonagall looked at Harry for confirmation. He took a deep breath under the weight of his friend. "A Lifting Angel spell," Hermione added with emphasis.

McGonagall looked at her in surprise then down at Harry.

"Ron, really, you are as bad as your dad," Harry complained and tried to raise his friend off of himself.

Ron relented. He rubbed his eyes hard as he straightened up. "She wasn't doing well, is all. My mum and dad, they couldn't face it but it was obvious. . . "

"Ron, honestly. She's fine now."

"You really performed a Lifting Angel, Harry?" McGonagall asked quietly.

Harry, distracted by Ron, answered offhanded, "Yes. Headmaster talked me through it."

She straightened and with bright eyes said, "Seventy-five points for you Harry, for exemplary spell performance."

Harry gave her a grin. "Thank you, Professor."

"Don't stay up too late celebrating," she said as she departed.

That night, Harry lay in bed remembering the strange rush of non-wind from the spell. If he could only learn everything in time, he thought, then no one else would have to die. Aching inside, he finally fell into a fitful sleep.

notes I've been overwhelmed the last month but I'm still working on this.