Departure From Grimmauld Place

Ginny's trunk was packed, with a few pretty trifles, courtesy of Bill, and so she left her room for breakfast. The corridor was much cleaner than when she had arrived, but it was still the same unhappy old house. Ginny did not like it – it felt as if miserable people had lived in it for so long that it didn't understand laughter.

A portrait hanging on the landing seemed to reinforce this and Ginny studied it carefully. She could see a very slight resemblance to Sirius when he was angry. No wonder he had lfet as soon as he could. She heard a rushing sound as she thought this and looked up in time to see two large trunks hurtling at her. She had no time to move, and felt both of them hit her in quick succession.

Her stomach and chest hurt badly as she went sailing through the air. She landed with a thump on the ground floor. She blinked and tried to breathe – she felt as though she couldn't move. Somewhere far above her she heard an agonised cry of "Ginny!" and two pairs of feet came pounding down the stairs.

George knelt beside her as Fred yelled for their Mum. Ginny tried to smile at them, but she couldn't seem to get her face working properly. George was speaking urgently, "Ginny? Ginny? Come on, say something. Are you okay?" She forced her mouth open and tried to say "What do you you nloody think you idiot!" but all that came out was "Ow."

George's face relaxed immediately and Ginny smiled to think how worried he had been. She made a move to sit up but Fred stopped her. "You might have broken something. Wait for Mum to have a look."

Ginny rolled her eyes at him, saying "Idiot." His reply however was cut off by the arrival of her Mum. The second she laid eyes on Ginny all the blood drained from her face. She came running down the stairs and Ginny just managed to say, "I'm fine," before her mother nearly fainted.

Once she was assured of Ginny's continued presence in the land of the living, she pulled out her wand and fixed every part of Ginny that ached. Molly Weasley had become very good at Healing Charms throughout the years. When Ginny was able to stand up she retreated as quickly as possible – she wanted no part in the tongue-lashing Fred and George were sure to receive.

She made her way to the kitchen and sank down into a chair. Sirius put a plate of breakfast in front of her and Ginny looked up at him gratefully. "Are you all right?" He said.

Ginny grinned at him cheekily. "I always wondered what it would be like to be crushed by an elephant. Now I know. How are you?"

Sirius eyed her and pushed more bread onto her plate. "Eat up," he said, "You never eat enough. And don't try that on me Weasley. Save your tricks for Harry; he'll need them this year."

Ginny flared up in self-defence. "Tricks? I don't use any 'tricks'. I was just asking. Anyway Harry has Ron and Hermione."

Sirius snorted, "Sure you don't. You just sit there as if butter wouldn't melt and say 'How are you?' and sit waiting for answer. Anyway I'm fine. Lupin will still be around remember?"

Ginny sighed – she was glad he would be all right. It was very difficult to be lonely, she remebered. Sirius was almost the only person she knew who didn't condescend to her. Even Hermione did – she didn't mean to, but she did it.

She ate her breakfast with relish and Sirius watched her for a few minutes and then said, "And speaking of Harry... He's going to be on his own the train." Ginny chewed slowly – she thought she knew what was coming.

He looked at her carefully and said, "Would you keep an eye on him? You know what he's like, it probably hasn't even struck him yet that Ron and Hermione will be off on their own."

Ginny swallowed carefully – babysitting a moody Harry Potter was not on her list of priorities. But he would be lonely without Ron, and as Ginny knew from her second year, riding the Hogwarts Express alone was a miserable experience – though of course this year there wouldn't be any Dementors. She smiled at Sirius and said, "Course I will."

He leaned back in his seat, looking suddenly relaxed and said, "Ginny Weasley you're a marvel. He'll figure that out some day." She stared at him for a moment, and then, realising what he meant, stood up, absolutely furious. She cleaned her plate off as she said, "I don't know what you're talking about." Ginny could feel his eyes on her back, but she didn't turn around.

The awkward silence was broken when Hermione came bouncing into the kitchen. "Ginny. Oh thank goodness you're all right. George said your Mum had patched you up but I wasn't sure... I can't believe they were so foolish. You really are all right?"

Ginny turned around to smile at her friend and said, "Of course I am. Don't you know by now I'm indestructible?"

Hermione smiled. "Oh good. I thought I'd get down here and you'd have a black eye or something and then Harry would be annoyed with me for keeping things from him."

Ginny giggled. "I doubt he would have cared that much Hermione. I bet you told Ron and he said, 'Ginny fell down the stairs?' Dad went looking for plasters or some mad thing and Harry didn't even listen to your answer."

"Ginny!" Hermione said, torn between outrage and laughter. "They didn't, well, they did but Harry did listen. Honestly!"

Sirius snorted and both girls stared at him. "What's so funny?" Ginny said.

"Nothing. Just you two. You're funny."

"What do you mean I'm funny?"

"Ginny don't there isn't time. Sirius Mrs. Weasley wants to leave now."

Sirius stood up to leave. Ginny smiled at him and he gave her shoulder a quick squeeze in farewell before leaving the room. She heard them leave the house and allowed herself one sigh of relief before going upstairs to get her trunk.