A/N: Firstly, this is a femmeslash story with two eventual couples. If you stumbled into this not knowing that then this is your warning. Secondly, this is my first full-length (more than one chapter) Harry Potter piece so I'd be grateful for any tips on characterisation and stuff like that. Thirdly, if you like my work why not check out my homepage (available via my profile page) which lists stories for various fandoms on various sites. I'll try to update this as often as possible! Oh, and the title is a song by the Gershwins, if you were wondering at all!
The most rewarding and stimulating time of the academic year was the beginning of term in Minerva McGonagall's eyes. It was the chance to examine the new intake of students and to ensure her star pupils had returned from the summer unscathed: in a world as uncertain as theirs it was vital to check. She enjoyed the start-of-term feast, the Sorting, Albus' speech. Whatever catastrophe befell the school during the year (and, strangely, one seemed to without fail) she still managed to raise her expectations and anticipate a perfect year. Perhaps it was a sign of her growing old-age, she inwardly said as the second and third-years filed into the Entrance Hall. No, she amended her thought, it was merely an indication that she still felt Hogwarts students had something to offer the wider community.
One such pupil walked past, the one she had been waiting for. 'Miss Granger! A word in my office if you please.'
Nodding her assent the third-year left Potter and Weasley behind, following her to her office. 'Good summer, Professor?'
'Yes, thank you. How was yours?'
'Not so bad. I'm happy to be back though.'
'That's good to hear,' Minerva smiled as they entered the office. 'Please, take a seat.' Waiting until the girl was settled opposite her, she then continued, 'I'll keep this brief, I know you'll want to get to the feast. Now, during the summer you applied for a Time-Turner to assist you in your studies. I'm happy to say you were successful.'
Obviously, she had been holding her breath and now she let it out quickly. 'Oh, Professor, that's brilliant!'
Removing her spectacles, Minerva couldn't help but laugh slightly at the scene of enthusiasm. 'There are certain stipulations to having a Time-Turner. I'm assuming you read the guidelines the Ministry sent you?'
'About a dozen times actually,' admitted Hermione with a sheepish grin. 'I can't believe they accepted me.'
'You're a promising student, Miss Granger. Very promising indeed. It doesn't surprise me in the least that you were accepted.'
Blushing at the compliment, the young witch stood. 'May I go to the feast now, Professor?'
'Not without this,' answered Minerva, opening the small casket in front of her and handing over the small Time-Turner. 'I believe I'm needed at the Sorting.'
'What did McGonagall want?' Ron asked suspiciously the second she arrived at the Gryffindor table.
Hermione, who had been constructing a reason on her way from the Professor's office, dismissed him with a wave of her hand. 'I owled ahead with a book request. There's only one copy in the library and I wanted to make sure I reserved it.'
Ron exchanged a look with Harry. 'You owled ahead for a book?'
'Mmm-hmm,' she replied, glancing up and down the table and smiling at the people she hadn't had a chance to talk to on the train. Her eye was caught by a particular redhead, picking at the sleeve of her robe with her nail. Turning back to Ron, she questioned in a low voice, 'What's the matter with Ginny?'
'No idea. She's been like that all summer.'
'Well, didn't you ask why?'
'What, and get my head bitten off? No thanks. You might like to stick your nose in other people's business but I don't.'
'Maybe she's still upset about Tom Riddle's diary,' said Harry thoughtfully. 'What happened in the Chamber would've scared anyone…'
'And Ginny hasn't exactly got the heart of a lion has she?' Ron finished.
'Shush!' Hermione hissed. 'She's your sister, Ron!'
Ignoring him, she looked back down the table; if Ginny had heard the derogatory remarks she was doing a good job of hiding it. Hermione was intrigued. The younger girl had seemed to quickly bounce back from the events down in the Chamber of Secrets; she'd owled her once or twice throughout the holiday just to check. The replies were brief but reasonable, indicating nothing to worry about. From the look of her, though, that was a blatant lie.
As the new first-years began to file into the Great Hall for the Sorting she tore her gaze away from Ginny and watched the frightened boys and girls being put under the hat in turn.
Up at the staff table a glass clinked and Ginny pulled her thoughts back to the feast and the food she had hardly touched. That couldn't be helped, she just hadn't felt like eating. Though, glancing up the table, she was sure both Hermione and Harry had noticed: that thought worried her.
Albus Dumbledore rose to his feet. 'I trust you have all enjoyed the feast. I have several start-of-term announcements to make. Firstly, I would like to welcome you all to Hogwarts, both new and returning students. I hope,' he said with a look towards the Gryffindor table, 'this year will be in no way as eventful as the previous one. There are two staff-appointments I would like to draw your attention to. Professor Lupin has taken over the role of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher from Professor Lockhart following his… unfortunate memory loss. Also, due to a retirement, we have been forced to appoint a new Care of Magical Creatures teacher- Rebeus Hagrid.'
Ginny mustered a smile at that news then tuned out again. When she became aware of movement around her she quickly stood, more than eager to get away. Not wanting to get caught in any crush she fled the Hall but instead of heading to Gryffindor tower she walked aimlessly in the opposite direction, narrowing missing a collision with a group of snide Slytherins. She found herself walking along the seventh floor, not knowing where she was heading but, sensing the quietness in that part of the castle, she merely paced the corridor as her means of escape.
On her third foray down the dim corridor she looked to her left and saw a remarkable sight. Seemingly out of nowhere a door appeared, bulging then settled back into the wall. For a moment a tiny bubble of fear rose in her throat but she forced it back down: after all, she'd faced worse than a magical door last year. Despite the reiterated warnings from her father over the holidays she reached for the handle, feeling reckless and altogether hoping there was a three-headed dog on the other side, and pushed it open.
The small room was lit by several white and pink lamps floating just below the ceiling, a curtain falling from there to the floor covering all the walls in a delicate sequinned purple. A sofa lay in the centre, swathed in pink drapes, while a table next to it was stacked with what looked like empty blue books and fresh quills. Some music trickled out of thin air to complete the effect.
Stepping forward, Ginny allowed the door to swing closed behind her with a small thwack. After a moment when she anticipated being mauled by an unknown entity, she relaxed slightly and moved to pick up a book from the pile. They were journals, she realised with a jolt; much like the one Tom Riddle had used all those years ago. Remembering that particular experience made her wary as she turned it over in her hands before quickly opening it.
No ominous lightning bolts adorned the room and it only took a matter of seconds before she decided this wasn't a curse. In fact, it was much what she had needed- something to write in and somewhere to do it. Settling down onto the sofa she poured her thoughts onto page after page.
When she departed the room she left her new journal on top of the stack, confident for some strange reason that it would be safe there. Proceeding back to Gryffindor tower she suddenly realised she hadn't got the password, having rushed off from the feast so quickly and now everybody would probably be asleep. The Fat Lady was snoring away in her portrait and Ginny knew that even if she woke her up she wouldn't get in- apart from being strict on passwords she was also an evil old hag who would refuse someone with a password let alone someone without one.
Coming to the conclusion that she was going to have to spend the night in her new hideaway she turned and went back down the corridor only to come face to face with Professor McGonagall. 'Miss Weasley! What on earth are you doing out of bed at this hour?'
Feeling a deep sense of embarrassment she looked to her feet. 'Sorry, Professor. I… left the feast early, I went to the library, lost track of time of time. Trouble is, I didn't get the password from anyone, I can't get inside the tower.'
The Transfiguration teacher surveyed her face. 'Very well. But I must stress that being out of bed in future will not be tolerated. Do I make myself clear, Miss Weasley?'
'Yes, Professor. Sorry, Professor.'
McGonagall nodded. 'The password is 'Gillywater'.'
Rushing back down the corridor she clambered through the portrait hole after waking the Fat Lady, just thankful that she'd gotten away with a reprimand and that no one had discovered her new secret.
Molly Weasley sighed, putting down the book she had been attempting to read and leaning back in her seat. This was always the way; as soon as the children had been packed off back to school she felt a sense of uselessness wash over her. All the time she'd usually spend chasing after them during the day suddenly turned into a period of helplessness as she searched around for something trivial to be doing.
This year, of course, it was doubly difficult. After the events of the previous years she had been reluctant to let Ginny return to the school but Arthur had insisted that she'd be perfectly safe under Professor Dumbledore. Ha! Naturally, Arthur was working and therefore wasn't having to worry about how his only daughter was coping being back in the place where You-Know-Who had almost killed her.
The thought crossed her mind that she was being slightly unfair but she quickly justified it with a glance around the newly-abandoned room. Whatever Arthur had on at work surely he could've been home for this one night.
Feeling a fresh wave of anxiety for her daughter wash over her Molly picked up a quill. She would send a note to Minerva McGonagall- as Head of Gryffindor House she might be able to shed some light on how Ginny was coping back at Hogwarts.