Disclaimer – JKR is the potions master all the ingredients
are hers I'm just stirring the cauldron a bit.
There was a change nearing, that had never been the question.
The question lay, as it had before, in its nature.
Not that there was much left to change, thought Ginny as her eyes took in the site before her.
She stood at the outskirts of Hogsmade, in worn out but practical crimson robes the collar turned up to keep the wind from howling in her ear she didn't want to use a warming spell, unnecessary magic would only make her easier to track. She'd already used an anti-tracking spell but even so - better safe than sorry.
Speaking of which, she thought to herself shivering slightly as she looked over the deserted town, if I don't get to Hogwarts soon I'll probably miss Fawkes.
She started to make her way toward Honeydukes.
Harry had told her about the entrance in the cellar it was safer going through there than showing up at the main gate, he'd said once he'd gotten over his I-can't-put-you-in-such-danger tirade.
Personally, Ginny was a bit wary about showing up at Hogwarts but not for the possible danger factor. She'd faced enough Death Eaters to know that fear was nothing but a waste of energy.
What did frighten her though, was the prospect of finding Hogwarts as deserted and desolate as all the other wizarding schools or towns now were.
Even with Dumbledore gone, the image of Hogwarts that lingered in her mind was still a lively one, and now she was going to enter that huge castle and find it in a God-knew-what state.
A small sigh slipped from her as she stood in front of Honeydukes, the shop window was covered in cobwebs, and the door looked as if it had been blasted open, which, she reasoned, it probably had. The door hung loosely from a pair of rusted hinges.
Deciding she'd wasted quite enough time musing about her past she pulled up the hood of her robe as she stepped over broken glass and chairs.
The candy jars once filled with bright colorful sweets now covered in inch thick layers of dust.
She walked into the cellar silently muttering an anti-dust spell her mother used while summer cleaning to prevent the dust mites from giving her a sneeze feast.
She emerged moments later covered to the tips of her boots in dust. "Scourify." she muttered, and with a wave, efficiently ridded herself the filth.
One of the best things about Hogwarts, she thought a faint smile gracing her lips, is its un-traceability.
The smile however was quickly replaced by a scowl as she brought herself back to reality...
"Hogwarts spirit," she mumbled pushing her auburn locks out of her face, shockingly enough her voice echoed in the corridors.
Reluctantly an unbidden image of packed corridors, and noisy pranks filled her thoughts as she made her way towards the Headmasters office, headmistress actually since after Dumbledore had been murdered, McGonagall had replaced him, odd wasn't it, how she still thought of it as Dumbledore's office.
"Animagtropy." she said firmly, once she'd reached the gargoyle, repeating the password Minerva had given her earlier today, the gargoyle looked up a look of surprise in its stone carved eyes and then with what seemed to be huge effort opened for her.
Ginny stood quietly at the door a minute wondering if she would find the Heads Office in the same state of disarray she'd spotted all over the rest of the school. She pushed door open slightly before stepping inside.
Instantly Ginny had her wand out her senses alert as her eyes roamed quickly over the room immediately going through a list of possible hideouts for the intruder. Desk, chair, bookshelf...
A short, ugly, house elf dressed in scarlet socks and a yellow rag as a loincloth was looking back at her with huge eyes filled with barely suppressed excitement and, after a swift glance to her wand, fear.
Ginny looked around herself again, lowering her wand carefully, sure enough the office was spotless.
"Dobby." she said bowing her head slightly in acknowledgement.
"Miss? Little Miss? Miss is a friend of Harry Potter isn't Miss?" asked Dobby his voice high pitched, as was usual with his kind.
"Yes Dobby, I am. Not exactly little anymore though." she said, moving towards the windowsill to look for Fawkes.
"Fawkes is not here Miss.," said Dobby.
Ginny froze, her wand out she pointed it just between the elf's eyes as she asked in a deceptively cool voice she'd cultured over the years. "How do you know what I'm looking for, Dobby?"
"You Gryffindor's always did have more guts than brains didn't you?" sneered a supremely arrogant portrait from beside Dobby, diverting her attention fleetingly.
"Now, now, Phineas were not back to that are we?" came another voice, but this voice different to Ginny, it was a voice she knew and sorely missed.
"Professor?" Ginny asked her eyes prickling with tears, but her wand hand was still steadily pointed at the elf.
"I am honored that you still remember me Miss Weasley, and I assure you that Dobby has done nothing more criminal than clean, what are now Minerva's, chambers. She informed Phineas of why you would be coming he told me and I assume that is how Dobby knows."
"Oh." said Ginny simply, relaxing a bit, "Sorry Dobby but..."
"One must be cautious in such times, Dobby understands." assured Dumbledore once again speaking before her, his blue eyes twinkling merrily.
"Umm... Professor where exactly is Fawkes I kind of have to get back to Grimmauld Place before the meeting starts and it's at six so I've got roughly an hour so..."
"Fawkes is out roaming the battle fields I'm afraid, but he'll be back shortly I'd have him fly to Headquarters but as he is not a sentient animal he can't very well be told the location."
"Yeah, I know. Umm, I'm gonna head down to the Gryffindor common room could you send Fawkes to the Great hall when he gets here? I'll meet him there."
"My pleasure Miss Weasley," said Dumbledore smiling again.
Ginny left the room quietly closing the door behind her but she could have sworn she heard someone singing "Hoggy warty Hogwarts." She shook her head dismissively making her way towards the Gryffindor common room when suddenly a huge jerk had her clinging to the stairway.
Damn, she thought she'd forgotten about these moving stairways.
Straightening herself carefully she paused only for a moment as she tried to remember which step was the trick step, before she walked briskly off scanning the corridors for any sign of the ghosts or Peeves even. God this was horrible, she thought her brows furrowed, the corridors were covered in inch thick dust, then again, she thought, how many rooms did one actually expect Dobby to clean?
"Well if it isn't the littlest Weasley, and my, my, my, all grown up!"
"Good day to you too Sir Cadogan." said Ginny a genuine smile now lighting her face as she spoke to knight.
"It's been over three years since any Weasley's set foot in this castle little lady what brings you here?"
"Order work. Tell me, has no one been to the castle, since Dumbledore passed?" asked Ginny following the knight as he galloped from portrait to portrait.
"Don't you know? I mean if you do work for the Order now..." he broke out in a trot Ginny could hear the echo of her footsteps as she followed him.
"I've been stationed in the muggle world for muggle protection," she called as she followed him down a familiar corridor "I haven't been in the wizarding world since I left Hogwarts. I was summoned today to get Fawkes there's an Order meeting at six."
The Knight stopped abruptly and turned to look at the young woman before him, "The school was closed down after Dumbledore died. A year later the Death eaters tried to tear it down they even got the wards down before the Aurors came. Mr. Longbottom was commanding the troops I believe."
"Neville?" gasped Ginny in disbelief her auburn locks glowing in the afternoon sun.
"Indeed." came another voice, booming but not harsh and awfully familiar thought Ginny. Never the less her wand was clutched tightly in her hand before she turned.
A man walked towards her tall, she noted not that size mattered when it came to dueling, but tall with dark hair pushed of his face in... a ponytail like Bill, Good Heavens... that was never...
"Speak of the devil that you Neville?"
Chuckling softly the man nodded his face now visible as he neared. Sweet old Neville was grinning from ear to ear slight stubble visible in the light.
"What are you doing here?" she asked once they'd finished their respective 'hullos' and bid Sir Cadogan a good day.
"Actually I swung by Headquarters after Auror duties today and Harry mentioned you were back..."
"He asked you to follow me?" Indigence rang in her every syllable, her eyes burning almost as brightly as her hair.
"Cool down Gin. He was worried about you and," he added his voice infused with a bite of firmness, as he noticed how she was on the verge of losing her famous temper, "I wanted to see you so I just thought I'd swing by. "
Realizing just how useless arguing with him would be, Ginny turned sharply on her heel and left her cloak billowing behind her.
How dare Harry!
He knew she was perfectly able to take care of herself. How dare he,. Going out with him for a few months did not make her his ...whatever.
Neville sighed heavily before following her; he knew very well what type of temperament his friend had Harry was going to be in some deep shit. Pity.
"Gin hold up a sec. Where are you going anyway?" he called after her.
"Headquarters." she said her voice icy, as she blasted open a pair of rusted doors with her wand.
"Oh come on Gin." he said following her into what he was pretty sure was the Great Hall; one look at the enchanted ceiling confirmed that for him.
"Hullo Fawkes you won't mind leaving here with Neville would you?" she asked the glorious bird which had flown down and perched on her arm. "I have a bit of a chore to finish up okay?"
"What on earth are you going on about, Gin?" asked Neville looking very much like his own confused self, as he watched his friend croon to Dumbledore's Phoenix.
Ginny walked over towards Neville much calmer, Fawkes' presence probably she thought, but still very much enraged at what Harry had done she was so sick of having people hover over her.
Besides, Harry really needed to stop with the "you're-my-burden thing", a girl had her limits.
"Here you go Neville," she said as she carefully transferred Fawkes to his robe clad shoulder.
"You have to make sure you don't apparate more than ten miles at a stretch while your carrying him or else he'll burn and Minerva said they needed him now they can't wait for him to mature again."
"What ...?" Neville began but was cut off with Ginny's curt,"I need to talk to Harry."
And before he could utter another word, she was off again, leaving a bewildered Auror and a habitually calm Phoenix in her wake.
"Harry James Potter get your arse down here, now!" bellowed Ginny the second she entered Grimmauld Place.
"Such filth. In my house..."started a portrait on Ginny's right "Shut it." snapped Ginny, walking past her to stand at the bottom of the stairs. "Harry get down here this very moment or I swear I'll..."
"Alright, alright I'm here already...what?"
"How dare you?" asked Ginny her voice deceptively calm as she walked up the steps to come level with him. Her eyes flicked over his hand combed hair and wide sea green eyes dismissively.
Her wand pointed just between his eyes she repeated her voice just as calm "How dare you send Neville after me? After all that talk about trusting my abilities how dare you? You are such a..."
"Annoying-goody-two-shoes?" supplied a deep silky voice from the bottom of the stairs.
"Yes actually thank-you," she said without turning around. "You're an annoying -goody-two-shoes, who cannot accept the simple fact that I am not you're burden." She continued her eyes burning as she watched at a flicker of amusement cross his face.
Before she could remark on it, however the earlier voice spoke again.
"Well said Weasel, didn't think you had it in ya."
"Oh shove it Malfoy." she said once again not bothering to turn around, wait a second she thought suddenly spinning around on the tips of her toes her wand now pointed directly at Draco's face.
"Malfoy." she spat the name out like it was poison of the worst kind already shooting a non-verbal Stupification spell at him.
He raised his wand to deflect it but a jet of green light from above her had already cut across the red that had shot out of Ginny's.
Lifting her brows in a very delicate arch, she redirected her wand to point it at Harry's throat, "Explain."