. . .and after a while Harry found himself taking it out simply to stare at Ginny's name in the girl's dormitory, wondering whether the intensity with which he gazed at it might break into her sleep, that she would somehow know he was thinking about her, hoping that she was all right.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, U.S. Hardcover Edition, p.313
Ginny Weasley sat in one of the overstuffed armchairs in the Gryffindor common room, staring morosely into the fire. Her routine had been largely the same for the last month or more; after dinner in the Great Hall she would return to Gryffindor Tower for a couple of hours of boredom before going to bed. The tedium was broken up occasionally by a couple of evenings of detention, brought on by the lack of completed assignments she was turning in.
Refusing to do her homework was the last avenue of rebellion available to her. She wasn't alone, though; most of her fellow Gryffindors had joined the boycott, led by all of the sixth and seventh years. In short led by those that knew Harry Potter best. Most of the fifth and fourth years were also taking part, but the prefects were firm in keeping the third, second, and especially the first years on track. Those students still had a chance.
The only class that was exempt from the boycott was Transfiguration. Not one member of Gryffindor House would ever disappoint Professor McGonogall like that. She was disappointed enough in their behavior, but she managed to show a measure of support by giving them ridiculously easy detentions whenever the choice was left to her. It made a refreshing change from enduring the Cruciatus curse at the hands of one of the Carrows.
Her attempt to steal Gryffindor's sword with the help of Neville and Luna had nearly been a disaster. Professor Snape had been absolutely enraged and promised them a detention they would never forget. His promise had been kept, but not in the way he had intended. Hagrid had taken the three of them into the Forbidden Forest to collect unicorn hair, and they had had so much fun that it hardly seemed like a punishment.
In comparison their efforts to get Dumbledore's Army back up and running had been difficult, and at times dangerous. Neville had taken the worst of it; it seemed their new headmaster drew the line at allowing female students to be tortured. The torture wasn't about punishment, though. It was more about trying to get information; information that no one was giving away.
Snape had his suspicions, of course. It was hard not to suspect, when every morning new graffiti appeared in various corridors of the castle – Dumbledore's Army, Still Recruiting. Filch attacked each example with vigor and bucket loads of Mrs. Skower's Magical Mess Remover only to have it re-appear the next morning in a dozen different places.
The sneaking out each night had been the riskiest part. Ginny felt that she had to take responsibility for the graffiti-ing since it had been her idea, but Neville, along with the rest of the Gryffindor seventh years, had refused to let her take the risk alone. They had all done their share, including Parvati and Lavender. And they had all endured the stares of the entire Slytherin table at every meal, stares that were rife with suspicion.
Draco Malfoy had been the worst, and he had concentrated all of his malevolence on Ginny herself. Every meal he had been glaring at her, no doubt expecting her to cower. But all she had to do was think of Harry as he had knelt beside Dumbledore's crumpled body and she was able to return his glare a hundred fold. In the end, more often than not, it was Malfoy who had to drop his eyes from hers. It gave her a perverse satisfaction.
It was weeks since she had enjoyed that feeling of triumph. Not only because Malfoy was rarely seen at meals but because everything else had gone downhill.
It had started with Neville's first detention with the Carrows. When he appeared at breakfast the next morning he had a black eye and a split lip that was still oozing a small trickle of blood. He ignored everyone's questions, though, and simply told them that the next meeting of the DA was still on.
Shortly after that, however, Snape had begun a new crackdown, and as the weeks left before Christmas break dwindled down it was becoming harder and harder to meet and practice. Every morning at breakfast more and more students were appearing with bruised and cut faces, although coincidentally enough none were from Slytherin House. That fact only made Ginny and the others that much more determined to rebel in any way they could.
Which was why, on an evening two weeks before the end of term, Ginny and the rest of the Gryffindor sixth and seventh years were sitting in the common room with not a homework assignment in sight. Seamus and Neville were playing Exploding Snap while Parvati watched. Lavender was engrossed in a copy of Pride and Prejudice, a novel by a Muggle author that Ginny had read and enjoyed. Her own roommates were giggling over the best-selling, unauthorized, biography of famed singer Celestina Warbeck.
Ginny rubbed her eyes; she was so tired they felt like they were full of sand. In addition to all of the other problems she was having trouble sleeping lately. She kept having a recurring series of dreams, all revolving around the efforts of a number of people to get some vital information to her. Sometimes it was one of her brothers, sometimes Harry, but most of the time it was Hermione. She always seemed upset and anxious in the dreams, but Ginny was never able to help her. The dreams had happened so often that she was beginning to wonder if they weren't somehow prophetic, and had even considered the desperate step of speaking to Professor Trelawney about them.
And then, to top everything off, whenever she awoke in the middle of the night she had a powerful sensation of being watched. It was beyond unnerving; it was absolutely terrifying considering what Hogwarts had become. She had done a magical scan of the dorm for any spells or charms that were being used to eavesdrop and found nothing, but that had only given her more cause for concern. It was possible that someone was spying on her without magic, which would make him that much harder to trace.
She slouched down further in her chair and extended her feet towards the fire. At times like this her thought always turned to Harry, Ron and Hermione. She felt almost guilty, being warm and (relatively) safe at Hogwarts while the three of them were out in the world somewhere, doing Merlin knows what. She knew that they were trying to find something, and that whatever it was would be crucial in defeating Voldemort once and for all but beyond that she was in the dark. None of the trio had told her anything, and Ginny hadn't pressed them for information. She had enough faith to know that when the time was right Harry would tell her everything. She just needed to be patient.
Harry. . .
She missed him more than she could ever admit to anyone, even herself. They had so little time together, and none of it was time in which to simply be. The threat of Voldemort had always hovered over them; the essence of a specter at a feast. She held the memory of the kiss they had shared on his birthday close, using it to sustain her spirit just as she had wished the same for him.
She gave a hefty sigh and laid her head on the chair back. Moping around wasn't going to help Harry and she knew it. She needed to figure out more ways to fight against the new school regime: things they could put into practice once the Christmas holidays were over. But she needed to get some sleep first. She was considering going to Madame Pomfrey about a sleeping potion but thought No, I'll give it one more night.
She stood up, pushing a hand through her hair. She was tired and distracted; so much so that she bumped into Lavender's chair as she made her way to the staircase.
"Are you all right, Ginny?" Lavender asked, a concerned frown creasing her brow. "It's not like you to go to bed so early."
Ginny tried to smile but knew it came off weak. "I'm fine," she replied. "Nothing that an hour or two of extra sleep can't cure."
Lavender nodded, although Ginny could feel the older girl's worried gaze follow her to the stairs.
Just one full, uninterrupted night's sleep, she said to herself. That's all I ask.
It was cold and drizzly; a miserable night to be without the warmth of a fire and friends. Ginny, strangely, did not feel the cold or the dampness of the rain. The only reason she knew of those two things was because she could hear the rain on the leaves of the forest and see her breath as it misted in the air.
Everything around her was unfamiliar, yet she knew where she was going. She moved confidently down the barely discernable path, her strides long and sure. There was no need to be afraid of what might be lurking in the shadows. She could see the tent off to her right, and started to move in that direction.
She ducked her head and slipped between the tent flaps. It was slightly warmer inside, thanks to the banked fire in the stove. She glanced towards the bunk beds and saw a person curled up on the bottom bunk, fast asleep. She wasn't tired, though. She felt restless and on edge, but not at all tired.
She sat in the disheveled armchair that sat not too far from the stove and pushed her feet towards the glow of warmth emanating from the embers. With a gusty sigh she leaned back in the chair and pulled a piece of parchment from her coat pocket. She muttered an incantation and tapped the parchment with her wand. Instantly lines began to spread out from the center, like a giant spider's web. They twisted and twined across the parchment, finally resolving themselves into a form she recognized – the corridors and classrooms of Hogwarts.
Her attention was inexorably drawn towards a section of the map in one of the towers. There was a confusion of dots and names in the Gryffindor common room, but one soon separated itself out and moved towards the girl's dormitory.
The name beside the dot read Ginevra Weasley. . .
Ginny jerked out of her sleep, momentarily confused as to where she was. The scarlet bed hangings provided a vivid clue – she was in her bed in Gryffindor Tower. Safe and warm. And for the first time in over a week she wasn't scared by the sensation that someone was watching her. Now she knew who it was. No matter how far away he was Harry was keeping an eye on her.
Feeling more at ease than she had in weeks she snuggled down under her blankets, and quickly drifted off again. When her roommates came up to the dorm over an hour later they were surprised to find her sleeping soundly, a contented smile curling her lips.