She headed up to Gryffindor tower alone holding a wrapped dinner in her hand and her school books in the other. After seven years of schooling at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Hermione did not need to pay attention to the gaps in the stairway or the fact that the stairs liked to shift and change—she knew all their idiosyncrasies by heart. She headed towards the tower un-phased by the shifting of the stairwells. Finally, she reached the top and was greeted by the Fat Lady. The new password was West Ham, something Dean Thomas suggested after being inspired by his favorite football club. Likewise, it was something that everyone could agree upon and was something not likely to be guessed by the magical students that would have no clue about Muggle football clubs.
It was a long day, and it was late at night by the time Hermione entered the common room. A few students were still up in the common room, but sitting by the fire, Avalon sat alone in a chair with his pet falcon on the armrest. Hermione walked over and took in the other chair. "Are you alright?" She asked, referring mainly to the incident that happened in potions class either that day.
He shrugged while continuing to absentmindedly stroke his falcon across the back.
"I brought you something." She handed over the dinner she packed. "I had the House Elves make it for you."
He finally looked over at her while he took her offering. "Thanks. How much do I owe them?"
"Pardon?" She looked confused.
"I assume they made this off the clock," He said opening up the roast beef sandwich. "I should compensate them for their time."
Hermione beamed. Her S.P.E.W. efforts were perhaps not in vain after all. "I think that would be very considerate of you."
Avalon slowly began to pick at his dinner, still clearly upset from today's events, but he still ate what was brought to him.
Hermione noticed Avalon's bird staring hungrily at the sandwich, but the bird did not make a move toward it.
Avalon noticed Hermione's gaze. "He's already been fed. Otherwise, he wouldn't be this polite." He gave the bird a small piece of roast beef which the bird happily gobbled up. Avalon then dug a galleon out of his pocket and handed it to the bird. "Can you take this to the kitchen? To…" He looked at Hermione.
"To Meriwether," Hermione supplied.
The bird took the galleon and flapped off the armrest of the chair.
She couldn't handle it. She just had to say something. "You know, out of all my time spent in the wizarding world, I haven't seen anyone as compassionate to House Elves as you are."
"Well, I grew up with a few House Elves…"
Hermione's face changed from pleasure to disappointment instantly.
"They aren't our servants." Avalon said, noticing her demeanor. "I owe them much more than that."
"What do you mean?" Hermione looked intrigued.
Avalon pondered for a long moment, staring at the fire. "When we were on the run last year, it was the House Elves who helped us—bringing us food, clothes, medicine, or whatever we needed. Nobody paid attention to the House Elves—how powerful or clever they could be when they want to protect someone they love. I suspect we wouldn't have made it without them."
Hermione nodded, remembering the sacrifice Dobby the House Elf made for the ones he loved.
He sighed. "I grew up in the countryside without a lot of other kids around. The House Elves played Quidditch with me whenever I was lonely. Granted, they liked to cheat most of the time, but I suppose it's the thought that counts. "
Hermione chuckled. "They must really love you and your mum."
Avalon nodded. "I think it is easy and natural for a House Elf to love and adore others. It is sickening how wizards take such advantage of their loving and compassionate nature." He paused for a moment. "They love and adore others so much that they become worse than slaves. I'm not sure what is worse—telling them not to be as innocent and pure to protect themselves from absolute slavery or letting them be abused in order to keep their pure nature."
It was at that moment that footsteps came tromping down the stairs from the dormitory. Aurora stood in her pink pajamas at the last stair as she saw Hermione and Avalon sitting together.
"Aurora, what are you doing up?" Hermione asked.
"I think I left my Charms book down here." She dropped of their stair and headed towards one of the tables. "Yeah, got it."
"Well, it is almost curfew. I suppose we should head up." Hermione said. She looked over at Avalon who was interested in something on the empty side of the room.
"Yeah, see you up there." Aurora headed back up the stairs.
"Well, this has been an enlightening conversation, Avalon. We'll have to continue sometime later."
"Yeah," Avalon looked bit embarrassed for some reason.
Hermione paused for a moment. "I'm really sorry about what happened today. I know that couldn't have been fun."
"It wasn't your fault." Avalon stood up from the chair.
"I know, but I'm really sorry that had to happen."
Avalon sighed for a moment then smirked. "Yeah, well don't ask me if you can be the Maid of Honor. I've got fifty other people who want that position."
"Of course not," Hermione said. "I'm the wedding coordinator."
They headed up the stairs for the night.
The next day was a usual day at Hogwarts. The library was packed with students before lunchtime, but as lunchtime drew near, students started to thin out of the library. Soon, it became much more quiet and easy to focus. It was just then when other students finally left the area that Sypros closed his Herbology book and moved in closer to his five fellow Slytherins. Underneath his Herbology book lay an ancient tome filled with archaic English and worn pages. It was thin, worn, and old but by the way Spyros guarded it, it was priceless.
"Okay, let's review again for those of you who look absolutely clueless." He looked towards his especially draft classmates, Reece Harper and Miles Bletchley. "How did Harry Potter defeat The Dark Lord?"
"He used Exepelliarmus, but there must be more to it than that." One of them, Graham Pitchard, spoke up.
Spyros nodded. "Right—now we need to find out why."
"Why bother?" Harper asked. "Why can't we just go snuff Potter's life out and be done with it?"
Spyros rolled his eyes and snipped, "What makes you think you can defeat him when the Dark Lord couldn't?"
For that, the other student didn't have an answer.
"We need to find out why! If we have any hope of reviving the cause, we need to find out why! If we have any hope of bringing the Dark Lord back, we need to find out why Harry Potter was able to succeed where all others failed!"
"Potter didn't come to school last year," Miles Bletchley said. "He was hiding scared for months. What's so special about him? He's a coward!"
"He was probably doing something when he was in hiding," Spyros said. "But what?" He pondered for a few moments until he looked over at Cain Rigel, who was doodling on his homework scroll.
Cain noticed and looked up. "Sorry."
James Urquhart spoke up, "He was seen a couple of times. First, at the Ministry. Not a word for months after that until he was caught by snatchers and taken to the Malfoys around Easter. After that, Gringotts. Then finally at school during the battle."
"Yes," Spyros nodded. "Naturally, they didn't plan on stopping at the Malfoys, but the Ministry and Gringotts—why were they there?"
None of them knew the answer.
"From what my father heard, they stole a necklace from Delores Umbridge when they were at the Ministry." Spyros said.
"Why?" Harper asked.
"Yes, why steal a necklace? Why go somewhere you are wanted and risk exposure only to steal a necklace?" Spyros pondered. "Obviously, it must mean something."
"Maybe we should ask her about it—Delores Umbridge." Harper suggested.
"Not unless you fancy paying her a visit in Azkaban," Cain Rigel finally spoke up.
"She was sent there for her cooperation with the Dark Lord's forces." Spyros said with a renewed fire in his eyes. "We're going to make sure that all wrongs are vindicated."
"And what about Gringotts?" James Urquhart continued the conversation. "What were they doing there?"
"I don't know." Spyros said. "Obviously Gringotts protects wizards' gold and other precious items. I doubt Potter wanted money. He couldn't spend it anyway—not with being wanted and all. Perhaps there was something in his vault he wanted to defeat the Dark Lord. The thing is though, he didn't use anything special."
"What about that sword—that Gryffindor sword? It was missing at the beginning of the school year and the professors were going crazy about it. I thought they had found it." Graham Pritchard said.
"It's just a sword? Who cares?" Miles Bletchley said.
"Yeah, but they brought it to battle. Remember that Longbottom dufus? He had it. He killed the Dark Lord's snake with it," Graham continued.
"So maybe Potter broke into Gringotts to get the sword, but why? What's so special about the sword?" Harper asked.
"That's what we need to find out," Spyros said. "Harper, you research the sword while the rest of keep searching for more clues. In the meanwhile, I'll see if I can find anything about that locket of Umbridge's. It has to be important. He wouldn't have gone there if it wasn't."
Harper looked annoyed. "Why me?"
"Because you can't handle much more than reading something straight out of a book." Spyros said. He looked around the library. "We better get going before we look suspicious."
The six Slytherin boys cleared their things off the table and left the library empty. They headed down to lunch a little later than the others, but still not late enough to arouse any suspicion. As he led the pack, a small grin formed upon Spyros' face. Where others had failed the Dark Lord, he would succeed.
Alone that afternoon, Harry Potter wandered the quiet halls of Hogwarts Castle. Most of the students were in their afternoon classes or at the library completing today's homework. Only when he passed by a classroom would he hear the sound of other souls. As he paced down the third floor he walked by the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. This was his favorite class. Despite the spotty education he received during his time at Hogwarts for this class, Harry had emerged as one of the most talented wizards today in combating the Dark Arts. He peered into the classroom for a moment and listened in on Professor Pascal's lecture on shield spells to a group of first years. He felt a small twinge of jealously as he listened to how well the new professor spoke on this subject and how kindly he answered students' questions.
The Professor looked up, seeing Harry look on in from the doorway, and motioned Harry to come in if he wished. Harry declined with a negative nod and polite smile. As much as it would have been fun to go inside and listen, he had work to do. It was his job, for Kingsley Shacklebolt, to keep an eye on the school. Besides the recent graffiti written on the wall, everything has seemed calm at Hogwarts. However, it was difficult to shake the feeling that something dark was looming. Perhaps it was just the fact that Harry had to live his entire life under the dark clouds of Voldemort's terror, but it was difficult to shake the feeling of horror and dread that had followed him his whole life. Harry shook his head though, trying to erase those thoughts—those memories. He was free now. Voldemort was gone. His scar did not hurt anymore. The world was light once again. It was over. The thing that occupied so much time and energy in his life was gone now. Now, the task that lay ahead was to find a new purpose in life.
He left the Defense Against the Dark Arts room behind him and headed out towards the Grand Staircase. He had been making his way up each corridor on the west side and heading toward the top. Ron was on the east while Thor was in the dungeons. He pondered more about his new role—Auror. After the kind of life he lived, being an Auror perhaps seemed like the only logical choice. Perhaps there was flying—Quidditch. Maybe, he shrugged, trying not to go there, if none of this would have happened—if Voldemort would have never killed his parents—maybe he would have grown up to play Quidditch someday. He knew he was good—but he wondered if perhaps good enough to play for England. But, he sighed, dreams like that were from an age of innocence. Now, tainted with the cares and worries of this world, he knew that protecting the world from dark witches and wizards was a much more valuable use of his time.
Perhaps Ginny though would play Quidditch professionally one day. It seemed as if there was no limit to her potential. She only seemed to grow more and more in her skills as a leader and as a seeker for Gryffindor. The more he thought on his, the more and more attractive she grew in his mind which reminded him, he better had get things sorted out between the two of them.
Harry was so deep in thought that he did not realize that Avalon Stratford was approaching, saying hello. It took him a moment, as they headed towards one another in the fourth floor corridor. "Oh," Harry shook his thoughts away. "Hello. What are you doing out here? The period isn't over yet."
"Test. Professor Babbling let me go early since I finished," Avalon said, feeling a little interrogated with Harry's wand pointing at him.
"Oh, sorry," Harry lowered his wand.
"On edge?" Avalon asked, glancing around the corridor.
Harry looked around too, his eyes slowly drawing over the details of the corridor. "No, I'm fine." He sheathed his wand.
"I suppose you're looking for whoever did it—the writing."
Harry furrowed his brow. "How did you know that?"
Avalon looked a little bashful. "Well, you're here more often than coincidence. I was just putting two and two together. And, Headmistress McGonagall asked all the prefects to keep an eye out."
Harry glanced over Avalon's Head Boy badge. Maybe he would have been Head Boy like his father if he would have stayed. "Ron and I are helping his brother George out in Hogsmeade. That's why you see us around a lot."
Avalon didn't look satisfied. "But you're here and not there."
Harry sighed. "Yes, alright, it's a ruse! But you've got to keep it quiet!"
Avalon nodded. "I understand, but may I offer some advice?"
Harry gave him a look that said 'continue.'
"You shouldn't all come at once. Otherwise there won't be enough people to man the store." Avalon said. "After all, I imagine running a business can be pretty busy."
"Right," Harry nodded, silently kicking himself for not being discreet enough.
"Anyway, Harry. I was wondering if you were still game for sitting down sometime and talking." He started to sound a little embarrassed.
"Talking?" Harry pondered.
"About your scar," Avalon said, sheepishly.
"Oh, um, well…I guess."
"Is now a good time?" Avalon asked.
Harry pondered for a moment. "Well, I really should finish my rounds, but I…" He looked over at Avalon and remembered the mother of this boy. She had been so kind to him and bought him an owl, it was the least he could do. "…I suppose if you wouldn't mind coming with me."
"I wouldn't mind at all," Avalon beamed.
The two of them spent the afternoon walking the corridors and talking.
Later that evening, Hermione sat in the library feeling quite proud of herself. She felt like her Ancient Runes test had gone exceptionally well. Now, she was pulling off an equally exceptional transfiguration essay with an illuminating smile on her face as she dotted the sentence she just finished. However, Ginny, working on the same exact assignment, did not have the same enthusiasm as her study partner. Hermione came down off cloud nine, and noticed Ginny's fist pressed firmly into her check and the deep sigh escaping from her lips. "You alright?"
Ginny looked up. "Fine."
Hermione scrutinized the look on Ginny's face. "You don't look fine."
"Really, I am." Ginny closed her book. She noticed that they still had two hours before dinnertime, but she didn't care. "Just feeling tired that's all."
It was then that Aurora came back to the table with a large stack of books. "Last copy," She said, pulling the top book off the stack and handing it to Hermione. "I had to wrestle it away from some Ravenclaw bloke. They're hogging all the books!"
"Thanks," Hermione said, setting it down instead of opening it straight away.
Aurora set the books down then took a seat. She noticed the look on Ginny's face. "Something wrong?"
"No," Ginny lied. "I'm fine."
Hermione and Aurora exchanged glances then went back to their work.
Just as the three started to get back to work, a little tiny owl excitedly flapped its wings with small tweets along the way. It landed on their table and danced around happily with a letter in its mouth. The baby owl relished in the attention that Hermione provided as she stroked her hand over his back. The letter was addressed to Ginny.
She gingerly reached out for the letter and took it from the little owl. Instead of flying away, the little owl continued to put on a performance of cute for Hermione and Aurora. She opened the letter.
Don't bother with to dinner tonight. Meet me in the courtyard instead. And don't worry, I've already got it approved with McGonagall.
PS. Almost forgot—dress warm!
Ginny peered over the top of the letter to see Aurora and Hermione huddled together staring curiously at her. Once they saw her eyes, they immediately—and completely obvious—went back to work on their essays.
"Aurora, what was the counter spell for…"Hermione and Aurora both started giggling at the same time.
"Oh, come off it!" Ginny rolled her eyes. She looked down at the little owl happily dancing on the table top. "This must be Harry's new owl." She reached out and gave it a gentle pat on the head. "Your name's Knut, right?"
The little bird excitedly began to squalk, disturbing other students.
"Shhh," Aurora looked around. "If Madame Pince catches us…"
Ginny quickly dipped her quill in metallic blue ink and scratched a reply. She gave it to Knut, and the little bird took off from the table.
The three girls mused as it flew away.
"Cute little thing, isn't he?" Aurora said.
Ginny nodded in agreement, looking much more chipper. "If I remember correctly, it was Mrs. Stratford who bought that owl for Harry."
"Mrs. Stratford," Aurora questioned.
"You know, Avalon's mum." Ginny said. "Harry said it just showed up at George's shop, but he said he was looking at it earlier that day in Diagon Alley and she happened to come up behind him."
"That was very kind of her," Hermione said to which Ginny agreed.
"Apparently, she's real sick," Ginny said.
Hermione nodded. "Yes, I've heard."
The three of them fell silent for a moment. After a while of thinking, they quietly went back to work on their assignment. They managed to get fifteen minutes of undisruptive study time in until a group of noisy boys walked into the library.
Spyros Catassus came into the room, leading his usual group of friends. They didn't seem to mind their disruptive behavior, but in fact, they seemed to relish in it as some of them purposely knocked over stacks of books on other students' tables.
Aurora looked up for a moment. As Spyros took a small step to his left, Cain Rigel's face emerged from behind him. Within seconds, a feeling of dread washed over her as she caught a glimpse of his face. Her skin grew cold and pale, and instantly, her head began to thunder with pain. The faintest sound of a scream filled her head.
They continued on.
As fast as it came over her was as fast as it stopped. The unpleasant feelings lingered for only a few seconds, but her heart and mind continued to race. Hermione and Ginny both stared at her with eyes wide open.
"You looked like you were going to be sick," Ginny said looking very concerned.
Hermione looked worried too. That moment of pain and terror upon Aurora's face didn't look all too different from the same fits Harry used to have. Whether dream, memory, or vision, something seemed to torture her.
Aurora took a moment to find her voice. "I'm…fine…" She managed to say. "I just felt a little sick to my stomach, that's all. Maybe a touch of the flu."
"Oh no! You're not getting sick with the first Quidditch match in two weeks!" Ginny scolded to break the tension.
Aurora still looked a bit peaky but cracked a smile. "Absolutely not. Quidditch or die."
Hermione rolled her eyes as Ginny wholeheartedly agreed.
Up in Gryffindor tower, Aurora sat Indian style on her bed with her pajamas already on and wrapped up in her blankets. She gave in to Hermione's chiding and agreed to stay in bed for the rest of the night. However, instead of resting, she insisted on helping Ginny get ready for her rendezvous with Harry Potter.
Since Harry said "dress warm," Ginny was finding it difficult to "dress warm" and yet look attractive for her outing. She sighed as she looked through her outdoor wear. Her mother was a little busy to make her any new scarfs, mittens, or hats over the last year due to the war and so her winter wear was looking a little shabby.
"Wear my black coat. The one in the closet," Aurora said.
"I couldn't," Ginny said.
Aurora nodded. "Oh, you could, and you should. I'll get…"
"No, I'll get it." Hermione bade her friend to sit down and retrieved the coat from the closet. She handed it to Ginny.
"Thanks," Ginny muttered, a little embarrassed. She slipped on the coat and looked herself over in the mirror. "Well?" She looked to her two friends.
"Good," Hermione said.
"And a scarf—that one, for the color." Aurora said, pointing to a particular one.
Ginny grabbed a scarf and threw it around her.
"Great!" Hermione said, noticing the effect of the scarf. "I should have you dress us more often, Aurora."
Aurora shrugged at her abilities.
"No, really. You're quite artistic."
That word made Aurora sigh. Her father was artistic. Granted, he was a painter and not a fashion expert, but it was the same idea.
"Anyway, we better get going," Hermione said. "You stay here and rest, Aurora. I'll bring you something back."
"You know, I'm fine really…" Aurora started to say.
Hermione only looked at her then tapped on the Head Girl badge on her own shirt as a joke.
Aurora rolled her eyes and lay down in bed. "Seriously?" She said with a slight laugh.
"Let's go, Ginny," Hermione said. "Harry's waiting."
"Yes," Ginny said while looking in the mirror one last time. "Harry's waiting."
Ginny gingerly stepped outside the door to the entrance courtyard. It was very strange to not be heading to dinner with the rest of the school, but this was where Harry told her to meet him. It was already starting to grow dark and the temperature was dropping fast. What was it that Harry wanted? Did he have to speak about some new mission or did he have some interesting piece of information about the recent graffiti on the wall?
It was just then as she walked out into the empty courtyard with her head full of thoughts that Harry Potter rode in from above on a broomstick. He was dressed much neater than usual with a pair of black slacks, dress shoes, and a neat looking dark coat.
"You combed your hair down," Ginny said as Harry came to a hover just above the ground next to her.
Immediately, the cowlick on the back of his head sprung up. Harry pressed his lips firmly together and sighed. "Took, 45 minutes to get that to lay flat."
Ginny looked at him with a bemused look on her face then her eyes glanced down at the broomstick. "A Kamikaze? You bought a new broomstick?"
Harry shook his head. "Ran into Avalon today. Let me borrow it for tonight." He extended his arm. "Hop on,"
Ginny used his arm as a guide to seat herself right behind Harry. "Well, make sure you give it back. We've got a match coming up," She said teasingly. Although she wondered how awkward it would be for her llto thank Avalon for letting them borrow his broom for a date.
"Alright, here we go!" Harry said, relishing the feeling of flying on a Kamikaze a little too much. He kicked hard off the ground and shot up into the sky, even making Ginny scream a little in surprise.
"Where are you taking me?" She asked, recovering from the initial jolt of take-off.
"That is a surprise."
However, on the ground, Spyros Catassus looked up from the shadows of the entrance courtyard. He had been outside again that late afternoon. He was pushing the limits of after dark curfew, but he had to remain still and quite in the shadows until that Potter and Weasley left the courtyard. He watched as their image faintly disappeared into the evening sky before he made a move for the doorway.
He was already frustrated as it was. No matter how many places he looked in the Forbidden Forest, he could not find any clue as to what happened that night with the Dark Lord and Harry Potter. According to his father, who was present among the Dark Lord's rabble, Harry Potter was struck with the killing curse. He was pronounced dead. The Malfoys said it was so. But somehow he lived. But wait, he thought to himself. The Malfoys seemed to escape any punishment for their crimes. Anyone who was known to cooperate with the Dark Lord was thrown straight into Azkaban. His own father only managed to escape by keeping a low profile and claiming "It was the Imperious curse!" if anyone asked. He had many classmates and friends whose parents were in Azkaban right now for their allegiance to the Dark Lord—he even had a sister in Azkaban—but the Malfoys were not in Azkaban! They must have lied to the Dark Lord! Harry Potter never died! The Malfoys were turncoats!
As much as that bothered him, something bothered him even more. How did Harry Potter survive a second time? The first time, the Dark Lord knew what went wrong—Lily Potter's sacrifice protected Harry. But there was nobody to protect Harry the second time. What was it about Harry Potter that the Dark Lord was not able to defeat him? If they had any hope of defeating Harry Potter, reviving the cause, and possibility bringing the Dark Lord back, he had to figure out the answer to this question. His role in the task was important. The remaining Death Eaters and followers of the Dark Lord couldn't search the grounds at Hogwarts, but he and his friends could. They were the only hope of reviving the dark cause.
Perhaps he would write to his father on his recent thoughts.
Not that they weren't having fun doing it, but Harry purposely took his time in arriving at the planned destination. Although he couldn't go as fast with two people on the broom, they tested the merit of the Kamikaze broom against their familiarity with the Firebolt, Nimbus, and Cleansweep series.
"Definitely faster than my old broom," Ginny yelled over the cold wind lapping in her face.
"It's faster than the Firebolt, but it handles a little less well." Harry shouted back. "Littler harder to stop and turn."
As they approached the mountains, Harry spotted the place he designated earlier. He sent the broom into one last loop before heading straight down into a gentle glide. High up in the hills, Harry had prepared a small fire, a picnic blanket, and a basket.
"Ta-da!" Harry said as they hopped off the broom.
"How long did you have this planned?" Ginny said, grateful for the thought but a little put off with the cold.
Harry thought for a moment. "About five hours,"
"That all?" Ginny sat down on the blanket next to the fire to warm herself. "How did you ever get Avalon to let you borrow his broom? And how did you get McGonagall to let me out of the castle at night? And how did you get everything ready…"
"Well, I had some help," Harry admitted. "Ron packed the basket…"
"Ginny wrinkled her nose as she was about to look in the basket. Ron eats just about anything.
Harry laughed at her face. "I told him what to pack. I just asked him to pack it."
Relief washed over Ginny's face.
"As I said, I ran into Avalon today. He's wanted to ask me about my scar for weeks now." Harry carefully laid the broom down in the grass and took a seat next to Ginny. "I finally was able to give him what he wanted so I guess he was keen to let me borrow his broom. In fact, it was more his idea than mine."
"Hmmm," Ginny pondered. "And McGonagall?"
Harry was hoping she didn't ask. "Well, at first she was dead against it. I begged her for about ten minutes with the same answer until…"
Harry sighed. "I told her exactly why I wanted to take you out past curfew. She made me give her every detail," Harry said with a blush. "I felt like some gossipy school girl, but then she was okay with it."
"So McGonagall knows more about this than I do?"
"For now," Harry said. "But let's eat." He pulled out some sandwiches from the basket.
The dinner table was incredibly awkward that night. Harry and Ginny were up in the mountains, and Aurora was in her bed at Gryffindor tower. Ron, Hermione, and Avalon were the only ones sitting in the 7th year area in the Great Hall. Avalon, who might normally talk to Ritchie Cootie and Jimmy Peaks, couldn't speak with them because they were hard at work on some assignment. So he sat quiet, feeling some sort of odd tension, as he ate his dinner.
Ron seemed to be in some sour mood. Hermione did not say much to Avalon or Ron for it only seemed to make things worse. She might only utter something about needing the pepper and that was all.
But she grew tired of that. Instead, she tried to break the silence with conversation that might get both boys talking. "So I hear that Gryffindor will be playing Slytherin their first game, is that correct?"
Avalon looked up from his fish dinner. "Yeah, that's right. It won't be an easy game. They're shaping up decent as a team. I don't know what they've been like in years past…"
"Shouldn't be a problem for you, should it?" Ron slipped. "Seeing since you're so good at everything."
Avalon looked a little bewildered. "Well, um, I'll try my best if that's what you mean."
Ron only grunted in response.
Hermione looked at Ron with a look of confusion and frustration all mixed into one.
"Oh, yeah, and you got yourself a Kamikaze. If you're not good enough then at least your broom is."
Hermione's look started to polarize more towards frustration than confusion after that remark.
"Yes, it is a nice broom." Avalon said, not knowing what to say. "It was a surprise birthday present. I'm really quite grateful to have it."
"But really, there like a dime a dozen right?"
"What do you mean?" Avalon looked really confused.
"Oh you know, going out and lending it. It must not be that precious…"
Avalon was starting to get mad. "Harry is my mate. I lent it…"
"Harry is my best-mate," Ron added. "We've been best-mates ever since we came to Hogwarts."
"So what?" Avalon put his knife and fork down and stared at Ron.
"So, don't go kidding yourself," Ron said.
"Ron!" Hermione chided. "Stop it!"
Instead of keeping the argument going, Ron looked hastily at his watch. "I have to get going. I suspect that George needs me at the store."
"But dessert hasn't even appeared…"
"I have to go," Ron snapped. He stood up from the table and hastily zipped up his jacket. He walked out of the Great Hall.
"Ron!" Hermione called after him, a little too loudly, and attracted the attention of some of the other students nearby. After he left through the great door , Hermione turned back to her dinner. She exchanged glances with Avalon, who clearly looked mad, but his facial expression softened to sympathy. She tried to pick up her fork to eat, but instead set it down and stormed out of the Great Hall to the common room.
Avalon sat alone that night, finishing his dinner in frustration and bewilderment.
Harry and Ginny finished all the sandwiches and moved on to the dessert. He brought a chocolate pie purchased in Hogsmeade and started slicing it up into eight pieces. He first served Ginny then gave himself a nice sized piece.
"What do you think?" Harry asked as he watched Ginny take her second bite.
"It's good," was all she said.
"Something wrong?" He asked as he laid down the pie server.
Ginny didn't say anything for a moment. "I suppose I'm wondering why you wanted to come out tonight."
"Hmmm," Harry nodded. "That makes sense."
Ginny set her plate down on the blanket.
"Well," Harry said with a bit of a gasp. "As you know, things between us have been a little—unsorted." He paused for a moment when the sensation of his heart started pounding wildly in his chest. "Before I went away, I had to break up with you. I didn't want anyone to hurt you because of me, and if I never came back…"
"Don't," Ginny said.
"I'm lucky to be alive, Ginny." Harry looked somber. "I thought I might not make it, but here I am." He glazed off into the night sky for a moment. "I always wanted the best for you, and if I was going to die, I didn't want you to be mourning over me."
"Do you really think I wouldn't have mourned over you?"
Harry looked back at her, frustrated with the way he directed the conversation. He finally spoke plainly. "It doesn't matter now. I'm here. I'm alive. And I'm not letting you go. Ever."
"Harry," Ginny managed to utter just before he kissed her.
After a pleasant evening in the mountains, Harry dropped Ginny, his girlfriend once again, off back at the castle a few minutes before 8 pm. The Headmistress was very strict about this. Nevertheless, he was able to accomplish the task he set out to do. With a goodbye kiss, he took off into the night sky, shooting fast and high into the air. The night sky echoed with a scream of delight from the lips of Harry Potter.
He was back in Hogsmeade in seconds. He touched down near George's new joke shop and walked around the building to the back door. He maneuvered through the dark first floor towards the stairs leading up to the bedroom. He entered the bedroom to find Ron playing with one of the games in the joke shop and Thor reading a book.
"Lots of excitement here, I see," Harry said, taking off his coat.
Ron shot him a dirty look.
"What's the matter with you?" Harry asked, continuing to strip of his fancy clothing.
"Nothing," Ron muttered.
Thor set his book down and looked at Harry. "We are not going to the castle tomorrow."
"Oh, that reminds me," Harry said. "We're starting to look suspicious. You know, all three of us at the castle at the same time. A student mentioned it to me, and…"
"Who?" Ron asked.
"It was Avalon," Harry said. "He said that…"
"Oh, Avalon," Ron hissed. "Well, if Avalon says it then it must be true."
"What is your problem tonight?" Harry snapped.
"Problem? What problem?" Ron said.
"You're being obnoxious," Harry went over to the closet for some more comfortable clothes.
"Sorry, I'm so obnoxious! Sorry, I can't lend you things like Kamikaze brooms or whatever…"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Is that what you're upset about?"
"I'm not upset." Ron crossed his arms over his chest.
Harry put on his pajamas. "Look, Ron, you're my best-mate. No argument okay? No amount of broomsticks is going to change that."
Ron only grumbled while he continued to play with the game.