Closed Shutters

"Seth!" Hermione whispered. Then she sighed, exasperated. "Look, Seth, maybe it would be better if you just sat back and let us work."

"Fine." He spit out. As Hermione bent down and began to clean up the spilled bubotuber pus, Harry sunk down into the chair behind him and sulked. Or, at least, he appeared to.

The idea itself was really quite ingenious, Harry reasoned. Even if the method made him seem helpless and uncoordinated, it was necessary. He was supposed to blind and weak, not capable and able to take care of himself.

He and Sirius had cooked this up a few weeks before he had left for Hogwarts. Harry would make himself look weak, disabled, and not Lily and James Potters' son. That meant being, 'tastefully clumsy,' as Padfoot put it.

He interpreted this as knocking over and spilling things just enough, and then pretending to be upset about it later. Discretion, though, was the key; if he bumped into something to many times, or knocked over something too dangerous, he might be considered too perilous to have around, and be watched closely. And if somebody watched him long enough, they might start to see a pattern. Specific people might start to see a pattern. And that would be unacceptable.

So Harry pretended to mope, while secretly congratulating himself on a job well done. Granger thought he was a pitiful uncoordinated lump.

"Ms. Granger," an oily voice sneered. "What is the meaning of this?" Snape.

"Er, erm, well, Professor," Hermione stuttered, "Seth knocked over the bub—"

"I don't have time for excuses, girl. Detention, tonight, at eight, and ten points from Gryffindor. " He scowled and stalked away, moving on to criticize some other poor soul's potion.

'Yep. Definitely Snivellous.'

Ginny plopped down at the table between Neville Longbottom and Hermione Granger.

"Is it Christmas yet?" She groaned, banging her head on the table. Hermione sighed and patted the younger girl's back.

"What has Snape done this time?"

"I was lighting a fire for my cauldron in potions with my powers, instead of with my wand. He says 'Miss Weasley, I realize that you have an insufferable need to prove your superiority to your classmates, but do not presume to do so in my class.' And then he takes ten points and gives me detention!"

She sits up and leans her elbows on the table. "Not to mention I've been feeling crummy all day, and I don't fucking know why!" Several nearby first year start at the curse.

Harry, who had up until this point been preparing to knock over Ginny's pumpkin juice and frizz up her hair, stopped himself. Could he really do that to such a miserable-sounding girl? She had been pretty nice to him, and was one of the first people he'd ever met besides Sirius to actually take an interest in him, and not just treat him like an invalid. (Or insult him, but that seemed to be her brother's forte.)

"Have something to eat, Ginny," Granger coaxed. ." She picked up a bowl of peas and spooned some onto Ginny's plate. "That should help you feel better."

"N'thanks," Ginny mumbled, "I think I'll just go to bed." She got up and walked slowly Great Hall, before Hermione could give her anymore food.

Harry frowned. Ginny Weasley definitely had issues. Probably more than anybody—even her family knew, from the looks of her brothers. Her aura had the tell-tale twinge of darkness to it. The Weasley girl had been touched by dark magic. 'Well,' he decided, 'no need to add to her problems.' He turned his head towards the girl, listening for her slow footsteps, and carefully opened up his sight. The brightness wasn't nearly as bad as the day before. 'Huh. That's convenient.'

He turned his head in her direction. He couldn't "see" anything else, but he definitely could feel the bad weather syndrome she picked up from the storm. He had noticed it earlier in the week, but he hadn't known it had progressed to such a severe level.

Harry drummed his fingers on the table, still facing her. He visualized a thin, versatile shield forming around the girl—Ginny—that would block outside interferences for a short time.

'She'll be fine for now. But why hasn't Dumbledore done something to help her by now?'

"Ron!"

"Wha, 'Mione"

"Don't talk with your mouth full."

"Shawwy."

"Never mind, look at Ginny! She's hardly eating, and looks as if she hasn't slept in weeks!"

"And?"

"She's your sister."

"Hermione, if something was really wrong, she would've gone to the twins or me about it or something."

"Ronald, when was the last time Ginny came to any of you besides her mum or Bill for help?"

"Er—"

"Exactly. Now get your arse up to the Gryffindor common room and send her to Madam Pomphrey."

"Hermione!"

"Go!"

"Come in, Miss Weasley."

Ginny honestly did not understand how Dumbledore did that.

"Sir, I think there's something going on. Something's going to happen…something's happening." She said shakily.

Dumbledore nodded sagely. "I got that impression myself, Miss Weasley. There is a strange signature in the castle. Tell me, dear girl; we covered magical signatures last year. What say you of the newfound presence?"

"Well," Ginny began carefully. "I can tell that this… signature, thing, wasn't here last year. It feels vaguely male, and sort of, well," Ginny hesitated.

"Yes?"

"Sort of like my own."

(A/N: I have many things to apologize for. I'm sorry for the late update, I'm sorry for the short chapter, and I'm sorry for pissing so many people off! I've been distracted by a little thing called life, lately, and I've not been near a computer for a while. I do promise, though, that A) This is not a Dumbledore/Lupin bashing story, and B) I will NOT abandon it. Just stick with me for a bit, please. And remember, reviews are still my drug!)