Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, or any of the characters, places, or quotes I used from the books.
This chapter covers the rest of the summer. The chapters are Chapter Five, The Order of the Phoenix; Chapter Six, The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black; and Chapter Nine, The Woes of Mrs. Weasley.
Ginny stood up and made to leave the kitchen, looking disappointed and upset. She was back to being the only person left out of the loop. Harry noticed this, and a pang of sympathy stabbed at his heart. Not a few short hours ago, he'd been in exactly her position. He caught her eye just before she turned towards the door and quickly mouthed, "Tell you later." A confused, but hopeful look crossed her face, and she gave him a small, grateful smile before her mother practically shoved her out the door.
This was a promise Harry was determined to keep. As he, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George were herded up the stairs by a visibly upset Mrs. Weasley a while later, an idea struck Harry when they were saying goodnight to Hermione.
"I want you all to go straight to bed, no talking," Mrs. Weasley had said as they reached the first landing. "We've got a busy day tomorrow."
Quickly and quietly, so no one would notice, Harry muttered to Hermione, "Go ahead and tell Ginny everything." At Hermione's surprised look, he added, "It's only fair." Understanding flashed in Hermione's eyes, and she nodded her agreement.
"I expect Ginny's asleep," Mrs. Weasley added to Hermione, "so try not to wake her up."
"Asleep, yea right," said Fred in an undertone after Hermione bade them goodnight and they were climbing to the next floor. "If Ginny's not lying awake waiting for Hermione to tell her everything they said downstairs then I'm a flobberworm."
The next few days consisted of, as Ginny had said, 24/7 chores, although Harry happened to find them interesting rather than annoying. They were certainly better than anything the Dursley's had ever had him do. Harry noticed that members of the Order would periodically drop in, and the four Weasley kids, Harry, and Hermione would stop working to try and hear what was going on while Mrs. Weasley was busy trying to shut up the angry portrait of Sirius's mother.
And indeed, Fred and George took every opportunity they could find to hide anything interesting in their pockets.
"We want to save as much of your… investment as we can," Fred explained one day when he noticed Harry smirking at the conspicuous bulges in the twins' jacket pockets.
"Smart," Harry agreed, laughter in his voice.
Too soon, however, it was the day before Harry's trial. He was nervous enough as it was when a realization hit him that added a layer of guilt to his already negative feelings.
He had been so busy worrying about his impending hearing that, when Ginny came down to breakfast on August 11th to a chorus of "Happy Birthday!" it was Harry who was taken completely by surprise.
Ginny was gracious about him forgetting, excusing him because he had 'more important things' on his mind, but he still noticed the hurt in her eyes. He wanted to slam his head on the table.
He felt even worse because they had become really good friends in the days since his arrival. Ginny had been so grateful to Harry for finally including her in things that she'd started going out of her way to help him with particularly difficult chores, and let him vent any frustrations he was feeling without judgment, no matter how ridiculous they were.
As they were doing their morning chores, minus Ginny who was excused for her birthday, Harry devised a plan.
When everyone broke for lunch around noon, Harry excused himself to his bedroom claiming a stomach ache.
"No, I don't think I need anything for it," Harry told a worried Mrs. Weasley. "I think I'll just go lie down for a little while."
Ignoring his growling stomach, Harry sat down at the desk in his and Ron's bedroom with a fresh sheet of parchment, his best eagle feather quill, and his rarely used bottle of color changing ink, pondering what he should write.
He rejoined the group a half hour later to resume chores, the piece of parchment folded neatly in the pocket of his jeans, where it would remain until just before dinner.
Harry ambushed Ginny as she was stepping off the stairs onto the ground floor and pulled her into the room he'd been waiting in. It was a dining room of sorts, its wallpaper seeming to be some sort of family tree.
"I wanted to talk to you in private," Harry explained. Ginny waited for him to continue, a look of curiosity on her face. "I, er, I just feel really bad about forgetting your birthday."
Her expression softened to understanding. "Harry, I already told you-"
Once again, however, she was cut off mid-sentence. "I know what you said, but still. I know how it feels when someone forgets your birthday." He looked away, uncomfortable with opening up so much. "I, er, wrote this for you, during lunch." He handed her the folded piece of parchment.
Before she had a chance to respond, Harry slipped out of the room, not wanting to see her face an dadd to his embarrassment when she opened his poem.
Ginny glanced down at the parchment in her hands, confused. Why would he want to have a birthday card be so private?
Only one way to find out, she decided, and opened it.
Her eyes are as brown as a chocolate frog
Her hair is as red as a quaffle
Today is her birthday
And it slipped my mind
I hope she can one day forgive me
Her face was in flames when she was done reading. How did he remember? She'd sent him that ridiculous Valentine's Day poem two and a half years ago! And he remembered it well enough to parody it into a birthday card/apology for her?
It took her a few minutes before she was composed enough to go into the dining room. Everyone else was already seated when she arrived.
"Finally, we can eat!" Ron exclaimed loudly when Ginny sat down between Hermione and Harry.
It was halfway through dinner when everyone else was distracted enough that Ginny could lean over to Harry without bringing attention to them.
"How the hell did you remember that?" Ginny asked, causing Harry to start at her unexpected proximity.
Deciding not to act embarrassed, Harry responded with, "Well, it was just such a special poem- ouch, joking." This time Harry was cut off when Ginny punched his leg, glaring. "I honestly don't know how I remembered it."
"Well, thanks. Of course I forgive you." He smiled at her, relieved, and she returned it, both returning to their meal in higher spirits.
By the end of the meal, however, Harry was back to feeling negative, thanks to the mention of his trial and the knowledge that had Dumbledore visited so close to the day of the hearing and hadn't asked to see Harry. As he left the dinner table everyone wished him good luck for tomorrow and told him they knew he'd win. With one last half-hearted, "Happy birthday," to Ginny, Harry left the kitchen and made his way upstairs, where he would lie awake for hours worrying about his future.
By the following afternoon, however, his worries proved worthless as he returned to Grimmauld Place in barely contained excitement.
Ginny was trying unsuccessfully to remove the hideous troll leg from the entryway (Mrs. Weasley insisted that if it wasn't there for Tonks to trip over, the portrait of Mrs. Black wouldn't be woken up quite as frequently) when Harry and Mr. Weasley entered the front door. She immediately stopped what she was doing and looked up impatiently.
Without giving either of them a chance to explain, she asked, "Well, how'd it go?"
A slow, excited grin broke over his face. "Cleared of all charges!"
Shrieking, Ginny launched herself at Harry unthinkingly, pulling him into a rib-crushing hug. Laughing, he squeezed her back for a moment before they both pulled away, each a little red in the face.
They followed Mr. Weasley into the kitchen, Harry barely noticing what he was doing. He was in complete shock. He was really going back to Hogwarts!
Everyone looked up when Harry entered, the same expressions on their faces that Ginny had had only moments ago. Seeing Ron and Hermione's anxious faces really hit Harry. He wouldn't have to sit by watching the two of them go to school, graduate, and become a fully trained wizard and witch.
Seeing Harry speechless, Ginny quickly shouted, "He got off!" which started up a strange sort of war-chant with her, Fred, and George, while Ron and Hermione quickly assured Harry that they had no doubt he would be cleared.
The last few weeks of summer were spent, on Harry's part, dreaming about leaving the depression of Grimmauld Place for the beautiful Hogwarts castle.
It wasn't until the last day of summer that his mood, so high and cheerful since the day of his hearing, was dampened once more.
Ron and Hermione were made prefects. Once again, they would be off together while Harry was left by himself. He couldn't stop himself from wondering why Dumbledore would make Ron a prefect over Harry.
It took a great deal of effort to act happy and supportive for his friends. He was thoroughly relieved when they'd left the room, Ron to go ask Mrs. Weasley for the newest Cleansweep, and Hermione to mail a letter to her parents.
He was almost finished with his packing when the door burst open, and Harry inwardly groaned that his solitude had been broken.
"Hey, did you lot get your-Oh, Harry! Where're Ron and Hermione?" Harry felt some of his annoyance leave when he realized it was Ginny who had entered the room, not Ron or Hermione, but it came back full-force with her question.
"Off basking in the glory of being named prefects, I suppose," he answered bitterly before he could hold back the words.
"Oh, wow," she responded, clearly stunned. "Ron?" Harry nodded wordlessly, avoiding Ginny's gaze as he continued to gather his things from the room. "I was betting on Dean and Parvati."
Harry whirled around, a by now familiar confused expression on his face. "Why?"
"Well think about it. The three of you are constantly in trouble. Neville doesn't quite have the … leadership skills to be a prefect. And I just think Dean and Parvati are a bit more suited than Seamus and Lavender."
Despite himself, Harry felt a small smirk tug at the corner of his mouth. "Are you sure your current relationship status didn't influence your bet?"
She glared at him, not bothering to respond. The truth was, she didn't like talking about her relationships with or around Harry. The fact that he was so care-free about it stung a bit. Couldn't he have the decency to be even the slightest bit jealous?
"Seriously, though, don't worry about the prefect thing. Dumbledore probably just thought you'd have enough to worry about this year without prefect duties too."
"Yea, maybe," Harry agreed, more to end the conversation than out of actual belief that her idea was right.
By the time the party started that night, however, Harry had managed to put himself into a better mood, and could honestly celebrate with his friends. The good humor lasted all the way until Moody showed Harry the picture of the original Order of the Phoenix. Then, unsurprisingly, he got angry. Why would he want to see a picture of people who died a few weeks after it was taken, including his own parents, all clueless to their doom?
Needless to say he took his leave of the party, tiptoeing up the stairs to the first floor landing, when a strange noise sounded from the direction of the drawing room. Someone was crying.
He crossed the landing and opened the door cautiously. "Hello?"
There was no answer but the sobbing continued. Someone was cowering against the dark wall, wand in hand, their whole body shaking with sobs. Sprawled on the dusty older carpet in a patch of moonlight, clearly dead, was Ginny.
He felt his heart drop to his stomach. How did this happen? Whoever did it would pay, he swore as a murderous rage consumed him.
But before he could demand answers from the sobbing figure in the corner, the person shouted, "R-r-riddikulus!" and Ginny's dead body suddenly became Ron's.
Relief such as Harry had never felt before washed over him, and he had to lean against the doorway for fear of collapsing. Ginny wasn't dead.
But of course not, a voice that sounded a lot like Hermione's rang in his head. Ginny's downstairs! He suddenly felt very foolish. Why had he reacted so strongly to the idea of Ginny's death? Sure, they were friends, but he didn't think he would've felt that way if it had been Ron or Hermione lying there.
Of course I would have! he disagreed with himself. Shaking his head, he cast away the puzzling thoughts as Mrs. Weasley continued to struggle with the boggart.
Ginny is just a good friend, that's all, he swore to himself.
Something I feel I should elaborate on. In the books, Ginny was with Michael right now. But for my story, I need her to be with Dean at this point. That's the only reason I even wrote the prologue. Sorry about the confusion.
~Jazz~ PS. I thought of a title I kind of like. "I Know How It Feels". Thoughts?
PS. I thought of a title I kind of like. "I Know How It Feels". Thoughts?