Disclaimer: Any familiar characters, settings or situations belong to J.K. Rowling.
Ginny walked with Zacharias Smith and Leanne something-or-other from Hufflepuff up the last flight of stairs and onto the sixth floor. All sixth years had free periods this period, something the Carrows had undoubtedly implemented this year to make their lives that much easier. The three sixth years were heading for Amycus Carrow's classroom where he was teaching Dark Arts to seventh years, which Ginny had learned from Neville last night when she'd told him when her detention was scheduled for, since she had found it most unusual for detention to be held during the school day.
She anxiously stopped outside Carrow's classroom when they arrived, exchanging an odd look with the two Hufflepuffs. It was a combination of fright at what was to come and the resilience that had landed them in detention in the first place. Taking a deep breath, Ginny knocked on the door and when a voice on the other side instructed them so, she entered the dark room first.
"And here we have our lab-rats, class," Amycus Carrow crooned as the three sixth years entered. "They've earned themselves detentions here today for varying forms of defiance against the new Ministry regime and the school itself. This one," he pointed at Zacharias, "thought he would be a smart-aleck by telling me that the Unforgivable Curses are illegal for a reason... Well they're not anymore, and definitely not in this classroom, they're not," Carrow cackled. "So today you will be putting what you have learnt in theory into practice. And these are what you will be practicing on – filthy blood-traitors," he spat. "Who's first?"
Only a few hands shot up, and Ginny wasn't surprised to see that the hands belonged only to Slytherins. "Goyle, pick one and go ahead," Carrow instructed, and Ginny knew straight away who he would pick.
Who did Slytherins hate most?
"Weasley," Gregory Goyle grunted, standing up and coming to stand by the front row of desks. If she hadn't been so focused on the pain that was surely becoming more imminent by the second, she might have made a smart remark about Goyle actually knowing how to talk.
He raised his wand and pointed it at her, heavy concentration planted on his face. In the split-second before he cast the curse, Ginny tried to remember everything Harry had ever told her about resisting Unforgiveable Curses, and she tried to put all of it into action now.
"Crucio!" A red spark emitted from the end of his wand, but nothing else happened and Ginny thought for a moment that she was saved, chancing a glance at Neville who sat in the back row with the Patil twins, sombre as ever. But Goyle conjured the curse again, and this time a jet of red light burst from the tip of his wand and hit Ginny square in the chest.
An excruciating pain burst inside of her and spread throughout her body instantaneously. Vaguely she felt her hands and knees collide with the cold, stone floor, but all that registered in her mind was the feeling that her skull was slowly being torn open. It lasted all of three seconds, and then it was over, Ginny on her hands and knees, panting and dry retching.
"Pathetic," Carrow said. "Have a go at the Hufflepuffs, Goyle. Come on down, Zabini."
Ginny only had a moment to look up at her dark-skinned attacker before keeling over again, a whole new wave of pain crashing into her. Again, her skull felt as if something was clawing at it, pulling it apart, while her limbs were being ripped from her body, torn and chewed and everything horrible multiplied by a hundred. Long gone were thoughts of resistance, long gone were thoughts of Harry…
And on and on it went, each time Zabini lost concentration he would just start in again, sending her into realms of terror she hadn't even known existed until, finally, only fifteen minutes later, Carrow called for more students to come forward, and Zabini was forced to move on. A few Ravenclaw students seemed to truly try when they were called upon, but for the most part, nobody else seemed even remotely interested in committing such a horrendous crime against Ginny, Zacharias or Leanne.
"Alright Abbott, that's enough," Carrow sighed, clearly disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm on the part of majority of his class.
"I'd ask Malfoy to step up," Carrow smirked, "but I already know for a fact that he's more than accomplished in terms of the Cruciatus curse. Longbottom, your turn!"
"No," Neville responded, from where he still sat at the back of the class.
Ginny had made him promise last night not to protect her from his classmates today because it would only land him in the same situation. But he already had a detention scheduled for Saturday night, so what was one more? And he wasn't really breaking his promise; he wasn't protecting her from his classmates. He was just simply refusing to even attempt what the rest of his classmates had.
"No?" Carrow asked, amused.
"How gallant of you, Longbottom. How supremely defiant. Mummy and Daddy would be proud." Neville's wand hand twitched. He wasn't sure he'd be able to cast the Cruciatus curse on any of the three sixth years at the front of the classroom, but he was positive he'd be able to use it quite effectively on Amycus Carrow if his self control waned. "Let's add an extra hour onto your detention Saturday night, shall we?" And with that, Carrow turned to the rest of the class and offered them a demonstration of how a Cruciatus curse was properly performed.
Ginny silently thanked Merlin when Carrow looked past her, though instantly felt guilty when he chose Leanne instead. It was all she could do to keep herself from screaming along with Leanne as the poor girl writhed on the floor, eyes squeezed shut in horror. Thankfully, though, the horror was not long-lived. After only a few minutes, the end of period bell sounded and class was over. Ginny helped Zacharias bring Leanne to her feet and, refusing to look at Carrow, the three fled the classroom as quickly as was still dignifying.
The next day brought Friday and the end of the school week. The school day carried on in its all too normal manner now, dark and brooding, though every now and then somebody would say something or do something that would land them in detention.
Rumours were starting to fly now as to what really went down at these terrifying detentions. Some said you were left outside all night with nothing but the ever growing number of Dementors for company. Some said Filch had been granted his wish of hanging people up and whipping them. The stories grew wilder and wilder from there and by the time Friday night came, Neville was feeling slightly anxious. This time tomorrow night he would be serving detention with Amycus Carrow down in the dungeons.
"You'll be right," Seamus consoled, slapping Neville on the back good-heartedly.
While grateful for the comfort, Neville was sure that he would be far from alright come tomorrow night. He, among other certain D.A. members, had earned himself a reputation with the Carrows, which meant that they knew exactly who he was and everything about him, certainly they knew about his parents.
Across from him, Ginny watched the exchange between Seamus and Neville and saw Neville's jaw clench at Seamus' words. She wanted to do the same, to tell him it would be alright, that he had nothing to worry about, even if it was a lie. But she couldn't bring herself to do it, mainly because Neville would know it was a lie as well. So when dinner finished and they made their way out of the Great Hall together, Ginny didn't speak. She wanted to say something, something that would tell him she thought him incredibly brave, incredibly inspiring, but nothing came out the way she wanted it to.
"Ginny, Neville!" a girl called after them as they climbed the main staircase. "Hey, I wanted to talk to you at dinner but I didn't think I should draw attention to it," the girl said, coming up beside Ginny and matching their strides. It was Leanne, and she was right, a Hufflepuff travelling across the Great Hall to the Gryffindor table would definitely have drawn attention – all the wrong kinds of attention. "I was hoping, well maybe we could take this somewhere quieter." Neville and Ginny exchanged a look before shrugging and turning into a deserted corridor just off the top of the staircase. Leanne followed suit.
Once positive they were alone, Leanne flicked her dark hair over her shoulder, squared her shoulders, and spoke. "I know you're up to something. The way you talk to the Carrows and the way other people look at you... You're clearly at the centre of something, that something being Dumbledore's Army, I suspect, and I want in." Neville and Ginny exchanged a look again and Leanne took advantage of their nervousness to explain. "The graffiti said Dumbledore's Army was still recruiting, and I assume it'll remain that way until the Carrows figure out how to get the blasted stuff off the walls," she gave a little laugh. "I mean, if you don't want me, that's fine. It's just that after yesterday... Well I want to be a part of whatever it is that the Carrows are so afraid of."
Neville stared at Leanne for a few long moments, and Ginny could see the wheels turning in the girl's head, suddenly doubting whether Ginny and Neville were involved at all. "We'll let you know when the next meeting is."
Leanne smiled, triumphant, bid them a good evening and disappeared out of the corridor. "Is that a good idea?" Ginny asked, taking advantage of the empty corridor. "She could be answering to one of the Carrows. She said it herself, they're afraid of what's going on here."
Neville nodded his agreement with Ginny. "We'll get her to sign Hermione's list of members before we tell her anything, then she'll be on the same level as everybody else, and if she does happen to let it slip to the Carrows... Well, we'll know it was her, won't we?"
This time Ginny nodded her own agreement and they departed the empty corridor.
Ginny went to bed uneasy that night, a sick feeling overwhelming her that was triggered by what Neville had said. Then she'll be on the same level as everybody else. The charm Hermione had placed on the list of members didn't prevent those who knew about the D.A. from telling anybody about it; it just made sure that those who told would be identifiable... What if Leanne wasn't the only person Ginny should be worried about? Anybody in the D.A. could tell. And in times like these, every person was just as likely as the next to betray Dumbledore's Army. After all, fear could make even the most loyal of people turn traitor.
Ginny rolled over and punched her pillow angrily a couple of times because it wasn't doing its job of putting her to sleep. Instead, her mind was going haywire and she wondered how Mad-Eye Moody had been able to live with his neurotic and paranoid self for so long. Mad-Eye Moody who had died over the summer… The summer that her brother had gotten married, the summer that the ministry had fallen to Lord Voldemort and her best friend, other brother, and boyfriend (whether they were together or not) had gone on the run, supposedly with a mission to complete. A mission from Dumbledore, who had died, and left certain objects behind for Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Harry…
Ginny rolled over again, her mind suddenly consumed by Harry, who should've been paying bloody rent to her for the amount of time he spent living in her head these days. Not for the first time, she closed her eyes and allowed the memory of their last kiss to play out in her mind – something to remember her by. Oh how the poor girl hoped he hadn't forgotten her, curled up in her bed in the girls' dormitory of Gryffindor Tower, replaying one of the last happy moments she had with him in her head as she drifted off into a recurring dream that she could never remember the next morning. A dream of a far off future, where she joined him on the banks of the Black Lake, and told him all about her year.
Hopefully the coming chapters will be longer as a result of more lovely events taking place. Here's a tiny sneak peek for next chapter:
With a great heave, Neville hacked back and slung a great big gob of spit at Amycus Carrow.
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