Ginny woke up on Saturday and immediately decided to speak with Tim. She puton her gloves – just to cover her bases, though at this point she figured sheprobably didn’t need them – and summoned forth the diary from the box beneathher bed, and returned to her bed to write in it.
“You’re up awfully early.”
“I just got up. Most of Slytherin is up.”
“I suppose I don’t have a very good sense of time in this diary. Last time wespoke, you were very short.”
“Yes, and I’m very sorry for that. In the wake of the attacks, theHeadmistress told us to be very suspicious, and, I mean, Tim, I’m sorry, butyou were already rather suspicious. One of the first things I learned aboutyou was that your existence was against school rules.”
“I understand completely; I was just about to write that.”
“I suppose you want to know about what’s going on out here.”
“I rather do. If you would be so kind as to tell me. I can imagine a lot ofthe panic, but I’d still like to know.”
“Well, the victim – it happened more than a week ago, now – was named CedricDiggory. Fifth year Hufflepuff; he was well-liked and accomplished. He wasfound petrified under the giant threat message outside.”
“Giant threat message? Was it written in the blood of someone’s pet?”
“No. It was so big it’d have to be a pet giant if it was. It was some kind ofhighly advanced smoking Dark curse.”
“Smoking Dark curse? Fiendfyre?”
“It wasn’t anything anyone on-staff had heard of.”
“That probably rules out Fiendfyre… I’ll have to think about this, but nothingcomes to mind from any of the curses I’ve ever seen Voldemort describe. Howdid the threat read?”
“THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS WILL BE OPENED. THE LINE OF MERLIN WILL BREAK. UNTILIT DOES YOU ARE NOT SAFE.”
“Whoever it is wants to end the Interdict? Fascinating. Voldemort neverexpressed the slightest interest in such a thing; when he opened the Chamberit was for the sake of blood purism, which is absolutely noxious, as I’m sureyou know. I haven’t even heard whispers about ending the Interdict since I wasa little boy. Perhaps whoever is opening the Chamber now isn’t Voldemort,after all. Shame that they killed a student.”
“At least Cedric is at peace. I’m sure this will all be resolved.” As Ginnywrote these words, she remembered an old Eastern Samothrace Orthodox legendclaiming that the petrified could not pass on to Heaven, because their soulswere also frozen. As with the similarly Heaven-denying superstition aboutDementors, Ginny did not think very highly of this premise.
“How did the school respond?”
“They publicly stated that violence would never cause them to give intoterrorists’ demands. They canceled a few days’ worth of classes to permiteveryone to attend Cedric’s funeral. They improved a handful of securitymeasures.”
“Did you attend?”
“Yes, absolutely. It was all very sad. I accidentally made a bit of a scenethough when Draco decided to sit next to us and mother figured out what wasgoing on between us and she kept her temper because it was a funeral butobviously she didn’t approve and I think everyone saw.”
“Oh, yes, Weasleys and Malfoys don’t get along very well, generally speaking,do they? I hadn’t even made that connection.”
“Wait ‘till she sees the Galleon marks when I marry him.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“and he’s twelve. You’re too different. I don’t think it could work out.”
“Oh, I think I really do like Draco, Tim. Maybe even more than I like Harry. Ihad an extended conversation with Harry a week ago, sort of a casual date, andhe seemed rather disinterested; he left early for an appointment and I knowhe’s very busy all the time but I don’t think he really had an appointment. Atfirst it lowered my opinion of myself, because I must be boring or somethinglike that, but then I realized that he’d been very rude, and it lowered myopinion of him even more.”
“I know, right? He seemed particularly turned off when I discussed religion,even though he talks about how great not being religious is all the time andhe generally seems open to civil discussions of points he disagrees with,because ‘that which can be destroyed by the truth should be’ and all that.”
“That’s a beautiful quote. Where did you hear it?”
“Oh… You were trying to convert him, weren’t you?”
“Maybe a little, but not much. I was mostly defending myself.”
“People can tell when you’re trying to convert them, and they absolutely hateit. Like cockroaches hate light.”
“That’s kind of a gross metaphor although I understand your point.”
“By the way, if I were Draco, I wouldn’t be very happy to hear that you had adate with Harry Potter.”
“It wasn’t really a date, you know, it was just a private discussion betweenfriends.”
“You described it as a date.”
“Wishful thinking, you know?
“I am still not seeing any reasons for Draco to be unconcerned with this.”
“Maybe you’re right… Tim, do you think I’m really a boy?”
“What do you mean by ‘really’? I think your soul registers as male so that youmay fulfill prophecy. There is not necessarily any other reason for it.”
“But what would God think? Will I be punished for liking Draco, or Harry?”
“Considering all the senses in which you are indisputably female, I hardly seewhy you would. You believe in the omnibenevolence of God, don’t you?”
“Yes… I see your point…Luna says I’m a girl, anyway, but she’s so weird thatit honestly just made me consider the opposite more strongly.”
“Luna’s a good enough friend of yours that you would trust her with such aprofound secret?”
“Yes. She’s very strange, and maybe a little airheaded, but she’s good atheart.”
“Is there anything unusual about Luna?”
“She’s a Seer, or at least she thinks she is. She’s not very good at it,though.”
“Fascinating. Good Seers can be an excellent resource for anyone, important orotherwise. A well-timed prophecy can change the entire course of your life.Have you heard any of her prophecies?”
“Yes, and her speculation about what they mean. Most of them seem likenonsense to me although I suppose that’s just how prophecies are. Shepredicted I’d be Sorted into Slytherin, though, and no one was expectingthat.”
“They were all fools. You’re an obvious Slytherin, and no prophecy is neededto determine that.”
“We didn’t figure out what it meant until afterwards, though… It might havealso been about how I’m a Parselmouth, although she doesn’t actually know I’ma Parselmouth as far as I know. Oh, and that reminds me; I learned a reallyinteresting spell recently that none of the other first years know, itrevolves around Parseltongue.”
“You should tell me about it some time when we’re possessed. I’m afraid theInterdict means that I wouldn’t be able to retain the knowledge at theconclusion of the possession, but it should still be interesting. I shouldalso like to meet your friend, Luna; she sounds like a fascinating character.Perhaps you could arrange for a conversation between the two of us sometime.”
“Oh, I hardly know about that, Tim. She’s very suspicious of unknown magic,she’d probably never agree to something like that. …maybe, though. I reallyneed to go, everyone’s leaving for breakfast! It’s been nice talking to you.Goodbye, Tim.”
“Goodbye, Ginny.” Ginny closed the book and returned it to its rightful place,and exited the Girls’ Dormitory for the Slytherin Common Room. There, Colinsought Ginny out for once, instead of the other way around.
“Ginny” said Colin, rather loudly, and approached her. “I was trying to findyou last night, but I couldn’t.”
“I’m sorry,” said Ginny.
“I talked to Hermione yesterday, about Harry,” said Colin. “Because I washaving my suspicions, since Harry kicked you out of the Vice Presidentposition and all.”
“He did?” said Ginny, and she frowned. “I’d forgotten. Is there a new VicePresident?”
“Yes, Blaise Zabini,” said Colin.
“He’s definitely more qualified than me,” said Ginny.
“Yes, sure,” said Colin, “but I got the distinct feeling that his decision hadmore to do with you than Blaise. Like he was trying to get rid of you.”
“Harry wouldn’t do that,” said Ginny. “That wouldn’t be very rational.”Unless, of course, he had to get rid of her because she was impedingrationality… Had Ginny’s beliefs finally gotten her in trouble?
“Well, my hypothesis was that he was getting rid of you because Hermione wasjealous and he wanted to make her happy,” said Colin.
“Hermione was jealous of me?” asked Ginny, in proud astonishment.
“No, that was just my hypothesis,” said Colin. “So I decided to ask Hermione aprobing question, I asked her why she wasn’t in the More Sane Squad. And whatshe told me wasn’t what I expected at all!”
“What did she say?” said Ginny.
“She said that she liked Harry and all, and respected him as a scientist and arationalist,” said Colin, “but she was staying clear of the More Sane Squadbecause it gave her a cult-ish feeling, and she was uncomfortable with Harry’srelationship with it, and she didn’t think Harry’s ego needed any moreboosting.”
“That sounds in-line with your hypothesis,” said Ginny.
“No!” said Colin. “I don’t think she was being insincere at all! In fact, Ithink she might have been right!” Ginny stared at Colin as if he had justsuggested that she were an Auror using the Polyjuice Potion.
“Colin, that’s absurd,” said Ginny. “Harry showed us what a cult looked likeon his first day. The More Sane Squad isn’t like that at all.”
“Exactly!” said Colin. “Harry showed us! What if he was lying to us to makeus think everything was okay?”
“He was just exaggerating a bit, Colin,” said Ginny. “It was a caricature butit was still a true image.”
“True image or not, I’m resigning from the More Sane Squad,” said Colin.“Before it goes even further off the rails.”
“I hardly see why you’d abandon rationalism after seeing the truth in it,”said Ginny, “but alright. Maybe I can be the new Club Secretary of State.”Colin looked at Ginny like she was an idiot, and Ginny could barely even feelinsulted, because she knew that she wasn’t. Suddenly, a prefect ran onto thescene, and began shouting in panic at everyone; Ginny had no time to evenreact before the news was aired:
“Three more students have been killed! Three more students have been killedand they’re not even canceling classes!”
Draco Malfoy had already gotten to the Great Hall and was already eating hisbreakfast when the news reached him. Headmistress McGonagall issued a muchshorter message this time, with much less fanfare, but by that point, he hadalready sifted through the rumors to find the truth. Three young Hufflepuffboys had been petrified in the middle of the night, in their own beds, withouteven waking the rest of their dorm. At least one of them had foolishly decidedto remove their goggles to sleep, and was therefore as unrecoverable asCedric. At least one of them had done as they were told, and would be restoredsoon. There were whispers that, if the Heir of Slytherin had the power itseemed, he could have petrified the whole of Hufflepuff House (“and we’d allhave been better off for it,” said Peregrine Derrick, which earned him a hardelbow to the face) and had been merciful not to.
The central points of the Headmistress’s speech were as follows: first, sheconfirmed that three students had been attacked, and elaborated that the firsttwo, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Ernie MacMillan, were gone, while the third,Zacharias Smith, would soon return to classes. Furthermore, she said, whenZacharias Smith was revived, within hours, he would be able to provide detailssurrounding the incident and his attacker, and so there was a good chance thatthe perpetrator would be caught immediately. Third, the funerals of Justin andErnie would be held at Hogwarts over the weekend; no changes would be made toany schedules, as that would potentially aid the attacker in their goals.Fourth, and finally, she implored students to stay at Hogwarts, so that theperpetrator could be defeated, and to observe proper safety procedures at alltimes, including in bed, as the threat was serious, and that there must be noexceptions made or shortcuts taken. Everything seemed awful enough, and Dracosorely wished he still had Tim to talk to about this sort of thing, when theHowler arrived on the table in front of Neville Longbottom, and spoke up in avoice that many recognized as his grandmother:
“STUDENTS AND SO-CALLED PROFESSORS OF HOGWARTS! THREE OF MY GRANDSON’SCLASSMATES HAVE BEEN KILLED IN THEIR BEDS, MERE FEET AWAY FROM HIM! WHAT AM ISUPPOSED TO TAKE FROM THIS? WHAT ARE YOU PLANNING TO SAY TO REASSURE ME THATEVERYTHING’S FINE? EVERYTHING IS NOT FINE. PEOPLE ARE DYING AND ALL THAT YOUCARE ABOUT IS MAKING A POINT TO SOMEONE WHO’S PROBABLY TOO PSYCHOTIC TO CARE!THIS IS NOT A NEW PROBLEM. LAST YEAR A STUDENT WAS VIOLENTLY ASSASSINATED BYMOUNTAIN TROLL. IS THE FACT THAT SHE MYSTERIOUSLY CAME BACK TO LIFE MONTHSLATER SUPPOSED TO BE REASSURING TO ME? AT THE TIME I ACCEPTED IT AS ANUNAVOIDABLE OUTLIER, BUT IT’S BECOME A PATTERN, NOW, AN ACCELERATING PATTERN.EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, I WILL BE WITHDRAWING MY GRANDSON, NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM,FROM HOGWARTS. UNLIKE THE PREVIOUS OCCASION ON WHICH I DID THIS, I AM NOTPLANNING TO SEND HIM BACK AT THE START OF THE NEXT TERM, OR AT THE START OFTHE NEXT YEAR, OR WHEN THE PROBLEM IS APPARENTLY UNDER CONTROL, OR EVER. HEWILL LEARN FRENCH IN A HURRY AND TRANSFER TO BEAUXBATONS, A FRENCH SCHOOL THATIS SLIGHTLY LESS PRESTIGIOUS THAN HOGWARTS BUT KNOWS HOW TO MAINTAIN A SAFELEARNING ENVIRONMENT. I WILL BE MEETING WITH EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOURPARENTS AND ADVISING THEM TO DO THE SAME. TO THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE FOR WHATEVERREASON WARDS OF HOGWARTS, I AM VERY SORRY. AND ‘HEADMISTRESS’ MCGONAGALL, IWANT YOU TO LISTEN TO ME:”
On orders from the Headmistress, Professor Lockhart had already seized theHowler and placed it in a pouc to silence it. Somehow, that quelled the panicinstead of fanning it further.
Luna Lovegood was sitting in the Ravenclaw Girls’ Dormitory when she wasinformed that Ginny Weasley wished to speak with her. She changed into herrobes and went out to find her.
“Hey… Luna…” said Ginny, and Luna turned around to see that she was standingacross a corridor.
“Ginny!” said Luna. “I heard you wanted to talk with me about something?”
“Yes…” said Ginny. “There’s a magical artifact I own that I’d like you tocheck out.”
“Is it a mystery?” said Luna.
“A bit…” said Ginny, and part of Luna’s brain told her that this was a horrid,horrid idea, while another told her that disappointing Ginny would end all oftime and space and love.
“What is it?” said Luna.
“It’s a talking diary,” said Ginny, and she pulled it out from her robes.“Well, writing, but it can still hold a conversation.”
“A conversation in writing?” said Luna. “How delightfully whimsical. Is it asintelligent as a human?”
“Yes,” said Ginny, and she looked as if she were maybe hiding something, butLuna ignored it.
“Then it’s probably a horcrux,” said Luna.
“Sure, Luna,” said Ginny. “Could you just check it out for me? See if there’sanything interesting about it I’m missing? I think you might be better at thatkind of thing than me; you and your dad have a lot of experience with strangemagical devices.” Luna carefully maneuvered around the part of her brain thathad constructed a roadblock labeled STOP NO DON’T THIS IS IDIOTIC DO YOU WANTTO END UP LIKE MUM.
“Of course,” said Luna, and she took the book from Ginny’s hands. “When do youwant it back?”
“Oh, a day or two should be good,” said Ginny.
“That might not be enough time to run a full investigation,” said Luna, “butI’ll try. Thank you for considering me for something like this.”
“And thank you for helping,” said Ginny, and she walked off gigglingnervously.
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