Pax Romana

Ginny had already recovered from her shock – many months ago, actually (that’sthe thing about being Obliviated; to some degree you can get used to a stateof affairs you don’t even know about). So, rather than panicking, she made apremeditated decision not to take any further action. She didn’t bring Tim tothe attention of the Headmistress, Harry, Hermione, or any other authorities,because, having been Obliviated, she didn’t actually know how involved shewas, and a legal precedent about a century old established that one is stillculpable for crimes committed prior to Obliviation, even if the Obliviationwas entirely unrequested.

What she did do was place Tim’s box – with Tim’s diary inside, and Tim insideit – under her bed, where it had normally gone before. She then heaped on topof it spare blankets, and quilts, and pillows, and anything else obscuringthat didn’t look out-of-place in the dorm. Her hope was that she had buriedher problem (she could literally bury it over the summer), and for a while,this certainly seemed to be the case. About a month went by with a shockinglylow amount of incident, and every day that thus passed simultaneouslyconvinced Ginny that she, and everyone else, was now safe, and that she hadreally been at the root of the problems, by trusting Tim, all along. But nomatter – it was all over, now. There was some guilt, but Ginny was mostlyproud to have finally fixed the problem - particularly seeing as that’s allshe could actually remember doing.

On one occasion, Ginny decided to speak to Hermione about her calculator – itnow fully supported multiplication and division, and could even solve basicalgebra problems, if they involved only a single unknown and the four basicarithmetic functions. Doing so involved outing herself as a Parselmouth, butshe suspected Harry and Hermione were close enough that she already knew that.

“I’m also strongly considering inventing a spell that will enable non-Parselmouths to make just-as-effective use of Sapespeck,” said Ginny. “Withmore difficulty than a Parselmouth can, but still perfectly within a normalwizard’s ability. The way that the new spell works is so clear in my mind thatI’m sure it’ll be the first thing I invent once I get a leg up on AncientRunes, and then I’m pretty sure it’ll be central to some of my N.E.W.T.projects.”

“Wow,” said Hermione. “I can tell you, as a Muggle who’s familiar withcomputing - this really does have as much potential as you think – or maybemore. This is exactly the kind of thing Harry would love to hear about if heweren’t so busy.”

“Oh, well, I actually showed him a prototype a few months ago,” said Ginny.“It wasn’t as robust, but the basic idea was there. He didn’t seemparticularly interested.”

“Ugh,” said Hermione. “Something’s wrong about Harry, you know? He’s slowlybeen getting worse and worse since some time after Voldemort finally died;he’s falling back into some nasty mental patterns and he barely seems tolisten when I point it out. It hurts me to say this, especially seeing asVoldemort killed me, but I think he might have left a power vacuum behindthat’s dangerous with Harry around. I like Harry, I’m closer to him thananyone, but I think he might be getting Dark. I mean, that’s a bit of astretch, but it’s just, aloof – aloof doesn’t cover it.”

“Maybe he’s just getting smarter and smarter,” said Ginny, “and he’s less andless on our level.”

“You know what happens to things that just get smarter and smarter,” saidHermione, and Ginny shook her head. Hermione mimed an explosion, and mouthed arelated onomatopoeia. Ginny rolled her eyes at this.

And they say that she’s smart, thought Ginny.

“Maybe you should try to talk to him more,” thought Ginny. It was hard forGinny to spur Hermione towards Harry, but she’d attained her own happiness,and if Harry was becoming solitary and detached from reality, it was probablyfor the best that he get closer to his loved ones. Just look at what happenedto Lesath! (Not that Harry would do that. Dying was too unappealing to himand he had too much reason to go on.)

“I’ve tried,” said Hermione. “But maybe I should… try harder?”

“That’s the spirit!” said Ginny. That sort of feel-good optimism continued topropel Ginny through the happy month with no Tim and no attacks.

On Good Friday, Ginny and several of her classmates (mostly her siblings) weregranted a religious exemption enabling them to Floo home for the weekends;they were all nearly prevented thanks to “reconsiderations of the policy”, buta quick visit from Molly Weasley sorted that out. On Sunday, at the Ottery St.Catchpole Eastern Samothrace Orthodox Chapel, though, Ginny received quite asurprise.

“Draco!” said Ginny.

“Ginny,” said Draco.

“Draco?” said Molly.

“Mrs. Weasley?” said Draco.

“Malfoy!” said Ron, with accompanying antipathetic noises from the twins.

“Yes, you’re Ginny’s friend, aren’t you?” said Molly.

“He sure is,” said Ron, and he made a gagging noise. Molly snapped herfingers, and Ron disappeared.

“What are you doing here?” said Molly. “Aren’t you still supposed to be inschool?”

“Well, your daughter – Ginny,” said Draco, “has been telling me about theservice, and the celebration, and the history, and the story – the Creation,the Exaltation, the Manifestation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, theResonance, the Metastasis.”

“Precisely correct,” said Percy; Draco nodded and smiled.

“So I decided I had to come visit and see,” said Draco. Molly Weasley lookedpositively awed, proud of her daughter, a far cry from the mother who had,over winter break, delivered stern, grotesque warnings about the things youngMalfoy men were known to do.

“Here’s a young man who’s happy to go to church on a Sunday!” said Molly.“Fred, George, you could learn a thing or two.” Fred and George lookedsomewhere between uncomfortable and amused; Arthur and Bill were, of course,already inside. Charlie, of course, had made an excuse again not to come homethis year.

Another nineteen days of public peace came and went. As far as Ginny knew, allwas well.

Obliviate! Rebliviate!”

It was a Sunday in mid-April. That was all the context Cho Chang had on whereshe was and why she was there. This looks like I’m leaving the Defense room,where Professor Lockhart teaches, where Professor Quirrell taught in my secondyear, where Professor Burbage taught in my first. What am I doing here? It’s aweekend, right? Not a class day? Why can’t I remember? This question wasquickly painted over.

Cho realized that she was holding a scroll, so she looked down at it; it wasan essay she remembered writing for Defense Against the Dark Arts, just lastweek. “On The Applicability Of Various Muggle Schools In Magical Combat”. Whatwas that in red above it? “T”? For “Troll”? No, that didn’t make sense. Theessay wasn’t Cho’s best work, but this was completely outside her hypothesisspace. Cho slowly turned around, and saw Professor Lockhart, GilderoyLockhart, sitting at his desk, staring up at her as she was about to leave,and she realized that she was about to leave because she’d gotten nervousabout confronting the Defense Professor.

“Miss Chang?” said Professor Lockhart. “Is there something you wish to discusswith me?”

“Um…” said Cho, and she couldn’t back down now. She just couldn’t. It had tobe his mistake, it had to, that or she’d made a drastic, drastic mistake.Either Professor Lockhart had mistakenly written the wrong mark, or she hadmade a colossal error of judgment somewhere in writing. Professor Lockhart wastoo smart, he couldn’t actually make a bad judgment. How had Cho screwed up sobadly? “Yes.” And she’d thought Professor Lockhart had seen potential in her!He was taking her on quests! Quests of meaningful importance for the wellbeingof all of Hogwarts!

“Is there a problem?” said Lockhart.

“Um, yes,” said Cho, walking down the steps towards him. “It’s about myessay…”

“Ah,” said Lockhart, and he waited for Cho to arrive at his desk.

“Is this a ‘T’ for ‘Troll’?” said Cho.

“Yes,” said Lockhart. “They were going to rename it ‘Terrible’ out of respect,but Miss Granger insisted they were being overly sensitive.” A millionthoughts ran through Cho’s head, and finally one came out:

“What did I do?” asked Cho.

“Apparently not a good essay!” said Professor Lockhart, more in disgust thanhumor. “I wrote notes in the margins pointing out some of your more egregiouserrors.”

“What?” said Cho. “Oh.” She felt very stupid, not to have noticed them. Or –she did, and then she just forgot about them. Yes, glancing down, it was amiserable essay, and she could barely believe she’d turned it in and expectedany better. She must have been half asleep. It still didn’t make sense. Whyhad she even come here to complain? Why was she even still permitted tobreathe air? “We went on quests,” Cho stuttered. The Defense Professor staredat her, and blinked.

“Are you suggesting you should therefore be subjected to nepotism?” saidLockhart. “Because if so, you insult me and my integrity.”

“I’m sorry!” said Cho. “It’s just, I just - I want it to disappear. I know Ican’t. I made my bed and now I have to lie in it. It’s fair, life’s fair, butI want this to go away.” She shook the scroll desperately, and this time,Professor Lockhart did laugh, albeit darkly.

“All Ravenclaw girls are the same,” said Professor Lockhart, with a sneer.“They want extra credit here, they want a chance to rewrite a shameful termpaper there. They don’t want to work hard for it in the first place like aHufflepuff, and they’re not brave enough to accept their mistake like aGryffindor, and they don’t want anything grander like a Slytherin. Just alittle slip of paper that affirms that they’re Really Smart.” Cho tried toobject, but she knew she wasn’t supposed to. She had a feeling that Lockhartwas right, anyway.

“Although,” continued Professor Lockhart, “I’ll confess that most Ravenclawgirls who come to me with sob stories have papers better than this.” He seizedthe scroll from the spot on his desk where Cho had set it, so that she couldsob into her hands. “So I expected most of the class to perform decently onthe assignment, so I didn’t see any problem, tying such a large portion of theclass marks to it. This assignment is simply necessary for perfect courseperformance. With a T? At least two full course grades down.” This was notalleviating Cho’s crying in the least. “You really are in trouble, Miss Chang.Worse than you’d imagined, I’d wager.”

“But…” said Lockhart, and the scroll vanished from his hand. “I can erase itfrom the record.” It came back. “Or I could do what I’m supposed to. But I’mnot altogether opposed to the idea. I do care for you, Cho – at least in somesense. And there’s something I’d be willing to trade for my good marks.”Lockhart smiled, and Cho was just confused. What was he leading up to?

“Another quest to avenge Cedric?” said Cho.

“A quest of sorts,” said Lockhart. “To forget Cedric.”

How Dark was the Defense Professor, exactly? Were they about to set off forsome haunted cottage filled with the screams of the damned?

“Would you believe that the quarters assigned to the Defense Professor areimmediately behind this classroom?” said Lockhart. “They moved it here whenProfessor Quirrell moved the classes. Actually, Professor Monroe. Actually… Iwould speculate he was actually Voldemort - or at least my friends in highplaces would.”

“What a horrible thing to say,” said Cho. “But - what friends in high places?It’s an intriguing possibility; is it related-”

“Shut up,” said Lockhart. “I got off track. This conversation is about you…your marks… what you’re worth… and me. Follow me.” Professor Lockhart beckonedtowards the dwellings behind the Defense Hall, and Cho followed, because shebelieved she had nowhere else to go.

It proceeded that Cho was Obliviated about three more times that day, beforefinally leaving the classroom with a perfect essay (the one she had actuallywritten), no recollection of any other essay, and a nice story about how sheand Professor Lockhart had gone and confronted giants over their possibletrafficking of cockatrice eggs, which could potentially have been used for therecent attacks.

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