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A Call To Arms

Muggle Studies

Ginny stood by the fireplace in Gryffindor Tower, staring blankly into the flickering flames. It was hard to believe how wrong everything was. Ever since Bill’s wedding, she had had a tight knot of anxiety and irritation in the very pit of her stomach, and even despite her nerves about Harry, Ron, and Hermione, she had somehow thought that returning to Hogwarts would make her feel safe again.

Instead, she was unhappy to be away from her family, infuriated at the very thought of Snape as headmaster, and worst of all, she was sad. She was sad that her school was so far gone, she was sad at the idea of her teachers forced to follow the dictates of Snape and the Carrows, and she was sad at the sight she now faced in the common room.

The entire House was gathered silently all across the packed common room, not daring to go to bed before Professor McGonagall had arrived. No one had seen her since dinner.

“Where is she?” asked Ritchie Coote nervously, jiggling his leg in his armchair.

Ginny turned and looked at him. “She’s probably getting in trouble for what happened. I don’t reckon the Carrows were expecting that.”

“Who are they, anyway?” piped up Jimmy Peakes.

“Er—” Ginny opened her mouth, looking at Neville, who shook his head urgently from where he stood by the stairs to the dormitories. “They’re just…more people the Ministry sent,” she said quickly, before walking over to Neville.

“It’s the first years,” he said quietly, nodding to a little alcove of bookshelves where all seven of them sat together. “They’re scared out of their minds. That one girl hasn’t stopped crying since we got up here.”

Ginny looked over at the little circle of eleven-year-olds, all of whom looked positively exhausted; some were even trembling with fear. She sighed, feeling disappointed and guilty that she and everyone else had forgotten about them. She grabbed Neville’s hand. “Come on,” she said, leading him over to the first years. She sat down cross-legged beside Evelyn Alistair, who was crying softly with her head buried against her knees, and put an arm around her.

“Hi there, welcome to Gryffindor. I’m Ginny,” she said brightly, smiling at the others. “I’m a sixth year. What are all your names?”

Six pairs of eyes widened in shock; Evelyn was still crying, and wouldn’t raise her head.

After a moment, Neville cleared his throat, kneeling down beside Ginny. “I’m a seventh year. My name’s Neville. We’re glad you’re all here,” he said, patting one curly-haired boy on the back.

Around the common room, heads were turning to see what was going on in the back corner.

At last, one tall, skinny boy with brown hair and a great deal of freckles spoke up. “I’m Carmichael Wallace,” he said timidly, extending his hand to Ginny. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, Carmichael,” said Ginny, shaking his hand. She still had her arm around Evelyn Alistair, who had looked up at last. “And you’re Evelyn, aren’t you?” Ginny asked. “You were the first one to get Sorted. That’s a tricky job,” she said.

Evelyn nodded, hiccupping slightly. “I-I-I thought-t H-Hogwarts was g-going t-to b-be diff--different,” she managed, still shaking with suppressed sobs. “I-I just w-want to g-go home n-n-now,” she wailed, as fresh tears spilled over and she hid her face again.

“Oh, now,” said a voice behind Ginny. “Come on, cheer up. Hogwarts is fantastic!” Parvati sank down on her knees beside Evelyn and laid a gentle hand on her hair. Evelyn looked up, still crying.

Parvati smiled at her. “I’m Parvati,” she said kindly. “I’m a seventh year.”

“Evelyn,” said the little girl, shaking Parvati’s hand.

There was, by now, a crowd of people gathered around the first years.

“Come on,” said Ginny, smiling at the others, who were looking less frightened. “Get to know everyone, we won’t bite!”

The smallest of them all, a little girl who was even shorter than Evelyn, got up. She was round-faced and adorably chubby, with huge brown eyes under a mop of curly blond hair. She walked directly up to Neville and stuck out her hand.

“Hello, my name is Josephine O’Brien, and I’m very happy to be here,” she said stoutly, shaking his hand firmly. “It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

Seamus laughed, attracting Josephine’s attention. “If that’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said, squeezing behind Ginny to shake Josephine’s hand. “I’m Seamus Finnigan, girlie, and you’re my new friend.”

Josephine frowned, as though she were sizing him up. “We’ll see about that,” she said, turning her back firmly on him and resuming her conversation with Neville.

And just like that, the spell was broken. The Gryffindor common room roared to life as everyone greeted their newest classmates, and even introduced themselves to those older ones that they hadn’t known before.

Ginny was smiling and laughing for the first time in ages, catching up with Demelza Robins and getting to know several first years; she was thrilled to see little Evelyn creeping out of her shell, giggling and chattering with Parvati, who seemed to be very attached to her. Before long, Ginny found herself sitting on a chess table, watching Seamus have a serious talk with Josephine O’Brien while Parvati held tiny little Evelyn on her lap, when the portrait hole swung open. No one else seemed to have noticed, however, for when Professor McGonagall had climbed through, she caught Ginny’s eye and gestured for her to remain silent. She took a few steps forward, watching the older students play with the first years, with a strange, thin-lipped smile spreading across her face.

Then she stepped forward into the firelight and cleared her throat. The chatter ceased immediately, and everyone turned to face her.

“Well,” she said, looking down at the first years. “Welcome to Gryffindor House.” Josephine and Evelyn giggled where they stood with Parvati and Lavender. Professor McGonagall looked at the older students. “To the rest of you, welcome back. I am Professor McGonagall. I am your Head of House.” She took a deep breath.

“First…and foremost…I wish to apologize for the vulgar display at the welcoming feast. I can promise you that nothing like it will happen again,” she said in a hard voice. “However, to ensure that, I’ve been given several notices that I will affix to the notice board for your perusal. Please familiarize yourselves with these…safety precautions.” She spat out the last words like vinegar. Then, she drew a deep breath. “Now, it is very late, and you all have classes in the morning. I will provide you with your timetables at breakfast. If I may ask for Mr. Longbottom, Miss Patil, Miss Weasley, Mr. Coote, Mr. Sloper, and Miss Robins to stay, the rest of you are dismissed. Good night.”

There was a rumble of “good nights” and “see you laters” as the rest of the house headed for the dormitories. Evelyn was reluctant to let go of Parvati, but Lavender brought her along eventually, and soon there were only six who stood facing Professor McGonagall before the fire.

“As you all know, we are short several students this year,” said Professor McGonagall, her beady eyes resting on Ginny for a moment before flickering to the others. “As such, I’ve had to select my prefects on rather short notice. Mr. Longbottom, Miss Patil, you will take over for Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger. Mr. Coote and Miss Weasley will take the places of Mr. Creevey and Miss O’Donnell, and Mr. Sloper and Miss Robins are our newest Gryffindor prefects.” She took a breath. “Congratulations to you all. You may collect your badges in my office tomorrow afternoon.”

Ginny glanced at the others, who all looked just as uncomfortable as she felt with this development. Taking Meghan’s place, or Colin’s…she might not have ever gotten on well with Meghan, but to take the prefect’s badge was, for Ginny, like saying goodbye. It was truly shoving the Muggleborns out of Hogwarts. Ginny glanced at Parvati, who was looking slightly nauseated.

Professor McGonagall pressed her thin mouth together. “If there aren’t any questions, then you are dismissed as well.”

With mumbled words of gratitude, all six turned and headed for the stairs. Ginny had her foot on the bottom step when—

“Oh, Miss Weasley, wait a moment.”

Slowly, Ginny turned and walked back to Professor McGonagall. “Yes, Professor?” she asked.

“Are you able to perform your duties with your brother ill?” Professor McGonagall asked warily. “I had no other student to ask, but I can go without a female prefect in the sixth year.”

“No,” Ginny said immediately. “No, I’ll do my best, Professor.” She smiled.

Professor McGonagall pressed her mouth into a very thin line, studying Ginny’s face closely with her sharp eyes. “I think you will, Miss Weasley. Good night.”

“Good night, Professor,” said Ginny, and Professor McGonagall turned to leave. “Er—Professor?” Professor McGonagall stopped at the portrait hole. Ginny bit her lip. “Erm…he’s safe. I’m fairly sure.”

Professor McGonagall looked surprised for only a moment before quickly composing herself once again. She nodded curtly and disappeared through the portrait hole.

Ginny took a deep breath, rubbing her eyes with the heels of her palms before finally trudging up the stairs to bed. She quietly pushed open the door that said SIXTH YEARS, with a sign above it reading SEVENTH YEARS. She and Meghan O’Donnell had shared this room with Parvati, Lavender, and Hermione since their first year, a testament to how small their classes truly were. Even knowing that Meghan and Hermione were gone, Ginny was startled to find that only Parvati and Lavender were there, already in their beds and soundly sleeping. Ginny sighed and changed quickly into her nightgown, shivering in the unseasonable cold. She glanced out of the south window, unsurprised to see several dementors floating above the lake. Professor Dumbledore’s tomb was just in her line of sight.

As she lay in her bed between Hermione’s and Meghan’s empty ones, looking at the ceiling of the dormitory that had been her home away from home for five years, Ginny was annoyed to find tears stinging her eyes. She rolled over and mashed her pillow into a more comfortable shape, burying her face in it.

It’s our school, she thought. I want it back.

“Very well, Miss Weasley, you’re cleared for Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, and Transfiguration,” said Professor McGonagall, tapping Ginny’s schedule with her wand so that the time blocks filled themselves in, and passing her the parchment.

“What about Astronomy?” Ginny asked, shocked. “I—I got an Outstanding.”

“So you did,” Professor McGonagall nodded, sighing imperceptibly. “I’m sorry, but with the requirements of Muggle Studies and Defense Against the Dark Arts, I’m afraid there won’t be time.”

“Oh,” Ginny said quietly, looking down. “All right. Thanks, Professor.”

Professor McGonagall nodded again and moved down the table to where Geoffrey Hooper was sitting with Ritchie Coote and the few other remaining boys of the sixth year.

“It’s rather sad, isn’t it?” asked a quiet voice from Ginny’s left.

“Morning, Luna,” she said, smiling. “What’s sad?”

“They’ve driven everyone away,” Luna told her, nodding at the staff table, where the Carrows sat, surveying the Great Hall. Professor Snape was nowhere to be seen. “We’re missing five in Ravenclaw just in our year.”

“Us too,” Ginny said, looking at the many gaps in the Gryffindor table. “Speaking of which, shouldn’t you be at your table?” she asked Luna, glancing at the Carrows again. “We don’t want another event like last night.”

Luna nodded. “I think you’re right,” she said. “I only wanted to compare classes.”

“Oh,” said Ginny. “Here. I’ve got a free period this morning.” She slid her timetable to Luna, who scanned it briefly.

“Excellent,” Luna said brightly, passing it back. “I haven’t, but we’ll have enough class time together for you to keep me updated on everything you and Neville decide. I’ll be the official Ravenclaw liaison,” she said, beaming.

“You’re not just a liaison, Luna,” Ginny insisted. “You’re as important as we are. And besides, we’re not passing anything on.”

Yet,” Luna grinned. “I’d better go sit down again, Professor Carrow looks a bit put out…”

“Which one?” Ginny smirked.

“Either,” Luna answered dreamily as she wandered back to the Ravenclaw table.

Ginny smiled and shook her head, turning to a plate full of toast and helping herself.

“Have you seen these rules?” Neville asked, dropping into the seat opposite Ginny’s.

“I never look at the notice board if I can help it,” Ginny said nonchalantly, but she paused at the sight of Neville’s face. “They can’t be that bad.”

“All I’ll say is, it’s a good thing we’re already familiar with them,” Neville said darkly, passing Ginny a leaflet.

“‘Rules are effective as of the posting of this notice,’” Ginny read aloud. “‘Any student found in noncompliance will be…’ hang on…”

“Keep going,” Neville said urgently.

“Th-that snake,” Ginny gasped, when she had read the entire piece of parchment. “He—those are just—”

“He must’ve thought he could outsmart us by reinstating the old no club rule early,” Neville said, shaking his head. “You were right, it’s got to just be the three of us. They’re really cracking down,” he said. “This is really bad, Ginny.”

“I know,” Ginny snapped. She folded her hands over her mouth, staring up at the ceiling full of gray clouds. “Well, they can’t get us for anything we haven’t done. Even if they have an idea who we might be, they won’t expect it if there’s only three of us. For right now, we need as much information as we can get, and we need a way to communicate.”

“I thought of that,” Neville agreed. “What if we figured out how to send real messages with Hermione’s Galleons? Not just numbers, you know?”

“All right,” Ginny said. “Perfect, that sounds great.”

“Luna and I’ll get started on it later,” Neville said. “She’s the best with spells.”

“Brilliant,” Ginny said, beaming. “I’ll bet nobody else even has theirs anymore.”

“Seamus? Definitely not,” Neville laughed, serving himself some eggs.

Ginny smiled, looking around the hall, where people were hurrying to pack their bags and go to class. She took a bite of her forgotten toast and faced Neville again. “What’ve you got first?” she asked.

“Double Muggle Studies,” he said distastefully, standing up. “Two hours of making sure Seamus doesn’t murder a teacher in front of the Slytherins.”

Ginny raised her eyebrows. “Welcome back, I guess.”

“See you later,” said Neville, waving half-heartedly before leaving the table.

Ginny sighed. She looked up at the staff table, which was nearly empty. She decided to abandon her toast and make the most of her first free period by seeing whether or not Hagrid was teaching. She felt guilty; she had forgotten all about her anxiety at his absence the night before in light of everything that had happened with the Carrows and Professor McGonagall, but she now felt the need to make sure he was all right. She tugged on her cloak and left the Great Hall, following a cluster of fourth year Ravenclaws on their way to Herbology. She broke away before they reached the greenhouses and headed for Hagrid’s house on the edge of the forest.

She knocked on the door, hearing Fang’s unmistakable bark.

“Who is it?” demanded a gruff voice on the other side of the door. “Back, Fang! What d’yeh want?”

“Hagrid, it’s Ginny, open up,” she called.

“Oh—back, Fang, now,” said Hagrid’s voice. Suddenly, the door swung open, and Ginny beamed up at Hagrid.

“Hi,” she said, smiling slightly. “Can I come in?”

“Well, o’course yeh can,” Hagrid told her, pulling her into a bone-cracking hug. “How yeh bin, eh? Sorry I couldn’ talk ter yeh las’ night.”

“I’m fine,” Ginny promised, patting Hagrid’s elbow. “How are you?”

“All righ’,” Hagrid grunted, stumping over to the fireplace and busying himself with the kettle. “Tryin’ ter take care o’ the nifflers for the fourth years, they’re all jittery with these ruddy dementors flappin’ all over the grounds.”

Ginny sat down, folding her cloak in her lap. “The dementors are the least of it. Have you met the Carrows?” she asked as Hagrid sat down opposite her and frowned.

“Why d’yeh think I wasn’ at the feast with yeh?” he asked darkly.

“You’re joking,” Ginny said. “They didn’t kick you out?”

“They got here yesterday an’ informed me tha’ they’d be seein’ ter the first years,” Hagrid grumbled. “An’ then they said I shouldn’ even bother comin’ ter the feast.” He fixed Ginny with a sharp glare. “Are they really…his?”

Ginny sighed and nodded. “That’s what Harry said. Apparently they were…they were here in June.”

Hagrid looked stunned. “Yeh’re kiddin’.”

“No,” said Ginny. “But I don’t know how much we should talk about it,” she added. “They seem like the type that would want eyes and ears everywhere.”

“Like I’d let ‘em anywhere near here ter put up any charms like tha’,” Hagrid scoffed, though he fell silent for a moment. Then he looked at Ginny again. “Have yeh heard from ‘em?” he whispered.

“Well—er—Ron is—Ron’s sick, so—” Ginny stammered.

“Nah, he’s not,” said Hagrid, chuckling and waving an enormous hand as he got up and went to the boiling teakettle. “I saw ‘em leave the weddin’,” he said, when Ginny still looked surprised. “Not too hard ter tell who it was with Ron an’ Hermione, even if ‘e was takin’ Polyjuice Potion. Don’ worry, I won’ tell.”

“No, I know,” Ginny said, smiling. “It’s just…” she dropped her voice. “Well, we haven’t heard anything at all.”

Hagrid poured two mugs of tea, looking thoughtful. “I s’pose it’s better tha’ way. Bes’ for no one ter know where he is than have the wrong people know.”

“Still, it’d be nice to have some confirmation or something,” Ginny shrugged, looking into her mug.

Hagrid patted her shoulder comfortingly, almost knocking her out of her seat. “An’ how are yeh, Ginny?” he asked, studying her closely. “Yeh look awful upset, yeh know.”

“Oh.” The knot of anger and fear in Ginny’s stomach twisted unpleasantly. “Sorry. I just…it’s nothing. I’m fine.”

“Hm,” Hagrid grumbled, still studying her. “Yeh know, Ginny, if yeh ever need anythin’, yeh can come ter me. Whenever yeh want.”

Ginny looked down at her hands, feeling her face grow hot. “Thanks, Hagrid,” she mumbled, and he patted her shoulder again; she nearly hit her chin on the tabletop.

It was with a heavy heart that Ginny said goodbye an hour later and headed back to the castle alone, shuddering violently as she passed the dementors’ barrier around the grounds. By the time she reached the entrance hall, it seemed she was running late, for there were only a few fifth years hurrying up the stairs.

“Brilliant,” she muttered, running after them for the third floor, where the Muggle Studies classroom was. She walked in to see all of the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw sixth years already seated; the seat next to Luna was unoccupied, much to Ginny’s relief.

“Weasley, innit?” demanded Alecto Carrow, her eyes narrowing unpleasantly at Ginny, who stood, frozen, on the threshold. She nodded once. “Take yer seat,” Alecto growled. “Now.”

Very calmly and slowly, without taking her eyes off of Alecto, Ginny walked to the empty desk beside Luna and sat down.

“Charming,” Ginny muttered. Luna blinked calmly, keeping her gaze forward, but a vague smile crept onto her lips.

“Right,” Alecto grumbled, “Now that we’re all here, we c’n resume the lesson.” She gave Ginny a particularly nasty look as she spoke. “In this class, yeh’ll all be learnin’ about Muggles.” There was a round of quiet snickering that went around the room at this, but Alecto silenced it with a glare. She raised her wand and pointed it at her desk, where a stack of pamphlets floated into the air and began to distribute themselves to the students.

“‘Mudbloods and the Dangers They Pose to a Peaceful Pure-Blood Society’?” Ginny read aloud, before she could stop herself. She looked up at Alecto incredulously. “You must be joking.”

“You got a problem, Weasley?” Alecto asked, stepping closer.

“If I do?” Ginny asked, lifting her chin slightly. “Surely it’s not a requirement that I agree with the reading material?” she added disgustedly. Luna touched her arm, but Ginny pulled away, keeping her eyes firmly fixed on Alecto’s.

“It is in this classroom,” Alecto growled, getting so close that Ginny could smell her sour breath.

“I’ll keep that in mind, Professor,” said Ginny, “For the next time you hand out your own version of the truth.” Quiet muttering broke out across the room, and Luna squeezed Ginny’s elbow. Ginny ignored her.

“And what would you know about it, eh?” Alecto demanded.

“More than you do,” snapped Ginny, feeling a flicker of the pent-up anger inside her heart starting to force itself out.

Alecto’s hand flew to her wand, and there was a collective gasp from everyone as she held it just inches from Ginny’s face.

“It’s only the first day, Professor,” Ginny said quietly through gritted teeth. “What are you going to do to shut me up tomorrow?”

Breathing heavily, Alecto lowered her wand. She threw Ginny one last dirty look and then glared at the rest of the sixth years. “Well, what’re you all staring at?” she barked. “Open them pamphlets and start readin’!” She stumped back up to the front of the classroom.

Ginny scowled, looking down at the pamphlet before her and flipped it over, deciding to ignore the cover image of a revolting, sickly-sweet-faced rose and a fanged weed attempting to strangle it.

“Ginny,” Luna said quietly, without turning her head. “Read it.”

Ginny looked at her incredulously. “Why?” she whispered. “I’m not reading this rubbish—”

“Just look,” Luna said out of the corner of her mouth. “You won’t believe it.”

Glancing up at Alecto, who had seated herself at her desk and was glowering unpleasantly at the class, Ginny opened the booklet and began to read.

Few things have been more detrimental to the development, evolution, and success of wizardkind than the all-too-common practice of fraternization with Muggles; worse yet is the casual acceptance modern wizard society has for those members of the magical community who mate with Muggles, thereby carelessly opening breaches between our disparate worlds. Leading minds of our day and age urge us now not to allow such activities to take place, for the introduction of non-magical beings into magical society poses many threats to the safety and security of any sensible wizarding family. First and foremost among these threats are:


A ‘Mudblood’, that is to say, a Muggle who has been introduced into magical society, is a being who has taken advantage of the overlarge connections between magical and non-magical peoples, and has successfully stolen the magic of a worthy witch or wizard. These beings are not witches or wizards, and should never be treated as such. The Ministry of Magic, effective immediately, has placed a high priority on apprehending these thieves of magical learning in order to cut off further violation of the International Statute of Secrecy. Should you or anyone you know wish to report such a criminal, you may contact the Muggle-Born Registration Commission—

Ginny closed her eyes for a moment, drawing a deep breath. The boiling anger and frustration she had felt for over a month was building up inside her, and she wasn’t sure she could keep a handle on it for very much longer. She clenched her fist on the tabletop, and Luna laid a hand on it.

“What was that Hermione once said about the Daily Prophet?” Luna whispered. “‘It’s best to know what the enemy are saying.’” Ginny nodded, and Luna sighed quietly. “I rather wish I didn’t, just the same.”

“Oi, no talking, you two!” barked Alecto suddenly from behind her desk.

Ginny bit back a retort and faced front, hitching a brilliant smile onto her face. “We were only wondering—will this be homework, Professor Carrow?” she asked pleasantly.

“It will,” Alecto growled warily.

Ginny nodded, picking up her quill and making an exaggerated note on the parchment before her. “And just out of curiosity,” she added, “Will we always be assigned bigoted Death Eater rubbish in this class, or will we break it up now and then with a guest lesson from You-Know-Who himself?”

“Ginny,” Luna whispered under her breath, as gasps of shock—and, yes, a giggle or two—sounded all around the room. The noise made Ginny’s heart race, not with fear, but with excitement; this was how she remembered feeling whenever she knew Harry had shouted at Umbridge…

Alecto had leapt to her feet. Her face was blotchy and scarlet with anger. “That’s a detention, Weasley! And you’ll learn ter keep a civil tongue in this class if ya know what’s good for ya!”

“Then I’m sorry to say I won’t be getting very good marks in Muggle Studies, Professor,” Ginny said coolly.

“That ain’t the only mark you’ll be worrying about, missy,” Alecto snapped, standing up. Ginny stood as well, not removing her eyes from Alecto’s, fully aware of her classmates’ gazes fixed on her. Alecto stared at her for a moment, her lip twitching, before she barked suddenly, “Five handwritten copies a’ this pamphlet by next class, or it’s detention for all a’ ya! Now get outta my sight, ev’ryone—‘cept for Weasley here.”

There was a mad rush to escape the classroom as quickly as possible, but Ginny didn’t break eye contact with Alecto until Luna was the only one left, standing in the doorway and staring at Ginny.

“I’ll be okay, Luna. I’ll see you in just a moment,” she added, staring sharply at Alecto.

“G’wan, get out,” Alecto barked, flicking her wand. The door slammed shut, shoving Luna out into the hallway, and Ginny was left alone, standing at her desk as she stared to the front of the classroom, where Alecto was licking her lips. “Right, Weasley,” Alecto growled. “I’ve heard all about ya, and I’m here ta tell ya that everything’s different now.”

“You’ve got that right,” Ginny snorted.

“This ain’t yer school anymore,” snapped Alecto. “It’s ours. And the sooner ya fall in line and quit yer games, the sooner we’ll all be—”

“You’re right again, congratulations,” Ginny said loudly. “This isn’t my school. At my Hogwarts, we don’t let Death Eaters and murderers masquerade as teachers.”

“Ya think yer clever, eh?” Alecto demanded. “Why don’t we see about that tonight? Yeh’ll have yer detention in the dungeons. Be there after dinner.”

“Gladly,” said Ginny, scooping up her bag, quill, and parchment. Without another word, she marched to the front of the classroom and reached into her bag for the pamphlet. She took one last look—first at Alecto, and then at the cover—before throwing it forcefully into the rubbish bin and slamming the door behind her.

She stormed through the rest of her day in an incredibly foul mood. She sat in the back row of all of her classes, barely paying attention to a word anyone said to her. Worst of all, though, was a feeling of dread that had finally burrowed its way into the back of her mind around lunchtime and now refused to leave. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she might have gotten herself into a great deal more trouble than she could handle by deciding to take on Alecto Carrow. The mingled fear and anger took up all of her focus, and by the time Transfiguration came around, her last class before her detention, Ginny’s head was swirling with poisonous thoughts and hatred for the Carrows.

“Miss Weasley. Miss Weasley!

Ginny started, surprised to see Professor McGonagall standing over her.

“The class has ended,” she said. “I have dismissed you.”

“Oh,” Ginny stammered, looking around at the empty desks. “I’m sorry, Professor. I—”

“Never mind,” said Professor McGonagall. “Although I’ve half a mind to give you a detention for not paying attention to a word I’ve said.”

“No, Professor,” Ginny said quickly. “I’m sorry, I was just…I was distracted. It won’t happen again.”

Something in Professor McGonagall’s face seemed to soften. “Very well,” she said. “But I’d like to see a little more diligence in the classroom. Do you understand?”

“Of course,” said Ginny apologetically. “I’ll go to dinner now, Professor.”

“Wait a moment,” Professor McGonagall said, reaching into her pocket. “Take your badge.” She produced a scarlet and gold badge and placed it in her hand.

“Thank you, Professor,” Ginny mumbled, gazing at it in her palm.

“I’ll pass along a timetable and a list of your duties in a week or so,” said Professor McGonagall, and Ginny nodded, still staring down at the large letter P. “Is everything—well, are you all right, Miss Weasley?”

“Fine, Professor,” she said, smiling suddenly. “I’d better get to dinner.” She hurriedly bent and scooped up her bag, dashing out of the classroom before Professor McGonagall could say another word.
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