Chapter 6: Start of Term
The rest of the holidays passed quickly enough for Harry, who spent a lot of time with Tonks, talking about Sirius and the future. Tonks had, it seemed, calmed down considerably since his death - the compulsive spark that led her to do clumsy things in the past was now all but gone, and in a way it saddened Harry to discover this. She really had been hit hard by Sirius' passing, and she was silent around most other people besides Harry. Remus wasn't seen much, and Harry suspected he was being kept busy by Dumbledore. Harry himself spoke to Tonks more than anyone - they shared a pain that the others didn't, on a different level than the others - they had lost someone as close as a father to them. Blaise understood how they felt, but wasn't quite ready to join them, and in her own grief she secretly wished she could sit with them and talk about things. Sometimes Harry and Tonks cried, but not much anymore. Tonks never let anyone but Harry see her cry, and they quickly became as close as true siblings - they were as inseparable as Fred and George when Tonks was off duty, but she did retain that strict sense of duty from being an auror and her loyalty to the Order, and left when told to by Dumbledore, who had actually slowed the amount of work towards Tonks. Harry also spent a lot of time with Blaise, who had begun to get worse since she had been attacked - she had nightmares about her parents over and over, every night it seemed, and didn't sleep a lot now. Harry was there to listen if she wanted to talk, but mostly just someone being present calmed her, and it helped her fall into an easier sleep when she knew he was in the room. He never slept with her or even lay on the bed, but she requested that he stay in the room until she fell asleep a few times; so he would sit by her bed with a book, maybe holding her hand to let her know he was there. She slept well on those occasions.
Ron, Hermione and Ginny were willing to let Harry head the effort to help Blaise - Tonks helped out as well, when she realised it was basically Harry on his own helping the grief stricken girl. The others weren't to be blamed though - they hadn't felt this pain before, and had no idea how to help it. Tonks did her best, but Blaise still felt deeply depressed.
The day came for them to get on to Hogwarts. They got up earlier than usual and Harry checked his trunk; Mundungus had retrieved one last artefact with the sealing symbol on it the night before, and Harry gave him a hundred galleons bonus in return for his services and told him that should be enough of them. The final artefact was an amethyst ring with the symbol on its head. Harry kept the dagger on him as he changed - it would come in handy one day. He also kept throwing knives hidden in his sleeves and boots - not that he was expecting trouble, but it was at times when he felt that trouble was furthest away when trouble usually found him. He wore a plain black hoody and black jeans with his leather jacket to the station - they were taking a ministry car driven by Kingsley, and had to walk through the Muggle station before they came onto platform 9 Â¾. They fought their way through bustling crowds to the barrier that opened to the Hogwarts Express' platform, and Harry walked forward with Tonks and Blaise, chatting a little and looking round before sinking through the wall with a half hour to spare before the train's departure. Ron, Hermione and Ginny followed with Kingsley, Mrs. Weasley and Mundungus following behind.
They stored their stuff onto the train and Ron and Hermione were pulled forward to the prefect's carriage, leaving Harry, Ginny and Blaise. They waited at the window, chatting to their guards until two minutes, when Harry hugged Tonks goodbye and boarded again as the train began to leave. They waved until the others apparated from the platform and then they retired to their compartment.
Blaise sat by the window, not speaking at all unless someone spoke to her. Ginny engaged Harry in as much conversation as possible for thirty minutes before giving up and opening a book. The first visitor arrived shortly after - Neville came to say hi and wanted to catch up on what had happened since the incident in Diagon Alley. He didn't mention Blaise at all - Harry had expected him to ask why she was there, but Neville seemed to notice that there was something wrong and didn't comment - the war had probably sprung to his mind. Then again, he could have heard about it from his gran, or read about it in the Daily Prophet. Harry then remembered to ask Neville something.
"Hey Neville, what happened to you about the department of mysteries last term?" Neville grinned and looked around as if talking about some top secret conspiracy.
"Gran was furious," he said quietly, still grinning. "She hit the roof when she heard I went. She was extremely angry at the fact I 'hadn't invited her along'. She was well up for an insurrection against the ministry, and she's always been a bit fierce. She was dead proud, though - I was in the /Prophet /and everything. Bought me a pet owl and a load of things I'd been wanting for a while, even a new wand. She also said - " he broke off and blushed, embarrassed. Harry knew what his gran had said - he was the feeling the same.
"Your parents would have been proud," Harry finished for him. Neville looked at his shoes, nodding.
"Yeah, that's what she said," Neville whispered.
"She's right, you know," Harry said. Neville beamed and nearly had tears in his eyes. Right then the door slid open and Malfoy walked in, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. Harry glowered but noticed that Malfoy didn't recognise him - the long hair hiding his face somewhat and being much taller made it hard to recognise him.
"Well, well, well," Malfoy said, looking around, his smirk growing. "Look guys - the Weasel Bitch, the Oafish Squib and the newest Orphan on the block! How delightful you all chose to return to school," Malfoy smirked again. Neville was almost shaking with suppressed rage. Blaise had tears flowing down her face as she stared out of the window while Ginny was red with hate. "I almost thought you'd all be too scared to return. Pity. Although the Weasel Bitch seems to have learned to control her tongue - which could be put to better use than it was last year, couldn't it, Weasel...?" He smirked suggestively and was about to turn to Blaise when Harry stood up and put a hand on Ginny's shoulder to stop her from killing Malfoy - she was straining and her face was completely flushed with embarrassment and rage.