The return and a special surprise
Emotions Running High
Ginny was sitting alone in the Great Hall, quietly absorbed in her thoughts as she ate her breakfast. Harry's disappearance had affected everyone around her, her family and friends had silently prayed for his safe return. But as the days and the weeks passed by, hope seemed to slowly leave those closest to her like water from a leaky cauldron. But Ginny stayed hopeful for his return, scouring the Daily Prophet for possible sightings of the boy or anything which could shed some light on his disappearance. She wasn't sure what, but something inside of her had convinced her that he was still alive. Six months had now passed since the night of his disappearance and the order and ministry had lost all hope for his safe return. Even the prophet had stopped reporting alleged sightings of The Boy Who Lived by batty old witches with to much spare time. But Ginny remained hopeful, spending all of her free time combing over articles from the prophet or researching strange magical phenomena in the Hogwarts library.
Ginny thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of her brother and Hermione, who had sat down opposite her for breakfast. The two older Gryffindors had finally come to terms with their feelings for each other, and had since become even more inseparable as of late. Noticing the familiar pensive look on his sister's face, Ron decided that it was about time someone talked to her about her obsessing over Harry's death.
"Gin, you've got to stop doing this to yourself." He said softly, meeting his sister's eyes. "Ever since Harry's death you've changed, you've lost your grip on reality." He continued, "And these stories about him coming back... Ginny, he isn't coming back." He insisted sadly. Ron never noticed the warning look Hermione shot him, or the Gryffindors who were slowly edging their chairs away from him, or the familiar signs of fury playing across Ginny's face as he continued with his brotherly speech. "Mione and I have finally started to put this behind us, we will always miss him, but we need to get over it too. You should do the same; it's not healthy to dwell on his death and stay in denial like this. We've found a counselor that may be able to hel..."
At this point his speech was cut short by a fuming Ginny, who had whipped out her wand and blown him twenty feet across the room with a particularly powerful mold growing jinx. Every eye in the Great Hall was turned to her as she stalked over to Ron's figure, which was sprawled awkwardly over the stone floor in the now silent hall.
"Harry Potter is not dead!" She said in a low voice, trying to keep her voice steady as she felt familiar tears well up in her eyes. "You and everyone else here think that I'm mad, but I know that he's still alive." She said vehemently. "And don't ever speak to me like that again." She growled under her breath, before sweeping out of the silent hall, a lone tear trailing down her cheek as she left.
Seeing his opportunity, Draco sauntered over.
"Well, well, looks like you aren't the big brother you thought you were weasel." He said, his lips curling into a sneer. "I think she's still taking Scarhead's most unfortunate death a little hard still." He said, smirking as he watched Ron attempt a retort whilst he battled the rapidly spreading mold. "You know it's almost a pity, it would have been nice to see the Dark Lord torture him before he killed him." He said venomously.
The effect of his words was instantaneous. Draco was hit with several hexes and jinxes at the same time that Hermione's fist connected solidly to his lower jaw. Taking the full force of the punch, Draco fell backwards on to the floor, his face braking out in hundreds of tiny boils as he landed. Hermione stood seething over the limp form with an oddly satisfied look in her eyes, the whole hall staring at her with a mixture of shock and awe.
"Phaphs phi girlphred!" Said Ron with a wide grin, despite the ever spreading mold. Although nobody could understand him, they all knew what he said.
Snape quickly got over his shock and pushed his way through the throngs of students, trying to hide the look of delight across his pale face as he walked.
"Granger attacking a student. I would have expected a know-it-all like yourself to be more aware of school rules." He said disdainfully. "Perhaps I need to remind you that the punishment for this is usually expulsion." He said derisively, eliciting a small whimper from Hermione as his lips curled into a sneer.
"Enough!" bellowed Dumbledore as he descended from the raised teacher's dais. Snape looked surprised by the interruption, but didn't back down from the situation. "That will do Severus. From where I was standing, Miss Granger was acting in her defense. Young Mr. Malfoy intentionally provoked her, as well as many other students here. The use of such invective is not permitted here, and I will not tolerate such behavior anymore." He said firmly. "This school is divided enough as it is, through dark times we need to unite as one." Dumbledore spoke confidently, but there was no sign of the telltale twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes as he said this. The mention of Harry seemed to have hit a nerve in the usually unruffled man. "Miss Granger, would you be so kind as to escort Mr. Weasley to the infirmary? It is getting rather difficult to see him under all of that mold. Oh, and do let Miss Weasley know that her use of that spell was flawless, and looks to be quite powerful by all appearances." He said with an amused expression.
By noon, Harry had successfully captured his prey and hung him by his ankles in the infirmary.
"Put me down Harry, It was all in good humor!" pleaded Xander, his face wearing a slightly panicked expression.
"Not yet Xander," Harry replied, snickering. "You're going to help Sarah demonstrate how to heal a broken bone." He continued, watching his victim's face pale when his words sunk in. Sarah seemed a little shocked by this revelation, but quickly recovered and set to work with a malicious grin. Although Xander was given no broken bones to demonstrate with, the particulars that Sarah discussed were more than enough to put the captive on edge.
After putting up with the 'Mad Woman' for an hour, Xander finally persuaded Harry to release him from his bindings. With his feet back on the ground and his confidence renewed, he began a full blown row with Sarah over proper protocols.
"Since when have you paid attention to protocol?" Bellowed Sarah as the argument continued to escalate. Harry had found that the two years spent with Sarah and Xander reminded him heavily of the five years spent with Ron and Hermione. They constantly bickered, they were always at some sort of disagreement, and everyone else but them seemed to know about their true feelings for each other. Deciding to do what he never could with Ron and Hermione, he interrupted them.
"Enough!" He bellowed, immediately catching their attention. "Why do you always have to torment each other? It's obvious that you only do it because you like each other and you want to spend time together." He continued. "Just sit down and work this out, before you drive us all mad." He finished in an exasperated tone. At this Point, Sarah and Xander had both turned a fierce beet red and were looking everywhere but at each other. Harry turned and headed for the door, sighing loudly as he went. Once he had exited the room, he turned around and pushed the door closed. He placed several powerful locking charms on it before shouting through the key hole to a very surprised duo, he would be back to check on them in an hour, maybe.
A slim girl with fiery red hair was walking slowly along the shore of the Great Lake. Ginny's eyes were red and puffy from recently shed tears, but currently she was deep in thought, unaware of even the Giant Squid's slimy tentacles rising from the water not ten feet away. She sank down upon a grassy knoll, tilting her head back to watch the stars as she lost herself in her thoughts.
'What am I doing? Maybe I am going crazy...' She thought to herself, sighing deeply as she traced a few of the more common constellations with her eyes. 'Why can't I face the fact that Harry really isn't coming back? Ron and Hermione have put it behind them and they were his best friends. I should be able to put this behind me too.' She reasoned, although she knew it was a lie. Ever since the Chamber of Secrets it had been different for Ginny. Sure, she cared for him deeply, but it was more than that. 'I knew when he was in trouble during the Triwizard Tournament and then when the Death Eaters attacked... I could feel it.' She mused. Since the chamber she had become subconsciously aware of Harry's condition. This feeling had seemed distant since his disappearance, but it was still there. Sitting up, her eyes darkened and jaw hardened as she stared over the glossy black lake. 'I won't give up, I know he's alive. The others can think whatever they want. He will come back.' With renewed determination, Ginny stood up and purposefully strode back to the castle.
Unnoticed from below, Dumbledore pensively watched the small figure enter the castle from his office window. He gazed out over the sweeping Scottish landscape as he pondered the young woman. 'Maybe she's correct. Perhaps we were all too quick to assume the worst.' Glancing at the small pewter box on his desk, he analyzed the device that housed the monitoring charm for Harry Potter's life force. It still lay as cold and foreboding as it had the day Harry had disappeared. "Maybe we all just need to have faith; Harry Potter has overcome much before." He whispered, awaking Fawkes from his gentle slumber. "Perhaps my friend, there is still hope yet." He said as he gently stroked the area behind the bird's head.
Voldemort's face was lit in a malicious smile as he stared down upon the cowering muggle man before him. He had just wiped out an entire town with his faithful Death Eaters and the demons they had been able to summon. The ministry's aurors, who continued to be stretched intolerably thin, were only able to provide a small amount of resistance to the Dark Lord's forces. Nobody in this town had stood a chance.
Turning his attention back to the whimpering man before him, he addressed him.
"I will let you live for tonight. But in exchange I want you to give a message to your rescuers. Tell them that now that Potter is dead, I will not rest until Dumbledore is also dead or surrendered to me." He hissed, eliciting a whimper from the man as he did.
With one last glaring look at the man he turned around and made his way from the remains of the house. Addressing some of his faithful, he ordered them to gather the victims of their attack. The Demons they had summoned needed to feed. With one last look at the night's destruction, he disapparated with a small crack.
A/N - Well, this is chapter five, I hope you liked it. If so let me know by reviewing, otherwise I will think that you don't like it and may have to discontinue. :P Just kidding, but seriously I love the reviews, it keeps me going. I have a few ideas for bringing Harry back in the next chapter, but maybe I should wait a little bit longer for that. :)