Ginny Weasley/Harry Potter
Ginny Weasley Harry Potter
Drama General
The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Order of the Phoenix
Published: 11/27/2004
Updated: 07/12/2005
Words: 244,604
Chapters: 33
Hits: 95,778

Harry Potter and the Curse of the Damned


Story Summary:
Seventh-year sequel to Power of Emotion. Harry is recovering from his captivity, but he's hiding how much it's affecting him. With his powers increasing, and Voldemort now aware of the prophecy, can Harry find the secret to destroying him before Voldemort discovers what's in the ancient texts?

Chapter 16

Chapter Summary:
Seventh year sequel to Power of Emotion. Harry is recovering from his captivity, but he’s hiding how much it’s effecting him. With his powers increasing, and Voldemort now aware of the prophecy, can Harry find the secret to destroying him before Voldemort learns of the existence of these ancient texts? Would this be HP fanfiction if it were that easy?
Author's Note:
Thank you all you faithful reviewers, both old and new. I love hearing from you and really appreciate the feedback.

Chapter Sixteen

Riddle...Tom Riddle

Harry found that the next day of classes was easier than the first two had been. In fact, his classes really hadn't been any trouble at all; it was his best friends who were driving him to distraction. The trio still went to all their classes together, but Ron and Hermione barely spoke except to snap at one another. Harry was already past the limit his patience could endure. They were even sniping at each other through him.

Harry had taken to avoiding them when possible - sneaking off with Ginny or spending time with each alone. Trying to do anything with just the three of them left him with a terrible headache. Gossip and rumors were wild about the break up of the trio. Ginny had told him she'd even heard one that he had been the reason for their split, when Ron had caught him with Hermione. Harry couldn't imagine anything more ridiculous. The loss of his one, constant familial structure left him feeling melancholy and extremely out of sorts.

They'd had Charms with the Hufflepuffs that morning, and Ron had sat with Hannah Abbott rather than with Harry and Hermione. Harry had watched Hermione's spine stiffen as she bore down with her quill while taking notes. In all their years together, Harry couldn't remember ever before seeing Hermione's notes have so many ink stains.

He didn't even know how Ron knew Hannah so well, and he suspected Ron was paying Hermione back for her attention to Terry Boot in Potions. If Hermione's furious note-taking was any indication, Ron had succeeded in rattling her. Of course, Ron had spent the previous evening pounding the living daylights out of his own pillow before finally going to sleep. So, Harry supposed Hermione was getting to Ron, as well.

Their first Wizarding Living class was proving to be quite enlightening. Professor Vance, who usually taught Ancient Runes, taught the lesson, which focused mostly on wizarding law. Harry learned that the only time the Minister of Magic was replaced was when either the current minister stepped down or was incapacitated, or if the public demanded a new election. So, unless the Wizengamot finally got enough cries for a vote of no confidence, Fudge could be around for years. Harry groaned at the thought. Even if he did manage to rid the world of Voldemort somehow, he didn't believe Fudge was the man to rebuild whatever was left of the current Ministry afterwards. Of course, Harry wasn't certain he'd even be around to see what would happen, anyway.

When the bell signaling the end of class rang, he bolted from the room, leaving Ron and Hermione to fend for themselves. He'd had enough of their bickering and was tired of playing referee. He knew Ginny had her first Potions class with Cordelia that afternoon, and he wanted to find out how it went. As he took a roundabout way back to Gryffindor tower in order to avoid Ron and Hermione, he passed the hospital wing and could see Madam Pomfrey puttering around inside. Feeling cheerful about the fact that he'd been back at the castle for nearly a week without having to visit, Harry poked his head inside the door.

"Hello, Madam Pomfrey," he said with a grin. The matron turned quickly towards the sound of his voice, nearly knocking over the tray of potions she was storing in the cabinet. He noticed the side of her lip twitch slightly when she realized who it was at the entrance.

"Well, Mr. Potter, I was wondering how long it would take for you to make it in here this year. I know I've already supplied Minerva with a Sleeping Draught for you. What is it this time? Fighting in the hallway? Spell gone wrong in class? A miss-brewed potion, perhaps? Or have Quidditch practices started already? I haven't seen anyone else in here yet; figures you'd be first. What have you done to yourself?"

"Nothing, I'm healthy. I just wanted to make certain you hadn't given my bed away," Harry replied cheekily.

She gestured towards the empty bed in the corner of the room, and he noticed the wooden plaque hanging above it that read 'Potter's spot'. "Oh, no, Mr. Potter. I never allow another student to lie there. I can never be certain when you'll need it. I think you spent more time here last year than in Gryffindor tower."

Harry grinned - he couldn't argue with her. "Not this year," he said over his shoulder as he pulled back from the door to continue on his way.

"I'll hold you to that, Mr. Potter. See to it that you take care of yourself," she called after him, and he could hear the warmth in her usually stern voice.

The grin remained on Harry's face right up through the time he entered the portrait hole. When he arrived in the common room, he found Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Neville all sitting together at a table in the corner. Ron and Hermione sat at opposite ends, avoiding all eye contact, while Ginny and Neville valiantly tried to carry the conversation. Harry rolled his eyes in annoyance; this had to stop.

"Hey," he said, dropping his bag at the table and kissing Ginny on the top of her head. "How was Potions today?"

"Great," Ginny said, smiling up at him. I think Cordelia may have replaced you in Colin's heart, however. He's completely smitten."

"Good," Harry muttered, causing Ginny to giggle. Harry sat down at the table, his glance shifting between Hermione, who was reading her Charms notes, and Ron, who was glaring at Hermione.

"How did your first Wizarding Living class go?" Ginny asked, and Harry knew she was trying to divert his attention from his bickering friends.

"Good. We talked a lot about the Ministry laws. What did you think, Neville?" Harry asked the round face boy, who was glancing nervously between Ron and Hermione.

"Umm, it was okay...kind of depressing, though," Neville said, shrugging.

"Yeah," Harry agreed. "It seems like we're doomed to be led by a bunch of idiots."

"Damn," Ginny said, sighing. "I was hoping you'd have learned something useful, like how to cast a good alteration charm." She lifted the frayed ends of her school robes, robes that looked like they'd belonged to Ron in second year. "These need to be taken up again; the seam keeps falling apart."

Harry frowned in confusion. "How come you didn't get new robes? What happened to the inheritance from Sirius?" he asked, feeling proud that he could now mention Sirius' name without flinching.

Ginny gave a short, bark-like laugh. "You know Mum, Harry. Years of frugality don't change overnight. She doesn't splurge well," Ginny said, twisting her lips into a scowl.

Harry snorted, picturing Mrs. Weasley on a shopping spree like Aunt Petunia used to like to do. Thinking of Aunt Petunia caused a gray shadow to pass over Harry's eyes,

"What do you have to do this afternoon?" Ginny asked, noticing his distress.

"I have training with Abe," he said quietly. "I'm going to meet this Ministry observer bloke and see what that's all about."

"Will you be down for dinner?"

"Yeah, I should be," he said."

"Okay, I'll save you a seat.

When Harry arrived at the Room of Requirement, the door was already open, and he could hear Abe arguing with someone inside. Harry entered the room with a purposeful stride, determined that this observer bloke needed to be shown right away that he wouldn't be pushed around by anyone.

"Hello," Harry said upon entering the room. He was startled when the man arguing with Abe turned around, and Harry was faced with none other than Percy Weasley. Percy was impeccably groomed and carried an air of utmost importance. His red hair was trimmed close, and Harry noticed that he wore a thin gold chain attached to his spectacles.

Abe appeared irritated, and he was clutching at the pocket that held his smokes. Percy looked as pompous as ever, although his eyes glanced nervously at Harry.

"Percy," Harry said, nodding. "So, you're here to see that I'm trained to kill Voldemort for you?"

Percy flinched at the use of the Dark Lord's name. "I'm here to ensure that proper Ministry protocol is adhered to while you train. The Minister wants this taken care of quickly, before any more lives are lost."

"Before his political career suffers any more from his ineffectiveness, you mean," Harry said.

Percy adjusted the glasses on his nose. "I am here to take notes for the Minister and report my findings. I will not, however, tolerate any disrespect towards the Minister in my presence."

"Then you might find yourself having to leave the room frequently," Harry said with a smirk. "Disparaging the Minister is a common warm-up exercise."

Abe chuckled. "Always has been one of my favorite past-times."

Percy scowled at Abe. "The Minister is well aware of your somewhat...unorthodox methods, Aberforth. I'm certain he's going to have a lot to say to Professor Dumbledore about the fact that he failed to mention your participation in this training."

Abe guffawed loudly. "I'm certain Al can take the heat, Perce. All right, now, no time to dawdle all day. Get your wands out, both of you."

Harry drew his wand, but Percy stood still, gaping at him. "Excuse me?"

"You're not going to disrupt my training facility without making yourself useful. Potter needs a training partner, and you fit the bill. You'll have first hand knowledge about what the lad can do when you make your report. Get your wand out, laddie, and get ready - you're about to duel with the Dark Lord's biggest adversary."

Harry grinned evilly at Percy, enjoying the older boy's discomfort. "Ready, Percy?" he asked, raising one eyebrow.

Percy gulped and shakily drew his wand.

They worked on spell casting for nearly an hour, with Percy looking much the worse for wear. Harry realized that Percy hadn't made Head Boy for nothing; he was bright and had a vast knowledge of various spells and how to use them. Like Hermione, however, he tended to think too long on a spell before casting it, and he was no match for Harry's speed. Harry was so fast and moved with such ease and agility that there were times Percy cast a spell uselessly; Harry had moved from the spot he'd been standing in before Percy even registered he was gone. Abe wanted to build up Harry's endurance - and he was also enjoying watching Percy's discomfort - so he let the duel continue until they were interrupted by the arrival of Fawkes with a note for Abe. Abe read it quickly and looked up at Harry.

"That's it for today, lad. Al wants a word; he's up in his office. Fawkes will take you."

Percy readjusted his torn and rumpled clothing, dabbing a handkerchief to a cut on his cheek. He had a smudge of dirt on the tip of his nose that caused Harry to smirk, not particularly wanting to alert Percy that it was there.

"Very well," Percy said, still sounding pompous for someone who obviously had no control of the situation. "I'll apprise the Minister of your progress and return for your next session on Friday. I'm certain Minister Fudge will have some recommendations."

"And I'm certain he knows what to do with them," Harry replied before grasping Fawkes tail feathers and disappearing from the room.

A moment later, he found himself in the office of his headmaster, but the office appeared empty. Fawkes flew over to his perch, and Harry followed, glancing around the room. He stood in front of Fawkes, stroking his brilliant crimson plumage as he awaited Dumbledore's arrival.

Professor Dumbledore shuffled into the room a moment later, appearing old and haggard. Harry noticed the slight tremor in Dumbledore's hands as he made his way towards his desk. He sat down slowly and with apparent difficulty. Harry was struck by how wan and sickly the skin on his hands and face appeared, and it caused his heart to constrict. He didn't remember Dumbledore looking so frail when he'd seen him after the feast. Of course, his mind had been focused on other things at the time.

"Good afternoon, Harry," Dumbledore said, his voice sounding raspy.

Harry's voice got stuck in his throat, and he merely nodded.

"How did your training with Aberforth and young Mr. Weasley go today? I imagine it was quite a shock for you to discover the identity of the Ministry observer."

Harry cleared his throat. "Yeah...I was surprised. Are you all right, sir?" Harry asked in a very small voice.

Dumbledore smiled, but no twinkle appeared in his dull blue eyes. "I am feeling under the weather today, Harry. The change of seasons always tends to bring on a cold. I need to visit Madam Pomfrey for a dose of Pepper-Up Potion."

Harry instinctively knew it was more than that, but he didn't want to think about it, so he latched onto the excuse. "I saw her earlier today; she's in the hospital wing, sir."

"Thank you, Harry. I shall be certain to make a visit. I am certain you are curious why I asked you here today," Professor Dumbledore said as Professor McGonagall entered the office. She didn't appear surprised to find Harry there, nor did Professor Dumbledore seem startled by her appearance. Harry suddenly had the sinking suspicion that he was being ambushed.

"What's going on?" he asked, steeling his back against the chair across from Professor Dumbledore's desk, the same chair he'd sat upon when he had learned his fate well over a year ago.

"Relax, Potter," Professor McGonagall said, her face looking pinched. "It's about the DA."

"Oh," Harry said, relaxing. "We're having our first meeting tomorrow night. Hermione already set the coins; didn't she tell you?"

"Yes, she did," Professor McGonagall said briskly. "That's why we wanted to speak with you."

"Harry," Professor Dumbledore said, "you made a comment at the Ministry that you felt that you were treated like a pawn by all of us. I am truly sorry you feel that way; therefore, I wanted your opinion on what I am about to propose."

"Which is?"

"I would like you to consider asking Professor Snape to sponsor the DA meeting rather than Professor McGonagall," Professor Dumbledore said, watching Harry closely.

Harry felt his dismay over Dumbledore's physical condition rapidly evaporating. Dumbledore was still a cagey old fox. The DA was Harry's sole achievement, completely outside the headmaster's machinations. The people in the DA were loyal to him - to Harry - and he trusted them implicitly. He didn't want Snape involved. Dumbledore knew how Harry felt about Snape and by asking him to accept Snape, he was using Harry as a pawn, yet again.

Harry swallowed. "No, sir," he said simply.

A brief flicker of surprise showed in Dumbledore's eyes, but he continued calmly. "Harry, you know Professor Snape is on our side; he proved his loyalty by aiding you in your escape from Malfoy Manor. He is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, and it would make sense for him to assume this role."

"Except that I still don't trust him. He may be loyal to you, but I don't believe he's loyal to me, and I need to be able to trust the back up from the DA. It needs to be separate from class." Harry watched Dumbledore open his mouth to interrupt, but Harry held up his hand, imploring the headmaster to let him finish. "I don't believe Snape is a good teacher. I've never seen him actually teaching anything. Even if he is good at Defense, he's not good at sharing that expertise. The situation is too dangerous now to waste our time bickering, which is the only thing that happens when Snape and I are in a room together."

"Harry, I know there is difficulty between you, but we have to work together. Having Professor Snape as the Defense teacher helps our cause. If Voldemort knows he is involved in your defense club, it is another deception that works in our favor. Certainly, you can see the logic in this," Professor Dumbledore said.

Harry felt cornered, but was determined not to back down on this one. He felt very strongly about it, and it was time he took some control of his own destiny. "I'm sorry, sir, but I have to insist - no Snape."

"And if Professor McGonagall suddenly found herself unavailable or unable to continue as advisor?" Professor Dumbledore posed his remark as a question, but Harry knew he was somehow being tested.

"Then I'd ask Professor Flitwick; I know he has some dueling experience. And if he suddenly became unavailable, I'd disband the DA. We'd take it underground and go back to meeting in secret like in fifth year. Or maybe we could hold smaller study groups rather than one large group," Harry replied, firmly setting his chin.

He looked up into Professor Dumbledore's eyes and found them filled with both disappointment and...respect. Harry knew the headmaster didn't agree with his decision, but he was pleased that Harry was taking the lead. Harry was proud of himself for holding his temper.

"Very well," said Professor McGonagall, whose expression Harry could not read at all. "I'll let Severus know your decision."

Harry cringed inwardly; he knew that he was going to pay for this decision in class. Still, if Snape knew what was going on beforehand, then Harry was right in thinking he was being used as a pawn...again. His anger towards Dumbledore stirred anew.

"There is one other reason I wanted to see you, Harry," Professor Dumbledore said, removing a very worn-looking cardboard box from beneath his desk. He removed a piece of parchment from the top of the box and handed it to Harry. "I thought you might like to keep this."

Harry looked down to see a certificate with a Ministry seal affixed to the center. It was an award in Sirius's name for his efforts at the Ministry. Harry read a lot of sugary words praising Sirius's honor and his valor. It basically glossed over the fact that Sirius spent twelve years of his life wrongly imprisoned, because the same Ministry that was awarding him this honor never took the time to investigate what happened to Sirius in the first place. It was a bitter pill to swallow, and Harry felt his stomach clench.

It wasn't fair. Sirius had spent the vast majority of his life in one prison or another, and now he was being used again even after his death. He deserved better.

Harry's eyes hardened as he looked at the aged headmaster. "Is that all, sir?" he asked without commenting on the certificate.

Dumbledore sighed. "No. I'm sorry to unload all of this on you at once, Harry, but this also arrived today."

Harry glanced at the cardboard box more closely. He could now see the name 'POTTER' written on the top in very familiar handwriting. His heart pounded in his chest, and he gripped the arms of the chair in which he was sitting.

"Is that..." he began, but his voice trailed off; he didn't know what it was, and he wasn't certain he wanted to know.

"The belongings in the Dursleys' house have been sorted through, and this was found in the attic. We had an Order member there, representing your interests. This is the only thing that was brought back, but I believe it may contain some of your mother's belongings."

Harry gulped and reached out with trembling hands to hold the box. He had the Invisibility Cloak that belonged to his father, but this was the first real, tangible evidence of a connection to his mother. "Thank you," he whispered hoarsely.

Professor Dumbledore nodded. "I shall be here all evening, Harry, if you feel the need to talk."

Harry nodded and gently picked up the box, carrying it back to Gryffindor tower with the greatest of reverence.

It was dinnertime when he climbed through the portrait hole and up the stairs to the seventh-year boys' dormitory, and he could hear the loud hum of conversation from the Great Hall. Harry wasn't hungry; he wanted to be alone to sort through this box. Gently, he placed it on his bed and pulled the hangings around him. A hard lump formed in his throat as he pulled his legs up and crossed them. He sat there for a long time, debating with himself over what could be inside.

He was excited, nervous, and wary all at the same time. He was thrilled to get a peek at anything that once belonged to his mother, hopeful that it might give him some insight to the real Lily Evans Potter. He was also fearful that it was some last, spiteful trick of Aunt Petunia's from beyond the grave. It would be like her to give him this extraordinary gift only to find it contained nothing but torn photographs and rags. The anticipation involved might be better than what was actually inside. Sitting there, staring at the dilapidated old box, he was filled with hope and wonder and expectations, and he didn't want to give that up too quickly. It was a feeling similar to when he'd received those presents his first Christmas at Hogwarts. Then, it was Ron's eager urging that had caused him to tear into the wrappings.

His hand shook as he finally opened the lid and pulled out the first item.

It was a tattered blue blanket with some ugly scorch marks in one corner. The material had a soft, fuzzy feel to it, with a softer satin trim. The ends were frayed, and it smelled rather musty. Harry realized it must have been the blanket he was wrapped in when he arrived on the Dursleys' doorstep all those years ago...all those lives ago. Even the Dursleys were gone now. Harry lifted the blanket from the box and spread it out before him.

A memory from Remus's Pensieve took hold in his mind. He'd been wrapped in this same blanket when his mother sang to him. He also realized he'd seen this blanket in that vision from Snape's memory - it had been lying on the floor with him after his mother had been killed. Harry wondered if his mother had bought it for him. It must have been special to him as a baby, although he had no memory of it now. Aunt Petunia must have taken it away. It was dirty and probably smelled of smoke at the time; she wouldn't have liked that.

Harry inhaled deeply into the material of the blanket, hoping to get some vague whiff of perfume or anything that would invoke a memory. It smelled musty and old - like something you'd find in the home of an elderly relative - and a faint trace of smoke still lingered. Bitter disappointment welled in Harry's heart.

Both his parents would have touched this blanket. Sirius, too, if he'd said goodbye to Harry before chasing after Pettigrew. Hagrid would have used it to wrap Harry in before delivering him to the Dursleys. It had been with him that night that his world had changed forever. And it had sat inside a box in the attic on 4 Privet Drive all this time.

Finding his vision suddenly blurred, Harry clutched the blanket to him, wrapping himself in it like a cocoon of what could have been.

Ginny entered the quiet common room before the rest of the students had finished with dinner. Harry had never joined her in the Great Hall after his lesson with Aberforth, and she was annoyed with him. She knew he was busy, but he'd said he'd join her for dinner, and sometimes at school, mealtimes were the only chance they had to spend some time together. Missing out made her grumpy.

She quickly scanned the empty common room and hurried up the boys' stairs. If he'd stood her up because he was napping on his bed, he was about to learn how a freezing cold water spray felt. Her mother had often used that spell to wake the boys during the summer holiday.

The curtains were drawn around his bed, and she frowned at the sight. Marching over, she pulled the curtain back but was startled by what she found. Harry was sitting cross-legged on his bed wrapped in a dirty, old baby blanket. His hand stroked the material absently, but otherwise, he hadn't moved. His eyes were slightly glazed and unfocused, staring blankly at an old box in front of him. The box was in worse shape than the blanket.

Something about the rigid way he held himself diffused her anger. What's in that box? "Harry," she said tentatively.

He looked up at her, startled, as if just realizing she was there. His hand continued to stroke the blanket. "Hey, Ginny," he whispered hoarsely.

Ginny sat on the edge of his bed, staring at him warily. "What have you got there, Harry?" she asked.

"Dumbledore gave it to me. It was in the attic at the Dursleys' - it belonged to my mum," Harry said. His voice was dull and distant, and he never stopped stroking the blanket.

Ginny swallowed nervously, knowing this was always shaky ground with Harry. "What's inside?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "Dunno. I just opened it."

Ginny reached out her hand and pulled gently on the blanket. She could see scorch marks on one end; it looked like it had been burned. Why would Harry's mother -or his aunt, for that matter - keep a burned blanket? She was missing something. "Was this inside? Was something wrapped in it?"

Harry laughed a harsh, bitter bark of a laugh that sent a chill down her spine. "Yeah...me."


"It was mine. I was wrapped in it when the Dursleys found me on their doorstep with the other morning deliveries," he said dully.

Ginny pulled her hand back quickly and shuddered. Oh, Harry. She peered in the box and pulled out a bunch of old letters tied with a yellow ribbon. She untied the string and glanced briefly at a few of them. "Harry, these were written when your mum was still at Hogwarts," she cried. She watched something flicker within his eyes. He reached out slowly for the letters, hesitating several times before his arm straightened, and she realized he was nervous about reading them.

"D'you want me to read one to you?" she asked gently.

He dropped his arm and nodded eagerly, like a little kid who feared something was too good to be true. Ginny took a moment to acknowledge that Lily Potter had beautiful handwriting. Ginny wished hers could look as elegant and clear as the writing in front of her.

Dear Petunia,

How are you? Did you have a nice time on your date with that fellow from Wysteria Walk? Did you get to see the movie you wanted?

I know you're still angry with me for what happened at Christmas, but honestly Petunia, I didn't realize that Frog's Spawn was in there, and you really shouldn't have been going through my trunk, anyway. You know that some of these things can be dangerous.

We had a Hogsmeade visit this past weekend. Hogsmeade is the village outside the school, if you recall. I had a lovely time with my dorm mates. We tried something called butterbeer, and it was wonderful - warms you right up from the inside. Remember that bloke I told you about - Sirius Black - the one who was always playing rude jokes on people? Well, he tried to play a joke on my roommate, Jane, and she hexed him right there in the pub. I know you don't want to hear anything about the hex, but it really was funny. You should have seen him standing there, hunched over as if he'd just been kicked in a spot boys don't like to be kicked. Served him right.

I'm going to ask Jane to teach me that hex. I wouldn't mind using it on that James Potter. He is still being so insufferable. He's conceited, even if he is heartstoppingly cute. Not that I think he's cute, mind, but some of the other girls think he is. I don't think he's cute at all. Not really. Oh, anyway, Petunia, that's all for now. I hope you'll write back. It's been an awfully long time since I received a letter from you, and I miss hearing from you.



Ginny burst into giggles at the hex placed on Sirius, while Harry winced in sympathy and instinctively moved his arm in front of his own sensitive spot.

"I wonder if she ever wrote her back," Harry said.

"I dunno. There are several more letters here. Even if your aunt was angry, she saved the letters," Ginny replied. "Your mum was obviously already rather taken with your dad."

"You think so?" Harry asked, looking confused. "She wanted to hex him."

"Oh, Harry. She went on about him for half the letter. If she spent that long trying to say he wasn't cute, obviously she thought he was," Ginny said in exasperation.

Harry shook his head forcibly. "I don't understand girls. What else is in there?"

Ginny pulled out a handful of hair ribbons, several quills in pink and purple, some dog-eared books, a few photographs of two smiling little girls with their heads full of curls, and a sketch of a young woman with long red hair. It was drawn on thick paper, but the signature in the corner was unreadable. "Is this your mother?" Ginny asked in awe. "Harry, she's beautiful."

"Yeah," Harry replied, staring at the drawing reverently. "I wonder who drew this?"

"She looks like she was a teenager, and it's a Muggle drawing...see, it's not moving. Was anyone in your family an artist? Did Petunia draw?" Ginny asked.

Harry looked at her blankly. "If she did, I never saw her. I- I don't....er...I don't know much about her family. Aunt Petunia...she...er...she didn't like if I asked questions."

Ginny tugged on her lower lip with her teeth for a minute. "What about Remus? Maybe he would know who drew it, your mum looks older in the picture, so she might have been seeing your dad by then."

Harry, whose shoulders had slumped miserably, perked up with this thought. "Let's try him now."

"Okay, Hedwig will probably enjoy the flight," Ginny said, jumping off the bed.

"No, we don't need to send Hedwig - we can use this," he said, excitedly holding up a mirror from his trunk.

"What's that?"

"It's a two-way mirror so I can talk to Remus. My father and Sirius made them when they were in school. Sirius gave this to me that Christmas we all spent at Grimmauld Place, but I never used it," he said, wincing. "Remus has the other piece now."

"Cool," Ginny said, smirking. "You should show this to the twins, I bet they'd come up with some really interesting uses for something like this."

"That's what I was afraid of," Harry said, chuckling. He sat on the bed and pulled her close so both of their faces would show in the mirror. "Remus," Harry said. "Remus, it's me...Harry."

"Honestly, Harry, who else would be talking to him from a mirror that he probably keeps in his pocket," Ginny said, rolling her eyes.

Harry grinned sheepishly, and Remus chuckled from the mirror. "Hello, Harry and Ginny, nice to hear from you. Is there anything wrong?"

"Hi, Remus," Harry said. "No, there's nothing wrong; we're fine. Only...Professor Dumbledore gave me some stuff that was found at the Dursleys'. It belonged to my mum...stuff Aunt Petunia had that she must have left behind. Anyway, this sketch was inside." Harry held the mirror to the sketch, while Ginny held the rolled drawing open so Remus could see. "D'you know who drew this, or anything about it?" Ginny could hear the hope in his voice, and she prayed Remus would have something to give him.

Remus scratched his head in the mirror, looking perplexed. He was quiet for a few minutes, and Ginny suspected that he could hear the pleading in Harry's voice, as well. He didn't want to disappoint him.

"I'm sorry, Harry. It's a wonderful likeness, it captures the liveliness your mother always possessed, but I've never seen that drawing before. I don't recall her mentioning it, but that doesn't mean she didn't."

Harry's shoulders slumped. "Oh. Okay."

"What else was in the box, Harry?" Remus asked gently.

"Uhm...some letters, pictures and stuff. I think these were from her hair," he said, raising a few stray hair ribbons.

Remus smiled fondly. "Lily always wore her hair pulled back in a ribbon. Your father constantly stole them, but her supply never ran out. It was like a game between them."

Harry smiled wistfully. Ginny rested her hand on his back and took the mirror. "Thanks, Remus. Say hi to Mum and Dad for me," she said.

"I will. Take care of yourselves; keep your eyes open."

"We will; you, too."

Ginny placed the mirror back in Harry's trunk and turned back towards his downcast expression. She climbed up onto his lap, straddling his hips. "Well, we'll have to find a frame so you can hang that picture up. It doesn't matter if you don't know who drew it or where it came from, Harry. It's yours now, and you didn't have it before. It's a nice drawing of your mum. No brooding allowed; you already stood me up for dinner so if anyone is allowed to brood, it's me."

She watched as he fought the grin trying to break out on his face. Finally, he gave in, laughing out loud and pulling her closer. "Let's make a 'no brooding' pact then, yeah? I've suddenly thought of other things I'd much rather do." He fell back, pulling her with him and crinkling Sirius's award and all the letters that still lay scattered on his bed.

Harry held the first meeting of the DA the following evening. He paced in the Room of Requirement while he waited for everyone to arrive. He'd filled Ron, Hermione and Ginny in about what had happened during his training, and that Percy was the Ministry observer. Ron cursed and threw his books on the floor, but Ginny giggled when he told them that Abe made Percy help with the practice. Ron's face took on an evil smile before he rushed to the owlry to send a letter to Fred and George.

Ron and Harry had fenced again, and Ron and Ginny had begun their Apparation practice with Professor McGonagall. They'd been so busy, in fact, that Harry didn't know how they'd fit in Quidditch practice when the season began.

He watched as the room filled up with familiar faces; there were some new, younger students, as well. Hermione had posted sign-up sheets for the meeting, stating that all were welcome to attend. Some of the Slytherins from last year were in attendance, but there was no sign of Crabbe, Goyle, or Pansy Parkinson. Blaise Zabini sat quietly near the back with a Slytherin girl Harry didn't know. Blaise didn't bother Harry as much as some of the other Slytherins did, but he still didn't trust him. He noticed when Professor McGonagall took her traditional spot at the door. He gave her a brief nod to acknowledge her presence. She almost smiled in return.

Harry's stomach fluttered as he watched everyone enter the room. This was his third year instructing the DA; he didn't know why he was still nervous, but he was. Taking a deep breath and steeling himself, he strode to the front of the room.

"Hello, everyone," he said, but needed to clear his throat when his voice cracked in nervousness. "Welcome to another year of the DA. I see a lot of old faces and some new ones, as well. This club will meet in addition to our regular Defense class. You all know the stakes. We're fully at war now, and you need to know how to defend yourselves if you get into a sticky situation."

"Something you'd know a lot about," said Justin Finch Fletchley with a smirk.

Harry shrugged sheepishly. "Yeah, I seem to have a knack. You all need to be able to fight the Death Eaters and to stall them long enough to give you time to get away."

"So, why couldn't you do that last year at the end of term," Zacharius Smith asked, crossing his arms across his chest and leaning forward aggressively.

"Hey," Ron said. "We're here to learn defense."

"And he's teaching us and telling us we need to be able to get away, so why didn't he get away? We may not know exactly what happened, but we all know you got hurt pretty bad."

Harry took a deep breath and forced the memories back. He couldn't start having flashbacks now. His thoughts turned to Jonathan and everything he'd taught Harry about defense. Now it was Abe who was preparing him for this fight. They were doing their part, and it was time for Harry to step up and do his. He'd told Professor Dumbledore that he needed to trust the people in the DA because he knew they would follow where he led. It was time to make a stand.

"My situation is different from yours, but that doesn't mean you can be complacent. The Death Eaters are following orders, and they will take out anyone who stands in their way. I have a link...a connection to Voldemort," he paused, waiting for the gasps and shrieks to die down. "The link is through this scar that you're all so fascinated by," he said, brushing the fringe away from his forehead. "Voldemort will come at me, and he's going to keep coming at me. I may not have got away right away, but I did get away. I survived. That is what everyone here needs to do, to survive. It shows him that we won't be beaten, and that he's not unbeatable. Voldemort-"

Harry stopped speaking when the shrieks began again. He watched Lavender Brown actually press her hands to her ears. Luna Lovegood, who was sitting next to her, pulled her hand away and dreamily repeated what Harry had said, using the name and causing Lavender to shriek again.

"Okay, this has to stop. How can you fight if you won't even say the name? Do you know that Voldemort isn't even his real name? He made it up to make himself sound important. He's not a Lord of anything, except in his own delusions. His name is Riddle...Tom Riddle. He was once a student here at Hogwarts, the same as you and I. He wants you to be afraid to say Voldemort - it feeds his ego. Using his name is your first step in fighting him. Your first lesson here today is to say his name. Go ahead. VOLDEMORT," Harry yelled as loud as he could.

The gasps and shrieks continued, and several people glanced warily at the door. Harry could see the look of approval on Hermione's face, and he focused his gaze on her.

"See, no lightening bolt appears in the sky when I say it. Hermione, who are we fighting here?" Harry asked, confident she'd play along.

"Voldemort," Hermione replied without hesitation.

"Five points to Gryffindor," Harry said. As Head Boy, he was allowed to take and give House points, but this was the first time he'd done so. "Luna, who are we fighting?"

Luna's dreamy eyes looked at Harry, and she blinked rapidly. "Why, Harry, we're fighting Lord Voldemort. You should know that."

"Five points to Ravenclaw. Okay, we're going to start practicing some spells, but from now on, I don't want to hear any more of this You-Know-Who-" Harry stopped himself from saying what he was going to say when he noticed the stern glare Professor McGonagall was shooting at him. "Er...nonsense. Say the name. Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself. Professor Dumbledore told me that back in my first year, and he's right."

"Easy for you to say," Zacharius Smith said belligerently. "You're already a target. Are you going to tell us what actually happened at the end of term, or do we need to wait and read that in the paper, too."

"Back off, Smith," Ron said hotly.

Harry chewed on his lip for a moment. He didn't like Smith, and he certainly didn't want to talk about Malfoy Manor, but he wanted them to take this seriously. However, most of it was information that Dumbledore didn't want made public, and he'd been fairly tight-lipped about the whole thing.

"No, I'm not going to give any details," he said, holding up his hands to stop Smith's protests. "It's for your own protection, as well as my own. "This link," he said, pointing to the scar on his head, "is not something you'll ever need to worry about, so let's concentrate on what you can control."

The rest of the session went without incident. Harry went over a series of the spells they'd worked on the previous year, with heavy emphasis on Shield Charms. He was proud to see Ginny conjuring her shield even faster than the students in the year ahead of her. That's my girl.

She'd managed to grasp the concept of Apparating and was well on her way to being able to accomplish it. Harry would feel much better about her safety when he knew she could Apparate out of a bad situation if needed.

Author notes: Well, I’m guessing you’ve all seen the new covers? I like them. I’m glad it looks like Harry is growing up, and I’m guessing training with Dumbledore. My vote for the “beloved character” that we’re going to lose is Dumbledore, and I’m wondering if his being on the over is indicative of that. What do you think?