Stories from Sixth (and Seventh) Year
The First Weekend
The Great Hall was quiet — not all that unusual for a Saturday morning. Ginny entered the hall, knowing that there would be a space open opposite a certain black-haired sixth-year student at her house table. Holding her place was a perfectly prepared cup of coffee; there were certain benefits to being Harry's girlfriend.
Harry had caught on early to the basics of Ginny Weasley maintenance: if she was hungry, he would feed her; if she was starting to get pink in the cheeks, he'd give her a tall glass of water; if she was storming, he'd stand there and take it like a man; and when she was crying, he'd hold her. She could get used to this type of pampering, if only school wouldn't get in the way.
Harry was reading the Daily Prophet when she sat down, putting the paper down long enough to slip his hand on top of hers, opening up the touch-talk link.
Good morning, beautiful, he thought to her before he turned his gaze back to the newspaper and his hand to his quill.
"I'm going to be spending the evening after supper with my revision group," she said while he was jotting something down on a small pad of paper.
"Uh-huh," he replied.
"I'm thinking of cutting my hair — maybe a Mohawk with spikes," she said in a monotone.
"Uh-huh," he said.
"My period's late, I think I'm carrying Draco Malfoy's love child," she whispered.
"Uh-huh," he grunted.
"Harry, have you heard a single thing I've said this morning?" she asked.
Harry put down the paper and looked at her. "You're revising with your friends tonight, I love your hair the way it is, your period's not due until the middle of next week, and I would still love you even if you were carrying a litter of ferrets," he said before reaching for another slab of toast, spreading it evenly with strawberry jam and placing it on her plate.
"Thank you," she said.
"For the toast?"
"No, for paying attention to me: if I'd wanted grunting, I'd sit with my brother," she said, making a small face.
"What, and give the gossips something new to talk about?" Harry said in an odd tone.
"Speaking of which, what did you do to Maddy Norbeck? The girl is crushing on you big time," Ginny said, wrinkling her nose slightly.
"Who?" Harry replied.
"I thought as much. Gryffindor first year, her brother is trying out today for a slot on the reserve bench."
"Little slip of a girl? Black hair, big brown eyes? I know her as Madison, her brother is Eoin. All I can remember doing with the two of them was trying to encourage them at breakfast the first day of classes that they would survive Potions," Harry said, slipping another piece of toast off the tray.
"Maddy said something about getting her first detention with Snape cancelled," Ginny said before biting into her own toast.
"Oh yeah, that," Harry said, his eyes sparkling with a bit of repressed mirth. "I did do that a day later," he admitted. "It was only fair, as I'd got her into the detention in the first place."
"You're holding out on me, Mr. Potter. Not a good thing, especially when talking about rivals for your affection," Ginny warned with a mock seriousness.
"What?" he asked, coughing a bit of coffee into his napkin.
"Maddy came to me last night and asked me what my intentions were towards you," Ginny said with a grin.
"Oh, brother! I hope you told her that your intentions were strictly dishonourable," he said.
"Actually, she told me that she was going to honour my prior claim on your life, but if I tire of you, she let me know that she's going to be standing in the wings, waiting to take over," she said dramatically.
"So you have an understudy now?" he asked.
"Something like that — I guess that's a better label than pre-pubescent stalker," she said.
"Hey, remember, I like 'em short," he teased.
"Not that short, I'm sure, and I'm not certain that you'd be able to tell that she was a girl in the dark," she jibed.
"Well, in that case, tell her the deal's off," Harry said with an airy wave of his hand.
Hermione entered the Great Hall, walking directly to the spot where Harry and Ginny were seated.
"I'm going to go mad this year," Hermione said to no one in particular as she sat down.
"And just how would this be different from prior years?" Harry asked as he reached for a teapot from a spot further down the table.
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked sharply as she held out her teacup.
"You go mad every year," Ginny said, biting savagely into her jam soaked toast.
Hermione rolled her eyes, turning to Harry.
"Don't look at me, I happen to agree. 'I think I mistranslated one rune on my O.W.L. exam. I'm certain that I'll fail, and then they'll kick me out of school and snap my wand in two as a result,'" Harry said, raising his voice in a credible, if breathy imitation of Hermione in full whinging mode.
"I'm not that bad," Hermione said, rolling her eyes again.
"You are a wonderful friend, a Gryffindor by right, beautiful on the inside and the outside, but you take school way too seriously, which is why, of course, that Ron and I have to sacrifice our academic standing to balance you out," Harry said sombrely.
"Yeah, right," Hermione said, filling her cup with tea.
"Where's Ron?" Ginny asked.
"Ronald," Hermione said with an annoyed air, "is too busy for breakfast, as he is preparing his remarks for the Gryffindor Quidditch tryouts."
"Blimey, he's channelling Wood again," Harry said with mock alarm.
"I told you it goes with the Captaincy," Ginny observed. "Anyway, changing the subject, Harry was just going to tell me what he did to put stars in Maddy's eyes, Hermione."
"Madison Norbeck?" Hermione asked. "The one who's crushing terribly on Harry?"
"C'mon, Hermione, it can't be that bad," Harry protested.
"She sought me out on Tuesday, asking me a long list of questions about you, the final one being whether I thought you'd be willing to ask a certain first year student out on the next Hogsmeade weekend," Hermione said, shaking her head.
"What did you tell her?" he asked.
"I told her, aside from the fact that first years aren't allowed, that you were spoken for, and that I admired her pluck," Hermione answered.
"Yeah, none of us here would know anything about pining away with unrequited love," Harry said, opening his eyes wide, batting his eyelashes furiously.
They all laughed.
"So spill, Harry," Ginny urged.
"I got a really good night's sleep after the welcoming feast, waking up early the first day of classes, which is a bit odd, but there I was. I noticed when I came into the Great Hall that all of the Hufflepuff firsties seemed to be assigned to a sixth or seventh year student," he said.
"Yeah, Hannah Abbot mentioned that at the first Prefect's meeting," Hermione interjected.
"So it hit me that maybe I should make an effort to talk to some of the firsties and try to set them at ease. I sat down with Eoin and Madison and we started talking about Professor Snape and Potions. I wrote down what I could remember of the questions that Professor Snape asked us on our first day, you know those questions that no one other than Hermione had a chance of answering. Then for good measure I gave them a question to ask Professor Snape," he said.
"What was the question?" Hermione asked.
Harry snorted. "Whether it was sporting to assign readings to half of the class but not the other half for the first day of classes," he said.
"You didn't," Ginny said.
"Professor Snape did that?" Hermione asked.
"Yes and yes," Harry answered the two women in his life. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that either of them would have the brass to ask the question in class," he exclaimed.
"But they did?" Ginny asked.
"Madison did, actually. I reckon she was properly sorted into Gryffindor," he said, pausing to pour Ginny a fresh cup of coffee without being asked. "Professor Snape, of course, blew a gasket, taking house points and assigning a nasty detention for the next day for the pair," Harry said, refilling his own cup. "I really felt bad about that, so I figured that I was duty bound to do something to fix it."
"What did you do?" Hermione asked.
"I waited until Professor Snape was with Professor Dumbledore and then pulled a Nathan the Prophet number on them," he explained.
"A what?" Ginny asked.
"It's a story from the Bible," Harry explained. "King David was fooling around with another man's wife, which was wrong, and he used his connections as King to get the other man killed in battle so he could pick up the widow as wife number three or four, which was despicable. There was this Prophet named Nathan who came into the king's court and told him a story about a poor farmer who had his lamb stolen from him by a rich neighbour. King David got all huffy and said that the rich neighbour deserved to be punished, at which time Nathan points at the king and says, 'Your Majesty, you are that man.'"
"What's that got to do with Snape?" Ginny asked.
"Well, I got the two professors cornered and asked them a bunch of questions, which at first blush seemed to be pointing to that toad Umbridge, things like 'should a student be punished for telling the truth?' and other soft Quaffle questions. After I got both of them nodding, I started asking questions that Snape knew good and well were nothing more than what he'd done to the Norbecks," Harry said.
"Did you go for the kill and say 'Professor, you are that man?'" Ginny asked.
"Nah, Snape's already been humiliated once by my Dad, I didn't need to pile on that day. I just let him know that I knew and he up and did the right thing, restored the points and cancelled the detention. I expect that Professor Dumbledore figured it out, but as I left he gave me the oddest of looks," Harry said.
"So you had a perfect chance to humiliate him and you let it go?" Ginny asked.
"Yeah, I guess," Harry answered sheepishly.
"You know what that proves?" she asked.
"Madison's got good taste," she said, picking up Harry's hand to kiss his palm. I'm so proud of you, Harry.
"Hey," Hermione said, "could one of you stop making cow eyes long enough to pass the strawberry jam?"
"Moo," he replied, sliding the pot of jam down the table toward his friend.
"Harry," Hermione asked after swallowing her first bite of toast, "just where were you when you found out that the Slytherins got the first day's reading assignment before the Gryffindors?"
Harry made a face while choosing his words carefully. "Certain questions should not be asked if the answer would make a Prefect responsible for reporting rule breaking," he said.
"Well," Hermione said with a twinkle in her eye, "if someone was in a position to hear such information, hypothetically of course, where would they be, and what would they have been doing at the time?"
"Well," Harry said, "hypothetically someone must have been in the Slytherin dungeons when the announcement was made, and as to what that someone was doing, I suspect that it would have had something to do with the upcoming outbreak of dancing legs that Slytherin will be exhibiting in about a week," he said, winking at Ginny.
"Tarantella Toilet Paper?" Hermione asked.
"Might be," Harry replied, "it's a new product at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes this month."
"So, I'm going to be seeing a bunch of dancing Slytherin boys within a week?" Hermione asked.
"Not just the boys," Ginny added, returning Harry's wink.
"I'll write home for a camera then," Hermione said with a broad smile, "certain things must be captured for posterity."
September 8, 1996
We had open tryouts for the house team yesterday — Kirke is still on the first string as Beater, but he's got a new partner, the fearless Eoin Norbeck. Sloper is now on the reserves, which he graciously accepted without whinging at all. We've got reserves on all the positions, which is a good thing, given the way that we lose players through the year due to injury. The extremely plucky Madison Norbeck is playing as reserve Seeker. Better to keep your rivals close where you can keep an eye on them, I guess. She's doing better than I did with my first year crush, although I did notice with some glee that she walked into a bench when Harry said 'hello' before practice.
Hermione's got my personal timetable created for the year — lucky me. She was decent enough to put in 'Harry time' which we put to good use tonight. The raven-haired beau took me for a walk after dinner tonight. The tension has been building between us since Thursday when he first kissed me. I found out tonight what happens when that tension gets unleashed.
We were engaged in a favourite pastime, exploring the castle, when we found ourselves in a windowless hallway lined with tapestries. We stopped walking and our heads clanked together like two highly charged magnets. I will give him this; he's getting better with the kissing! We moved quickly from gentle smacks to a hungry gnawing, which, by the way, was bloody fantastic. He held me close, sliding his hands from my waist up my back. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon your perspective, my shirttail was hanging over my waistband and we made skin-on-skin contact. If I thought that skin-on-skin contact was excruciating before we were bonded, I was wrong. I lost control of my magic when he did that, and I opened my eyes to see that the tapestries on either side of us had burst into flames, which now that I think of it in the safety of my room, was pretty funny. We snapped apart from each other and doused the tapestries, doing what we could to erase any trace of our magical mishap. Discretion being the greater part of valour, we ran away from there, figuring we were safe if we got back to the Tower before curfew.
The tension's still there (no surprise that) and I'm going to scout out some good places tomorrow, but the next time we go for a walk I'm going to make sure my shirt is tucked in, and to make extra sure, I'm going to put a sticking charm on the shirttail.
Copyright © 2005 J. Cornell — all rights reserved
Lest I get the knickers of the canon purists in a twist, first year students may play Quidditch, but for obvious reasons, the tryouts will normally select older students. First year students may not possess their own brooms at school, which means that the Norbecks will either practice with school brooms, or perhaps a generous benefactor will supply team brooms for those students unable to purchase or possess their own brooms.