The Hourglass- Chapter One


Turn to page 17. Read the chapter and then answer the questions at the end. No talking.

There was nothing to be done.

Ginny Weasly sat at the back of the classroom, staring at the page before her but not taking in a word of it. It was not that she hated charms class, but there had never been a time that she had needed it less.

Such is the nature of the tricky Fidelius Charm…

Fidelius. Ginny's mind stopped on this word and could not go any further. That was it. Fidelius. Fidelity. That was what was missing.

Her brother had left her. Hermione had left. And the boy she had loved since she first saw him when she was ten years old was off fighting Voldemort and might never return.

Ginny's mind flitted idly to the kiss she and Harry had shared that summer, the kiss that she had given him as a gift on his seventeenth birthday to remind him of her affections for him. It made her feel sick, angry and extremely lonely all at the same time. Had she really meant that little to him? That he could just disappear from the scene and hope she was fine?

She told herself over and over that it could be the last kiss he ever got for all she cared, but she knew that wasn't true…in the back of her mind, she knew that it wasn't true at all.

Ginny shut her eyes to block out the painful words on paper. She had never felt more alone in her life.

He's gone. She thought. He's gone and thinking about the kiss you should never have given him won't bring him back.

Ginny repeated this to herself at least five times a day, but it did no good. She felt her heart rate pick up whenever she heard a male's voice similar to his…she always looked twice at boys with green eyes, though they never had quite that precise shade as Harry's.

Neville was the source of greatest comfort to Ginny. Though he had never exactly been the hero of their expeditions, Ginny somehow got the impression that Harry had been most fond of him out of the other boys in their year, aside from Ron obviously. Thus, Ginny felt an intrinsic liking toward the awkward, nervous boy who always seemed to be dealt a hand just a little too unlucky to be of any use in the present situation. Quite like Ginny herself. Moreover, Neville seemed to have similar feelings about the absence of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and did not press Ginny for information about what was wrong. Ginny had a feeling that he understood without her having to speak.

"Miss Weasley?" Ginny's thoughts were interrupted by kindly little Professor Flitwick, who was tapping his wand against the side of his desk to get her attention. "Please focus. This assignment is due at the end of class."

"Yes, of course…" Ginny forced a smile and sat up more straight.

Yet another irritating factor to Ginny was how very dull all of her classes had seemed to become. Last year, learning had been fun. This year, though she didn't know whether it was a result of Harry leaving or not, she felt a certain apathy for education. Without Dumbledore, the Ministry of Magic had taken over responsibilities for assigning the Hogwarts curriculum and Snape, the man whom Harry had sworn had killed Dumbledore, was the new headmaster.

It was unlikely that Voldemort himself cared enough about the Ministry to bother with students' educations very much, but his Death Eaters were doing a fine job restricting the curriculum nonetheless. Attendance was now mandatory for school. Many students were missing this year, because of the Muggle born purgings and the students who remained were either stuck up pure bloods who secretly liked the on goings (Slytherins) or else other students who were too afraid of angering the ministry to do anything against Snape's rules.

The castle seemed so dark all the time. Perhaps that was just Ginny's imagination at work, but she felt that there was something fundamentally changed about the atmosphere of the school. For the most part, all the teachers were the same, and all the same decorations held up, but there was a silence to the castle, a shadow over the feelings. The teachers didn't stop to speak to children in the hallways; they always seemed distant, distracted. Ginny got the impression that teachers like McGonagall and Flitwick had only stayed at Hogwarts in order to exert some level of protection over the students. They certainly had no loyalties to Snape, or if they had in the past, all those loyalties had been quelled by seeing Snape as the puppet of a corrupted Ministry of Magic.

Muggle Studies had been cancelled altogether and the new books for the year had stronger emphases on the superiority of wizards in the world, glorifying that wizards had so many techniques, rather than actually focusing on what these techniques were.

So very boring…


The Slug Club still met some Saturday nights. Ginny attended, for no other reason than it took her mind off the situation for a while. Last year she had only attended in hopes of seeing Harry, but so much had changed since then.

The students of the Slug Club were hardly the same. McLaggen seemed to have lost a great deal of his confidence after having failed the Gryffindor Quidditch team so miserably the year before. And the only other people that Ginny knew were Neville and Blaise Zabini, whom she knew vaguely by face but had never bothered to speak with. He had primarily spent time with Malfoy in the past and therefore probably held the same deep-seated contempt for all Muggle borns.

Ginny's main comfort in the club was its noise.

She stayed on the sidelines of the parties generally, speaking to Neville occasionally, but mostly finding peace in the rancid chatter. She could hide there and no one would bother her. Well, no one except Blaise. He never spoke to her exactly, but he would just give her looks that made her feel as though she had stepped out of a trough of cow manure recently.

If he could find her, Slughorn would usually contribute to Ginny's evening by slinging his heavy arm around Ginny and carting her around the room to meet new faces and introduce her to his latest friends.

Not Ginny's idea of a fun evening.

About halfway through dinner on one of these evenings, Ginny was not surprised when Slughorn (giving off a powerful scent of mead) yet again opened the subject of how talented he thought each member of his "Slug Club" was and went around the table naming each of their special abilities. But what did surprise her was what he went on to say.

"Feeling a bit off the weather, m'dear?" he asked in an irritatingly loud voice, directed at Ginny, who had been staring morosely at her plate. Her head shot up.

"I'm fine," she lied automatically.

He winked. "Missing Potter?" Slughorn astutely guessed, while McLaggen snickered and Blaise looked sour. "I'm sure he's fine, wherever he is. Quite a capable boy, as I remember."

Slughorn laughed loudly, as though he had said something very witty and took a long drag out of his goblet.

Ginny didn't know what to say, so she listened to hear how he would proceed. Neville shot a nervous look at her from across the table.

"But listen," Slughorn said more seriously, though some mead was dribbling down his chin, "I don't want to see this long face all the time. If Potter has left, it's for a proper reason, and you can't honor anything more than that. I always say, the mark of a real Sluggie is when he's grown up enough to make his way without the Slug Club!"

Ginny frowned. Slughorn was clearly drunk. He would never had the nerve to say these things to Ginny while sober. Probably he couldn't currently remember what had happened at the end of last year.

"Yep," said Slughorn, rubbing his eyes. "Potter's finally decided to take on responsibility. What surprises me more, to be honest, is that Granger girl and what's-his-name following suit!"

Blaise sniggered out loud and Neville made a sudden motion like he was going to stand up, but had thought the better of disrespecting Slughorn.

"Ron." Said Ginny in a cold voice. "His name is Ron Weasley. And I think I'll go now."

Ginny threw down her napkin and stood up.

"Oh, come now, don't be like that!" Slughorn cried, looking quite alarmed at her response. "I say all this in good humor! I'm sure Potter's off making his fortune in a Borgin and Burkes or something of the—"

"He's fighting Voldemort."

Ginny did not know what made her say it. She had never intended to tell anyone what was causing Harry's absence, but all she knew was that at that moment she could not bear another second of Slughorn's ignorant remarks or Blaise's smirking.

At least Ginny's reply had one effect: it wiped the smirk off Blaise's face, who looked a mixture of shocked and annoyed. Neville went pale, McLaggen looked surprised. Slughorn dropped his goblet.

"Don't say his name!" Slughorn reprimanded, looking utterly shocked. "I mean seriously, girl, what do you think you're doing?"

"Maybe it makes her feel brave," said Blaise in a soft voice, looking at Ginny directly for the first time that evening. "Maybe it makes her feel…closer to Potter."

She glared at him and turned her attention back to Slughorn.

"Sorry professor," said Ginny with a controlled effort. "I don't know what got into me."

"I say, girl…" said Slughorn, noticing the mead stains on the front of his robes and starting to wipe at them uselessly, "If you feel so strongly about your Potter's cause, why don't you try to help him?"

Ginny was silenced. She stared at Slughorn. "What do you mean, Professor?"

"Well, we know He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, don't we?" Slughorn exclaimed, still fiddling with the shirt. "A few self defense classes wouldn't go amiss at this point, would they? I've seen your prowess first hand—why don't you think about how you could help teach other students to defend themselves?"

Ginny opened her mouth and closed it. She looked at Neville and knew they were sharing a thought. What Slughorn had just suggested sounded a great deal like the D.A.

Ginny took a step back.

"I'm tired," she said. "I'll leave now."

"Oh, fine, if you insist!" Slughorn said impatiently, whipping out his wand and pointing it at the front of his shirt. "I can't get this damn thing clean!"

The last thing Ginny saw before slipping out of the room was Slughorn trying to get the red stains out of his white shirt and only succeeding in turning his whole shirt red. Then she stormed down the hallway before anyone could get in another word.

Ginny felt very strange. She didn't know if telling the group about Harry's quest had been a bad idea. It was, after all, evident to everyone in school that Harry was probably off on some sort of personal mission, but perhaps she shouldn't have come out so strongly in favor of Harry. She probably wouldn't get in trouble unless this information got back to Snape, which it probably wouldn't…. As far as that went, the only concern was Blaise Zabini. He seemed to be the only one of the group remotely likely of ratting out Ginny, and the more she thought about it the more uneasy she felt.

Then there was Slughorn's suggestion of starting a defense club. Ginny knew that Slughorn had been drunk…yet his words had made a lot of sense to her. What if these past few months she had just been feeling sorry for herself? Was it time to bite back the sorrow and start trying to help The Cause? …Should she think about restarting a sort of D.A. club? It had been in Ginny's mind to reinstate the club ever since the beginning of the year, but she hadn't taken it seriously until now. The fact of the matter was that most of the students were either openly in favor of the Ministry's regime, or else they were too frightened of it to do anything that Snape might not approve of. Of course, there was no formal ban on clubs—at least, not yet—but there was no doubt that the Ministry wouldn't approve of a Defense club meeting.

Ginny frowned and shook her head. It was all very confusing. If she though about it for long enough, any point of view could make sense….but she just wished that she hadn't lost her temper with Slughorn and told him what Harry was up to. If McLaggen had anything to say about it, the whole school would know by tomorrow. Ginny sighed and was about to mount the staircase when a voice behind her said, "stop."

Ginny spun around, startled, pulling out her wand as she did so, only to find herself face to face with Blaise Zabini.


Before Ginny could move, Blaise had disarmed her. However, he took no step towards her after this.

"What was that for?" Ginny asked angrily, stalking over to where her wand had landed and picking it up. "Do you make it a sport of ruining people's evenings?"

"I just figured that you would think I was sneaking up on you. I didn't really want to experience one of your hexes first hand, so I considered this safer," said Blaise smoothly. He folded his arms in a satisfied sort of way, watching her move.

Ginny frowned, watching Blaise and knowing that she probably would have done just as he described if he hadn't disarmed her. He seemed much taller than Ginny remembered, though maybe that was because whenever she saw him he was usually slouching, and he was regarding her with his strange slanted eyes that never seemed to commit to any emotion.

"You walk fast," he added blandly. "I practically had to run to catch up to you after you left." He had a way of sounding extremely bored when talking to Ginny, which made her wonder why he was even there.

"What do you want?" Ginny asked, narrowing her eyes and folding her arms. She felt exposed, somehow. Why was he singling her out?

"Cut to the chase?" Blaise raised an eyebrow and seemed mildly amused. Or perhaps he was displeased because his relaxed face dropped into a slight frown.

"You heard what Slughorn said."

Ginny was taken aback. She didn't know what she had been expecting Blaise to bring up, but that certainly hadn't been it.

"What of it?" she asked finally.

Blaise looked at her in disbelief. "You're not seriously telling me that you hadn't considered starting a club like that before Slughorn mentioned it, are you?" he demanded incredulously.

"Why would I?" Ginny lied, trying to keep her side of the conversation short.

"You're supposedly the most talented witch in your year, aren't you?" Blaise drawled in his maddening way. "You really never considered that we can't count on teachers? You never thought of taking things into your own hands?"

"…What are you getting at?" Ginny asked, staring at him.

Blaise sighed angrily. "I can't tell if you're stupid, or you're just being difficult," he said coldly. "But I'll bank on the latter since I've seen first hand what you can do. Obviously, I'm asking you if you want to start a defense club with me."

He had finally come out and said it. Ginny didn't know what to say. She felt utterly wrong footed. Not only did the proposition of teaming up seem so utterly reasonable that she couldn't accept it was coming from Blaise Zabini, but she thought that he was like all the other Slytherins. Wasn't he pleased that Voldemort was back?

"I thought you promoted Voldemort," she said before she could stop herself.

Blaise stared at her, and she stared at him back fiercely, unable to read his face. He seemed to be considering something.

"That's neither here nor there." He said finally. "All I know is that I don't want some disgusting werewolf or another on my ass if this school gets invaded."

He was referring to Fenrir Greyback, Ginny was sure of it. Maybe Zabini didn't like all of those that Voldemort had enlisted for support. Maybe he just wanted to know how to protect himself from a situation like that. But why would he need Ginny for that…?

"…Do you know other people who would be interested in learning self defense?" Ginny asked slowly, realizing why Blaise was telling this to her.

Blaise seemed a bit less angry. "Now you're getting it."

A pause.

"But when? Where?" Ginny asked. "How many people do you know?"

"Enough." Said Blaise blandly. "We would need a fairly large room."

The Room of Requirement was the first thought that flashed through Ginny's mind. She somehow felt reluctant to use it, however, as though it were Harry's place, and thus sacred. Ginny shook her head. She couldn't keep thinking like that, it was counter-productive…

"I know a place." She said. "It's—"

"Shh." He said. "Write it down. Someone might be listening."

"Clubs aren't banned." Ginny pointed out.

Blaise looked at her like she was stupid. "Well, I wouldn't count on them staying that way." he said. "It's only a matter of time before the ministry starts reinstating some of its rules from the Umbridge regime."

Ginny shivered, remembering. She wondered if Blaise knew this because of personal connections to the Ministry or if he was just speculating. More importantly, Ginny didn't know whether or not to even trust Blaise. He seemed sincere enough about wanting to protect his own skin, but he was, after all, a Slytherin…

"Why are you doing this?" Ginny asked, looking directly at Blaise. "I don't believe that you want to help other people and if you only wanted to help yourself, then you wouldn't need me. What's you alter-plan?" she demanded.

Instead of denying that he had an alter-plan, as Ginny expected him to, Blaise laughed softly. He took a step forward.

"Me and you, Ginny," he said. "We're different. Slughorn selected you. Did you know, Slughorn was the first man to recognize You-Know-Who's talents?"

"Atrocities, you mean." Ginny corrected, feeling unnerved.

"Whatever." Blaise gazed at her intently. "If we don't lead, who will?"

Ginny didn't reply. She still didn't trust him, but that answer had certainly been arrogant enough to ensure that Blaise was still the same person. She gritted her teeth.

"And why do you think you're better than everyone else?" she challenged.

"Because I am." He said it with no inflection of pride or smugness in his voice: just a simple blandness that was incredibly infuriating. It was as if he were merely stating a fact and nothing else.

"I'm better than the others," he repeated. "And so are you. Like your Potter."

Ginny felt her face grow hot as Blaise continued to study her.

"What do you say?" he finally asked, breaking the silence.

"Next Thursday. Nine o'clock." She choked out through the strange slew of emotions coursing through her. "Bring whoever you want." At that point, Ginny only wanted to get as far away from Blaise as possible.

Blaise smiled in cruelly satisfied way and stepped back again. "Now you're seeing sense. The room?"

"I'll send an owl." Ginny took another step back.

"Fair enough."

They looked at eachother a moment longer.

"I believe you were in the middle of storming off." Blaise supplied sarcastically, pointing up the staircase. "You were making a lovely little exit fueled by the anger that someone had insulted your boys…before I hailed you…"

Ginny raised her hand to slap Blaise, but thought the better of it at the last moment. He wasn't worth it. She simply lowered her hand, turned, and stomped up the staircase.

Blaise stared after her for a long moment smirking to himself, before parting as well.