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SIYE Time:7:35 on 27th July 2021


Girl Talk
By sapphire200182

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Category: Post-OotP, Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3), Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Lily Potter
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst
Warnings: Mild Language
Story is Complete
Rating: PG
Reviews: 45
Summary: ** Winner of Best Adventure in the Girl Talk Challenge **


Three months into her fifth year at Hogwarts, Ginny Weasley starts having dreams with none other than Lily Potter, the mother of a certain green-eyed boy. Lily has plenty to offer in terms of extra lessons and advice, but as the Wizarding World falls under the lengthening shadow of the returned Lord Voldemort, perhaps the best help Lily can offer is friendship. Canon-compliant, written for SIYE Girl Talk Challenge 2010.
Hitcount: Story Total: 17656; Chapter Total: 3682





Author's Notes:
Thanks very much for all the reviews! Your kind words were a direct encouragement and most of the reason why this chapter is up earlier than I had thought. This fic looks like it will go on for about 4 or 5 chapters, so stay tuned folks. I now present... Lily's first appearance.




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CHAPTER TWO: LILY




“No, no, don’t worry about that, it’s me, not you. Hi, Ginny,” said the witch, sticking out a hand. “I’m Lily Potter.”

“I’m dead, aren’t I,” said Ginny fervently. The concept seemed too large for so simple a word as dead. “Oh, bloody hell, I’ve gone and died in my sleep, and I’m only fifteen.”

Lily laughed. “No, no, I’m really Lily Potter,” she said. “And you’re not dead, all right, you’re alive.”

Ginny paused. A sudden thought struck her and she pointed at Lily. “Time Turners. Hermione’s told me all about them. You’ve been messing with Time Turners, haven’t you? I mean, you’re here, in the future…”

Lily smiled sadly. “No, I’m afraid I’m well and truly dead, Ginny, and most unfortunately that can’t be changed. But you’re not dead either, you’re sleeping in your dormitory at Hogwarts at the moment. You know you’re dreaming, right?”

“I am?”

“Yes, you are.”

“But all this…?”

“Is the Gryffindor common room,” said Lily. “You know, back in my day that is, I daresay it’s probably changed a bit now. The surroundings in this dream are based on my memories, you see,” she said. Lily gestured in the air with her hand. “This is the Gryffindor common room when I was at school, how I remember it at any rate. I daresay I might have missed a couple of details here and there.”

Ginny looked around at the Gryffindor common room. “So, this is my dream… but Lily Potter is in it, and she decides how the dream looks.” She snorted. “A very likely story. It’s probably one of Fred and George’s Patented Daydream Charms. Maybe my dorm mates thought it’d be fun to pop one on me while I was sleeping.” She shook her head. “I am so going to hex the blue blazes out of them. I haven’t shown them my Bat-Bogey Hex for a very long while, you know,” she said to Lily. “My brothers know enough by now not to make me too angry.”

Lily wrinkled her nose and made a slightly disapproving face that was Hermione-ish enough to make Ginny smile. “You know you really shouldn’t hex your dorm mates or your brothers. I may not have had any brothers of my own, but my sister... well, suffice to say as unpleasant as she was at times I never hexed her.”

“Yeah, well, you never had six brothers who always teased you and stopped you from doing all the cool things they were doing and played pranks on you just because you’re the only girl in the family and the youngest one to boot,” said Ginny. “Now go away and don’t bother me. I’ll just sit down here and wait for the Daydream Charm to wear off.” And she plumped herself down on the couch, crossed her arms behind her head and closed her eyes.

“You’re really adamant in thinking that this is a prank?” said Lily.

“Well, yeah,” said Ginny, opening her eyes to see Lily standing beside her and looking down, “Though for the life of me I can’t figure why they made a Daydream Charm involving Harry’s mum. I mean, that’s hardly the most tasteful thing to do, yeah? Enough to warrant a hexing for Fred and George too.” She ticked off two fingers with a satisfied grin. “So many hexes, so little time. Whatever have I done lately to be given the great pleasure?”

“Your brothers didn’t make a Patented Daydream Charm involving me because it’s not a prank, Ginny,” said Lily. “It’s a dream.”

“Exactly what I’ve been saying.”

“It is not a Patented Daydream Charm, it’s a real dream. Well, as real as a dream can get anyway,” said Lily, waving her hands impatiently. “The point is, Ginny, that I really am Harry’s mum, and I want to talk to you about some things.”

Silence. Ginny thought back to her… conversation with Harry earlier. Could it be that somehow, Lily Potter had come back from the afterlife to… No, that was impossible. Nobody could come back from the dead. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder…

“Talk to me? About what?” said Ginny. “That is, if you really are Lily Potter.”

“Yes, I am,” insisted Lily. “And I want to talk to you about lessons and about my son.”

Ginny flushed red. “What about Harry?”

“Well,” said Lily, rolling her eyes, “you know. You. Him. Why you’re currently snogging Mr. Thomas instead of Mr. Potter.”

“Now I know you’re really not Lily Potter,” said Ginny. “If Lily Potter walked into my head right now, she’d probably hex me for what I’m thinking in my head half the time about Harry Potter.”

“I can’t read your mind, Ginny,” said Lily. “Well, not exactly anyway. That will be the first solid indication you’ll have that this isn’t a dream, and no, I won’t hex you. In fact, James and I think you two are rather cute, actually, and part of why I’m here is to talk to you about your feelings for Harry.”

Ginny sat up angrily. “I don’t have any feelings for Harry! Whatever I thought of him in my first year, that’s over and done with. It’s a stupid schoolgirl crush that never went anywhere, and I’m doing perfectly fine with Dean right now, thank you for your concern!”

Lily lifted an eyebrow. “Really, now? Then what was all that blather about this evening? ‘Sometimes she searches her heart deep inside, and finds she never really stopped loving him?’” mimicked Lily, although not in an overly mocking way.

Thunderstruck, Ginny fell backwards against the couch as she stared up at the young woman. How in the world did she know that? A Patented Daydream Charm wouldn’t include anything that recent… “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Ginny evenly. “Harry and I are over and done with. In fact, ‘Harry and I’ never even got off the Quidditch field. Harry and I was all just… a silly schoolgirl’s dream.” It was not without a pang of sorrow inside her that Ginny said these unfortunate truths.

“Rubbish.” Lily stepped forward and pointed vaguely in the direction of Ginny’s chest. “You know exactly what I’m talking about, Ginny Weasley. You can feel it in your heart, that you really do love him — and I’m saying love, not a silly schoolgirl crush — and every time you two are together, you feel deliriously happy that you’re with him, infinitely sad that you’re not together, not in that way, and you try to drown out that little voice inside telling you that you weren’t meant to be and going out with Dean so that you won’t have to think about…”

“STOP!” yelled Ginny. She flung herself up, extending a hand at Lily, and suddenly her wand was in it and she was pointing it at the witch as she backed away around the end of the couch. She had no idea from where she had pulled her wand, but it was hers and she gripped it with both hands and kept it trained on Lily, trying her best to hold it steady although her hands were trembling violently.

“Settle down, Ginny,” said Lily calmly.

“I don’t know who you are,” said Ginny, shaking all over, “Or what kind of sick prank you’re trying to pull off, but Polyjuice Potion wears off in one hour and then I’ll see who you really are.” Her expression hardened. “And when I do, I promise you that you’re not getting out of this common room without a fistful of Bat-Bogeys sprouting out of your nose.”

“Ah, now, don’t make me hex you, Ginny,” said Lily, and her wand was out too.

“If you don’t try to escape, I won’t hex you before the Polyjuice wears off. I’m just a little bit curious as to who you are, and why you’ve gone to so much trouble to do this to me,” said Ginny. “Are you a Gryffindor? Slytherin? Or did Fred and George think it’s very funny to dress up as Harry’s dead mum and come visit me like in a Muggle fairytale?”

To Ginny’s surprise Lily laughed. “No, no, I’m not going to go all ‘A Christmas Carol’ on you, Ginny. However, I think this might just convince you that I really am Lily Potter,” she murmured softly. She tapped herself with her wand.

“No you don’t!” shouted Ginny, but her hex missed the witch, the jet of light streaking past to bury itself into the wall of the common room with a muffled fizzle.

The spell must have hit after all, however, because Lily Potter was down on all fours, but then something else was happening to her. Certainly, no bat-winged bogeys exploded out of her nostrils, no; her limbs were lengthening, her clothes disappearing, replaced by thick, rich, dark red fur. Lily’s slim neck grew longer, while her face extended and morphed and lost its pretty human features to be replaced by that of a…

“A doe,” whispered Ginny to herself, lowering her wand. “Harry’s dad’s Animagus was a stag, and he learned it back in his fifth year. Hermione told me so. Did Lily… did you inadvertently decide to follow him in his choice of animal, or was it your natural form…?”

The doe stared unblinkingly at Ginny for a moment, then turned and trotted to the far corner of the common room. Ginny scrambled after it. The doe approached the common room wall, then stopped and pointed at something on the bit of wall next to the portrait hole with its muzzle.

Ginny peered at the spot on the wall. It was the spot where her missed hex had struck the wall, and Ginny expected to see a scorch mark on it. Instead, what she saw was a hole in the wood-panelled wall, and a whirling cloud of grey smoke beyond it. When she turned back to the doe she saw that Lily had transformed back into her original self, and was standing there with a smug, very Hermione-like grin on her face.

“Believe me now?” she said.

Ginny nodded dumbly, then jerked a thumb at the hole in the wall. “What’s that?”

“That,” said Lily, “is the limit of my memory. I told you earlier tonight that this common room is made up according to how I remember it? Well, I haven’t bothered to create the corridor outside the common room, so it still looks just like that,” she pointed at the whirling grey mass of smoke. Lily took out her wand and pointed it at the hole, and it sealed itself so that it looked like a bit of the common room wall again.

“Now,” said Lily briskly, “we’ve wasted enough time as it is, so let’s get going.”

“Wait, if you’re really Lily Potter,” said Ginny, “Why are you talking to me? Why not go straight to Harry and tell him all he needs to know?” Ginny snorted. “Pfft, while you’re at it, why not spy on what Voldemort’s doing and then help Harry defeat him?”

For the first time that night, Lily appeared uncomfortable. “I can’t help Harry defeat Voldemort by spying on him, Ginny. It’s against the rules for us to help him in that way. Mind you,” she said warningly, “I’m bending quite a few rules as it is, and outright breaking a couple of others, just to talk to you like this. It’s very bad for the afterworld to mess with the living one.” Lily shook her head. “We’ve seen it. As for why I’m talking to you and not Harry, it’s because, well, you’re a lot more approachable than Harry is. He’d probably think I was Voldemort in disguise.”

It sounded like a very half-hearted explanation to Ginny and not the entire truth, especially given how ‘approachable’ she had been just now, but she didn’t press it. “Well, okay,” she said. “So… why are you here then?” she asked as Lily began opening up the portrait hole. “In my dreams I mean.”

The witch paused with one leg outside the portrait hole. Lily looked back over her shoulder, with a cheeky grin on her face. “Well, why don’t you come along and find out? Or you could go back to your dorm and wait for the ‘Daydream Charm’ to wear off…”

* * *


The Hogwarts corridors were empty. As Lily trotted briskly down the corridor, Ginny looked around, noting the slight differences between the Hogwarts Lily remembered and the Hogwarts of the present time. Suits of armour and statues that Ginny distinctly remembered were absent, as were their plinths, and there were one or two corridors that were either completely non-existent or just opened up to swirling grey masses of clouds a few feet in. Some of these resolved into actual corridors as they passed, while the others remained as they were.

“I haven’t bothered to really flesh out a complete Hogwarts tonight,” said Lily loftily. “Just the bits that we need for tonight’s work.”

“What work?” said Ginny.

“Well, I thought tonight we’d start off with a bit of Charms, some handy spells that you might not have learned yet in your fifth year,” said Lily as they descended a staircase to the Great Hall.

“What?” spluttered Ginny. “More homework? I’m drowning in enough work from Flitwick to have to spend the night learning Charms with you, Lil… er, that is to say, Mrs. Potter,” she said hastily.

Lily laughed again. “Don’t bother with that, I feel so old having you call me Mrs. Potter. Lily will do, alright?” She stopped in the middle of the corridor, frowning slightly. “In fact, if this helps…” She closed her eyes for a moment.

Ginny watched, awestruck, as the older-looking Lily Potter became shorter, while her hair receded an inch or two, her chin became more pointed and her cheeks plumped out, grew just a touch more youthful as her body shrank slightly, became more girlish. Lily looked down, waved her wand and her T-shirt and jeans - which by now were somewhat long and hung limply on her smaller frame - changed into the standard Hogwarts school robes. On her smaller face her green eyes looked more startling than ever.

“There,” said Lily, turning to Ginny with a satisfied grin, “better? It’s how I looked back in my fifth year.”

“Wow.”

“Now, as I was saying,” said Lily, opening the door to one of the classrooms in the corridor, “Charms. This was my Charms classroom, by the way,” said Lily as she and Ginny entered the cheery-looking classroom. Sunlight streamed in through the windows, which overlooked the lawn, and the tables and chairs were arranged neatly - far neater than the tables and chairs in Ginny’s classroom ever were. “At least, how I remember it,” Lily reminded her.

“Yes, I can see that. My classrooms are usually a lot messier,” said Ginny, looking around. She turned to see Lily perched on the edge of a table, swinging her legs idly like a very precocious teenager. Ginny couldn’t help grinning at the sight.

“So, shall we begin?” Lily said brightly. “Healing Charms. What do you know of them?”

“Er,” said Ginny, racking her brains for all that Professor Flitwick had taught them about Healing Charms, “well, we’ve covered how to cure minor bruises, scratches and cuts, help someone who’s choking (that was a fun lesson), but that’s about it… haven’t really gone any further…”

“Well, I would have expected more of a fifth-year,” sniffed Lily, “but it’s still rather early yet for you to have learned some of the spells I’m going to show you, so… wand out! I’m going to teach you a basic charm to cure bleeding, small breaks and deep cuts. It’s NEWT-level, you will only have learned this in your sixth year,” she added, rolling up her sleeves. “Incantation first, say it after me: Episkey!”

Feeling very confused, Ginny took out her wand. “Episkey!”

“Not ‘ee-piskey’, Ginny dear, ‘eh-piskey’. Episkey!”

“Episkey,” repeated Ginny.

“Good,” said Lily, pleased. “Now I’ve been thinking very hard how to teach this charm, and I’m not going to conjure up an animal and slice it open just so you can practice on it, so here goes.” With a slight grimace she directed the wand on the back of her left hand, the skin of which split open with a flash of light.

“Blimey,” gulped Ginny. She pointed her wand at the wound, which was deep and bleeding heavily, “Episkey!”

The lips of the wound jumped together and knit partially but not wholly, and Lily winced and bit back a gasp. “Done properly, the charm is painless and will leave the skin whole and unscarred, but done improperly, and it feels a whole lot like badly-done stitches. Again.”

“I’m sorry,” said Ginny, feeling very guilty. “Episkey!”

This time the open half of the wound jumped together, and held for a moment, before another tear formed and blood began to well up.

“Episkey!” said Ginny again, and the wound finally closed for good. Lily held up her hand to her face and inspected the scar closely, before tapping the wound with her own wand. The scar vanished. She turned to Ginny.

“Well, as you can see, it’s not quite perfect, and it took you three times to do it, but at least you got the incantation right, yeah?” said Lily bracingly. “Now… here we go again.”

“No, Lily, wait,” said Ginny quickly. She took a deep breath. “Before you go cutting yourself up again, could you please tell me why we’re doing this?”

“Because Voldemort is back, Ginny,” said Lily gravely. “Voldemort is back, and I’ve got a very bad feeling that you lot are going to need to learn how to defend yourselves well ahead of time. Knowledge and the ability to perform some basic Healing Charms - and a few more complex ones - are going to be very important if you are going to survive, and that’s part of why I’ve decided to come see you in your dreams.”

“But why me?” said Ginny. “Besides, I’m pretty sure you know that Harry’s been teaching us a lot in the D.A. - that’s short for Dumbledore’s Army, you know - and if anything happens we can always go to St. Mungo’s, the Healers there can sort us out better than we ourselves can…”

“Ginny,” said Lily, “Harry did a really good job teaching you some useful jinxes and spells, but there’s more to it than just learning how to hex somebody. Also, Voldemort will have learned from his mistakes. The last time he attacked, he didn’t go after St. Mungo’s, he was afraid of attacking Hogwarts, he waited too long before he attacked, he made his moves openly and he attracted the attention of the Ministry of Magic. This time,” she said grimly, “this time he’s going to make sure of the job. You may think you’re safe and sound in Hogwarts,” said Lily, pointing at Ginny, “but I don’t think so.”

“Look, just wait two years, yeah?” said Ginny, “In two years the rest of us in the D.A. are going to be of age and out of Hogwarts, and then we’ll… I don’t know, join the Order or something.”

“He’s not going to wait two years, Ginny,” said Lily. “He’s going to come after you lot as soon as he’s ready, and he’ll make sure he gets ready before you are. Don’t you think he knows about your little Defence Association? Don’t you think he knows that if he waits too long, you’ll all join the Order, and hence his job will be made that much harder by having a bunch of well-trained and well-led wizards and witches operating outside of the Ministry on the trail of him and his Death Eaters? He made that mistake the last time, he won’t make it again. Mark my words,” said Lily darkly, “before the next year Voldemort will make his move, and it will be open warfare in the wizarding world again.”

Ginny was lost for words. There was sense in what Lily was saying to her, but she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that Voldemort might attack before her schooldays were over, that she might never finish school properly before being thrust out into a very violent world. Ginny remembered the terror of their recent jaunt into the Department of Mysteries, and shivered. She couldn’t imagine the whole wold becoming like that.

“But let’s not dwell on that now,” said Lily, waving her hand in front of her face. “Back to Healing Charms. On second thoughts I think we’re not going to practice Episkey again, not before you’ve mastered that particular Healing Charm anyway, so I’m going to teach you just the incantations first. We’ll try something else: how to revive an unconscious person. The Reviving Spell is rather useful if someone’s been knocked out cold, and it works well on people Stunned with a Stunning Spell. Mind you, it’s not an instant revival as the person feels very groggy afterwards, but it’s better than nothing. Incantation first: Rennervate!”

“Rennervate!” repeated Ginny dutifully.

* * *


After a while practising the incantations for a few different types of Healing Charms, Lily called it a day. Around Ginny, everything faded to black, before she woke up in her Hogwarts dormitory feeling very disoriented and… weird.

Ginny lay in her bed for a while, staring up at the canopy of her four-poster. What a very, very strange dream she had had. Lily Potter had appeared, changed into a doe and then given Ginny a Charms lesson. How peculiar. What was even more peculiar was the fact that part of Ginny was telling her that it wasn't a dream, that Lily had claimed to have heard her heart-to-heart with Harry last night, and surely Lily couldn't have known that...?

"I'm going to have a very, very long talk with Hermione today," muttered Ginny to herself.

It was a very tired and most decidedly unrested Ginny who appeared in the Great Hall for breakfast that morning. Still, she forced herself to be cordial and greeted Hermione cheerfully (Ron was sitting away from them with none other than Lavender Brown), but couldn’t quite meet Harry’s eye as she sat down and began buttering a slice of toast.

“You don’t look as if you’ve slept much,” mumbled Hermione as Ginny reached across her for the marmalade.

“Neither do you,” retorted Ginny. Hermione’s bushy hair seemed bushier than usual, and her eyes were puffy and reddish, despite whatever charms Ginny was sure she had tried on herself in order to reduce the effect.

“Boy trouble?” muttered Hermione.

“Not quite,” said Ginny, inadvertently glancing across at Harry, who was watching interestedly. “Uh, homework.”

Hermione mumbled something unintelligible and stared dejectedly at her porridge.

Ginny glanced at Harry and twitched her elbow in Hermione’s direction. Harry shrugged and pointed with his chin at the far end of the table, where Ron and Lavender were giggling over something, presumably a very silly something if Ginny’s experience of Lavender’s sense of humour was anything to judge by. Fleetingly, Ginny thought of telling Hermione about her strange dream - she was by now fairly convinced it was just a very weird dream - but the pitiful sight of a very woebegone Hermione staring forlornly at her cooling porridge chased away the thought.

“Come on, Hermione,” she said. “You’re not going to be able to pay attention in class if you don’t eat breakfast.”

No response, other than a mumbled ‘ery hung’ which Ginny presumed was the barely-audible middle portion of ‘not very hungry’. She glanced at Harry, who said worriedly, “I know, Ginny, that usually works.”

Further attempts to coax Hermione to eat were interrupted by a hearty “All right, Ginny?” from behind. Ginny turned to see Dean Thomas sitting down next to her. “Pass the marmalade, luv,” he said.

As Ginny handed over the marmalade jar, she glanced at Harry. He was keeping up a blank, firmly neutral expression, but Ginny could see that a shadow had passed over his face, and after a moment he turned away to talk to Neville on his left.

Throughout the rest of breakfast Ron and Lavender kept up an infuriatingly cheery prattle on the far end of the table, a moping Hermione barely managed more than a few spoons of porridge despite endless wheedling on Ginny’s part, while Dean tried to cheer up an uncharacteristically quiet section of the Gryffindor table with a few jokes, with spectacularly unsuccessful results. Harry was silent for the rest of breakfast after Neville left early to go to the greenhouses. If ever a funeral was held during breakfast, thought Ginny, the mood couldn’t possibly be any more depressing than this.

Ginny had Transfiguration lessons in the morning. Professor McGonagall’s lecture on Switching Spells failed to penetrate her brain much, presumably owing to the befuddled state she found herself in due to the lack of sleep. When it came to the practical part of the lesson, Ginny failed to so much as Switch the water in a goblet into another goblet, a feat which Professor McGonagall had said was very basic. The net result was that a substantial amount of practice and a remedial essay on the correct casting of a Switching Spell was required of Ginny, as well as almost half the class.

Added to the pounding behind Ginny’s eyes, probably also due to lack of sleep, and it wasn’t one of Ginny’s greatest mornings at Hogwarts.

She skipped lunch and went up to the library instead to finish Flitwick’s essay, with the consequence that within ten minutes her stomach was grumbling loudly enough that Ginny wondered if Madam Pince was going to hear. Sure enough, as Ginny was bent over her half-completed essay in the quietest, most discreet corner of the library scribbling away furiously, her stomach grumbled extra loudly and there came a muted “Ahem!” behind her.

Ginny jumped to her feet, prepared to issue a series of apologies, but the figure standing behind her wasn’t the dreaded school librarian. It was Harry, with a very big grin on his face.

“What are you doing here?” began Ginny, then her eyes fell on Harry’s hands, which were cupped with the palms facing up but held nothing but air.

“Shhh,” said Harry. He grasped something in mid-air and pulled slowly, revealing a plate of Cornish pasties with a goblet of cold pumpkin juice balanced on top, hidden beneath his Invisibility Cloak.

“Oh Harry!” whispered Ginny, her eyes shining and her stomach rumbling appreciatively as Harry set down the plate on the table.

“I thought I’d find you here when I didn’t see you downstairs. I didn’t think you finished your essay last night,” said Harry, a rueful grin on his face as he unconsciously ran a hand through his hair. “Sorry about that. Er… you’d better hurry up and eat that, the plate was conjured. Also, Madam Pince is working in her office, but she might just decide to patrol the library. Oh, almost forgot,” he said, pulling something out of his pocket. “Catch.”

Ginny didn’t need to call on her Chaser skills to easily catch the shiny foil bundle that Harry tossed her. Looking down, she saw that it was a Chocolate Frog. She looked up at Harry, who grinned and disappeared behind a row of shelves.

* * *


Tw o nights later Ginny awoke to find in the middle of the night to find herself in the sunlit Hogwarts Quidditch field.

“Again,” muttered Ginny to herself. “So it really wasn’t a dream.”

Getting to her feet, she spotted Lily walking towards her from the direction of the bleachers, smiling and in her fifth-year self. She wore a dark red cardigan and jeans.

“Well, I decided I’d let you rest for a couple of days before it was time for our second lesson,” said Lily as she came closer. “I hope the morning after our first meeting wasn’t too hard on you?”

“Too right it was,” said Ginny fervently. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a worse morning, though it might have been worse on Hermione. She’s one of my best friends, and she really, really fancies my brother except they’re both too thickheaded to get together, and now she’s gotten all depressed ever since my brother’s started going out with this other girl whom I don’t think he even likes…” Suddenly she realised she was babbling, and caught herself with a glance at the other witch.

But the expression on Lily’s face was understanding. “Yes, boys can be so thick, can’t they,” said Lily sympathetically. “Not that I ever had that particular problem with James. Quite the opposite. Well,” she said, taking out her wand, “let’s see some Stunning Spells, Ginny. Since Stunners never hurt anybody much, I won’t feel very guilty about doing this. Avis!”

A single yellow canary sped out of the tip of Lily’s wand and wheeled about in the sun before alighting on the grass at their feet. Lily frowned. “That’s not quite what I intended,” she said. She aimed her wand at the twittering bird. “Gemino!”

There was a burst of yellow feathers as the single yellow canary magically multiplied into a full flock of fifteen more birds that twittered and hopped on the ground or flew in dizzying circles around the witches. Ginny whistled. “That’s a useful charm,” she said.

“What, Gemino?” said Lily, pleased. “Yes, it can be a handy charm. It multiplies copies of objects. The objects aren’t worth anything, though, they fade within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, depending on the size or complexity of the object. Kind of like leprechaun gold.”

“Please teach it to me,” said Ginny. “I haven’t learned anything like that in Charms class so far, it seems dead useful…”

“Sure,” said Lily. “That is, after you Stun those birds for me.”

“With pleasure,” said Ginny, eager to show off the skills she had learnt in the D.A. She brandished her own wand, pointed it at a bird and cried, “Stupefy!”

The spell caught the bird in mid-air, and it dropped to the ground without so much as a squawk. It didn’t take her very long to Stun the fifteen or so birds that Lily had conjured, which soon lay on the grassy Quidditch field around the two witches.

“Very good,” said Lily, clapping. “I see Harry really has put your lot through your paces. Now,” she said, grinning, “how about reviving them? Use that spell I taught you the last time.”

“Rennervate!” said Ginny, pointing her wand at the nearest bird. The limp canary twitched but didn’t stir otherwise. “Rennervate!” she repeated, louder this time. The bird squawked once, and struggled to its feet.

It took nearly fifty repeated castings of the Reviving Spell for Ginny to unstun all fifteen canaries, by which time she had almost completely lost her patience. As the fifteenth struggled to its feet, Ginny turned triumphantly at last to Lily.

“Now, how about Vanishing them?” was all Lily said.

Muttering angrily under her breath, Ginny concentrated hard on the Vanishing Spell Professor McGonagall had been drilling into them since the start of the year, pointed her wand at the closest canary and said “Evanesco!”

The bird twitched, and Ginny thought it looked a bit more transparent. “Evanesco!” she repeated. This time the yellow canary did indeed lose its yellow colour and turned white. The third time she cast the spell the canary disappeared.

“Not bad,” said Lily approvingly, “but it took you three times to do it, and unless Professor McGonagall has changed her teaching I daresay you’ve been studying Vanishing Spells since the start of the year.”

After about twenty repeated castings of the Vanishing Spell, with varied results, Ginny was feeling bored and frustrated. “Why am I practising Vanishing Spells anyway?” complained Ginny. “I don’t see how that would help us in fighting the Death Eaters.”

“Because you might need to Vanish something in a hurry,” said Lily. “Such as evidence of something, for example, or traces of your presence, or a Dark Mark. I had to do that more than once,” she said, shuddering. She stood there for a moment with a faraway look in her eye, obviously remembering the bad old days when Voldemort and his Death Eaters had stalked the streets of wizarding England and Lily and the Order of the Phoenix, outmanoeuvred and outnumbered twenty to one, had fought and suffered and died to stop him taking over.

Ginny couldn’t help but feel sorry for Lily. “I’m sorry,” she said, turning quickly to the next canary. “Evanesco!”

They spent the next half-hour practising Vanishing Spells, and then a little more time teaching Ginny the Gemino spell, which was also a NEWT-level spell. After a while, Lily said they ought to end it. When Ginny awoke the next morning to find herself once more in her dormitory, she was as exhausted as she was after their first lesson, but throughout the day she almost found herself missing Lily’s presence as she hurried in and out of classes.

Later that day, Ginny went to look for Hermione again, but she was nowhere to be found. Although she briefly considered talking to Luna, her other confidant, Ginny realised that Luna would probably think talking to the long-dead mother of the Boy-You-Fancied completely normal, and hence would not be much help at all.
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