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         Keilana scowled as she walked along the hallway toward the Hospital Wing. After yet another misfired spell in the Saturday-morning remedial Charms class, Professor Flitwick had ordered her to visit Madame Pomfrey. The Charms professor was still in the classroom, trying to peel the students off the ceiling. A few were more de-gravity-affected than others, but only a couple had escaped the spell entirely.

         I don’t see why he had to make me leave class. It’s not like I was trying to hurt anybody. Ravenclaw wimp.

         She turned the corner and scowled more deeply. But I should have been able to do that spell. It’s about the easiest one I’ve ever learned. And I picked it right up my first day with Remus. Maybe my wand is broken.

         She looked doubtfully at the sheath pocket that held her flawless ebony wand. Maybe I’m broken.

         As she arrived at the doors of the Hospital Wing, she shook that train of thought from her head. I was still messed up from that spell Ron put on me. Would that account for it?

         “Hello, Keilana,” Aunt Poppy greeted her, obviously surprised. “A little early for your checkup, aren’t you? Weren’t you just in here last week?” She was mumbling to herself now. “I’m sure I gave you your potion last week.”

         “You did, Aunt Poppy,” Keilana broke in with a laugh, settling on one of the beds. As she made herself comfortable, she explained the mysterious symptoms she had been experiencing.

         When she had finished, Aunt Poppy was frowning. “That sounds like the Grey Curse.”

         “The what?”

         “It’s a debilitation spell. Depending on the strength of the victim, it slowly sucks away magical capacity. You’re going to become more or less a Squib.”

         Keilana had to think for a moment before she remembered what a Squib was. Anger filled her eyes. Aunt Poppy stepped back as all the sheets in the ward lifted into the air and spun wildly around just below the ceiling. Keilana closed her eyes and slowly brought the sheets back down.

         “Would I have such a handle of my telekinesis if I was truly losing my magic?”

         Aunt Poppy’s mouth hung open. “This is very interesting, Keilana,” she said at length. “May I document you?”

         Keilana sighed. “Eh, what the hell.”


         The wails coming from the sixth-year girls’ dorm were unmistakable. Hermione and Tiffany, who were cramming for their Arithmancy test, exchanged glances. At this hour on Valentine’s Day, most of Gryffindor house was in Hogsmeade or elsewhere out of doors. As far as Hermione knew, the only other people there besides her and Tiffany were Ron and Harry, snoozing down in the  common room ― and Ginny, evidently sobbing in her dorm room.

         “What do you suppose he did this time?” Tiffany said, a half-smile lurking beneath her worried eyes.

         Hermione shot her roommate a cockeyed frown. “Come on.”

         They left their books on Tiffany’s bed and went next door to where Ginny was sprawled on her own bed. Tiffany hung back awkwardly, but Hermione climbed right onto the bed next to Ginny and began to rub her back.

         “What did he do this time?” she said soothingly.

         Ginny couldn’t answer for a moment. “H-he brok-ke up w-with me-e,” she finally gasped out.

         “Oh, Ginny!”

         Tiffany noticed a ball of white fur on the floor and squatted down to look at it. “Hey, cutie,” she said upon realizing that it was an animal.

         Hermione laid down next to Ginny and pulled her close against her side. “It’s okay, Ginny, it’s okay,” she crooned.

         Golden sparks flew off of Ginny’s ginger locks. “No, it’s not okay!” she cried out. “It’s bad enough th-that we’re not dating. At least we were friends. He told me I don’t―” The word “exist” dissolved into a gargle of despair.


         Tiffany held up the Fuzzle. “Hey, Hermione look at this.”

         Hermione and Ginny both looked at her. Ginny gestured for her to bring the Fuzzle over. When Tiffany got close enough, Ginny reached out and picked him up. The golden sparks in Ginny’s hair faded, and the creature’s white fur developed a creamy yellow tint. Ginny’s sobs grew less ferocious as she cuddled the Fuzzle against her cheek.

         “I even slipped a Valentine under his pillow,” she muttered in a voice that was not quite a growl but not quite a whine either. Her volume was low, but Tiffany and Hermione both heard her.

         “You did what?” Tiffany exclaimed. “Girl, we gotta get it back before he sees it. No way can you let him have it after he dumped you!”


         Harry growled as Ron snored loudly on his own bed. Exhaling roughly, Harry picked up his pillow to put over his head. A red envelope with golden trim caught his attention. He waved his bed curtains shut and carefully opened the card. His eyes stung as he took in the cheeky poem by his favorite little redhead. Ginny had signed her name with hearts after it, and an actual kiss (in bright red lipstick) had been pressed upon the bottom of the page.

         Musta put this here while I was in the shower. Knowing full well she would be with Draco a few minutes later. Harry sighed and got up. I guess I oughta find her something.

         He got up and grabbed his jacket. He knew exactly where to go.

         Keilana caught him on his way back from Hidden Treasures. She looked annoyed and a little scared. Harry tucked his purchase into his school robe’s deepest pocket.

         “Are you all right, Lily-Anne?”

         “Evidently, I have some horrible curse that slowly sucks away my magic.”

         “Didn’t Malfoy say that at Christmas?”

         “It was you, I think,” Keilana said, laughing softly. “It’s no big deal. I mean, my telepathy is getting stronger, and I can read minds even better than ever.” Her voice quivered and tears filled her eyes. She leaned her forehead against his chest. “I’m scared, Harry.”

         “Hey,” Harry said gently, gripping her by the shoulders and forcing her to look up at him. “You fight better than any guy I’ve ever met. You have nothing to be scared of.” He smiled. “And anyway, we’ll be around to protect you if you get yourself in a tight spot. Either me or Draco ― even Ron, I’m sure.”

         Keilana buried her face back in his chest. “Thank you, Harry.”

         “This is a disturbing picture on so many levels.”

         Keilana snuffled loudly and looked toward Draco. “What do you want?” she pouted.

         “I heard about what happened in your class. Came to look for you.”

         “Classes on a Saturday?” Harry said, surprised.

         “I’ve been failing my spell classes, so they’re making me take remedial classes on the weekends.”

         Harry burst out laughing. Keilana howled and chased him all the way into the castle.


         Ginny sighed over her lunch. “Well, he finally left, but we couldn’t find it anywhere. I guess that means he’s got it.”

         “What did you put in it?” Hermione asked. Tiffany had lost interest and was sitting with Emily, discussing how much bigger Dean Thomas’s biceps were than Neville Longbottom’s.

         Ginny lowered her voice and whispered the poem into Hermione’s ear. The elder girl’s face reddened.

         “Gosh, that’s mushy, Gin.”

         “Well, I wrote it before he told me to go to hell.”

         Hermione sighed. “I will never understand that boy.”

         Ginny excused herself and went back to her dorm room. She was about to throw herself down on her bed when she noticed the small velvet box on her pillow. She picked it up and opened it. Inside were beautiful silver earrings that matched the Shield Pendant perfectly. Her fingers trembled as she put them in. She brushed the gems as she secured the backings.

         A whisper surprised her. “Ginny is a pure jewel from the inside out. No wonder Harry Potter is in love with her. Oh, but his heart would break if anything happened to her.”

         “What in the world?” Ginny said aloud. She rubbed the sapphires again, and the message repeated itself. A warm glow filled her, and she suddenly understood why Harry had decided he was a danger to her. She dug the vibrance crystal Luna had given her from her bags and lifted the cord over her head. After making sure that the crystal still carried Harry’s signature, she tucked both necklaces beneath her collar and went back to the Great Hall.

         “Whoa,” Hermione said as Ginny dug into a plate worthy of any Weasley boy. “Weren’t you ‘not hungry’?”

         “I just feel like eating now. That’s all.”

         Harry had arrived in her absence. He was sitting a few seats away, talking with Neville. Seeming to sense her gaze, Harry glanced in her direction. His entire head snapped toward her when he saw the shielded hearts in her ears, and the silver chain of the pendant going around the back of her neck. Ginny looked at him and smiled for a brief moment. Then she turned her own head with a toss of her flaming red hair and commenced to flirt with Colin Creevey.

         Harry’s jaw dropped, but he didn’t look exactly displeased. Jealous, yes, but not displeased. (A fine line, Ginny knew from experience.)

         And it took a while for him to slip up. The second Thursday night in March, he had been deprived of Ginny’s touch long enough that he was in no mood to go over his mind blocks. Voldemort hardly ever tried to enter his mind anymore anyway. He dropped into a dead sleep almost before his head hit the pillow.

         Coincidentally, Ginny only took off the vibrance crystal before bed that night. After hours of terrible dreams about being ripped to shreds by a black dragon, she jolted awake, heart pounding. The shadows twisted as she hunched over her knees, shaking from head to toe. Her alarm clock’s pink LCD display blinked 3:02. The vibrance crystal that hung beside it was deep black.

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