Length: 2000 words
Summary: Not all is well at Platform Nine and Three Quarters.
Warnings: Spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the fic is set during the book's year 7 timeline)
Author's note/Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue. I've only read the book three times, so I may possibly have missed something that makes this scenario impossible. Concrit always welcome.
"All right then, through the barrier," said Molly Weasley. Her eyes held determination beneath the unshed tears.
"Excuse me?" Someone tugged on Ginny's sleeve. She looked down and saw a boy, wide-eyed and tiny. "I'm looking for Platform Nine and Three Quarters."
Ginny's chest tightened. A Muggle-born, walking into a Death Eater trap. "Where are your parents?"
"That's us," said a blonde woman who stood next to a gaunt, pale-eyed man in a brown overcoat. "We were given to understand that we won't be able to access this... magical platform."
"Oh, you're Muggles," said Molly, smiling. "Don't you worry about your son, dear; we'll show him what to do--"
"No," said Ginny with an incredulous stare at her mother. "You should take your son home. It isn't safe for him here." Molly looked outraged for a moment, but then her expression turned to that of newborn horror. Took her bloody long enough.
"I told you," said the man.
"Nonsense," said the woman at the same time. The pair exchanged identical, exasperated glances.
The woman fixed Ginny with a schoolmarm's glare. "Archie got a letter," she started, but Ginny waved her off.
"I know he did, but things have changed since then. There's been a... change in government. The new government no longer allows students from non-wizarding families into the school."
"And who are you?" asked the woman. With her eyes narrowed, she looked a bit like Narcissa Malfoy.
"Someone who doesn't want to see your little boy questioned under torture," snapped Ginny. "The new government believes that Muggle-born students stole their magical powers."
"Stole them? But that's ridiculous," protested Archie's father. "He's always done strange things--"
"We know that," said Molly. "But it isn't safe for him here--"
"Don't listen to them, Mummy!" cried Archie. "I want to do magic!"
Archie's mother's eyes cut from her son to Molly and Ginny. Ginny crouched next to the boy and gripped his shoulders. Tears were already slipping down his cheeks. She couldn't imagine how it must've felt for him, knowing he could do magic and being told that he wouldn't. "You will," she said. "Just... next year." If there was a next year. There would be. There had to be. "You'll get another letter--"
"What's this, then, Weasley?" asked a wheezing voice. Ginny turned around, still holding Archie by the shoulders. Amycus Carrow stood behind them, twirling his wand between his fingers. "Relative of yours?"
"No," said Molly. She stepped in front of Carrow, shielding Ginny and the little boy from view. "They're looking for Platform Four."
Archie's mother must have heard the alarm in Molly's voice, seen the worry in Ginny's eyes. "Come, Archie, we'll miss our train," she said, voice stiff with fear.
The little boy cried harder, but he didn't say anything about magic as his parents led him away. Ginny watched them go, heart pounding. She rose and brushed platform dirt off her jeans under Carrow's beady stare.
"Let's go," she murmured. "We have to board in twenty minutes." Ginny gripped the handle of her trolley and passed through the barrier.
Platform Nine and Three Quarters lacked its usual cheerful bustle. No students shouted greetings to one another, no parents admonished their older children to remember to write. No one laughed. Groups of people clustered along the platform, fear etched upon their masklike faces. Every so often, a pair of eyes would flash with defiance, but they would fade as soon as the crouching figure of Fenrir Greyback lumbered past. Dressed in dark scarlet robes with a hat obscuring most of his ugly face, he looked almost presentable.
Molly's grip on Ginny's forearm was slippery. "Stay with me," she said, her eyes never leaving Greyback.
"You can't get on the train with me, Mum," said Ginny, wrenching her arm away. "I'll be fine. He wouldn't dare -- I've got Blood Status..."
"I don't think your Blood Status matters if you're a blood traitor," said Molly. Her lower lip trembled slightly, and her eyes grew brighter.
"Hello," said Luna's dreamy voice behind them. "It looks like there's been a freak Wrackspurt attack on the platform, isn't it terrible?"
"A werewolf attack, you mean," muttered Ginny with a casual glance at Greyback.
"Oh, him. He's sick, poor puppy. Not very friendly, I'm afraid." Luna sounded for all the world like she owned a werewolf farm.
Greyback slowed his progress along the platform as he approached them. Ginny felt her mother tense.
A trolley burst through the barrier with a loud whoosh. A third-year Hufflepuff yelped; beside him, a dark-eyed Ravenclaw girl laughed nervously. Neville emerged from behind the newly arriving trolley. Upon spotting Ginny and Luna, he brightened and hurried towards them.
"Gran had to go," he said, puffing. "Threw me right through the--"
The barrier shimmered, and Amycus Carrow sauntered onto the platform, picking his teeth. "Fifteen minutes," he called to Greyback. "Get the booths ready."
Greyback growled low in his throat, obviously incensed at the notes of command in Carrow's voice, but he turned round and ambled away towards the other end of the platform. Carrow followed, with a suspicious glance in Ginny, Luna, Neville, and Molly's direction.
"Booths?" mouthed Ginny to Neville, who shrugged.
"Attention Hogwarts students!" The voice erupted from everywhere at once, and Ginny put her hands over her ears. Several first-years screamed. The voice went on, unconcerned. "You may not board the train until you've shown proof of your Blood Status. If the Ministry has provided you with a Blood Status card, you must present it at the nearest Boarding Booth. All students without such cards must proceed to the Registration Booths located along the platform walls. The booths shall be opened in twelve minutes."
Ginny's Blood Status card had arrived by owl just yesterday. It was a piece of extra-thick parchment with dark green borders, with Pure-blood; 15th generation inscribed in Permanent Ink across the centre. She fingered the card's edges in her jacket pocket and watched the crowd begin to coalesce and dissipate in confused waves as everyone either pulled out their cards or realised they didn't have them.
Greyback reappeared, grinning around at the incipient chaos. A girl with dark pigtails stopped in front of him. "Please, sir? I haven't got a card, and I'm only in first year -- what should I do?"
"Were your parents a witch and a wizard?" asked Greyback, leering.
The girl shook her head. "My mum is a journalist, and my dad's a--."
"She's with us," said Molly, grabbing the girl's arm and tugging her away from Greyback. "Her mother's a cousin of mine."
The girl opened her mouth again, but Molly squeezed her arm harder.
Greyback's leer faded. He peered at Molly from beneath the brim of his hat, eyes glittering. "Didn't see you bring her here, did I? What's her mother's name?"
"Mafalda Prewett-Perkins. Her husband works with my father," said Ginny, hoping like hell that it was possible for old Perkins to have such a young daughter.
"We'll see, won't we?" rasped Greyback, and continued on towards the barrier. Shuddering, Ginny looked away.
"Why did you lie to that nice man?" demanded the little first-year. "My mum's not Mafalda Perkinson! Let go of me, crazy lady!"
"Shh," said Molly, releasing the girl's arm. Her eyes were troubled as she scanned the platform. "They're rounding up the Muggle-borns. They're not going to let them on the train."
"What will they do with them?" asked Neville, confusion on his round face.
"I don't know, but that's Fenrir Greyback under that stupid hat," said Ginny grimly.
"The little ones," said Neville at once. "We can't let Greyback take them."
"No," said Molly. "We can't." She chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. "There's a door. If you turn the corner there," -- she pointed to the barrier -- "it's a passageway to Charing Cross. It's a closed emergency route, but Arthur taught me how to open it in sixth year." Her face suddenly turned red, and she looked at Ginny. "Don't ever tell your father I told you that."
There wasn't much time to plan: the boarding would begin in ten minutes. Very soon, all the Muggle-born students would be separated, and it would be impossible to sneak any of them to safety unnoticed. Ginny, Luna, and Neville began to weave their way through the throngs of students, looking for any first-years who looked confused, out of place, or alone.
Are your parents a witch and a wizard?
Come with me.
Where are we going?
Will there be magic?
They ushered the Muggle-born first-years into the passageway, one at a time. Carrow, Greyback, and several other wizards in official robes were busy shouting at each other whilst setting up the booths; they didn't appear to notice that some students were moving away from the thickening crowd.
As Ginny led an excitable little boy to the back of the platform, Pansy Parkinson caught her eye. Pansy's dark eyes were narrow slits. She opened her mouth, but Ginny made a throat-slashing movement with her hand, trying to look as fierce as possible. Pansy closed her mouth and began looking around, no doubt searching for Malfoy. Ginny didn't wait for her to find him; she quickened her pace, practically dragging her charge along.
Just inside the secret passageway, Luna stood chatting with a group of twelve or so terrified first-years. "It will be very exciting, you'll see," said Luna. "Those passageways are full of Ghostly Shriekers -- I know the name sounds scary, but they're actually quite friendly. They only attack bats, their mortal enemies. Beedle the Bard even made a story about them, only he called them--"
Ginny didn't wait to find out what Beedle the Bard had called the Ghostly Shriekers; Pansy would've found Malfoy by now, and he wouldn't be put off by a fierce glare, not with Crabbe and Goyle behind him...
Neville hurried by, leading a little witch with a bright blue bow in her curly hair. "Mrs Weasley will find your mummy, you just listen to her--"
"Is this all of them, Neville?" called Ginny in a low voice.
Neville skidded to a halt, startling the little girl. "Huh? Oh, yes, I think so. Everyone else has got cards..."
"Let's get the second-years, then, as many as we--"
The booming voice returned, swallowing the rest of Ginny's words. "Attention students! You will now begin to proceed towards your respective booths -- Boarding or Registration. We remind you that students without Blood Status cards must register before boarding."
The crowd lurched and began to split reluctantly. Greyback resumed his walk of the platform, moving a bit faster now. Ginny threw a panicked glance over her shoulder and saw Luna gliding out of the emergency passageway as Neville's companion scurried inside. The door slammed, and Ginny murmured a quiet good-bye to her mother.
"At least we got the first-years out," said Neville ruefully.
"Come on," said Ginny, and took Luna's hand.
An hour later, the Hogwarts Express pulled out of King's Cross. Dozens of bewildered students remained behind, heads turning as they watched the train leave. Ginny stared at them until the platform disappeared from view and tried to tell herself that their stunt hadn't been futile. At least they'd saved the little ones.