It seemed impossible that the holidays were mere days away. Instead of joyous anticipation, fear stalked the Hogwarts corridors, a chill more pervasive than cold stone.
Ginny tucked her hands into her sleeves as she peered around the corner. It was becoming increasingly difficult to reach the Room of Requirement unseen. No one was in view, so she hurried to reach it before anyone came along.
"Ginny? Where's everyone else today?"
Neville was inside, smiling his shy smile.
"Hello, Neville." Ginny smiled back warmly. She had come to admire his quiet determination; defensive spell work had never come easily for him, but he practiced harder than anyone else she knew. "Seamus and Dean are both in detention with Snape. I don't know about Luna, and the fifth years and younger are all still in classes."
Neville nodded, and held something out to her. "I thought you might like this to cheer you up. I'm making them for the whole school, actually. Dobby will see that they're put by everyone's plates at dinner when they're ready, but I wanted you to have yours first."
Ginny took the nosegay and looked at it. A strand of ivy bound together small sprigs of mistletoe and holly.
"It's meant to remind everyone that there is still hope, that someday things will be back to normal again," said Neville.
Ginny blinked hard. When the tears no longer threatened to spill from her eyes, she took Neville's hand and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you."