|SIYE Time:3:40 on 19th August 2018|
Another First Meeting
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Category: Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Lily Potter
Genres: Drama, General
Story is Complete
Summary: Lily is sent to help Ginny play her role in the war, but things never go quite as smoothly as one plans. Written for the Girl Talk Challenge (2010-3).
Hitcount: Story Total: 2740
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
I entered this challenge with the best of intentions, to get back into the practice of writing and to re-establish ties with my beta support team. Real-life conspired against me, but at the very least I was able to complete the story and get it posted. Oh well, at least I'm writing again. I suspect my entry will differ from the others in two ways (I don't know for sure as I have not yet read any of the other stories). One, I tried to keep the story canon-compliant. And two, I didn't follow the rules strictly, but I think I held true to the spirit of the challenge enough for people to enjoy it. And really, that's all I was hoping to accomplish this time around.
A white wisp of magic streamed from Ginny Weasley’s wand, extending itself to a point in mid-air several feet in front of her. She held her breath as it curled around itself and coalesced into a formless cloud. Slowly, it began to rotate like a small hurricane, as if uncertain of what it was supposed to do next. Ginny struggled to focus on her happy memory, but after swirling for several seconds, the glowing mist finally dissipated, eliciting a tired sigh from the fourth-year Gryffindor.
She put her wand arm down and scowled as she wiped her forehead with the back of her other hand. After sneaking up to the seventh floor and practising in the Room of Requirement for nearly an hour, she had been unable to recreate the beautiful horse that came out of her wand with Harry’s help before the final D.A. meeting had been unexpectedly cut short. She smiled briefly at the thought of her former–well, perhaps not so former–crush, and she felt a surge of warmth flow through her. But then she thought of his recent infatuation with Cho Chang and her temper returned in full force.
“Bollocks!” she spat out to no one in particular.
“I thought you almost had it that time.”
Ginny immediately spun around and pointed her wand at the source of the unexpected voice. Before her stood an attractive woman, only slightly taller than herself, with long red hair. She was not as old as Molly Weasley, but she was obviously no longer in school either. The woman appeared to be unarmed and was holding her palms up towards Ginny to show her vulnerability.
“W-Who are you?” said Ginny as she desperately tried to hold her wand still. “How did you get in here?”
“Please remain calm, Ginny. I mean you no harm. If you will just allow me a moment, I think it will all come back to you...”
“How do you know my name?” Ginny relaxed a bit but did not lower her wand as she studied the strange woman closely. There was something oddly familiar about her... but what? And then Ginny saw her eyes… they were an intense green that she had seen in only one other person. And with that recognition, a wave of memories and visions came flooding into her mind, forcing her to her knees. Lily Potter rushed to the young teen and knelt beside her.
“Easy now... you’ll feel better in a moment.” Lily stroked the girl’s back as uneven breaths racked her body.
After several unsteady seconds, Ginny slowly lifted her head and turned to the other woman. “You’ve visited me before...”
Lily nodded encouragingly, and Ginny continued. “You... you’ve been watching over me–us–for years...”
The older witch forced a smile and held her hand out. Ginny grasped it gratefully and allowed herself to be helped to her feet.
“Except for my first year...” said Ginny softly.
The other woman’s smile disappeared. With a sad nod she replied, “He was too strong... I couldn’t... I tried so hard to come to you...”
Ginny’s eyes grew wet, but she forced the tears back. Tom Riddle had long ago lost his ability to make her cry.
“Why can I only remember–”
“Because that’s the way it has to work, my dear. I wish it were otherwise, but being able to come see you has its limitations.”
Lily turned away in a wave of emotion, and Ginny soon did the same to allow the woman time to collect herself. “That is why I have chosen to come to you,” the older witch eventually said, her voice somewhat shaky. “Direct contact, even in this place, is forbidden.”
“But why not Hermione? Or Ron?”
“All I can say is that you will have an important role in his future as well.”
Ginny felt hope swell within her, but said nothing. Now was not the time to indulge her fantasies, and she nodded as she realised that this was not the first time she had been told what Lily just said. But then she lifted her eyes back to her visitor as another revelation came to her.
“Something’s about to happen, isn’t it? That’s why you’re here...”
Lily slouched ever so slightly and lowered her eyes to the floor.
“But you can’t tell me why...” Ginny’s voice began to rise in anger. “Bloody hell! The last time you came, all you did was give me tips on how to be his friend. To… ‘support him for some upcoming trouble.’ Why didn’t you warn us about the fake Moody instead? Why didn’t you warn us about Cedric?”
A tired breath escaped the elder redhead, and she seemed to struggle to maintain a stoic face. “Everything must unfold at its own pace. There is only so much that I am allowed to–”
“That’s enough!” The tone in Lily’s voice shocked Ginny, and the young teen pulled away reflexively. “I’m sorry, but I really do not have time to repeat that argument.”
To her credit, Ginny acknowledged the truth in those words, and kept her silence.
“Now then, I understand that things have been a bit... tense, here at Hogwarts.”
Ginny’s jaw dropped. “Tense? Is that what you call it? Dumbledore’s gone. That... that b–”
“Umbridge is in charge, the Slytherins have been given free reign–or close to it–and Harry’s a mess. If that’s your definition of tense, I’d hate to see your idea of horrible.”
A genuine smile peeked out just a bit from the corner of Lily’s mouth. “So would I. And that brings us to the reason for this visit.”
“If you tell me again that you just want me to be his friend I’m going to scream,” Ginny deadpanned.
The former Gryffindor Head Girl suppressed another chuckle. “Not this time. Actually, I thought you might want some help with a little spell work.”
The youngest Weasley frowned. “Was my Patronus Charm that bad?”
“No! No, that’s not what I meant at all. I’m sure if you continue to practise, you’ll master it in no time.”
“Then what did you have in mind?”
“Everyone needs a spell they can reliably use to subdue an opponent at the speed of thought, something that will always work when you need it most.”
Ginny nodded in response. “Sort of like the way Harry’s become really good with the Disarming Spell?”
“Well, why can’t I use the Disarming Spell like him?”
“If you all use the same spell, it will be too easy for your opponents to defend against. Using the unexpected can be very advantageous.”
Ginny nodded and said, “That makes sense… so, which spell should I use?”
“Have you ever heard of the Bat-Bogey Hex?” said Lily with a mischievous grin.
Approximately an hour later, Lily was beaming as Ginny performed another flawless execution of what would become her trademark spell. “So, what do you think?”
Lily’s smile faltered and her young charge took notice.
“Is something wrong?”
“No,” replied Lily. “There’s just one drawback to you being such an ace student.”
“What’s that?” asked Ginny, overjoyed at the unexpected compliment.
“I’ll have to leave sooner than I’d hoped.”
Lily nodded and said, “My purpose for this visit has been completed. I can already feel them calling for me to return.”
Ginny frowned. “Will I see you again?”
“I think so, but I cannot say... Please don’t look so sad.”
“Sorry. I just have the distinct feeling that I’m going to miss you.”
Lily smiled in appreciation and squeezed Ginny’s hand. “You’ll be all right now… And remember what you learned from your brothers.”
“Chartreuse is not my colour?”
“The other thing.”
“Anything’s possible if you have enough nerve?”
“But none of that tells me why you came. And how am I supposed to know what to do with what you’ve taught me?”
“You’ll work it out. You always do. And when in doubt, just follow your heart...”
Ginny was startled when she awoke and found herself slumped against the back wall of the Room of Requirement. She looked around warily as she tried to remember how she got there. Her mind recalled faint images of puffs of smoke and bogeys coming out of her wand... and then there was something about an older lady... her mum, perhaps? Dismissing the remnants of what must have been an unusual dream, she stood up and checked the time. She scrambled to her feet as she realised she was going to be late for Quidditch practice if she did not hurry (not that they had any hope of winning the Cup this year). Maybe if she were lucky she would run into Harry afterwards.
Ginny was genuinely surprised that exhaustion had not swept her into oblivion as soon as her head touched the pillow. But it was not difficult to understand why her mind was in such a state of unrest that it refused to allow her to sleep. She had never thought that Professor Dumbledore would actually die, at least not while she was still attending Hogwarts. And for Snape to have been the one to cast the fateful spell... She shuddered when she thought of how her family and the Order of the Phoenix had somehow survived with only a handful of casualties while having a traitor in their midst for so long.
More unsettled than ever, she sat up and tried to steer her thoughts to happier times. Was it too soon to try and remember Dumbledore as the smiling old wizard who had comforted her after her rescue from the Chamber of Secrets? Come to think of it, that was probably the last time she had had any significant conversation with the man by herself. And yet she could not stop the wave of emotion that seemed to rise up whenever she thought of him. If she were struggling with tonight’s events so badly, how was Harry holding up? She felt a brief tingle in her mind at the thought of her boyfriend and she shook her head to clear her mind. Now was not the time to brood over how much he was probably hurting. If she was going to be of any use to him over the next few days, she was going to need some rest.
“We need to talk before you see him again.”
Ginny immediately bolted upright at the sound of the voice. Sitting at the edge of her bed was a woman in her mid to late twenties with long red hair. She had a kind face and a soft voice, but the fifteen-year-old witch could not help but feel anxious, especially after everything that had already happened that night.
“W-who are you?”
“I’m a friend. It may take a minute for you to remember me, but you will...”
The young Gryffindor eyed the stranger warily, despite the sincerity her voice. “How did you get in here?”
“I... was sent here. We just need to have a short chat, and then I’ll be on my way.”
One of Ginny’s roommates turned in her sleep, drawing the attention of the two redheads. When the older woman turned back to her young charge, she did not appear to be surprised that she was now staring at the business end of a wand.
“I’ll need a better answer to my question now.” Ginny’s eyes were hard. But much to her dismay, the mysterious witch merely smiled and met her gaze evenly.
“Are you sure you don’t recognise me yet?” she said in a soft voice.
The youngest Weasley narrowed her eyes... and she finally noticed a familiarity in the shape of the woman’s eyes... and a definite recognition of their colour. Ginny swooned momentarily, and she was glad to already be in bed. When the episode passed, she found the older witch patiently waiting for Ginny to recover, but if Lily Potter was expecting a warm reception, she was sorely disappointed.
“I can’t believe you have the gall to come back after that last visit.”
“Ginny, what are y–”
“YOU LET SIRIUS DIE!”
“Don’t shout at me! I had no way of kno–”
“And in case you were wondering, you’re a little late to warn me about Dumbledore.”
Lily’s mouth tightened into a thin line. “First of all, I had no idea of Sirius’ fate until it was too late.”
The older witch ignored Ginny’s flippancy and continued. “But I’m not here to talk about Albus. We need to talk about Harry.”
The young teen’s stomach turned uncomfortably and she leaned forward reflexively. “What’s going to happen? Is he going to be all right?”
Lily raised her hands and motioned to her son’s girlfriend in a relaxing manner. “Calm down. He’s fine, and nothing’s going to happen to him yet.”
“Yet?” Ginny’s voice began to regain its challenging tone.
“Don’t be naïve. You know he has a significant role to play in this war. You’ve known that for years. But how well he fares will be dependent upon his decisions, as well as those he relies upon for support.”
“What are you getting at? You know I would do anything for him.”
“Even walk away from him?”
Ginny barely suppressed the first angry retort that came to her tongue. “Why would I do that? He needs his friends now more than ever.”
“Yes, but he needs each of them to support him in different ways.”
“And mine is what? To desert him when things are at their worst? I can’t do that. I lo–he means too much to me.” Ginny felt her cheeks burning, but she ignored it.
Lily’s expression softened. “I know how you feel about him. But despite how strong of a witch you are for your age, you’ll only be a distraction to him for what he has to do next.”
Ginny looked at the other witch askance as she digested what she just heard. “He’s going after Tom, isn’t he?” she said after a few moments, her voice rising with every syllable. “And you’re just going to let it happen?”
“Why does it always have to be him? Damn it, Lily, hasn’t he suffered enough?”
“Don’t presume to lecture to me about sacrifice!” Lily’s eyes were blazing, and Ginny was briefly reminded of her own mother’s volatile temper. “You forget who you’re talking to!”
Ginny covered her mouth as Lily’s words shocked her back to reality. “I-I’m sorry... I just…”
Thankfully, Lily’s anger seemed to disappear as quickly as it flared up. “We don’t have time for this. When the time comes, you need to be prepared to choose the more difficult path.”
“Or everything that all of you have been fighting for will be lost.”
Ginny looked down as she contemplated Lily’s words. If she were being honest with herself, she could see the truth in what the older witch said. But the irony of the situation was almost unbearable. To finally have with Harry what she had been dreaming of for years, only to have it taken away after a few short weeks... And yet, she could never hold him back from his destiny, even if she wanted to. And she realised now that she did not want to. It would mean asking him to be something other than what made him Harry.
The young girl wiped a single tear from her cheek before looking up to meet Lily’s gaze. “I won’t hold him back, as long as part of me remembers.”
The visiting ghost was already starting to fade. “You won’t have to remember. Just be true to your heart...”
The fire was starting to die, making the shadows in the Gryffindor common room stretch into the darker corners of the room. Ginny’s head jerked upwards as she caught herself from falling asleep. Not for the first time, she pondered Neville’s argument that there was probably no reason to set up a night watch. As bad as conditions were–and between the Carrows’ malevolent version of education and the unspoken privileges being afforded the members of Slytherin house, they were decidedly bad–they were safe in their own common room... weren’t they?
She pulled up her legs and wrapped her arms around her shins, not bothering to suppress a shiver. She briefly wondered if Harry was safe and warm where he was. A stray thought tickled the back of her mind, but was quickly lost when she tried to focus on it. Maybe Neville had a point. She rested her head on her knees as she gave serious consideration to turning in for the night, when a familiar voice called out to her.
“I know you’re tired, dear, but we need to have a quick chat before you nod off for the night.”
Startled, Ginny leaped off the couch as she turned to face her unexpected visitor. Unfortunately, she ended up dropping her wand in the process. Taking a step backwards, she braced herself for an attack that never came. She was surprised to see her wand being offered back to her by a beautiful woman, whose deep red hair rivaled her own.
“Here. You can point it at me if it will make you feel better.”
Ginny warily took her wand back, keeping her eyes on the unusual woman. “You’re not a student...”
“Not anymore, no. Although, I was Head Girl when I was.”
Lily laughed despite herself. “I’m not. It helped me find my husband.”
“Oh? Who was th–” Ginny paused as she finally noticed the older witch’s bright green eyes. A spark of recognition struck and she grabbed the arm of the couch against which she was leaning as a bout of vertigo overcame her. It did not take long for her to recover.
“Oh, it’s you again.”
“I’m sorry, you feel that way, Ginny. I’m only here to help.”
“Help? How exactly have you helped? Every time you could have warned us, someone has died instead! No, wait–last time you couldn’t even make it here in time to help us save Professor Dumbledore.”
“I’m fully aware of the gravity of the situation! Now, if you’ll just let me explain–”
“Yes, please explain something else I can do to stay out of the action while everyone I love is doing something to end this war.”
Lily did not respond right away. Her head was tilted slightly downward and she was pinching the bridge of her nose with one hand. It was a position Molly Weasley used frequently when her children were still growing up, especially the twins.
“Erm... are you all right?” asked Ginny tentatively.
The older witch straightened up and opened her eyes. “Yes... fine... Now then, I believe you said you wanted to play a more active role in this war?”
For the first time, Ginny leaned eagerly towards her visitor. “Absolutely!”
“Well, there is something being kept in the headmaster’s office that would be very useful to Harry right now, if he had it.”
Ginny’s ears perked up at the mention of her love’s name. “Go on...”
“Do you recall what the Ministry refused to give to Harry despite the request of Professor Dumbledore’s will?”
“The Sword of Gryffindor!”
Lily nodded. “As ever, a credit to your house, Miss Weasley.”
Ginny sat back down and turned to look at the fire.
“Ginny? Is something wrong?”
The sixth-year turned back to her companion. “I can already think of two or three ways to get into the office...”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“No one knows where Harry, Ron and Hermione are! How are we supposed to get the sword to them once we have it?”
When Ginny looked up, she was slightly alarmed to see that Lily would not meet her eyes. And then it dawned on her.
“I’m not supposed to get it to him, am I? I probably won’t even succeed and receive some kind of awful punishment...”
Slowly, the older witch finally lifted her head and met Ginny’s gaze. “You are as perceptive as ever.”
“Then why even suggest it? What good will it do?”
“I can’t answer that for you. But if it helps, I can guarantee that Harry will hear about it should you choose to pursue it.”
Ginny frowned as her eyes focused on a spot on the floor. The truth of the matter was that part of her was just itching to do something–anything–to fight back against the oppressive environment the Death Eaters had loosed upon Hogwarts. And if it also meant reminding Harry of who was waiting for him when it was all over, so much the better.
“I’ll do it.”
Lily simply nodded, as if she had been expecting Ginny to agree to it all along. “Don’t worry about trying to remember this visit. You’ll–”
“... work it out. Tell me something I haven’t heard before.”
“Maybe next time...”
“Next time?” said Ginny hopefully. “Does that mean...”
But Lily had already faded away.
Ginny felt her knees go weak and her vision blur. The body at Hagrid’s feet certainly looked like Harry–too much so. But it had to be a lie. That is what Tom did so well, after all. She stared more intently at it, hoping to find some evidence to support her hope that all was not lost. And then she saw the scar from Umbridge’s detentions... and the all too familiar round glasses, whose arms were bent awkwardly near the ear... and the corner of a silvery cloth that Harry usually hid by tucking into the back of his trousers. She felt a sense of panic run up her spine just as everything went black.
She immediately re-opened her eyes, and looked over her shoulder to thank Ron for catching her. When she turned, however, she found herself in the arms of a beautiful red-headed witch, older than Fleur and Tonks, but not as old as Madam Pomfrey, perhaps.
“Easy there, love,” said the strange woman as she helped Ginny to her feet.
“Erm... thanks... I... who are you?” Ginny looked around wildly but only saw the school grounds surrounded by an unusual mist. “And where is everybody?” She could still feel the presence of her friends and family, and their adversaries, but all of her senses seemed to be muted. What was going on? She suddenly felt the woman grab her by the shoulders and look her in the eye.
“Sorry, but we really don’t have time for the usual chit-chat.”
Ginny had no choice but to look into the woman’s unusually green eyes, and it was not long before a familiar and thoroughly unpleasant sensation over came her. Her knees went weak, but the older woman held her up until she could regain her equilibrium.
“Thanks... I can stand now,” Ginny began. And in a flash, her ire was up. “What the hell are you doing here? It’s a bit late for advice, isn’t it?”
“Ginny, listen to m–”
“No, you listen to me! Go back to whoever the hell sent you and tell them they have a horrible sense of timing. Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore, and now Harry... What’s the bloody use of sending you if you’re not going to be useful?”
“But it’s not–”
“Spare me your excuses. Just send me back!”
“I don’t care why you’ve come!” cried Ginny. “All I know is that I still have friends and family back there and they need me. We may not win, but damn it we’re going to go down fighting.”
Finally, Lily held her silence. She cocked and her head and looked at the young girl–woman–who stood before her. She took in the defiant eyes... the firm mouth... the fingers clenched tightly around her wand...
“I’m ready to go back now,” Ginny said impatiently.
Lily nodded. “Yes, I believe you are...”
And before she knew it, the young girl faded away, leaving the ghost alone with her thoughts. But her solitude did not last.
“All right there, love?”
Lily turned to face her husband. “Yes... I just... That wasn’t quite how I wanted our last visit to go.”
“I thought you didn’t like long goodbyes.”
“I don’t, but that...”
James Potter stroked his wife’s beautiful hair and planted a kiss on forehead. “If it helps, neither one of you actually said ‘goodbye.’”
Lily smirked as she shook her head. “It does, but I just didn’t expect...”
“... to not be needed so soon.”
Lily exhaled and rested her head on James’ chest. “I suppose that’s selfish of me.”
He wrapped his arms around her and rested his cheek on top of her head, even though he knew she hated it when he did that. “Not necessarily. We missed out on Harry. I think it was only natural for you to try to recapture even a piece of it with these visits.”
She lifted her head slowly and looked up at her husband with an arched eyebrow. “That was rather... insightful. Are you the real James Potter?”
He did not reply, but merely smiled and stroked her hair again with the back of his fingers. She relaxed at his touch and closed her eyes.
“Let’s go home,” he suggested. “Ginny has learned what she needed from you. Now it’s time for her to use it…”
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