|SIYE Time:9:32 on 20th June 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 109740; Chapter Total: 2918
Awards: View Trophy Room
Sixt een: The Goblet of Fire, Part Three
They had two weeks to train Harry for the first task. Ginny and Sirius began reconnaissance to find what he would be facing, while Remus poured more and more counter curses into DADA lessons and Hermione trained Harry after classes. Remus had stressed to the class that the Shield Charm was incredibly important, so Harry worked his hardest on that particular spell. Every afternoon, Ginny and Hermione took him to an empty classroom and they threw hexes at him while he tried to block. He could effectively block a few minor spells, but every one of Ginny's Bat Bogey Hexes got past his shield, and most of Hermione's Jelly Leg jinxes as well.
"This is hopeless!" Harry cried, wobbling towards a chair for the fifth time. It was the Wednesday before the task, and they were practicing in the Charms room before dinner.
"You're getting better," Ginny said, as Hermione applied the counter-spell. Harry stood shakily.
"Not quickly enough," Harry said. "The task is Monday! And we still don't know what it is!"
Hermione checked her watch. "How about we go to dinner and try again after?"
On cue, Harry's stomach grumbled. "Fine," he mumbled. Ginny linked her arm through his and kissed his cheek.
"We'll work it out," she reminded him. Harry nodded, a bit less irritated with himself.
At dinner, Harry loaded his plate until food spilled off the edge. "Are you channeling Ron?" Hermione asked, eyebrows raised. Harry shoved a forkful of pot roast into his mouth and shook his head.
"Just hungry," he said, after swallowing.
"At least he's not talking with his mouth full," Ginny said dryly.
Hagrid passed them, and dropped a hand onto Harry's shoulder.
"'Ello, you lot," he said cheerily. "How are you?"
"Hungry," Harry said, taking another mouthful.
"Good, good," Hagrid rumbled. "Listen, Harry," he added in a lower voice, "can you stop by this evenin' 'round midnight? I've got somethin' to show yeh."
Harry frowned. "Why?"
"Just trust me," Hagrid said. "I've gotta go; see yeh, Harry."
Harry raised an eyebrow to Ginny as Hagrid walked away. What do you think? Worth staying out past curfew?
Ginny considered this. Suppose. It's up to you.
You're going with me, though.
What makes you say that? She asked, raising an eyebrow.
Harry shrugged. I know you.
Hermione cleared her throat. "This is pleasant for you, I'm sure, but I'd like to say that it's probably a good idea for Harry to go."
"Yes, but —" Harry began, then frowned. "Did you just say I should go?"
Hermione nodded. "He must have valuable information for him to ask you to come out past curfew. I think it's worth it."
Ginny and Harry exchanged glances. I think we've had a bad influence on her, Harry thought.
I think it's good that she's coming out some, Ginny said.
Hermione rolled her eyes and went back to her dinner. Harry began eating again, continuing to think as he did.
At any rate, do you think it's about the task?
Ginny nodded, taking a bit of roast potato off Harry's plate. He shot her a scowl. Get your own.
These are mine too, she thought, taking another. We share a mind, therefore we share everything else.
I think that's marriage, darling.
Ginny shrugged. Same thing. Harry smirked and his cheeks turned pink, but allowed her to continue stealing from his plate.
"Hey," Sirius dropped onto a seat by Harry. "I need you and Ginny outside the tapestry of Barnibus the Barmy seventh floor tonight."
"Can't," Harry said. "My night's booked."
"You can fool around with Ginny some other night," Sirius said dismissively — Ginny's ears burned —, "this is important."
"I'm not fooling around with Ginny," Harry said, redder still. "Hagrid said he needed to show me something."
"What? Fine, come after that. I've found something and I need to show you."
Harry shrugged. "Hagrid wants me to come around midnight, and I don't know how long it will take. If it's too late when he's done, I'm just going to bed."
"Fine, I'll wait until 2 for you." Sirius stood and clapped Harry on the shoulder. "Have a good evening."
Harry and Ginny met eyes.
"Does everyone want your attention tonight?" Ginny asked.
Harry mentally groaned. Why did I take a seat opposite you?
What difference would that have made? Ginny asked him, watching Parvati Patil approach.
I could have just started snogging you; that would have deterred her.
Ginny was pink when Parvati slid onto the bench.
"How are you coming on the task?" Parvati asked.
"Fine," Harry said, not meeting her eyes. "Great."
"Good," Parvati said, smiling prettily and fluttering her eyelashes. Ginny raised an eyebrow, pondering over Parvati's motive. "You know, Saturday's a Hogsmeade trip. What if you took a break from all your hard-work and came out with me?"
Harry blinked. Ginny gritted her teeth and tried not to hex her room-mate. Who did she think she was?
Uh, Ginny? Harry thought. Help?
Ginny sipped at her water, trying to remain calm. If I open my mouth, all that will come out is a bunch of curses, magical and otherwise.
Is she trying to ask me out?
Yes, Ginny thought angrily. Harry glanced desperately between her and Hermione.
"I'm afraid Harry's got a lot of work left still," Hermione said. "I can't let him go anywhere."
Parvati pouted. "Oh, come on, Harry, you don't have to listen to her!"
"She's right," Harry said. "And, uh, I've got, uh, spells to, er, work on."
Parvati sighed. "Well, I'll be cheering for you on Monday," she said, patting Harry's shoulder. Ginny bit down on the tines of her fork hard. "Good luck!" Parvati gave his shoulder a squeeze, and left.
Ginny withdrew her fork, glaring after Parvati's back.
"Uh, Ginny?" Harry said. "Your fork is bent."
She glanced down; the metal tines were bent from where she'd bit down on them. At least I wasn't attacking her, she grumbled silently. The nerve!
Harry went back to eating. That was kind of awkward.
Awkward! My room-mate just blatantly flirted with my boyfriend right in front of me!
Well, no matter where she did it, it would have been in front of you, Harry pointed out.
Not helping! Ginny stabbed a piece of chicken with her fork and began slashing at it with her knife. Who does she think she is? How dare she?! Harry reached out and gripped her hand, pulling the plate away.
Darling, you're going to break your plate, he thought. Ginny huffed. Harry took her fork and knife and cut her chicken into strips, then pushed her plate back, keeping her knife.
"That was quite rude," Hermione said. "I wonder what she's up to."
Ginny blew a strand of hair out of her face with a sharp exhale. "Probably she wants to have a piece of one of the champions, and since Harry's already famous, she's set her sights on him."
Harry turned pink. Well, there's another bad side to being the Boy Who Lived, he thought.
If you're about to say what I think you're going to say, no. Bit too young for that.
Ginny turned pink. Not what I meant!
Harry shrugged. "Definitely not sneaking out of the castle without you now."
Ginny shook her head and impaled a piece of chicken on her bent fork. "At any rate, you need to hurry. I want to keep working on your Shield Charm before we go see Hagrid."
Harry began to eat with renewed gusto. Twenty minutes later, they left the Great Hall and returned to the Charms room. The minutes ticked by slowly; eventually Harry was able to block the majority of the spells she and Hermione threw at him, even though every now and then, one got through. They went back to the common room at curfew, and huddled in a corner with books, homework for Hermione and Ginny and a book on defensive spells for Harry, until the clock struck midnight.
"Good luck!" whispered Hermione as Harry pulled out his invisibility cloak and threw it around Ginny and him. Harry had grown taller since the last time they'd worn it, so to fit both him and Ginny without any worry of their feet being seen, she had to stand closer to him. Harry put his arm around her, tucking her into his side, and held the Marauder's Map in front of him.
Ginny tapped it with her wand. "I solemnly swear I am up to no good," she whispered, taking it from him. Harry opened the portrait hole. No one's near us, she thought.
We're going to the shortcut at the North end, Harry thought.
The one by the tapestry about the Witch Trials?
Ginny scanned the map, searching for the safest route. Turn left here, she thought. Harry shone his wand down the corridor. Step quietly as we pass the paintings, they're a restless lot.
They only had one close call between the tower and the shortcut; one of the suits of armor had sneezed violently and a Ravenclaw prefect came over to inspect. The passage led from the seventh floor down to the second, and from there they took another short-cut to the Great Hall. The doors creaked quietly as they pulled one open and slipped through.
Ready? Harry asked mentally. Ginny nodded, and they broke into a run. They crossed the grounds to Hagrid's cabin, and Harry raised a hand to knock.
Hagrid opened the door after the first knock.
"Eh? You there, Harry?" he asked in a stage whisper.
"Yes," Harry said. "Where are we going?"
"Follow me," Hagrid muttered. They jumped out of the way so Hagrid could move past them, towards the Beauxbatons' carriage.
Ginny raised an eyebrow. Harry shrugged. A minute later, Madam Maxime came out of the carriage, and Hagrid held out his arm to her.
Seriously? Harry thought, He wanted to show us Maxime?
Be patient, Ginny replied. Harry huffed, but they followed Hagrid towards the edge of the forest. Harry checked his watch, then Hagrid turned into the trees.
Worth it? Ginny met Harry's eyes. He nodded, and they kept following.
Within twenty minutes, they saw lights, heard shouting, and something roaring. Harry wrapped an arm around her waist, drawing her closer to him. Ginny peered around Hagrid, trying to see what was ahead of them. Anther ten minutes gave them a clear view.
Harry inhaled sharply. What?! Dragons?! I have to fight a freaking dragon?!
Ginny stared in awe. The closest dragon was a large, sleek blue scaled beast; its hackles were raised and it was snarling at any trying to come close. About ten yards past it, an even larger crimson dragon blew a mushroom cloud of flames into the air. She recognized the third dragon; a Welsh Green. She'd seen one when she was nine, when she and her family had visited an aunt in Wales. The last dragon, also the farthest away, was the largest. Its scales were a gleaming bronze, its spine lined with spikes and its thrashing tail embedded with more. The creature's face was framed by horns, and its maw was opened wide, roaring into the sky. Its fangs were at least a foot long.
You're turning into Hagrid, Harry commented, though he sounded more overwhelmed than anything else. Holy —
"Hagrid!" a voice interrupted Harry's thought. Ginny gasped as one of the dragon handlers came forward and she recognized hair the same color of the flames.
"Charlie!" she whispered gleefully.
"Hullo, Charlie," Hagrid said cheerfully. "What have yeh got here?"
Charlie gave Madam Maxime a suspicious look, but she wasn't paying attention to him. "Won't she tell her champion?"
Hagrid waved a hand dismissively. "She's fine. So, what have yeh got?"
Charlie turned back to the dragons. "A Chinese Fireball over there, the red one, that blue dragon is a Swedish Short-snout, and that horned one is a Hungarian Horntail. Speaking of her, you'd better keep back. Their range is usually thirty-five feet, but I've seen her do fifty when she's angry."
Hagrid took a step back, and Madam Maxime backed away hurriedly.
Charlie nodded. "Anyway, that fourth one is a Welsh Green. We brought her in last minute when we heard there was a fourth champion. Once again, speaking of, how is Harry?"
"He's doing good," Hagrid said. "Your sister's been a great load of help."
"That's good," Charlie commented. "I hope he gets the Green; it would be easiest for him."
With my luck, I'll probably get the Horntail, Harry thought wryly. Ginny squeezed his hand.
"What are they supposed to do with 'em?" Hagrid asked.
"To be honest, I'm not sure," Charlie said. "But they requested nesting mothers so I'm assuming something to do with the eggs. Or they just wanted the nastiest dragons they could get their hands on."
Harry groaned, then checked his watch suddenly. I reckon we've seen all of what Hagrid wanted us to see. We'd better get back before Sirius leaves.
Ginny nodded, tearing her eyes away from the dragons. Harry pulled her away, heading back the way they had come. Just past the edge of the trees, Ginny spotted a dark shape coming towards them. She pulled Harry out of the way, as Professor Karkaroff strode past them.
Probably spying too, Harry thought.
Probably, Ginny replied. Come on.
They moved as quickly as they dared across the grounds and into the castle. Harry took the map and navigated them from the Entrance Hall back up to the Seventh floor, then Ginny directed him towards the tapestry of Barnibus the Barmy.
Are you sure Sirius said here? Harry thought as they turned a corner. There's nothing here except that tapestry.
Maybe this is just a rendezvous, Ginny thought back.
Maybe, or — wait, where'd that door come from?
The two of them stopped before a slim, oak door opposite the tapestry and stared at it in surprise.
I'm positive that wasn't there before, Ginny thought.
So am I, Harry replied. Where'd it come from?
I don't know. Should we go in?
Might as well.
Harry turned the knob from behind the cloak, and pushed the door open. He put a hand on Ginny's shoulder, guiding her in front of him. Had anyone else done that, she probably would have hexed them, but with Harry, she let it go. Ginny ducked out from under the cloak as Harry shut the door, and cracked her neck.
"What's this place?" she asked, looking behind her. Harry appeared, bundling up the cloak, and he stepped forward. The room was large and long; lined with bookshelves and tables. The lights were low except for the far side of the room, where a hunched figure sat over a book next to two more, both with better posture. There was a lamp sitting on a table beside them, so their faces were black against it.
"Sirius?" Harry called.
The hunched man straightened. "Over here, Harry."
Ginny pushed her hand into Harry's and pulled him forward. They crossed the room quickly, moving around the tables and books. As they approached, the faces came into better view, and Ginny recognized them as Sirius, Remus, and Professor Dumbledore.
"Have a seat," Sirius said.
Harry did not sit. "What's going on?" he asked. He glanced between Remus and Sirius, then Dumbledore. Ginny could feel worry rising in him.
"You're all right, Harry," Professor Dumbledore said calmly.
"Why did this have to happen at night?" Ginny asked, suddenly suspicious.
"We didn't want anyone overhearing," Remus said.
Harry and Ginny exchanged glances. She raised an eyebrow. He frowned, but shrugged. Harry pulled out a chair, looking back up at her. Ginny raised the other eyebrow; he curled one corner of his lip up. She sat. Harry took the chair next to her, and they turned back to the adults.
Sirius blinked. "You have identical expressions right now. It's kind of creepy."
"We practice it," Ginny quipped. "What's so important that the Headmaster would ask us to break curfew?"
"Your bond," Dumbledore said. "I have finally discovered more about it."
Floorboards creaked beneath his feet. The man stepped forward gingerly, taking each step as though stepping around sleeping children. He rested his palm on a crystal doorknob and turned it carefully.
"Is that you?" called a sharp voice; it made the man's eye twitch with an urge to wince. The voice sent prickles down his back; it made him want to turn and flee. But he moved into the room, and towards a large, wing-backed armchair before a flickering flame.
"I have finished your draught, my lord," the man whispered.
"Good," the voice sighed. "I am not hungry now; you will have to feed me later."
"Yes, my lord."
"What news do you have?"
"Our spy within Hogwarts has succeeded; Potter is participating in the tournament."
"Good," his master said again, sounding pleased. "And what of Dumbledore? Does he suspect anything about Potter's entry?"
The man drew back his lips in a sneer. "I doubt he suspects our spy. He will be wary, but it is more likely that he is ready to blame Karkaroff than the spy."
"Excellent. And have you begun the preparation for the potion?"
"Yes, my lord. I have collected the first of the ingredients."
"Just the first?"
"My lord, the instructions are difficult to decipher, let alone translate. We are lucky that I am able to read it at all."
"You are lucky," the voice corrected. "If you had been unable to translate it, I would have had to find a new helper, and Nagini would be fed for weeks."
The man held back a twinge of both fear and anger. His master demanded much from him, almost too much. "My lord, I apologize for the slow development."
"As you should," his master hissed. "Now, set down the draught and return to your translating."
The man set the flask of milky potion on the table by the armchair, averting his eyes from his master's form. It was not a pretty sight. He backed away to the door, then left the room.
"Oh, one moment," the voice called back. The man stopped, and returned to the room.
"Yes, my lord?"
"Do not talk back to me," his master ordered.
"Yes, my lord." The man bowed, even though his master could not see him, before once again leaving the room.
"What is it, then?" Ginny asked eagerly.
Sirius pushed forward the book he'd been looking at. "Albus found this in a very old library, complied by one of Hogwarts' original Headmasters. It was originally in Greek, but Albus put a spell on it to translate it into English."
Ginny shifted the book so both she and Harry could read it at the same time.
"I believe it to be the journal of Thaon Kyrillos," Dumbledore said. "The pages are laden with magic, and resist my attempts to translate it, so there is only a small amount translated."
Ginny nodded, having no idea who Thaon Kyrillos was, and turned her eyes onto the page.
"The seventh day of the eighth month, in the year of our lord 1124. This morning I returned from my homeland to Hogwarts to prepare for the students arrival in three weeks, though I am unfocused on my work. Whilst on my travels, I spent time with my great-niece, Eirene, who is fourteen years of age. I was asked to give her lessons over the summer, as her grasp of magic does not always allow her to learn as quickly as her fellow students in Greece. I came to know her well, and discovered something of great interest.
"When children are young, I know, they crave friends. And when there are no friends to be made, they turn to their imagination to create non-corporeal friends. I myself had imaginary friends as a child, but I began to lose touch with them after my descent into puberty. Eirene has admitted to having such imaginary friends, but that one of them has persisted to follow her and remain constant in her mind even now. She tells me that this friend is a boy her age, a squire to an Anglo-Saxon knight, one who is devoted to his magical studies and is skillful with a blade. I was only vaguely curious as to why she kept pretending that this friend existed, until she mentioned that she never came up with a name for him.
"The idea of an unnamed imaginary friend caused me to return early to Hogwarts, for I was sure I had heard of such an account before. I returned to Eirene's parents, and told them that I suspected that Eirene's imaginary friend might not be quite so imaginary, and might in fact be real, flesh and blood.
"Naturally, they do not believe me. I shall endeavor to find Eirene's squire, to prove to them that Eirene is not merely imaginative — although she does have a powerful imagination, but that is not my point. I believe Eirene is part of an ancient magic, one not yet considered by warlocks of our times. I believe she is only half of what she could become, once this squire is found.
"There is a myth that man was once of two minds, a being with four arms, four legs, and two heads. One male, once female. The myth states that the pagan god of my homeland, Zeus, feared humans in this state, and so separated them into two halves: One head, two arms, two legs. This myth says that humans spent the rest of their lives, trying to find their other half, hence such a phrase as 'my better half.' But what if this myth is true, at least partially? What if we were once connected to another human, perhaps not in body, but in mind? What if, somehow, humans were disconnected with their partner, leaving them to look forevermore for the ideal of a 'soulmate?'
"And what if, what if, some humans retained that connection? What if my niece, in her imaginative and willful ways, is connected to another human through a mental link of some kind?"
Ginny reached the last of English; the rest was slanted, strange letters she couldn't decipher. She looked up at Harry; he was still reading. In a minute, he had finished and looked up to meet her eyes.
What do you think? He thought.
I think there's more.
Ginny pushed the book back to Sirius. "What about this needed privacy?"
Dumbledore cleared his throat. "There is a passage at the end that was written in English. This was what made me think it was written on the subject of soul bonds such as yours." He turned through the pages, and stopped at the very end. Harry pulled the book back, and they turned their eyes back to it.
"The thirteenth day of the second month, in the year of our lord 1134. I am dying. My hands can no longer hold a quill, so I am dictating this. Eirene has grown past the depression of her childhood, and as I predicted, she has married the squire of her thoughts. Thomas will be an excellent husband. He adores and reveres her even more now than when he first met her, and he swore to me he loved her even then. I have found all I can on the subject of soul bonds, and leave Thomas and Eirene to discover the rest. This journal is my proof, that sometimes imaginary friends are not merely imagination, but power untold.
"I leave two last notes. Long ago, my daughter told me she heard voices. I did not know what she meant then, but now I do. I believe she, like Eirene, was one half of a whole. My greatest regret is that I did not believe her then, and therefore did not look for the source of her voices. I can only imagine what her other half went through, but I surmise he did not live much longer past her death. My daughter committed suicide because she both thought she was insane and because she had remained from her other half for so long. I do not know who that was, where he was, or even what he looked like. I will never know.
"I can only say this: Children like Eirene and my daughter should never be kept from their other half. Eirene almost paid the price for her half's absence, and that was before she even truly met him. This bond is not merely a connection, but a life source. Only a few weeks ago, Thomas left to be made a knight, and Eirene fell more ill than ever before. He did as well, and almost failed his final mission as a squire. He was gone only four days, but I fear what would have happened had he remained away longer.
"I do not know how long it takes for a pair to reach the point where days alone make them ill; perhaps it is marriage, perhaps it is adolescence. Perhaps it varies, perhaps some pairs cannot spend hours away from each other, perhaps some can survive weeks. All I can say for sure is that to anyone looking to my journal for answers must be careful to never let one half leave the other. When they are alone, be always watching them. Do not let them fall into the depression that caused Eirene to brew the Draught of Living Death before she met Thomas, or that caused my daughter to end her own life.
"I can feel life leaving me even as I speak. Five weeks previous, Hogwarts was visited by a travelling circus. They were mostly Muggles, very lost ones to end up here, but in their group was a fortune-teller that I ended up hiring to teach Divination here. The fortune-teller called herself Rhiamon, but I do not believe that to be her true name. I hired her only because she told me three things: The first was that I would soon be in the company of my daughter, though she did not know that my child is dead, nor that I had little time left myself. The second was that a child I consider to be a daughter will be having a child of her own soon. Rhiamon looked to Eirene and added onto this, saying "That one has got the glow, master, sir, she has got the glow of a mother-to-be." Eirene had wedded Thomas only weeks before, and they had just returned from their honeymoon, so I have no doubt that this is true. The third, I do not know how to comprehend, but I shall record it anyway. I must hurry, for my breath is fading.
“She said to me "Your work is vital." I asked her why, and what work she was speaking of, and she replied with "You study the bond of souls, the kind not heard of." She said, "Your work is vital, for a long time from now, two children will dream of each other long before they meet. Those two children have a great destiny, I can see it even now." She told me that the two children would be followed by fate herself, though I am not sure how a non-corporeal ideal can follow a pair of children. "I can see them," she said. "I can see that he is strong but invaded, that she is broken and determined, but that they both will save the world." I cannot know what she means, and I will not be able to see it. I am almost through, and I must sleep soon.
"The last thing she said to me was this: "Two children will dream so hard, their dreams will bleed from their minds and change the world even before their birth."
"I think Rhiamon has a future not even she can see. I entrust this journal to Eirene, and ask her to complete it. I also ask that she might work with Rhiamon, for I believe she has great potential. I have done all I can on this earth… farewell."
Ginny looked up; Harry was re-reading the second to last paragraph. "'Bleed through before their birth'?" she repeated.
"It does seem ominous," Dumbledore agreed.
"Forget ominous," Harry said, "it's downright frightening. Do you think that fortune-teller was seeing us?"
"There are certain elements that remind us of you," Remus said.
"Like what?" Harry looked back down. "'Strong but invaded…' What does that mean?"
"I don't know," Remus said. "I can't put my finger on it, but I'm almost positive she was speaking of you."
"I don't like that invaded bit," Ginny said, her eyes locked on Dumbledore. He was looking back at her calmly, but there was something in the back of his eyes. "Have you any idea what it could mean, Professor?"
"I cannot be sure," Dumbledore replied. "I will have to translate more, as quickly as I can, but I fear it will take time."
Ginny looked at Harry out of the corner of her eye. I'm not sure he's telling us everything.
Harry frowned. Why would he keep something from us?
I don't know, but I intend to find out. Ginny closed the book and pushed it back towards Dumbledore, who set it aside.
"What we have to worry about, is the 'bleeding through' part," Sirius said.
"I shall research this Rhiamon, but if Thaon was correct in assuming that it was not her true name, we might hit another roadblock," Dumbledore added. "In any case, I shall ask around if anyone might be able to interpret her words."
Harry nodded. "Anything else you need to tell us?"
Dumbledore shook his head. "That was all."
"Then, I've got information about the task." Harry paused, looking at Dumbledore. "Uh, am I allowed to have information about the task?"
"As a matter of fact, I am suddenly very tired," Dumbledore said, standing up. "I am afraid I must retire to my quarters. Good night."
Dumbledore took the book and strode from the room. Harry raised his eyebrows, but smiled. "Okay, so, the news."
"They've got to fight dragons," Ginny said.
Sirius's jaw dropped. Remus looked stunned. "They've got what?"
"Dragons," Harry said.
"A Chinese Fireball, a Swedish Short-Snout, a Hungarian Horntail, and a Welsh Green," Ginny ticked them off on her fingers. "One each."
"My word," Remus whispered. "Dragons? I haven't been teaching anything that could help you with a dragon!"
"The Shield Charm might help," Sirius said. "Block the fire before it could turn Harry into a charred roast."
"Not helping, Sirius," Remus snapped. "Dragons… Okay, I'll change the lesson for tomorrow to be something to help… Dragons!"
"I'm sure there's something somewhere that you can help with indirectly," Sirius said, patting Remus's shoulder. Remus did not look too reassured.
"But how can I fight a dragon?" Harry said. "What would I have to do, kill it?"
"No, you won't have to kill it," Ginny said quickly. "Dragons are a protected species. Remember, Charlie said that the dragons are all nesting mothers, so it must have to do with the eggs."
"Do I smash the eggs?" Harry asked.
"Still a protected species," Ginny said.
"We can figure that out later," Remus said. "Right now, you need sleep."
"I'm not tired," Harry said. "This is too big for me to sleep."
"Shame," Remus commented dryly, "because you're going to bed anyway, before I give you detention for being out past curfew."
"Hey!" Harry protested.
"You'd better get out of here," Sirius warned. "He's serious about that. He once gave James and I a week of detention because he caught us setting up a prank that he had planned!"
Ginny pushed back her chair and grabbed the cloak. "We'll go," she said. "Come on."
Harry huffed, but stood up anyway. He stretched, then took out the map. "See you in the morning," he said as Ginny spread the cloak over them.
Are we actually going to bed? Harry thought. Ginny nodded and took the map. She unfolded it and checked the seventh floor. Seriously? Harry asked. Ginny raised an eyebrow at him.
You have to fight dragons in four days and you want to stay up late?
Fair point. But it is four days.
I'm putting you to bed, Ginny thought, shaking her head at him. Harry opened the door and they ducked outside. Halfway up the corridor, the door opened again and Sirius and Remus came out. Ginny glanced over her shoulder, then stopped in her tracks. Harry froze before he pulled the cloak off her and backed up.
The door, she thought. It's gone.
Harry looked over, and his eyebrows shot up. You're right! The door they had exited from had vanished the instant Sirius closed it behind him. Do you want check it out?
Not now, Ginny thought. We'll ask them about it later. She grabbed his hand and started forward again.
What did you think about that journal? Harry thought a moment later.
Ginny gathered her thoughts on the subject before answering. I think it's definitely worth working on.
But what about the part about getting sick if we spend too much time apart?
Ginny squeezed his hand. Then we won't spend too long apart.
At least we know we can spend at least eight hours apart, Harry thought. That's usually how long we spend sleeping.
That's true, Ginny thought absently. And I was gone over a week last summer; you didn't get sick then did you?
Well, I was already sick, Harry thought. That's why I didn't go with you, remember?
Oh, yeah. But did you get any worse?
No, not really.
Ginny nodded. Then we're probably fine.
Let's hope so, Harry thought. He looked down at the map, but Ginny felt that his thoughts had drifted elsewhere. What's the matter? She asked him.
Ginny rolled her eyes. Liar. You're worried about something.
Harry rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. It's just — I might have been hoping that we might turn out to be the kind that can't spend longer than a few hours on our own.
Ginny smirked, although her cheeks were warming. Really? You'd want to spend that much time with me?
Harry frowned at her. Why wouldn't I?
Ginny shrugged. I don't know. I just thought never leaving each other alone for longer than a few hours might get old fast.
Well, we do that now, he thought with a raised eyebrow. Are you getting tired of me?
Ginny blushed, thought she wasn't sure why. No, of course not. But that would include sleeping, wouldn't it?
Harry's eyes widened, and his neck got red. He looked down at his feet, then up at the ceiling, then at the map. Ginny felt him close part of his mind off as he started reciting the definitions of charms. Ginny smirked, even though she was blushing too, because she knew what he was trying not to think about. She should have been trying too, but it was a rather nice thought.
Harry cleared his throat, and Ginny realized with a start that she hadn't blocked those thoughts from carrying over into his. She blushed brighter pink and looked away.
They made it back into the common room without any further awkwardness. Harry kissed her cheek, and took the cloak and map. Ginny hooked a finger in his collar and pulled him back. She kissed his lips gently, and Harry seemed to forget what they were supposed to be doing. His hands rested at her waist; he pressed his lips against hers with increasing vigor. Ginny went from pulling at his collar to holding onto his shoulders, as the way his lips were moving over hers were making her feel like Hermione had hit her with a Jelly-Legs-Jinx.
Harry pulled back; his breathing was coming out in heavy exhales and his eyes were still closed. Ginny raised a hand, pressing it to the skin of his neck. His flesh was warm under her fingers. She brushed her thumb over his pulse, feeling it throb and quicken.
We were supposed to be going to bed, Harry thought.
He nodded. Ginny ignored the thought, and pushed her fingers up into his hair. Harry raised a hand to her face, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. Ginny pressed her cheek against his palm, and he leaned in to kiss her again.
Seriously, you were insisting we hit the sack, Harry thought, pulling back. Ginny still ignored him; she brought her other arm up and draped it around his neck, pulling his mouth back to hers.
"In a minute," she whispered. She felt him shiver, and smiled.
"Seriously," he repeated. Ginny huffed, but stepped back.
Good night, she thought.
Night, he thought back, giving her hand a squeeze. Ginny let go, and pushed open the door to the girls’ stairs.
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