|SIYE Time:8:43 on 16th January 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: 98130; Chapter Total: 2117
Hey, I'm so sorry that there's been a missing chapter for so long. I should have realized it when I originally posted it, and I hadn't checked the site since October. Go on and yell at me in the reviews, I deserve it. I hope everyone had a happy Holiday and that you'll all have a great New Year.
Chapter Twenty-Four, The Goblet of Fire Part Eleven
The Third Task
May was not as long as it should have been. It seemed like once Ginny and Ron’s birthday passed, the hours blended together seamlessly and the days took two-thirds of the time they were meant to.
Most of May he remembered as time spent in the Defense classroom. Remus had them mock dueling each other every week with a new hex or jinx. Most days Harry fought Ron or Ginny, but sometimes he dueled Hermione or Neville. Once, in the first week of June, Sirius asked for him and Malfoy to demonstrate that week’s hex in front of the class. Having to stand in front of the entire class was made better only by the fact that his instinctive Shield charm repelled the hex so perfectly that it hit Malfoy.
The Saturday after the Shield charm incident, Harry and Ginny were taking their weekly nap by the lake, having just written three essays for three various subjects and escaped Ron and Hermione’s next big bicker. Harry couldn’t remember what it had been about, so as he slept, his mind decided to try and figure it out. In his dream, he dreamt that he and Ginny were in the common room watching their two friends fight. Because he couldn’t remember the nature of the fight, every time one of the two said something referring to the cause of the argument, his mind replaced it with “Snarglepod.” Harry couldn’t imagine why.
“You said Snarglepod!” Hermione cried.
“No, you said Snarglepod,” Ron pointed out. “Does anything make sense in Harry’s mind?”
“No, never,” Hermione agreed for once. “But the Snarglepod was with you, it was your Snarglepod that caused the Snarglepod!”
“Hermione, just kiss the damned Snarglepod goodbye because it is gone,” Ron retorted.
“Well, I’d very much rather kiss you than a Snarglepod,” Hermione snapped.
“Fine, then kiss me!”
“Well, maybe I will!”
Harry clapped his hands over his eyes suddenly and hissed in protest as they grabbed each other’s faces and began some strange dance with their lips.
Is this what Ron feels like every time I kiss you? Harry asked Ginny.
I imagine so, yes.
Harry lowered his hands, but the scenery had changed.
They were asleep, but at the same time, they weren’t. They were sitting beneath the tree’s branches, watching three children play in the shallows of the lake. Two of them had black hair, slicked back by water but messy still, and the third, the only girl, had two long brilliant red braids falling down her back. They were throwing water at her and the smaller of the boys was creating bubbles with his hands. Ginny smiled contentedly at the children and closed her eyes. Harry kissed her forehead and chuckled as the girl caused the lake to send a tidal wave over the two boys.
“No, no, you’re doing it all wrong!”
Harry lazily drifted his gaze from the three children to a clump of trees nearby. He blinked, and he was standing in a clearing, Ginny at his side, and there was a young girl, maybe three or four, sitting in the middle. Her cheeks were round and rosy, her hair was pure white and tied into pig-tails, and her dress was pale yellow covered in grass stains.
“Wrong, I tell you!” the girl shouted, being rather eloquent for a toddler. The object of her frustration blinked and squawked. It was a raven or a crow, Harry couldn’t tell.
“You should introduce a new person, not make one of them nearly drown!” the girl yelled. “Jealousy is much more interesting than a near death experience.”
The bird cawed loudly.
The little girl crossed her arms over her chest and pouted violently. Her eyes landed on Harry and then Ginny, and a wicked grin instantly replaced her pout. “Oh, look, Crow!” she squealed. She pushed herself up and tottered across the grass towards them. She grabbed Harry’s arm and pulled him back to the bird, which he now supposed was a crow. “We have guests.” The little girl grabbed Ginny and pulled them both onto the ground.
The crow eyed them and cawed.
“Er…” Harry said.
“Oh, that’s mighty interesting,” the child said. “And you, dear?”
Ginny frowned at the child. “Who are you?”
The girl smiled brightly. “I’m me, and me is I.”
“That does not make sense.”
“I am you, but you are not me.”
“In the end, you all die.”
Ginny spluttered. “What the hell?”
The little girl did her best to look angelic. “See? I am me, and me is I.”
Harry and Ginny exchanged glances. He shrugged. She scowled.
The crow cawed.
“Yes, you’re quite right, Crow,” the girl said. “We should drink the tea soon or it will grow cold. But where did I put the sugar?”
Harry was about to say they actually would need tea to drink any of it, except there was a gaily painted cup perched on a saucer in his hand.
“That wasn’t there a moment ago,” he said.
The girl spooned a cube of sugar into her tea and sipped it. “Oh, no, much too sweet.” She pitched the cup over her shoulder, then a new cup appeared sitting on her palm. She took a taste of the sugarless tea and smiled. “Perfect.”
Ginny furrowed her brow at Harry. “The hell…” she mumbled.
“NO!” The little girl reached out and bopped Ginny on the nose, startling her. “Bad language, bad Ginny. We do not curse.”
“How do you know my name?” Ginny demanded.
“What’s the magic word?” the little girl asked, taking another sip.
“NO!” The girl shouted, and bopped Ginny on the nose again. “Never mind.”
Ginny was bewildered. So was Harry. The little girl grinned angelically at them, then turned back to the crow. “Now, as I was saying, what you should do is take that lovely little porcelain doll that’s with that boy and plant seeds of desire in her for one of the two, whichever one is male, and then kill the boy.”
The crow cawed.
“No, don’t kill the male, kill the useless pretty boy!” the little girl yelled again. “My word, you are so belligerent, Crow!”
The crow cocked its head at Harry as if to say: “Women.”
The girl sipped her tea, smacked her lips, then tossed the cup over her shoulder to join its fellow. “Kill the pretty boy, make the porcelain doll like the one that’s male, then make another person like the one that’s not male. It’s that simple.”
The crow ruffled its feathers.
The girl glared at him. “They’re not ready for Felix Commisurra; don’t nearly kill the one that’s male again.”
The crow squawked. The little girl swung a fist at it, but the bird danced out of the way, still squawking. The girl gasped, turned pink, and then glared. “Bad Crow, bad Crow, we do not use language! And later, love, we have guests.”
The crow landed on Harry’s knee and sighed. Or, Harry thought he sighed. Was it possible for a bird to sigh?
The girl tapped her chin and gazed into the distance. “Then again… Felix Commisurra would rush many of my sisters’ plans… It would cause great… discomfort.”
The crow cawed. The girl smiled. “Then it’s settled. Kill the one that’s male but not completely, just a little bit, then Felix Commisurra will occur prematurely and wreck my sisters’ plans. Their pathways will twist and jumble, ending in, as I can see, seven different ways to die and twice the end of the world. However, there will still be at least one path that provides life, but at such a great cost. So many will die…”
The crow croaked and pecked at Harry’s jeans. The girl smirked. “Yes, all of those deaths will be spectacular. I’m sure my sister has great plans for each of them! Yet we will dash it all by merely provoking Felix Commisurra.”
With that, the little girl pushed herself up and snapped her fingers. There was a sudden puff of purple smoke and the little girl was suddenly not little at all. She was tall, perhaps six feet, with a slender frame and still pale skin. Her white hair was the only thing paler. Her dress was still girlish and grass-stained, but it somehow befitted her. She raised her bare forearm and the crow took off from Harry’s knee, then landed on her arm. The crow squeezed its sharp talons, and Harry winced in sympathy for the girl, but she seemed not to have noticed.
“And off we go!” she cried. “Time to provide Abraham with his final key so that the little beast may provoke Felix Commisurra.” She snapped her fingers again, and again appeared the puff of smoke, but not before Harry noticed that the crow’s talons had broken the girl’s skin. She was bleeding, but her blood was not red. It was gold.
“Harry James Potter, you listen to me right now!”
Harry groaned and blinked slowly. Hermione’s face came slowly into view; she was standing bent in front of him with her fists resting on her hips. Harry had a sudden flash of Mrs. Weasley doing the same thing.
“You have mountains of homework still to complete!” Hermione snapped. “How can you nap so nonchalantly with so much work left to be done?”
“Practice?” he suggested, yawning as he did so. He poked Ginny gently in the ribs; she caught his finger and squeezed it tightly.
“Ronald Weasley I will break your finger,” she growled.
“I’m not Ron, love,” Harry said. Ginny immediately released his finger and grabbed his whole hand.
“Go back to sleep,” she grumbled. “That stupid little girl’s bleeding gold.”
Harry frowned. “Yeah, that was weird.”
“What?” Hermione said. “Never mind; just come on, it’s almost dinner and you’ve got a whole lot of homework, the both of you.”
“It’s not that late,” Ginny said as she stretched open her mouth in a cat-like yawn. “We only just fell asleep ten minutes ago. You and Ron were arguing over the Snarglepod.”
“What?” Hermione repeated.
“Was that you or me?” Harry asked. “I can’t remember.”
Hermione spluttered. “How — what — Snarglepod?”
Ginny straightened her spine, lifting her head off Harry’s shoulder, and stretched her arms above her head. “We couldn’t remember what you and Ron were fighting about this time, so every time you had to say something specific to the fight, you said Snarglepod.”
Hermione stared at them. “I give up,” she muttered, throwing her hands up in the air and turning away.
“Are we really awake?” Harry murmured.
“Hermione doesn’t give up…” Ginny replied.
Hermione turned back to them in resignation. “No, you caught me. You’re not awake.”
Hermione was not as tall as she seemed, Harry knew. Nor was the sky that dark. Hermione’s skin paled to gray and so did the trees and the grass. Slowly, everything withered. Harry gripped Ginny’s shoulders. Hermione wasn’t Hermione. She was tall and masculine and —
This broad beast of a man stood before them, his eyes and lips completely black and his head shiningly bald in the sun’s wane light. The man smiled with those black lips and bared pointed teeth.
“What is really the difference between waking and dreaming?” the man rumbled. “Reality is no real thing; it is conceived at dawn and aborted at dusk, never given any real chance to live. So then where is the line between your pale pathetic reality and the truth of your dreams? Answer me that, oh great one.”
“What?” Ginny spluttered.
The man smirked. “Ah, of course. Your mind is that of two children. What a shame. The sisters chose a poor receptacle for your power.”
Harry meant to draw his wand, but something in the back of his mind told him not to. Instead, he raised a hand, palm held outward and smiled at the man. “This is not your place,” he said calmly. “You do not belong here.”
“Oh, come now, don’t be that way,” the man chuckled. “You allowed dear and dumb luck to remain. Why shan’t you treat me such the same way?”
Harry lowered his hand and spoke the first thing that came to mind. “Because, they did not make sense and therefore did not harm me. You make sense, and I want to know why you refer to us as ‘great one,’ when clearly we are two. But if I were to ask you, that would not end well.”
The man pondered this, it seemed. He finally smiled and bowed low to them. “Very well, I concede. Your friend with the bushy hair really is here to wake you, but you do not have that much homework left. I believe it is merely an exercise from Professor Sinestra on the movements of Saturn in relation to Venus. Before I leave, I desire to frustrate my wife more than I already have so I must tell you: There is a traitor in your midst. I will not indicate a gender, as that would be too obvious, but this traitor has everything to gain and nothing to lose. They have no mercy and too much rage. Chaos has filled their dreams with his element and Night has not noticed their anger. So I now bid you farewell, oh great one. I would wish you luck, but that never ends well.”
Harry glanced at Ginny, confused, but then the man was gone. Instead, Hermione was once again standing over him, her fists on her hips and a sour expression on her face.
“You’ve been sleeping for over three hours,” she said. “It’s nearly dinner.”
Harry rubbed his eyes. Then he slapped his cheek. Hermione jumped back, startled. “What did you do that for?” she said.
“I wanted to make sure I was awake,” he mumbled. “Ow.”
“We’re awake,” Ginny said. She locked eyes with him and furrowed her brow.
What the hell just happened?
Harry’s gaze drifted to the shore of the lake, where the water was rising and falling very slowly, like the breath of a person asleep. I don’t know.
Hermione ushered them to dinner where they both pecked at their food, conversing mentally about their shared dream. It had been very strange, and it worried Harry. He kept saying that they ought to tell Dumbledore, but Ginny was hesitant.
We don’t know how to explain it, she kept saying.
But something was wrong, he kept telling her. Who were those people? Why did that man call us great one? Why was that girl talking about dolls and pretty boys?
Because she was a child, Ginny replied.
Her blood was gold, Harry countered.
So? We were dreaming. It meant nothing.
Oh, right, because none of your other dreams ever meant anything. You never dreamt that you might drown, or that I’d fight a dragon, or even that I’d be stuck in a huge Tournament where I could die each minute.
Sarcasm does not help.
Neither does silence.
Ginny did not reply.
They did not go to Dumbledore that night. Nor the next, when in someone’s subconscious a sphinx tried to eat one of them. Not even the next night, when a giant bird landed in Harry’s dorm and told him that he was meant to be sleeping in the tower, even though Harry was already asleep in Gryffindor tower.
It was June 6th, and while the rest of the castle was preparing for exams, Harry was preparing for the final task. As they had with the first task, he, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione all met in any empty classroom and practiced spells. Harry mock-dueled with either Ron or Hermione every week. He did not duel Ginny, for they had found that when they tried, they could never gain any ground because they kept seeing the other’s next move and preventing it. On the following Sunday, Remus and Sirius stopped by to quiz Harry on his skills. Remus staged a duel with him, and he would have won if it hadn’t been for Sirius adding a hex every few minutes. His reasoning was that in a real fight, there would be others around him and stray hexes were likely to come his way. The only problem with that was he only aimed his ‘stray’ hexes at Harry, and never Remus.
Monday the 12th, Bagman cornered Harry in the Great Hall at breakfast. He gave Ginny a cheerful hullo and told Harry that he needed to be at the Quidditch pitch by four thirty that afternoon for his clue before the third task. His last class was Herbology that day, so he did not have to run to the pitch to meet Bagman and the other champions. He found Krum and Diggory already there, but Fleur and Bagman were late. Fleur arrived five minutes after Harry and Bagman was there right after her.
“Right-o,” he said, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “If you would please, step forward.”
The four of them looked at him strangely. Then Diggory took a step, stumbled, and fell face-forward into the grass. Harry clapped a hand over his mouth to stifle a snigger. Fleur tsked and Krum frowned. Bagman chuckled as Diggory pushed himself up, ran into something else, and fell onto a hedge that had appeared from nowhere. Harry’s eyes followed the hedge and he gasped. The entire pitch was spread with them: Almost four feet tall and wild-looking, they twisted and turned and wrapped around each other all over the pitch.
“What the —” Diggory said softly.
“It is a maze,” said Krum.
“Yes, indeed it is!” Bagman crowed gleefully. “And there is your clue; don’t worry, Mr. Diggory, once the task is finished we will restore your pitch to rights,” Bagman added upon seeing the horrified look on Diggory’s face. “Hagrid is growing them; should be about fifteen feet in the air by the day of the task, June 24th. The object will be to reach the center and the prize within.”
Harry nodded slowly, his eyes traveling across the pitch slowly. A maze? A small smile curled his lips. Fifteen feet tall would not be much of a problem. He could just ask Ginny to fly above him in his Invisibility Cloak and give him directions.
I will do no such thing, Ginny thought.
Why not? Harry whined mentally. It’s perfect!
Because that would be cheating!
He’d try harder later. Possibly with the promise of several long kisses.
I don’t break that easily, Potter.
He didn’t reply to her as Bagman was speaking again. “The maze will be filled with obstacles, each designed to prevent you reaching the center. You will have to be on your guard constantly.”
Harry nodded, as did the others. Bagman clapped Diggory and Krum on the shoulder with a grin, gave Harry a pat and Fleur a gentle touch, then began walking back to the castle. Harry glanced at the other four, thought about waving, didn’t, and started following Bagman.
You are so anti-social, Ginny thought.
Well, I’ve got this voice in my head that provides almost all the companionship I need.
Oh, well thank you — wait, almost?
Well, I do like hanging out with Ron and Neville and such.
Oh, of course.
Harry climbed the front steps and felt a sudden wind behind him. He glanced around, wondering why it was so cold in June, then dismissed it and entered the castle. He didn’t see Bagman, assumed that the man had headed for the nearest Floo, and started up the stairs.
What room are you in? Harry asked.
Second floor, two doors down from Charms.
Down being to the left?
Harry climbed the steps without great haste. He was thinking of ways to convince his very beautiful girlfriend to help him cheat.
Flattery gets you nowhere, Potter.
Well, it got you calling me by my last name!
That is irrelevant.
Harry chuckled softly. A portrait on his right gave him a bemused look. He averted his eyes and tried not to respond to Ginny aloud.
Harry found Ginny with just Hermione that afternoon; Ron had been detained by Professor McGonagall to scrub desks. Harry wondered if he would find years’ worth of chewing gum under Seamus’s desk.
They practiced for another hour before Ron arrived and another hour and a half before they left for dinner. The news that the third task was a maze filled with obstacles didn’t seem to bother either Ron or Hermione; from Hermione’s point of view it was only more reason to train harder. Ron simply thought that watching the third task was going to be more boring than watching the second.
It seemed to him that there really was little he really could do to prepare for the third task. He would wake up around 6 every morning, get a shower, go to breakfast, go to lessons, have lunch, take more lessons, research more spells and practice them, go to dinner, practice some more, and go to bed. There was little variation in each day, and it seemed to him that they blended together too well. He lost track of the days, and not even the looming third task bothered him. It was just an inevitable thing he would have to do. There was just cold dread rather than panic in him, and it spread to Ginny. They had a calm sort of resignation about the third task. It helped that he finally had a real plan.
As the maze had been growing, Harry had flown over it several times on his broom. He borrowed Colin’s camera and took photographs of it. Then he and Ginny sat down and drew a map of the maze. The night before the task, they flew over it together one last time and finalized the map. Hermione enchanted it to show where Harry was standing while he stood in the maze, Remus taught Harry a spell to track his location, and Ginny promised that if something went wrong she would fly above him with the invisibility cloak. Harry was as prepared as he could be.
That didn’t stop his heart pumping wildly as he left the castle on the morning of the 24th.
He set down the metal spoon and mopped his brow. It had taken days, weeks, but there it was. His worst nightmare, bubbling and steaming and spewing out a foul smell.
“Is it ready?”
His master’s voice came from behind him. Quickly, he bent into a low bow, averting his eyes from his master’s visage.
“Yes, my lord,” he said in a voice that was hoarse from screaming.
“Good,” his master hissed. “Bring it to the yard; let it boil there as we wait for Potter.”
“Yes, my lord,” he replied. He put out the fire with a flick of his wand and gripped the cauldron’s handles. He felt sure that they were hot since the liquid had been boiling just a moment ago, but the skin of his hands was so destroyed already that he did not care. He lifted it carefully and stepping slowly, he exited the small room and moved through the kitchen to the back door. He blinked in the sunlight for half a moment, then started towards the east and the still rising sun. Once he reached the first of the tombstones he began walking more slowly, reading each stone as he passed it
“Thomas Riddle,” he whispered. “Thomas Riddle.”
He found it; a broad, smooth, white marble block topped by a hooded angel bearing a tall staff. Beside it was the grave of Thomas Riddle Sr., and his wife. A perfect little family. And all of them killed by Thomas Riddle the third.
He conjured a stand and placed the cauldron on it. He lit a fire beneath it. He ran his hands through his hair and said a silent prayer for the world.
Lord Voldemort was coming back.
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