|SIYE Time:18:35 on 23rd May 2017|
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: 71017; Chapter Total: 1656
Wonderful and Wild Magic
The light outside Dumbledore’s office was soft and orange. Ginny sat with her arms around Harry, his face buried in her shoulder. He was quiet, but the adults before her were not.
Her mother was screaming at Dumbledore, and Ginny couldn’t actually tell what she was saying anymore. Nor did she care, particularly. She did remember that somehow, her mother was angry about everything that had happened that night and was ready to pin the entire thing as the Ministry’s fault if he did not give her a better answer. Dumbledore was simply trying to calm her down, as was her father, but Sirius was fueling her rage by popping up every few seconds with another thing the Ministry could have done to prevent all of what had happened despite Remus grabbing his arm every time he opened his mouth. This had been going on for the past fifteen minutes ever since Harry had finished telling them what had happened.
Ginny was sick of it.
“Mum!” she finally shouted.
“What?” her mother said with exasperation.
“Stop yelling at Dumbledore and yell at Fudge, if you’re so concerned that it’s all his fault,” Ginny snapped.
Mum flushed slightly. “Well, I can’t exactly yell at the Minister of Magic,” she blustered.
“And yelling at the Headmaster of Hogwarts is better how?”
Her mother looked at her feet. Dumbledore turned to Ginny with a quick look of gratitude.
“We will solve this, Molly,” Dumbledore assured her.
“How?” Mum demanded.
Dumbledore did not immediately answer. Mum’s shoulders sagged. She turned to Ginny and Harry, then took a step forward and dropped down beside Harry. She wrapped her arms around him and began slowly rubbing his shoulder. Harry grabbed her hand and held onto it. Dumbledore’s eyes, lacking any of their usual sparkle, peered over his half-moon glasses at the three of them.
“Somehow,” he murmured.
The doors to Dumbledore’s office burst open and in strode Fudge, Madam Maxime, Karkaroff, and Professor Moody.
“Dumbledore! This is unacceptable! You cannot expect me to believe this cock and bull story Potter has come up with; I want an explanation!” Fudge said, walking up to Dumbledore’s desk with a red face.
“We are working on one,” Dumbledore said.
“’Ow was it zat one of your own teachers gravely injured two students, killed another, and kidnapped this poor boy!” Maxime demanded. “Fleur ‘as still not woken up!”
“Professor Sinestra was acting on her own,” Dumbledore began.
Fudge opened his mouth, still red in the face, yet Harry spoke before he could. “She wasn’t.”
All the adults turned to Harry. He lifted his head, but let his gaze remain on the floor. His voice was croaky and soft, but he spoke on. “Bagman was helping her. And Crouch, someone was impersonating him.”
“Impersonating a Ministry Official?” Fudge spluttered.
“It was a younger man, probably close to thirty, with sandy blonde hair and a similar voice. Voldemort still referred to him as Barty,” Harry said.
“Crouch had a son named after him; Barty Crouch, Jr.,” Moody grunted.
“Barty Crouch, Jr., is dead!” Fudge snapped at Moody. “And you are even less believable than Potter, so stay quiet!” The ex-Auror glared at him a moment, then stumped away, slamming the door behind him.
“Somehow he isn’t,” Harry said after a moment. “But Bagman was definitely a Death Eater; he had the mark…”
Fudge suddenly waved his hands frantically in the air. “No, no, this is not possible! Crouch, Jr., is dead and so is — You-Know-Who!”
“Not anymore,” Dumbledore said gravely.
Fudge jabbed a finger at Dumbledore. “I will not accept the word of two fourth year students!” he cried. “Potter’s got a history for being dramatic and that girl,” he pointed to Ginny, “once attacked the entire Muggleborn population of Hogwarts! I shall not believe anything they spit out.”
Ginny glared at Fudge; both Karkaroff and Maxime were looking at her strangely now. “The only source you have for Harry’s drama, as you put it, is the word of a cheap gossip journalist!”
Fudge glared at her. “I know for a fact that you, on the other hand, are a risk,” he said.
“My daughter is no risk!” her father burst out.
“She nearly killed half of the Muggleborns in Hogwarts!”
“She was being possessed!”
Fudge waved his hands in the air again, as though he were trying to avoid the truth of their words. “No, no, no! I will not accept such foolishness! Dumbledore, I want a reasonable explanation and I want it now!”
Professor Dumbledore’s gaze moved back to Harry and Ginny. Ginny felt that same prickle that she had when Dumbledore had entered her mind to speak with Harry, and allowed it in.
“Convincing him would be as irrational as he,” his voice whispered in their minds. “I believe it would be best to lie low whilst we prepare.”
Harry gave the tiniest of nods; Fudge, angled towards Dumbledore, did not see it.
“Ms. Sinestra’s mental health has been fragile for quite some time,” Dumbledore said softly. “She posed no danger to any of the students, or so it seemed, so I allowed her to remain here, as it appeared as if her study of the stars and her teaching were helping her keep a firmer grip on reality. However, I now see that she was merely biding her time until such a point where she could lash out. Ms. Sinestra lacked the mark of a Death Eater, which also contributed to her ability to fool me. I cannot explain the actions of the two Ministry workers, but I will want an action regarding Mr. Bagman’s behavior towards my students.” The Minister looked doubly flustered.
“Bagman? Your students? What?”
Dumbledore eyed Fudge harshly over his glasses. “I have been receiving anonymous reports since February that his attitude to the female students is more friendly than would be acceptable. Only recently was a student willing to give her name, after accusing him of extremely improper behavior towards while drunk. Her parents are pressing charges, and I will back them up.”
Fudge deflated. “Oh. Yes. Yes, that must have been the problem here. Bagman never let on to any kind of… preference while working for the Ministry, but indeed a thorough search into his actions will be completed, I assure you. And, uh, please have this girl’s parents contact me so I might express my apologies and offer help in their case.”
Ginny stared at her feet. She had always gotten a funny feeling whenever Bagman was around, but she’d always thought it was just his exuberant personality that set her on edge. She guessed that she was, perhaps, fortunate that she had always been slightly wary of him.
“In the case of Mr. Crouch, I believe that his house elf reported that he was showing signs of decline in his old age before he released her from his employ. I do recall one of his colleagues telling me that he was forgetting things.”
Fudge glanced over at Harry and Ginny. “Yes, it was merely the actions of three addled minds. I will deal with the press, and Mr. Diggory’s parents shall receive aid after the tragic accident that claimed the life of their son.”
Harry gritted his teeth. Sinestra pushing a foot long knife into his ribs was no accident.
“We shall have to remain silent for now, Harry,” Dumbledore’s voice reminded them. “Once we have sufficient evidence to prove the return of the Dark Lord, we will reveal everything.”
Ginny gave Harry’s hand a squeeze and nodded to Dumbledore.
Finally Fudge fixed his gaze on Harry. “Harry, my boy, please accept the Ministry’s sincerest apologies that we did not catch the signs of any of these three individual’s instability. As soon as they are caught, they will be sentenced to a good long time in Azkaban.”
Harry couldn’t think of how to reply, so he merely nodded. Fudge inclined his head to the others in the room, then left. Karkaroff glanced around, then followed the Minister out, but Maxime stayed.
“I ‘ope you do not expect me to believe a moment of zat man’s weak explanations,” she said to Dumbledore.
“You would believe Harry’s story?” Dumbledore asked.
“I would,” Maxime said. “As I know they are bonded, I understand ‘ow Miss Weazley knows.”
Ginny was stunned. She looked to Dumbledore but found that he was just as startled. She looked around, but every face was displaying the same shock.
“Bonded?” Dumbledore said.
“Do not try to deny,” Maxime said dismissively. “I know. I ‘ave not seen two people connected as closely as zese two in my life.”
“How?” Ginny asked.
Maxime looked at her with something akin to pride. “I am bonded myself,” she told them. “Not nearly as tightly as you and Mr. Potter, but enough zat I may recognize any signs of it.”
Ginny glanced at Harry, who shrugged.
“But zis is not ze point,” Maxime turned back to Dumbledore. “Ze Dark Lord has risen again, yes?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore answered, still a bit startled. “Yes, he has. I cannot say how or through what method, but he is.”
“You led the resistance during his last regime,” Maxime began. “What do you propose we do?”
“We will remain quiet,” Dumbledore said. “For now. We shall slowly build up our defense. Voldemort currently is low on supporters,” he told them. “What few that escaped imprisonment in Azkaban were only half of those that responded to his call. He will want to build up his own ranks and defenses before exposing himself.”
“So we prepare,” Maxime said. “Very well. I shall increase my student’s study of defense; I suggest you do the same.”
“Professor Lupin has already been teaching them a myriad of defensive spells and techniques,” Dumbledore said, gesturing to Remus. “I suggest that any of your students’ families that might believe that he is back, you warn. I will do the same.”
“Shall we include Karkaroff?”
Dumbledore hesitated before answering. “No. His school is far enough away from Voldemort’s old stomping grounds that Durmstrang is not much of a target. Likely, he will go into hiding anyway as he did not answer the call to arms and Durmstrang will have to take a new Headmaster.”
Maxime nodded. “Yes, you are right. Very well. I must go and speak wiz Monsieur and Madame Delacour. I wish you luck, Dumbly-door.”
Dumbledore inclined his head to her and she left the room.
“What should we do?” Dad asked him.
“Be on your guard,” Dumbledore told him. “I will reform the Order of the Phoenix, and must ask you if you would rejoin.”
“Of course,” Mum said. “Anything to help.”
Dumbledore nodded. “Good. Second, I will ask you to allow me to personally place wards over your home. We will not use the Fidelius just yet, but once Voldemort exposes himself, I will.”
Mum nodded. “Thank you, Professor.”
The doors to Dumbledore’s office flew open again and Moody strode in, pulling along the very same man who’d brewed Voldemort’s potion. Harry tensed, and oddly enough, so did her mother.
“Alastor,” Dumbledore said. “What is this?”
“He brought the other three out of the maze,” Moody said. “Said he wanted to talk with you personally.”
The man took a step forward. He was squinting at the light, and wringing his hands. His hair was long and unwashed, he wore a beard almost as tangled as Hagrid’s, his hands and arms bore the marks of spells and burns, and he was emaciated, like he’d been living on scraps for years.
“I want your protection,” the man said in his hoarse voice.
“What makes you think I’d grant it?” Dumbledore said.
The man pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket and held it out. Dumbledore came out from behind his desk and took the paper. Ginny’s mother stretched her arm to reach across both Harry’s shoulders and Ginny’s. Ginny glanced at her and saw a mixture of worry and confusion on her face.
“Where did you find this?” Dumbledore asked the man softly.
“The book itself,” he replied.
“Would you have the book?” Dumbledore pressed.
The man nodded. “Protection?”
“Yes, you have it,” Dumbledore said. “The book.”
The man pulled a worn, leather bound journal-like tome from his robes and handed it over. Dumbledore took it and turned to the very last page.
“Oh my god,” he whispered.
“What is it?” Ginny asked.
“Has Voldemort had time to study this?” Dumbledore asked.
“No,” he answered. “But there’s copies of parts of it, at the house.”
Dumbledore’s face was white. “Copies?”
“Yeah. Philip was copying it down as I translated and decoded it.”
Dumbledore closed the book and set it on his desk. “My god,” he said again.
“Excuse me,” Ginny said. “But what is it?”
“And who is he?” Sirius asked.
“Abraham Vance,” the man said.
“Brom,” Mum said. Ginny glanced at her father; his face was white.
Abraham Vance glanced at her sharply. “Molly?”
Mum nodded. “But — you were dead,” she whispered.
Vance shook his head. “Kidnapped,” he told her.
Vance’s shoulders fell. “I haven’t seen her in years,” he answered, his voice hollow.
“Mum?” Ginny said. “You know him?”
“He was a friend of my brother’s in school,” Mum answered absently. “I was close with his wife.”
Ginny turned her gaze back on Vance. His eyes were flat and empty.
“Which parts were copied?” Dumbledore asked.
Vance looked away. “I dunno. Philip ne’er said.”
Dumbledore stroked his beard, looking down at the book in his hands. “Would you be able to tell me if — if the Corivini Odere spell was copied?”
“What is that?” Sirius asked Dumbledore.
“This book…” he began. “This book is one of the original copies of the Black Book of Felicia Tiberina.”
Remus frowned. “The woman who invented the Cruciatus?” Both Harry and Ginny stiffened, looking up at Dumbledore with wide eyes.
Dumbledore nodded. “As well as the Imperius. She invented nearly a quarter of the Darkest spells and potions known to man. She created so many she chose to write them all down and create her own spellbook.”
Ginny suddenly eyed the book with suspicion. Dumbledore continued. “There were a total of fifty copies ever made, by her many apprentices, but 28 of those have been destroyed and another 13 confiscated by the Ministry. There was one copy in the Restricted Section, but I removed it and it is currently locked in my private library as Hogwarts books have been heavily enchanted to resist any, conscious or not, attempts to destroy them.”
“Leaving eight unaccounted for,” Remus said.
“Yes,” Dumbledore said. “But with the discovery of this, that would make seven.”
“No, eight,” Vance said.
Dumbledore frowned. “I suppose that this Philip character’s copy could count but —”
Vance shook his head. “It’s not a complete copy so it wouldn’t, but that isn’t one of the original fifty copies.”
Dumbledore’s frown deepened. “You believe that there were more copies made after her death?”
Vance shook his head again. “No, that’s not a copy.”
Dumbledore set the book on his desk. “What are you implying?”
“That is the original Black Book.”
“The original was destroyed,” Dumbledore said. “I personally know the man who burned it.”
“That was probably the backup copy Felicia made herself,” Vance said. “That is the very first of her spellbooks ever written.”
Dumbledore looked down at the book, then he hurried away to the staircase leading up to the upper level of his office, and disappeared in a doorway. A moment later, he reappeared holding an equally worn, leather tome. He opened both books to the final pages, and whispered to himself.
“My god,” he repeated once again.
“Original,” Vance declared.
Dumbledore turned to him. “Where did you get this?” he asked.
“Aurora Sinestra bought it,” Vance said. “From a bookshop in Knockturn Ally.”
“Where did they get it?”
“Malfoy sold it,” Harry said.
Dumbledore turned to Harry. “Lucius Malfoy had the original spellbook of Felicia Tiberina?” he said.
“Probably didn’t know that it was,” Vance said with a shrug. “The book was in her native dialect, a mash-up of Latin words and Greek characters, and encoded very heavily.”
“So heavily that it took you from August to early May to completely decode it,” Ginny said.
Vance looked at her. “Yeah. How’d you know?”
“Miss Weasley seems to have the gift of prophetic dreams,” Dumbledore answered. Ginny glanced at her parents, but since they didn’t look surprised she supposed that Dumbledore had written them about it.
Vance nodded appreciatively. “Vanessa had a way with divination,” he murmured.
Dumbledore stroked his beard again. “I suppose that this is what you used to bring Lord Voldemort back?”
“No magic can awaken the dead,” Remus put in.
“That’d be true, and it would’ve meant You-Know-Who was screwed, ‘cept he wasn’t dead.”
Dumbledore eyed Vance cautiously. “So I suspected.”
“He lived through Black Magic,” Vance said. “There’s a recipe for it in the spellbook, but she didn’t come up with it.”
“And what Black Magic would that be?”
“He made a deal with the devil,” Vance answered hoarsely.
Dumbledore looked up sharply. “Excuse me?”
“He made a deal with the devil,” Vance repeated.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“I mean he sold his soul to the devil for the power to escape death.”
“A cursed object, the spell’s in there. You kill a young person, preferably virtuous and a virgin, and trap their soul, then summon the devil, and the devil cuts part of your soul out of your body and places it into an object, tying your soul to the mortal world forevermore unless it is destroyed. The devil then takes the soul of the person you killed and damns it, unless the object and you, everything holding your soul, are destroyed.”
Dumbledore’s face went, if possible, even whiter. “A Horcrux,” he said.
Ginny looked between Dumbledore, Vance, and Harry. “So he can’t die?” she said.
Abraham Vance fixed his eyes on hers. “Unless those objects are destroyed, his soul won’t ever leave the mortal plane. His body can expire or be destroyed, howe’er his soul will remain.”
Ginny’s eyes met Harry’s. His face showed only weariness, but she felt the fear still pulsating through him. She gripped his hands tighter.
“This bodes ill,” Dumbledore whispered. “I knew he was using the Dark Arts to preserve his life, but I had no idea how deep it went…”
Dumbledore’s eyes suddenly moved to the pair of them sitting with Molly. His normally bright blue irises were a duller color as he stared at them. His expression displayed the many worrisome years he’d lived and the apprehension he now held.
“I suspected…” he murmured. “But now… I suppose that this proves it…”
“Proves what?” Mum asked.
Dumbledore glanced at Vance. “Alastor, if you would please escort Mr. Vance to the Hospital Wing for medicine and a hot meal.”
Vance bowed his head in thanks as Moody opened the door with his wand. The two left, and Moody pulled the doors shut behind him.
Dumbledore’s gaze drifted over to where Harry and Ginny were sitting once more. “I had suspected, no, dreaded —” his voice was quiet, as though he wasn't meaning for them to hear — "ever since you brought it to me two years ago what it was…” he went on, and even though he trailed off halfway through the sentence, Ginny understood what he meant.
“The diary,” she murmured. Dumbledore nodded vaguely.
“Yes. The diary.” He slowly lowered himself into his chair, his hands coming up to rub his temples. “Such black magic should have been removed from our libraries centuries ago.”
“There was a recipe for a — a Horcrux —” Remus breathed the word as if scared it would attack him — “in the Hogwarts library?”
Dumbledore gestured to the Black Book of Felicia Tiberina on his desk. “As a copy of this was in our library, what would you expect? The recipe for a Horcrux was not in that copy, however there were other books that mentioned it. I had them relocated to the Headmaster’s Library once I became Headmaster, but I should have known I was too late.”
Ginny glanced up to a portrait of a wizened old man with fluffy white hair behind Dumbledore’s desk; Armando Dippet snored particularly loudly.
“Do you mean to say that You-Know-Who learned how to make one of those from a library book?” Sirius burst out.
“I was not Headmaster when Tom Riddle attended Hogwarts,” Dumbledore said, a touch of anger in his voice. “I had pleaded on several occasions with Professor Dippet to remove those books that gave specifics or even allusions on the subject, however as all of them contained some other magic that our seventh years needed to study, in his eyes," Dumbledore gave a sigh, "he deemed it necessary to leave them.”
Sirius’s face fell. “I see,” he muttered.
Dumbledore looked up at them. He fixed his gaze on Harry once more, then sighed. “Mrs. Weasley, if you would accompany me to the Hospital Wing to escort Harry and Ginny?”
Ginny’s mother nodded quickly. She stood and pulled Harry up with her. “Come along dears,” she murmured. “It’s best if you went to bed.”
Harry put his arm around her waist; she put hers on his shoulder blade and began moving her hand in a slow, circular pattern. Mum had her arm through his and she led them to the door as Dumbledore came up behind them. He led them away, as Sirius, Remus, and her father followed them. Ginny didn’t pay attention to where her feet were going. Her parents flanked her and Harry as they moved, Dumbledore in front and Sirius and Remus behind. Before she realized it, they had entered the Hospital Wing and Mum had pushed them onto a bed.
Harry was still staring blankly at his feet, his arm tightly gripping her waist. She lowered her head onto his shoulder and whispered in her mind. It’ll be alright.
Slowly, he shook his head.
Later, Ginny only vaguely remembered Madam Pomfrey giving them both Dreamless Sleep Potions. As her eyes began to close, she heard Dumbledore speaking with her parents and the matron, and then curtains were set up around the bed they sat on and the next one, then Madam Pomfrey pushed the two beds up against each other. Mum came in, then another curtain was set up and her mother helped her into clean pajamas. When the extra curtain was put away, she saw Harry asleep on the bed in his own pajamas, Remus and Sirius standing by the bed. Dad was sitting in a chair near the foot of her bed. Mum helped her lay down, then pulled the blankets up over her. She only vaguely registered that there was no gap between the two beds and that she and Harry shared blankets. She laid her head on the pillow and took Harry’s hand. He sleepily raised her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles, then she too fell asleep.
When Ginny next awoke, there was a candle on the nightstand and her bladder was demanding attention. She blearily sat up and rubbed her eyes, then slipped out of the curtained off area. The light of the candle barely reached past the curtains, so she quickly turned back to fetch it. She made her way quickly but sleepily to the bathroom and back after washing her hands. Ginny set the candle back and saw both of her dad and Sirius asleep in chairs by the two beds. She wondered why they were both there, then saw that the beds had been pushed together. She was at first confused, then she remembered what had happened. She climbed back under the blankets, where immediately Harry shifted and threw his arm out. Ginny hesitated, then lay down against his side, putting her head on his arm. The soft cotton of his pajama sleeve was cool against her cheek; she was soon asleep.
“Ginny, Harry, wake up!”
Ginny opened one eye. Was she in trouble? Mum had specifically helped her lay down in a bed pushed up against Harry’s; that must have meant she was okay with it. She blinked to clear sleep and saw Sirius leaning over the bed, shaking Harry’s shoulder.
“What?” he mumbled.
“Fudge is coming in to speak with you,” he said. “We have to move the beds.”
So they were not in trouble. Ginny rubbed at her face, then shifted. She had been laying with her back to Harry’s side with her head resting on a pillow she’d pulled to his arm. As she moved Harry rolled over, ignoring Sirius, and threw his arm over her waist. Ginny, heavily tempted to stay put, didn’t immediately move.
“The Minister of Magic is coming,” Ginny heard her mother’s voice above her. She pouted; it was so warm under the blankets with her best friend. Reluctantly, she moved Harry’s arm and pushed him over to his bed.
Whaaat? Harry’s voice came to her with sleep and irritation. Now I’m cold.
Fudge is coming.
To fudge with Fudge.
Is that even the right replacement for the right curse?
Ginny felt her bed move, and the blankets were suddenly two sets. Mum adjusted her blankets and fluffed her pillows. Ginny caught her mother’s hand and then her mother bent down and hugged her.
“You’re alright, my pet,” she whispered. She kissed the top of Ginny’s head, then pulled back. Ginny rolled over to look at Harry. She stifled a snort. He had a scowl on his face and his eyes were only half open, and in her mind she could see from his point of view that it was suddenly too cold where he was.
The curtains were suddenly pulled back and Remus strode in. “Fudge is here,” he breathed, and then the Minister himself appeared in the doorway of the infirmary, followed by McGonagall.
“They are resting!” McGonagall hissed.
“I need to speak with Potter,” Fudge snapped at her. He strode right past Remus and stopped at Harry’s bed.
“Harry, are you awake?” he said in a voice that was loud enough that it would have woken him if he hadn’t already been up.
“No,” Harry grumbled.
“Good. I must speak to you about the Tournament. I have taken Miss Delacour and Mister Krum’s statement and they have both agreed that you reached the trophy first.”
“Can’t this wait, Minister?” Mum asked.
“No, no, I won’t take long. The ceremony to declare you winner is scheduled for this afternoon at 1 o’clock sharp, Harry.”
Harry sat up very suddenly and Ginny felt his head go light. He shuddered and Sirius gripped his shoulder. Harry squinted at Fudge. “What?” he said.
“You have won the Tri-Wizard Tournament,” Fudge said. “It is best we brush over the whole business of last night and help the people move on before panic ensues, you see. There’ll be a reporter and a photographer from the Daily Prophet coming and you’ll be asked to give a short statement; I’d ask that you take a moment to reassure the public that last night’s accidents were merely that, accidents.”
“You want me to help you cover up Cedric’s mur —”
Remember, Dumbledore wants quiet!
Harry stopped mid-sentence. He glanced at her, then he scowled for real. “I’m not giving a statement.”
“Minister,” Professor McGonagall said sternly. “Mr. Potter and Miss Weasley need their rest. Please excuse yourself; you may speak to them later.”
Fudge shot her an angry look. “I shall speak to them now, if I like. Fortunately for you, I have said all I need to say.” He gave a short bow to Harry, then strode away. Harry fell back against his pillows with a huff.
“I will not give some bullshit statement to the Prophet,” he said firmly.
Both Mum and McGonagall glared at his wording. He lost a bit of his boldness and muttered an apology. Ginny rolled her eyes.
“You are not required to speak to the reporter,” McGonagall said, “unfortunately you must attend. Dumbledore will explain it all to you later. It is only half past eight, go back to sleep.” She glanced at Mum, then nodded at the beds and left.
“Let’s get you two back together,” Mum said softly.
“Why are you letting us sleep like that?” Ginny asked as she and Sirius levitated the beds together again.
“Dumbledore thought it would be best after what you went through,” she said softly.
“We were worried if we kept you too far apart, you might get a panic attack or whatever it was like you did in February,” Sirius continued.
Ginny nodded. Her mother charmed the blankets into one, and she pulled her pillow closer to Harry’s. Harry took her hand and held it on his pillow, his eyes closed. He was asleep again.
Later, her mother came back and woke them up. She and Madam Pomfrey put the beds back and put a curtain between the two so they could get dressed. Mum had brought her a set of the robes she’d bought last summer as well as the pair of black pumps. When she stepped out, she saw Harry was wearing nice robes as well. She raised her eyebrows at her mother.
“For the ceremony,” Mum said. “Now, come along, we’ll have lunch in the Great Hall with everyone else.”
Ginny took Harry’s hand. He smiled at her and squeezed her hand, and they followed her mother to the Great Hall. When they arrived, they found it nearly full. The hall fell suddenly silent, every eye on Harry.
Mum steered Harry as quickly as possible to the Gryffindor table. Fred and George made room for them in between them and they sat down, Fred on Ginny’s right and George on Harry’s left. Talk slowly resumed; they ate their lunch in silence however. As soon as they finished, Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny left the hall to wander out to the grounds. It was almost one, and those still in the Great Hall would soon find themselves being asked to leave in order to prepare for the Awards Ceremony.
“Did someone tell you what happened?” Harry asked Hermione and Ron.
They nodded. “Mum explained,” Ron said.
Hermione hugged Harry quickly, then Ginny. She left her arm entwined with Ginny’s. “I’m so sorry, Harry,” Hermione said. Harry only shrugged.
“It wasn’t your fault,” he said.
Ginny squeezed his hand again. “Dumbledore’s worried we might get attacks again like we did in February.”
Ron stiffened. “He doesn’t think you’ve got even less time apart, does he? You’re barely getting seven hours of sleep per night as it is.”
Ginny shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter to me if we do; we’d just ask Dumbledore to give us special quarters.”
“Is he allowed to do that?” Hermione asked. “I mean, you’d be allowed them if you were married, but as far as I’m aware two students of opposite gender aren’t allowed to stay in the same room without supervision.”
The three of them looked at her. “How do you know that?” Ron asked.
“I looked it up after this first happened.”
Harry shrugged. “Maybe we’ll have to. I don’t know. First we have to deal with this — this ceremony. Fudge wants me to tell the Prophet that everything that happened was an accident.”
Ron scowled. “Why can’t we just say that You-Know-Who is back?”
Harry shrugged. “Dumbledore said that since barely any Death Eaters answered Voldemort’s call —” Ron and Hermione flinched — “he would lay low until he got more supporters, so we should do the same.”
Hermione nodded understandingly. “That sounds reasonable.”
Harry nodded vaguely. His gaze had drifted to the distant Quidditch Pitch, where the maze was still standing. Ginny hoped they would destroy it soon.
“Mr. Potter,” McGonagall’s voice rang out behind them. “We’re ready for you.”
They followed McGonagall back inside, as she did she gave Harry a recap of what Fudge was trying to do. It sounded to Ginny as if the Minister was merely trying to save his own neck rather than calm the public, but she didn't say anything. The tables had been put away and the room was filled with chairs. Ron and Hermione went to take seats with the Fred and George, while McGonagall led Harry and Ginny up to the raised platform. The hall was mostly empty at that time, but Remus and Sirius were sitting in chairs where the top table would normally be. Harry sat down next to Sirius, and they watched the hall fill. Mr. and Mrs. Diggory took seats in one of the first rows; they were both crying silently. Madam Maxime led Fleur to sit Remus, then Krum joined them. Karkaroff was missing. Krum sat on Ginny’s right, and caught Harry’s eye.
“Did Fudge ask you to lie as vell?” Krum asked him softly. Harry nodded. Krum snorted. “Your Headmaster asks me to say nothing; he says he has a plan. Is this true?” Harry nodded again. Krum set his jaw, then looked down at his arms. Or rather arm. His right arm was nothing but a bandaged stump at the elbow. He held his wand tightly in his left hand.
“How will you cope?” Ginny asked him softly.
Krum shrugged. “As a Quidditch Player, I have had to learn to use both hands. My right was always better, but I can still go about using my left.”
Ginny nodded. She grasped his hand and gave it a squeeze, then let go. Krum stared down at his hand, his face blank.
Finally, the hall had filled. Fudge and two other official looking wizards mounted the platform with Dumbledore. There was unenthusiastic applause. Dumbledore caught their eyes and subtly touched a finger to his lips. Fudge stepped up to the edge of the platform with a wide smile and open arms.
“Thank you!” he said, his voice echoing through the hall. “Welcome to the Final Awards of the Tri-Wizard Tournament!”
Fudge’s demeanor softened. “I must first ask, before we commence, that we hold a moment of silence for Cedric Diggory. Cedric was struck down by a wyvern in last night’s task, and despite his great effort to get to the edge of the maze to find help, he passed away. Please join me in honoring his memory.”
Fudge clasped his hands before him and stared down at the ground. The hall had been silent even before he had spoken, and remained so. A moment later, shorter than Ginny would have liked, Fudge looked up and smiled.
“In accordance with Mr. Diggory’s parents’ wishes, we shall still hold our awards to honor those who completed the Third Task. In last place, we have Miss Fleur Delacour!”
There was a smattering of applause. No one cheered. Fudge waved Fleur forward, shook her hand, then smiled for a photographer that was sitting in the front row. “Miss Delacour, please accept this medal for your accomplishment.”
He turned and one of the other two wizards handed him a fine velvet box. He opened it, paused for the camera flash, then Fleur bowed her head and Fudge draped it over her neck. The bronze medal, shaped like a sun, glinted in the light. The camera flashed again and Fudge closed the box. She took it, curtsied to the crowd and then to him, and returned to her seat.
“In second place is Viktor Krum!”
Krum rose to his feet and strode forward. Fudge held out his right hand, then quickly retracted and held out his left. The camera flashed and Fudge repeated the same process. He draped a silver medal of the same shape as Fleur’s around Krum’s neck, then Krum returned to his seat.
“In first place, we have Harry Potter! Mr. Potter reached the Tri-Wizard Trophy first of our champions, and it is with great honor I award him first place, with it the Trophy, its medal, and the thousand galleon prize!”
Harry rose to his feet. He shook hands with Fudge. Fudge gave him his medal, and then the bag of gold and lastly the trophy. Harry moved robotically, stopping so the photographer could capture the image of Fudge shaking his hand again while Harry held the trophy, then returned to his seat. Fudge then launched into a speech about the Tri-Wizard Tournament itself, how he hoped that it had brought them all together, that they had all learned a lot that year, and a lot of more political waffle. Neither of them paid him attention. They would get the important bits from Hermione later.
When Fudge finally finished, Dumbledore began the applause, probably to be sure there was any. Fudge bowed to the crowd, and he and the other two Ministry officials left the stage.
Dumbledore rose and stepped forward. “You are dismissed,” he said. Ginny straightened. She had felt sure he would have said something. It seemed many in the audience thought the same, for there was grumbling as they stood and made their way out of the Great Hall. Ginny took the trophy from Harry as he pushed the sack of gold into his robes and they followed Remus and Sirius down the steps and out of the hall. Ginny caught sight of more than one reporter hurrying their way towards them, but Sirius and Remus both placed themselves in the way. The crowd was huge, yet Remus gripped Harry’s shoulder and steered him up the marble staircase, then away from everyone else and towards the Defense Against the Dark Arts room. Sirius opened the doors for them and they entered the two teachers quarters off of Remus’s office. Ginny look around and saw that the sitting room was moderately tidy; the two bedroom doors were open and in one she could see that it was neat and ordered, whereas the other was messy and there were clothes piled on the floor. She guessed that the latter belonged to Sirius. Harry dropped down onto a couch and closed his eyes. He then pulled off the medal and set it down on the coffee table. Remus moved towards the kitchenette that was off the sitting room and started to make tea.
“Do you want me to go to Gringotts and deposit that gold for you?” Sirius asked Harry as he closed the door to the messier of the two bedrooms.
Harry pulled it from his pocket and stared at it. Then, he shook his head. “No, I’ve got a plan.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow but said nothing. The kettle whistled and Remus poured water into four mugs with tea bags in them. Ginny set down Harry’s trophy and moved to the kitchen and took two of the mugs while Remus took the others, then they both joined Sirius and Harry by the couches. She handed Harry his cup then sat down. Harry murmured a thanks and sipped at it. Remus gave Sirius a cup then sat down on an armchair. Sirius sat himself on the arm of Remus’s chair, leaning towards him.
“What are we going to do?” Harry asked.
“Finish our tea,” Remus said, taking a sip.
Harry put the cup down. “No, I’m being serious.”
“I’m Sirius,” said Sirius.
Harry shook his head. “No, not — forget it. What are we going to do about Voldemort?”
The two of them did not flinch. Remus merely took another sip of his tea and set his hand on Sirius’s knee. “We will continue your schooling. Perhaps with more dueling lessons, but for the most part you will not need to do anything.”
Harry scowled. “What d’you mean, nothing?”
Sirius held up a hand. “Not literally nothing, but in essence, the only thing that will change for you is you’ll have increased security. Dumbledore promised to put up wards around the Burrow and your grandmother’s farm, more than those already there.”
“Gram has wards?” Harry said.
“Of course,” Remus said. “When the war first began, Dumbledore put wards over the house of every member and their immediate family if they were in danger. When You-Know-Who first went after you, he put up wards around your grandmother’s house and your aunt’s because they were Muggles, especially since your grandfather was in such a weak state at the time.”
Harry frowned. “My grandfather?” Ginny glanced at him. I’d never thought about a grandfather, he thought. She squeezed his hand.
“Yeah, your granddad,” Sirius said. “I talked to him at your parents’ wedding, though not any other time. He was a nice bloke, but he had cancer.”
“Lung cancer,” Remus elaborated. Sirius nodded then went on.
“The poor man could barely take two steps without wheezing. He had this thing in his nose that helped him breathe though.”
“An oxygen tube?” Harry asked. Remus nodded.
“He died a little more than a month before… before your parents did. You were actually the last person he talked to.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “I don’t remember.”
“Well, of course you wouldn’t,” Sirius said. “You were only 13 months old. We had to drive you and your parents to Ottery St. Catchpole so Lily could say goodbye to him before he went, she did, he asked to hold you, then he spoke to you and he died.”
“But — but my gram implied he and my mother didn’t get on,” Harry said.
Sirius shrugged. “Mr. Evans went to church, so it was probably magic he disagreed with but I never saw them say an unkind thing to each other.”
I’m sure they were on good terms when he died, Ginny thought.
Yeah. I hope so.
“What did he say?” Ginny asked.
“What?” Remus said.
“Mr. Evans, what did he say to Harry?”
Remus looked downwards. “I… I don’t know. I wasn’t there.”
Sirius looked uncomfortable. He gripped Remus’s shoulder, but answered her question. “He said something along the lines of be a good boy, don’t upset your parents, I love you, y’know.”
Harry nodded vaguely. The knowledge that he had been the reciever of a man’s last words seemed less important to him at that time. “But then those wards would still be up?”
“They should be. Dumbledore will strengthen and double them anyway. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d done it already,” his godfather answered him.
Harry raised up his arms and stretched, yawning as he did. He still felt very tired, despite having more sleep than normal.
You want to go back to bed? Ginny suggested.
Harry shook his head. “Not now.”
“Not now what?” Sirius asked. Harry started; he hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud. Ginny smirked. Then Sirius seemed to get it and he sighed. “Telepaths,” he muttered. Remus chuckled.
There was a knock at the door and both Remus and Sirius jumped up. They glanced at Harry and Ginny, then at each other; Sirius cleared his throat and gestured to the door. Remus rolled his eyes and went to answer it. Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall came in, along with her parents. Ginny waved to them slightly as she set down her tea.
“We have been discussing your situation,” Dumbledore said. “As the exams are nearly all done, we will send all the students home next Friday. O.W.L.’s and N.E.W.T.’s will be finished by then, and all other exams as well.”
Ginny nodded. She’d hoped that she’d gotten good marks. Harry hadn’t had to take them as he was in the Tournament.
“In the meantime, you two will remain in the Hospital Wing. Madam Pomfrey and Mrs. Weasley shall monitor you for any changes, but I am afraid that we will have to perform an experiment.”
Ginny glanced at her parents. They were looking grim.
Dumbledore continued. “The last we knew, you are able to withstand eight hours of separation. During school months, you were able to get to each other in the morning before anything amiss could happen, however at home the situation will be different.”
Harry glanced at her. His neck was turning pink.
“We need to know precisely how long you can manage without the other,” Dumbledore said. “If it has become any shorter than eight hours, your parents, Ginny, have agreed to allow you to share a room at home; I also contacted your aunt and grandmother, Harry, and they also agreed.”
Ginny raised her eyebrows. Her parents wanted, actually wanted, her to share a room with a boy? They’d gotten antsy when she was still sharing with Ron at the age of eight, how could they be willing now that she was fifteen?
Probably because they’re worried that we’ll blow up the face of the earth if we don’t, Harry thought. She stifled a smile but agreed with him.
“What will we need to do?” she asked.
Dumbledore straightened his spine. “After all the other students have gone home, you two will remain. I will have one of you in the East Wing, and the other in the West. Harry will be with Remus and Sirius, and Ginny, you will be with your parents. They will have a Portkey with them that as soon as one of you fall ill, they will use it to get to the other.”
“What if we both Portkey at the same time?” Harry asked.
“The Portkey will take you to the Great Hall,” Dumbledore said. “When one is activated, the other will glow and activate as well so you both would be transported.”
Ginny nodded. “And we’d have to do only a max of eight hours?”
“Seven and a half,” Dumbledore said. “If nothing happens by then, you will activate your Portkey and join me in the Great Hall to come up with further plans.”
Ginny looked to Harry. Didn’t we hear about something like this before? Harry thought. In that journal?
“Professor,” Ginny said, “didn’t Headmaster Kyrillos attempt something similar once?” Dumbledore nodded. She continued before he could. “Didn’t that go horribly wrong?”
Dumbledore nodded again. “Yes, it did, however in their case they had no maximum. We already know that you cannot stomach more than eight hours, and therefore shall not go past that. They also did not have Portkeys.”
Harry shrugged. “Sounds good to me.”
“Okay,” Ginny said. “We’ll do it.”
Dumbledore inclined his head gratefully. “Thank you. You may remain here if you wish until it is time for dinner, or you may eat here and then go to the Hospital Wing.”
“We’re going to go home and spruce it up before the boys get home,” Mum said, stepping forward. Ginny stood up and went to meet her mother in a hug. Harry got up and hugged her too; Ginny hugged her dad and he shook Harry’s hand. Dumbledore bowed them out, then he and Professor McGonagall left.
“We can make you dinner,” Remus said.
“Or rather, he can,” Sirius corrected. “I can’t cook to save my life.”
Ginny smiled. “If you’d like, Harry.”
He shrugged. “It’d be nice to not have anyone staring at me.”
Ginny turned to face him and widened her eyes. He rolled his and sidestepped her. “I can help cook, Remus.”
Remus smiled gratefully at him. Sirius looked at Ginny. She raised her hands defensively. “Hey, I may be my mum’s daughter but all I can make is the boxed stuff she brings home sometimes.”
Sirius let out a snort and dropped down onto the armchair Remus had vacated. “Well, then in the meantime we can listen to the radio. I think the Arrows are playing Puddlemere United tonight.”
Ginny knelt and turned on the wireless on the coffee table. It hummed to life then out came the voice of an announcer. “… and Appleby Chaser Perry scores with a nice left right feint!”
“Hey, can I use your bathroom?” Ginny asked.
Sirius nodded as he leaned forward in his chair. “Through there on the left. Mind you you don’t get the closet.” He pointed to the closed bedroom door.
She said her thanks then opened the door. The room smelled like a window was open, and she spotted the fluttering curtains to the right. The bed was unmade and clothes lay on the floor. She moved into the bathroom and saw two toothbrushes. She frowned. Didn’t they have their own bathrooms?
Ginny did her business and as she was washing her hands, she noticed the different shampoo bottles in the shower. One she recognized as the same thing Ron used, the other was what Percy used. She thought that perhaps this was the only bathroom in their quarters and left.
The curtain was open just enough to cast a shadow on the unmade bed, where there were two distinct hollows in the pillows at the head of the bed. Ginny narrowed her eyes.
What? Harry’s voice came.
There’s something odd here, she thought.
I don’t know.
She left the room, closing the door behind her just in time to hear Sirius whoop as the Arrows scored twice in a row. Ginny walked over to the kitchenette where Remus was stirring rice. “Hey, Remus,” she asked, “which room is yours?”
“That one,” he said absently, gesturing to the room she’d just left. “I was never that good at rice, but this instant stuff is so strange.”
She murmured an ascent, but wasn't particularly paying attention. She wandered over to the other room, and looked over it. The bed was made, and in fact so stiffly that it looked like it hadn’t been used in weeks. The closet was open and empty. No curtains hung over the window and there was another bathroom.
What? Harry thought, popping a slice of sweet pepper into his mouth. He had paused cutting the peppers up to stare at her.
Ginny turned and fixed her eyes on his. They’re gay.
Harry choked slightly on his pepper slice. Excuse me? What makes you think that?
Ginny shrugged, walking back over to the couch. She sat down and looked back at the radio. She half listened to it, half to Harry. It’s just a hunch; I think they are anyway. That other room isn’t being used, but they’re both staying here.
That doesn't make them gay! Maybe Sirius goes home at night.
Maybe. I don't think so.
Harry huffed and went back to cutting up the peppers. You're weird.
Ginny rolled her eyes, then turned her eyes to the radio. Puddlemere's Chaser had just dropped the Quaffle and Perry was heading for the goal posts again. She had mixed feelings about Puddlemere United; Harry's old Captain, Oliver Wood, was said to have been recruited for them, but he wasn't on the starting line-up. She considered Puddlemere to be on a lower level than most of Britain's teams, and favored the Arrows for this match.
Twenty minutes later, Remus and Harry had made stir fry, something Ginny had only had once before. It was very good, and they listened to the last of the match as they ate at the kitchen table, Sirius next to Remus facing away from the door, Harry and Ginny on the opposite side. Ginny was sure of herself and her discovery, though Harry denied it.
What if it is true? She posed. What would you do then?
Nothing, I suppose, he answered. I mean, Gram says that it shouldn't matter who you love as long as you love them.
Isn't she a church person though?
She's a nice church person. She also says that if it's not your business, then it's not your business and you should love that person anyway because that's what Jesus does.
Jesus seems very nice.
That's what Gram says.
Ginny caught his eye. Remus had just taken a mouthful of noodles as she turned to Sirius and asked, "Which is your room?"
Sirius gestured over his shoulder to the room Remus had claimed not so long ago. "That one," he said, taking another bite. Remus suddenly stopped chewing. Slowly, he swallowed and looked at her.
"What are you playing at?" he asked suspiciously.
"Nothing," Ginny protested. She took a spoonful of rice.
Remus met Sirius's eyes, and they exchanged a look. Sirius looked suddenly guilty and his ears went pink. Harry, having heard her every thought, stared down at his plate with equally pink ears.
"Harry," Remus began. "Would you mind telling me what your girlfriend is implying?"
Don't look up, she warned him. Harry tried not to, but he glanced upwards for a fleeting second, and Remus caught his gaze. Ginny groaned as he looked back up, then at Sirius, then back at Remus and blurted: "She thinks you're sleeping in the same room."
Ginny aimed a kick at him under the table. They're not supposed to know that we know!
I couldn't help it! I'm a horrible liar!
Remus's face paled. "You — you don't —”
Ginny quickly touched his arm. "No, no, Remus, it's alright. We'd never tell anyone and we don't care."
Sirius and Remus met eyes. "Er, no, but in the Wizarding community —” Remus stammered.
"The thoughts of the Wizarding community are governed by old, Pureblood men; all of which were born in a different era," Ginny announced. "Their opinions are outdated, and they shouldn't matter."
"Yes, but still —” Remus looked very uncomfortable — "they do matter, and if anyone knew —”
"Screw them," Harry said. "It doesn't matter who you love as long as you love them."
Sirius broke out into a grin. Then he leaned over and planted a kiss on Remus's mouth. Remus went very red and Ginny giggled. Remus opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, looked down, then up at Harry. "Thank you," he said softly.
Harry nodded, then went back to eating.
I still don’t get how you figured it out.
All seeing eye, I suppose.
That night, as Harry and Ginny lay asleep behind their curtains, Abraham Vance was in a bed across the room. While they slept, calmly he imagined, he lay wide awake.
It was the first night in nearly thirteen years that he'd laid in a bed that was soft, or warm, or even worn clean pajamas. Even his marred and destroyed hands could detect the soft fabric of the sheets beneath him. He raised a hand and touched his face, feeling the smoothness of his skin. He'd forgotten what it was like to be clean shaven. The gentle light of the candle and the bobbing of the flame were so relaxing and warm, and even the scent of the melting wax was sweet.
A tear beaded in the corner of his eye; it spilled over and ran down his temple. Vanessa was still kept from him.
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