|SIYE Time:18:36 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: 71027; Chapter Total: 1900
*slids out of the shadows, holding a new chapter with a very apologetic smile*
Sorry. You're probs aware that this is originally posted on FF.net, and that there are more chapters there. I swear I didn't forget you. I may have just not noticed that it was March... Right, new chapter. Enjoy.
So, things are happening! Harry and Ginny are maturing probably a bit quicker than other teenagers, but as they’re maturing they do gain plenty of wisdom that agrees with the parents' requests of no sex. Actually, note here that there won’t ever be smut in this story in general, but probably allusions to sex. Eventually. In a million chapters. Jk. My point is that they’re growing up, which means their point of view is growing up. Kay, so, if you’re like eight or something you should take discretion? I suppose? Hell, if you’re eight you probably shouldn’t be here at all.
Probably shouldn't have said hell there…
I’m gonna stop now.
*hands over chapter and runs away back to the shadows*
The Sweetness of Summer and Nightmares
When Harry awoke the next morning, it took a while to convince himself he was actually awake. There was an intoxicating scent filling his nostrils, and a warm, soft form lay pressed against his side, exhaling slowly so that her breath tickled his throat and sent the occasional shiver through his body.
When he did finally remember that he was not dreaming and Ginny was meant to be there, it took nearly all of his self-control to do no more than stare at her. The gentle sunlight from the window stained her hair with rivers of gold, her dark eyelashes fluttered vaguely as she dreamed, her small red lips were slightly parted, and her fingers rested curled around his shirt, twitching slightly. She lay with her head on his shoulder, her arms pulled against her chest and her legs tucked beside him. He hadn't even realized that his calf lay crossing hers, but it did, and her skin on his felt strangely comforting. One of his arms was pinned beneath her, but the other was free to move, so he gently, trying not to wake her, laid his hand on her waist and pulled her closer. She stirred, but only to snuggle against him. Harry lifted his hand again and stroked her hair, reveling in the silky sensation of it. He slipped his fingers through it; tiny knots that had formed as she slept broke loose at his touch. Ginny's lips curled, yet she slept on. Harry lifted her left hand and kissed her knuckles gently.
Harry ran the pad of his thumb over her fingers, thinking. He had never really thought about it before, but he knew for a fact that he and she would spend the rest of their lives together. It was logical, obvious; the two of them would never be able to separate for longer than a few hours. From then on, they would fall asleep together and wake up together. He felt warmth in his chest and couldn't help but smile. He loved the idea of waking up every morning to Ginny. He loved the idea of Ginny in general.
It was then he realized that he had never said aloud to her that he loved her. She knew, of course, and he knew that she loved him, but they had never actually said it. Their minds had just clicked that they loved each other, and they hadn't thought about anything more than that.
It's about time we actually said it, he thought.
Ginny opened one eye and gave him a stern look.
If it is not nine yet, shut up and go back to sleep.
Harry chuckled. She rolled her eyes though only one was open, and turned over. He too shifted and locked his arms around her, pulling her in close. She pressed her back against his chest and settled into a doze.
"I wanted to say something," he whispered in her ear. She shivered
"Later," she mumbled. Harry propped himself up, and gently kissed her ear. She shivered again.
"What about now?"
Harry touched his lips to the nape of her neck. She let out her breath.
Ginny turned to face him, her face flushed slightly and her eyes only half open. "What?"
Harry kissed her quickly, then whispered against her lips "I love you."
Ginny merely smiled in half appreciation and half exasperation. "I know."
Harry chuckled softly. "Are you going to say it back?"
She rolled her eyes. "I love you too. Is it nine?"
Harry glanced at his clock. "Half past seven."
"If you start kissing me now, we'll have to get up," she said.
"We can't snog for an hour and a half?"
"I'd love too, but we are in a bed."
She pushed him down onto his back and laid her head back on his shoulder. "You can start snogging me after eight thirty."
"Because then we will have slept long enough to get out of bed."
"Fine." He kissed the top of her head. "I love you."
Ginny let out a soft laugh. "I know. I love you too."
"Yeah but we've never said it before."
"Well, just because we haven't used the English language to express our love doesn't mean we haven't said it."
Harry grinned at her. "You're awesome."
She yawned. "I know that too."
Why have we never said it, though?
I dunno. It's not like we're embarrassed. Go to sleep.
You know we'll be doing this the rest of our lives.
Trying not to punch you while craving sleep's warm embrace?
What? Ginny turned to face him, her brow furrowed.
Harry squeezed his arms gently, This. Waking and sleeping next to each other. For the rest of our lives.
Ginny seemed to consider this. A far away look appeared in her eyes, and her cheeks turned pink. Yeah, we will.
Harry, before she could say anything else, pressed his lips against hers. She smiled against his mouth, her hand drifting up to his shoulder, then she was gently pushing him back.
"What?" he asked.
"We're in a bed."
Harry rolled his eyes. "So get up."
Ginny pouted and snuggled against his side, pulling up the blankets ad she did. "It's too early."
Harry groaned. "I want to snog you!"
"Not in the bed!"
"Why not? I'm not going to snog you so hard you'll sprout a new human!"
Ginny laughed. "Shut up, Harry."
Now he was pouting. But he accepted her side, and settled back with her laying against his chest, hands on his shoulder, her hair just below his nose, sending that sweet intoxicating scent into his brain, muddling it with a soft delirium.
Harry took on of her hand and kissed her knuckles. She smiled softly, and he relaxed his arm, holding her hand on his torso as he closed his eyes.
They drifted back to sleep, as per Ginny's request, and remained that way for another two hours, when Harry's aunt came and woke them with the news that breakfast was ready.
Then returned the awkwardness.
Just go down in your pajamas, Harry told her. I'm hungry.
I won't leave this room in these shorts.
They're too short! Your aunt and grandmother will think I'm trying to seduce you or something.
Harry couldn't help it, his eyes drifted to the hem of her shorts. He hadn't noticed the night before, but when she bent down to dig in her rucksack, the back hem rode up her thighs to expose creamy skin that he immediately felt guilty for noticing. Part of him thought they could be just a little shorter, then he remembered that Dudley was there and scrapped that idea.
I know you're staring at my arse.
Harry flushed. "Sorry."
She rolled her eyes. "Considering we're going to be living together for the rest of our lives, you're probably allowed too."
Harry opened his mouth, closed it, turned red, looked away from her, then up at the ceiling as he tried not to think about what else he was probably allowed to do with that in consideration.
Ginny ignored him as she pulled clothes from her bag. She swore foully under her breath as she contemplated her problem.
"What's the matter?"
She ran a hand through her hair, not looking at him. "I don't think I was thinking yesterday when I packed."
She gestured to the clothes on the floor. "The pants I brought; only one of them fits me anymore and it's got a giant rip under the leg that goes all the way up my butt."
Harry, also trying not to imagine that and what would be exposed, frowned. "Why did you bring them then?"
"I wasn't thinking; I didn't do it on purpose!"
"Calm down, just wear some of mine."
Ginny glanced at him, and, he blushed, at his hips. "You're much smaller than I am, though."
"Wait, no I'm not? I'm taller than you!"
She shook her head. "Pants wise, love; your hips are narrower than mine. That's the problem with these other ones, they stopped fitting over my hips months ago."
"Why do you still have them of they don't fit?"
"Because Mum can just alter them magically. I'd forgotten they were too small though."
Harry shrugged. "I have pajama pants you could wear. They're stretchy."
She sighed. "I guess that will do for now. I just hope your gram and aunt understand..."
Harry chose not to reply, it wouldn't help anyway. He tugged a pair of clean pajama bottoms from his trunk and handed them to her. She took them and went into the bathroom to change. Harry picked up the Fellowship of the Ring from his bedside table and put it back on his desk.
They went downstairs to find Dudley snoring quietly over his bacon, and his gram and aunt talking in low tones. They halted when the two of them entered the kitchen and said their good mornings.
After breakfast, Ginny and Harry returned to the Burrow to get her better clothing, then went back to do his morning chores. Gram had them first go over the garden to pull up weeds, then go about water the various gardens. In the small strawberry field, Harry accidentally hit Ginny with the spray of water.
Ginny stared down in shock at her wet shorts. Harry quickly decreased the pressure on his hose.
Ginny looked up slowly, her eyes sparkling with mischievous malice. You'll pay for that, Potter.
Harry opened his mouth only to have his body suddenly pelted with water from his girlfriend's hose. He spluttered as she laughed, then it was a war.
They dodged and ducked sprays of water, soaking the already moist ground of the strawberry field. Perhaps ten minutes later, they were at a stalemate; Harry pushed his hair out of his eyes, panting, she held her hose at the ready, but she had dialed down the pressure. Her hair was dripping, and so were her clothes. In fact they clung to her frame, displaying the ratio of her hips to her thin waist, the curves leading upwards to her chest, the neckline laying just above where Harry imagined her cleavage began.
Ginny turned pink, having heard his thoughts. He reddened as well, but said nothing. The hose dripped onto his shoe; Ginny had removed her shoes, and her bare toes were flecked with the dark soil. The hose slipped from his grip. He started forward, and a blast of water hit him in the face.
"Wha — what — GINNY!"
She only laughed; she threw the hose away from herself and darted away between the rows, Harry chasing after her. His legs were longer, however, and he grabbed her around the waist, his momentum throwing them to the ground.
Harry had landed almost on top of her, his knees resting on the ground beside her and his hands flanking her head. She was still grinning.
"There's an old rhyme," he whispered, "one children sing while playing tag."
"Oh?" Ginny asked, barely containing her chuckling.
"It goes something like this: missed me, missed me…"
"Now you have to kiss me?"
"You caught me," she pointed out.
"Do you still have to kiss me?"
Harry put his mouth on a spot just beneath her ear. He gently kissed it, then, feeling daring, nipped at her ear. He felt her suck in her breath. Harry kissed her lips almost roughly, their mouths dancing around each other. Her teeth closed on his bottom lip, he felt vibrations in his throat that must have been sounds, he was holding his body on his hands and knees to avoid crushing her, or perhaps to avoid connections. Ginny had one hand in his hair and the other pressed against his shoulder. Water still dripped from their hair and clothes but the summer sun would soon evaporate it, and given their own rising temperatures it was likely to be soon. Her lips found his jaw and his hands clenched on moist earth; she sucked on skin just below his jaw. Harry resisted the urge to grab her by the waist and pull her in closer, and it was a difficult task. He instead caught her lips with his again, though that did not help. The taste of her was sweet and he wanted it to last forever.
He pulled away, his breath haggard. He dropped onto the ground beside her, watching her. Ginny's eyes were still closed, her chest was rising and falling in a rapid movement, and he found himself fixated on the sight of her breathing so heavy. He clenched his fists in an effort to remain still. Ginny found his eyes finally, and she was smiling.
"Definitely don't do that tomorrow morning," she whispered. Harry laughed.
They soon found the hose pipes and coiled them up to return to the spickets. Ginny suggested they use a drying charm on their clothes, but they weren’t close enough to other wizards to mask the magic. So they sucked in their chests and went inside in their wet and muddy clothes, to which Gram immediately laughed and his aunt rolled her eyes, producing towels. He supposed they had seen their little water fight from the window. He then hoped they hadn’t seen them kissing.
By lunch, they had finished all his grandmother asked them to do, having had to pause to wipe up the mud they had tracked. Afterwards, they chose to walk across the fields that separated the Burrow and his gram’s farm; dallying only once to snog.
“Mum!” Ginny called as she opened the back door. “We’re back!”
They stepped into the kitchen to see Percy furiously filling out paperwork. “Father took Mum out,” he said simply. He examined two forms, then muttered a curse. Ginny peered over his shoulder.
Her brother sighed and leaned back, pushing his hands under his glasses to rub at his eyes. “I’ve got to turn in this paperwork this evening, but I’m missing a page.”
Ginny patted his shoulder sympathetically. “Poor you.”
Percy nodded, not even bothering to ask if she was being sarcastic. She wasn’t, much, but her brother merely continued to work. Ginny gestured towards the door and they left the kitchen, going up to the stairs.
“So, are we going to pack up your stuff now?” Harry asked.
She nodded. “Only some of it. Most of my stuff will stay here, and most of your stuff should stay at your grandmother’s.”
She glanced back at him as she opened the door. “You okay if we close the door?” she asked with a smirk.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Okay, that last time was entirely your fault.”
Ginny laughed, stepping inside as she did. “All I did was kiss you.”
He quirked an eyebrow. “Multiple times? Under my ear?”
“What was under Harry’s ear?” asked Ron, jumping down to the landing.
“A moth,” Ginny said casually. Ron shuddered slightly. “We’re going to pack up some of my stuff to take to his gram’s, wanna help?”
Ron wrinkled his nose. “Not really.” Ginny shrugged.
“Fine then. You could go help Percy find his missing bit of paperwork?”
Ron went back upstairs. They chuckled as Harry pulled the door closed behind them.
“It’s not like I’m going to jump you every time we’re alone, though,” Harry said. “I have some self-control, y’know.”
Ginny laughed. “Oh, sure. Loads.”
Harry crossed his arms over his chest. “Definitely loads.”
That only made her laugh harder. She mimicked his stance, and Harry couldn’t help the glance to her neckline. Ginny laughed triumphantly; “See!”
“That’s not fair! You’re really attractive!”
Ginny dropped onto the bed, stifling her laughter. “But I thought you had loads of self-control.”
Harry glared at her. “I do!”
She shook her head. “Yeah, sure.”
“How about last night, huh? I had self-control plenty of times!”
Ginny’s cheeks tinged pink. “I wasn’t in the room then,” she said.
“Yeah, but while you in the bathroom, I had plenty of self-control.”
She raised an eyebrow at him, her face skeptical. “I’ve showered before, you know.”
“But not in my bathroom!”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Okay, Harry, you win. You have loads of self-control.”
Harry stuck his tongue out at her. She shook her head; Ginny stood and moved to her trunk. “We should start packing.”
Harry uncrossed his arms, stepping forward. “Right. Do you wanna use your trunk or something else?”
“My trunk, it’s got a lightening charm on it. Help me empty it.”
Harry knelt down beside her and they started pulling clothes from it. Ginny tossed most of it onto her bed, but a few pieces landed on the floor. He just threw everything he took out onto the bed. Ginny suddenly paused, and caught his eye, smirking.
“What?” he asked, frowning.
“Self-control test!” she said, pulling something out of the trunk with a jerk. Harry started, then turned red as she dangled a bra in his face. He steeled his nerves, then snatched it from her hand and threw it to the bed.
“Real mature,” he said. Ginny only laughed.
The trunk was soon empty, and she began to sort the things. All of her robes were put in the closet, as well as the few dresses and skirts she’d brought to Hogwarts and warmer clothing. They started on the tee shirts and Harry found one that made him pause. He lifted it up, looking at her quizzically.
“Why do you have one of my shirts?” he asked.
Ginny looked up, then tugged it from his hands. “That’s my shirt,” she said, sticking her nose in the air.
“But it’s mine!”
She folded it neatly in half and pressed it to her chest. “It’s mine.”
Harry looked at the pile of clothes. He leaned in closer, then tugged out another one and looked back of her. “This one’s mine too!”
“No, it’s mine!”
“You’re stealing my clothes!”
Ginny leaned in and pecked him on the lips. “They’re comfy,” she repeated, taking the second shirt from him and tossing them into a drawer.
“You’re not taking them?”
“Harry, you have plenty of other shirts at your Gram’s that I can steal.”
Harry sighed, resigned to it now. “You’ve not taken any of my other clothes have you?”
“Some socks,” she said, “but only the thick woolen ones you don’t like.”
Harry paused. “Oh. I thought Dobby took those.”
Ginny shook her head at him as she continued sorting the clothing.
Half of the clothes that had come out of the trunk went back in, including the socks she’d mentioned and the same bra she’d used to test his self-control. He had to admit, it was a pretty bra. She’d whacked him in the shoulder when he thought it.
“I’m going to have to give you a bloody dresser,” he exclaimed, looking at the clothes in the trunk.
“No, we’ll divide them up evenly,” she said. “I’ve only got one dresser here, anyway, so it’d be fair.”
Harry sighed in mock resignation. “I have lost my life as a single man,” he moaned. “I shall never again get to have my own sock drawer!”
Ginny pushed him onto the bed, he fell with a theatrical groan.
“You were never a single man,” she admonished. “You always had me in your head, remember?”
Harry propped himself up on his elbows, grinning at her. “Yeah. And I always will.”
Ginny turned pink, glancing down at the floor. His sudden sappy grin spread wider, he jumped off the bed and crossed over to her. He wrapped his arms around her waist, kissed her forehead, and grinned down at her. She, still pink, looked up and closed her eyes. He took the hint, and gently kissed her lips.
This really will be forever.
I can’t wait.
“Mooorning, Ginny,” they jumped apart as the door opened abruptly, “have you seen my wart powder?” They groaned; George looked between them. “What?”
“We were having a moment!” Ginny snapped.
“Oh. Well, I’ll wait.”
George sidled into the room, his hands in his pockets. He rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, a patient expression on his face. Harry covered his eyes with a palm at the sight.
“George!” Ginny let out a sound of frustration as Fred came in the open door. “Wart powder?”
George pressed a finger to his lips, shushing him loudly. “They’re having a moment,” he said in an ineffective whisper.
Fred gave a soft “O-oh,” grimaced apologetically, then said “Sorry!” in an equally loud whisper.
“We were having a moment,” Ginny said, putting emphasis on the word 'were'. “It has ended now.”
“Oh, good, then have you seen my wart powder?”
Harry looked at Ginny, then shoved George from the room, knocking Fred out of the doorway, as Ginny shut the door. She brushed of her hands and grinned at him.
“We make such a good team,” Harry said.
“Yep! Now, help me with these books.”
They replaced most of her textbooks in the trunk, then fictional novels, then sketch books and other tomes of subject she was interested in. Her pencils, quills, ink, and paints were packed up in a little box and put in the trunk as well. Both of them agreed that his house was much more suited to activities requiring focus.
The trunk was soon re-packed, though only half full, and closed. Harry opened her door to take the trunk downstairs, saw Fred open his mouth, and closed it again.
“How about we chill for a minute?” Harry suggested to Ginny, turning to face her.
Harry sat down on her bed, staring up at her. She sat down on the trunk, propped her chin on her elbow and her elbow on her knee, staring at him.
You’re going to blink first, Ginny declared.
Are we having a staring contest?
“When are you due?”
Ginny was taken aback, and blinked. Harry let out a sound of triumph. She cursed and sat up. “Next week, if you really wanted to know.”
“I already knew.”
“Of course you did.”
“Wanna make out?”
“You don’t have self-control.”
“I do, I just chose not to use it.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “We should go pack your stuff.”
“I think Fred’s still outside.”
Ginny stood up, crossed to the door, and opened it. Fred drew in his breath, and she closed it again.
“Yeah, let’s make out.”
“I am going to pretend I didn’t hear that!”
Ginny rolled her eyes at her brother’s voice, but crossed to the bed and dropped down beside Harry. He scooted backwards, and she lay down, placing her head in his lap and her feet dangling over the end of the bed. Harry leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes and slipping his fingers into her hair.
“Seriously, Ginny I wanted to ask you something!”
“Go away Fred!”
“It’s about the thing Harry gave us!”
Ginny opened her eyes, looking up at him. “What did you give him?”
“The Tri-Wizard winnings.”
Ginny frowned. “What?”
“To start their joke shop.”
“We should just let him in,” Harry said.
“Noooo,” she whined. “He’ll ruin the moment.”
“We’re not having a moment.”
She pressed a finger to his lips. “If we pretend really hard that he’s not there, we can.”
“Fred, come in.”
“Noooo,” she whined again, but Fred opened the door and stepped inside.
“George is still looking for the wart powder, but we wanted to ask you guys something.”
“What?” Ginny drawled.
“Well, I know you said you were making a donation, Harry, but we’d still like to repay you.”
“No, I don’t want to be paid back!” Harry insisted.
“Listen!” Fred admonished. “How about partners? The both of you get a third.”
“I didn’t give you any money,” Ginny said.
“Yeah, but you two share money,” he said. “At least we figured that, given your situation, you do, so both of you gave us money.”
Ginny groaned, then rolled over and buried her face in Harry’s stomach. “I don’t want to think that hard! It’s summer!”
“What do you say, Harry, partners?”
Harry hesitated. “That was a donation.”
“Come on, Harry!”
“How about you call him an investor and pay him back in products?” Ginny suggested. “When he tries to buy them, you give them to him.”
Fred considered this. “Oh. Well. I suppose that works.”
George stuck his head in the room. “I agree with Ginny. Getting Harry to agree to a third share is going to be impossible, like I told you.”
“Shush! Zip it! Go away!”
George shrugged and kept going.
Ginny took out her wand and pointed it at Fred. “Take it or leave it.”
“Taking it. Now leaving.”
Fred closed the door behind him. Ginny dropped her wand onto the bedspread and snuggled back to Harry. He leaned down and kissed her forehead softly.
“It’s half past six,” he said.
Ginny opened her eyes. “We still have to get your stuff.”
He waved a hand dismissively. “We can do that tomorrow.”
Ginny sighed and nodded. “Okay.”
Harry leaned against the wall once more, his eyes drifting shut, as Ginny settled her head on his knee.
They were awoken sometime later by Ron sticking his head in and announcing dinner. Harry groggily lifted his head and saw that it was ten past seven. Ginny sat up slowly, then looked at him seriously.
“Wanna make out?” she asked softly.
“Ha ha,” he mocked. Ginny chuckled; he pushed himself off the bed and stretched. Ginny scooted to the edge of the bed, watching him. Harry glanced into her side of his mind, and saw that she was staring at the strip of skin that had been revealed by his raising his arms up. He dropped his arms, grinning. “Now who has no self-control?”
Ginny jumped up, then pressed her mouth to his in a rapid but deep kiss. “You,” she said, darting away. Harry clenched his fists to avoid grabbing her, but followed her from the room.
“I have way more than you give me credit for!” Harry called after her.
“More what?” Ron asked, standing halfway down the stairs.
Harry shook his head. “Never mind.”
Ron only shrugged and kept going.
After dinner, they migrated back upstairs and took up her trunk. They had asked to stay at his house again that night, and Ginny’s parents had acquiesced their request. Harry guessed that Mrs. Weasley understood his continued nervousness around her brothers from the pitying look she had given him.
They left Ginny’s unpacking for the morning and got ready for bed. Harry showered first that night, making sure to brush his teeth thoroughly while he was in the bathroom. They climbed under the blankets and turned off the light, settling down next to each other, and fell asleep.
The past few nights their dreams had been empty, and they had been grateful for it, but that night they were unlucky. For Fate herself was watching over them and their minds, and she fed their imaginations with the gray magic from which their power had been born.
Harry was standing in the garden of the Burrow, Ginny was next to him. He hardly noticed the people behind them or in front of them, as he was staring at all the golden lights resting in the air, drifting down and catching in their hair. Ginny was blushing but smiling, and her cream colored shirt reflected the light of her hair and the golden lights. Her eyes were shining. He so badly wanted to kiss her, but he for some reason felt he had to wait.
Then the golden lights suddenly tripled in their intensity, and Harry felt that that was the cue he’d been waiting for. He pulled her to him, kissing her with a deep impatience.
They opened their eyes. They were standing no longer in the garden of her home, but in a lavishly furnished room, all decorated in red and gold. Harry kissed her again, his arms wrapped tightly around her waist. There was a feeling of both anxiety and giddiness in him, but both fueled the way he kissed her.
“OH SO THIS IS HOW IT IS???”
The deep, booming voice somehow did not startle them. They merely felt irritated that they had been interrupted. Harry thought he recognized the speaker, a tall man with pallid skin and a bald head, but the other person he did not. It was a woman of equally impressive stature, with pure white skin, red lips, and deep blue hair.
“I was performing my duties.”
“You were exceeding your powers!” the man roared. “What have you done?!”
“I was performing my —”
“You were not! You had no right to perform that sort of transaction! Such a deed is foul beyond any in the dimension; such a deal!”
“We make these deals all the time.”
“Oh, no we do not! I grant deals to those worthy, you have committed an atrocity!”
“Payment shall be made, and payment in full.”
“Seven hundred seventy seven,” the man said, his voice suddenly soft. “Do you know… Do you know how many souls that truly is?”
“Seven hundred seventy seven.”
“No, you are thinking of a number! Think of the persons! Think of how many that will die because of what you agreed to!”
“Every mortal dies.”
“Every mortal finds their body expiring, not every mortal finds their soul unequivocally damned for eternity despite their own deeds!”
“Seven hundred seventy seven is not so many. There are billions upon billions of souls here.”
“Billions that deserved it! You have no idea what you have done!”
The woman looked calmly into the face of the man’s anger, her face as expressionless as a statue. “I know precisely. I have saved us.”
Harry and Ginny met eyes. Suddenly the bald man was gone and the woman turned away, facing their direction, but not seeing them. She stepped forward, the ground turning into stone as she walked. The dark gray stone seeped through the mahogany wood that paneled the floor, then up the walls, sucking the furniture and the lavishness into its shadows. She stepped right past them, and a steep precipice formed before her. They crept forward, and saw over its edge an endless cavern filled with fire.
The woman’s face was stained red by the violent light. It was then that they noticed the figures in the flames, the faint screams, the pain that laid upon the air like humidity. The woman’s back was ramrod straight as she stared across the pit, her eyes hollow.
“I have saved us all,” she whispered.
Fear struck Harry. What had she saved them from, and at what cost?
The woman’s head turned, rotating slowly. Her gaze landed near them, and they hurried backwards. Harry half expected her to turn to face them, but she turned her head back, leaning it forward to peer downwards.
Then there was a sickening sound of cracking bones, and her head was turning at a horrible angle; her skin stretching at the strain of turning her head to look directly behind her without moving the rest of her body. Harry clapped a hand to his mouth, repressing a gag.
“You may judge me,” she said. She expressed no pain, only addressing calmly something they did not see or sense. “You may proclaim me evil. It matters not. I have secured my place in the Great Beyond, and none can take it from me.” Her body turned to match her head, her neck cracking back into place, and she stepped towards them. “I have done you a favor. I have given you what you need to refresh.”
She narrowed her eyes, and they saw that she had no whites. Her eyes were entirely blue, as if they were made of sapphires. “What say you, great one?”
They had heard that before. Before, nothing had happened. Then it had made no sense. Now —
The ground shook; the edge of the precipice loomed closer, however the woman expressed no fright. Warm air spilled over their shoulders, and they were suddenly lifted from the stone ground.
The voice that shook the room next was less of a voice and more of a thought. It growled a deep guttural noise, then spoke in English. “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
The woman had followed their rise into the air, but her eyes focused on something above them still. “Such thoughts are arrogant.”
“Such thoughts are wisdom.”
“Why is it so?”
“After the years, it is experience.”
The woman turned her back. “If you say so.”
They were suddenly propelled forward, Harry’s stomach turning over at the force, and they dangled over the edge. They both screamed, however the sound was lost the moment it exited their mouths. Heat emanated even from the hundreds of meters between them and the ground, but they remained suspended.
“You claim you have saved the world.”
“You have saved yourself.”
“I am included in the world.”
“You are a fool.”
“So says years of experience?”
“So says years of common sense.”
Had he not been dangling over the literal pit of Hell, Harry might have laughed. The woman only sighed, and stepped back. “You are a mean one, even if you are great.”
“I am great for I show no mercy upon those who do not deserve it.”
The woman looked directly up, her neck cracking again as her head angled. “And you are the champion for good.”
“I am the champion for light. Light is produced from heat, and heat is lost if it is indecisive. If it flickers, even for a moment, it dies, if it hesitates, it fades. The strongest light is bright, and the brightest light is harsh upon the eyes of men.”
“So they say.”
Harry tried to yell that he would like if they were placed back on solid ground, but his mouth would produce no sound.
“Answer me this, o great one,” the woman said. “Had I not done what I did, would you have found what you needed?”
The ground shook once more, and they felt it even dangling in the air. It shook first with anger, and then with resignation.
So the woman looked back to the pit, her neck cracking once more, and said nothing else. The presence that held them aloft retreated, setting them back upon the edge. The woman turned away, her feet carrying her from the edge and the pit. Harry pulled Ginny to him; his hands had gotten cold despite the immense heat. The woman faded from sight, and as she did, the stone beneath them did too. Mahogany floors slowly materialized into being beneath them, but too slowly, and they were falling. Falling, screams tearing from their mouths and vanishing in the wind, falling into hell.
“Seven hundred and seventy seven!” the man’s voice boomed. “You have damned seven hundred and seventy seven!”
“I have made one!”
The flames rattled as they fell, figures crying out for mercy, and one voice echoed around them: “Harry! Ginny!”
Harry sat up so quickly his head spun; Ginny gasped deeply, her body trembling from the adrenaline rush. A blurrily feminine form was standing over them, her hands held out in the air as if she had just pulled back from shaking them. Her face was white.
“You were screaming,” she said.
Harry did not reply. He squinted around, seeing other figures around him. He turned, groping at the nightstand for his glasses. He found them and pulled them on.
It was his aunt, but his grandmother was standing at the doorway, her hands clutching her chest. She too was pallid, her wispy hair and pastel clothing made her appear ghost-like in the light of the moon. Behind her, a curious Dudley peered into the room.
“It was a dream,” he mumbled. Ginny was still staring straight ahead. Her eyes were just as hollow as the woman’s had been. He put his arm around her. He was trembling too.
Aunt Petunia looked over at his grandmother. “Should we do something?” she whispered.
Harry shook his head. “It was just a dream.”
“You were both screaming,” Gram rasped.
“Our dreams are more potent than most,” Ginny murmured.
Never that potent, though. There was worry and confusion on her brain; Harry felt the same.
It would only worry them. We don’t know what happened or if it was even real.
But we — we fell…
Harry gently kissed her temple. She pressed closer to him.
Gram strode forward; she pressed shaking hands to their temples, but it seemed their temperature was fine. She stepped back, her face still worried.
“Should we call someone?” Gram asked.
Harry shook his head. “It was just a dream,” he murmured once more.
“As you keep saying,” Aunt Petunia said. Her voice was sharp, but Harry could tell it was from fear rather than anger.
“You’re not going to do that every night, are you?” Dudley spoke.
“Dudley!” Aunt Petunia admonished. “Go back up to bed.”
Harry’s cousin shook his head with a careless motion as he left the doorway. Harry could hear his steps going down the hall and up to the third floor.
“We’ll be alright,” Harry said. “You woke us up just in time.”
“In time for what?” Aunt Petunia asked.
“Never mind,” he mumbled.
Gram and his aunt met eyes. Their worried expressions worried him. How loud had they been screaming?
“Should we stay?” Gram asked.
“No, it’s okay, Gram,” Harry insisted. “We’ll be fine.”
Aunt Petunia stepped towards the door. “I’ll leave my door open,” she said, though she did not add why. She left the room, leaving just his grandmother.
Gram touched Ginny’s hair, then she bent and kissed both of their heads. “I’ll say a prayer for you,” she said softly. Harry nodded his thanks as she left the room.
Ginny pulled him back to the pillows. She kissed his cheek, pressing against him not for her own comfort, he realized.
“What was that?” he whispered.
“And why did we both dream it?” Ginny asked. “Normally I get the prophetic stuff.”
“Maybe it happened when we got five hours.”
Harry turned on his side to lock his arms around her waist. He inhaled slowly, breathing in her scent.
“I never thought about an afterlife,” Ginny whispered. Harry did not reply immediately. Her gaze was fixed on his chest, her fingers holding onto his tee shirt. “Mum told me once that we go into magic when we go. I don’t think I understood her at the time.”
“Aunt Petunia used to take us to church,” Harry whispered. “When Dudley and I were really young and Uncle Vernon… Uncle Vernon wasn’t drinking so much. The Sunday school teachers told us about God and heaven and hell and that we were all born doomed for hell but God loved us so he died to pay our way into heaven but he wasn’t really dead, he came back…”
“That sounds a lot scarier than going into magic.”
“They worded it nicely, I think. Though after that first lesson, Dudley told me that I was so freakish that even God didn’t want me. I think it was the only time I saw Aunt Petunia reprimand him when we were kids.”
“God did want you, though, right?”
“Yeah, that’s what the church ladies said, I think. We stopped going when I was about seven.”
Ginny pressed a soft kiss to his lips. “I never learned about a god. This sounds very interesting.”
Harry laughed softly. “It’s incredibly boring when you’re seven.” His smile faded. “But what we saw…”
“Do — is there really a devil?” he asked her.
Ginny shrugged. “I don’t know. That Abraham said that you had to summon one to make a Horcrux, so I suppose there is.”
Harry nodded absently. “Church people tell you about the devil too. They had a name, but I’ve forgotten.”
“I think most cultures have a devil.”
Do you think we saw Hell?
I don’t know.
As their breathing slowed and fell into synchronicity, Fate’s hands retreated from the crystal pool with which she observed them. She raised her eyes to the form before her, her aged face expressing doubt.
“You were wrong,” she said in her deep voice.
“I am on occasion, as are you.”
“I less often.”
“’Tis not a contest.”
Fate waved her hand, looking back down. What they had seen first was yet to come, but the second had come to pass a long time ago, before even their birth, however the situation had not much changed. The transaction held firm. Death had long since accepted his apprentice’s folly, and they had learned to overcome it. The blunder had both dangerous and blessed effects upon the world, and indeed what had happened needed to be done. The power that was generated was needed.
“They do not see what we try to show them,” whispered the other person.
“It is hard,” Fate replied, “when their eyes have only seen fifteen years living. They do not sense what you want them to because they are too young.”
“We cannot be clearer to them.”
“No, we cannot.”
“If only Felix Commisurra was more compliant…”
“The Seam is never compliant.”
The other person sagged in their chair. “I cannot imagine why our sister triggered it so soon.”
Fate did not answer. She touched one long, brittle finger to the surface of the pool, and two figures appeared in it. They were sleeping once again.
“Shall we send them more?” asked the other.
“No. They have had enough for now.”
“I thought they would have understood by now.”
“My dear, they have been given only a few pieces of information.”
“But only a few, nonetheless.”
The other sighed. “Very well. Enough for now.”
Fate nodded. “Retire, sister. The mortals sleep.”
Fate’s sister rose from her chair. From the light of the mystic pool, the woman’s dark eyes and soft complexion were stained pink and purple. “Good night, sister.”
Fate inclined her head as her sister left. She looked down on the sleeping forms of Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. They would soon know more. They would soon know all.
“Soon is relative,” Fate rasped.
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