|SIYE Time:17:10 on 22nd March 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 102833; Chapter Total: 4127
Fo ur: Imagination Is Our Reality
The train was late, of course. Half way between London and Devon, the train had to stop to let a farmer herd his cattle across the tracks. There were a lot of cows.
By the time they got to Ottery St. Catchpole, it was almost twelve o'clock. And since they didn't have time to get breakfast that morning, Dudley had whined to high heaven and back about his hunger. Harry, of course, wasn't particularly hungry. He'd taken out the bag Anna had given him, and munched on pasties filled with sweet pumpkin filling, little cakes that tasted like chocolate and strawberries, sugary things that looked like feathers, and jelly beans. The jelly beans were the most interesting thing there. They had the strangest flavors. There were the normal ones, peppermint, berry, green apple, and others, but there were also one he'd never guessed could be put into beans. Like chocolate. And cinnamon. And a few disgusting ones, like liver, and dirt. He even came across one that reminded him of puke. He spat that one out. (Possibly the bean was the cause of Dudley puking, rather than motion sickness, because Harry could swear Dudley ate the bean.)
Once the train had stopped and Aunt Petunia hurried them off the train, Harry tugging along the majority of their luggage, they made their way through the bustling crowd, albeit a very small crowd to accommodate the tiny train station, and exited into the street beyond. Aunt Petunia kept glancing around nervously, and Harry was pretty sure she was on the guard for Uncle Vernon. How he knew, he wasn't sure. Aunt Petunia stopped by a telephone booth and made a quick call. When she came out, she looked, if it was possible, even more nervous.
"Our ride will be here soon," she said, guiding them to a nearby bench.
Harry was unsure of this fact, but stayed quiet. They sat on the bench for near to an hour before a rusty pickup truck chugged to a stop in front of them. An elderly woman climbed out, and advanced on them. Aunt Petunia jumped up and hugged the woman, who held her tightly in her arms, stroking Aunt Petunia's hair.
"Boys," Aunt Petunia said once she had let go of the woman, "come and say hello."
Dudley stood up shakily and waddled over to the woman, who hugged him too. Harry stayed where he sat. The woman patted Dudley on the head, but her eyes were on Harry. She gave Dudley a quick kiss and walked over to him. She knelt down in front of him, and reached out with a trembling hand to touch him. Her hand landed on his cheek, and Harry, who was looking at her in wonder and confusion, saw a tear slip down her face. He noticed that her eyes looked just like his.
"You look so much like him," she whispered. That's when Harry noticed that her eyes were a bright green, exactly the same shape and shade his were.
"I look like who?"
"Your father," she said, "but you've got Lily's eyes." Then her eyes traveled to his forehead, and she reached up, and gently touched the scar.
Harry blinked, even more confused at her actions. He did not have the slightest idea who this woman was.
"Harry, do you remember me at all?"
"I'll have to have a little talk with your aunt then," the woman said, glancing over at Aunt Petunia.
"Uh, pardon me, but who are you?" Harry asked.
"I'm Thea Evans, Harry. I'm your grandmother."
Harry blinked at her. "You are?"
"Yes," Thea Evans gave him a teary smile. "Last time I saw you, you were just a babe, not even one year old. But even then, you had your daddy’s hair and your mum’s eyes. My eyes.”
Harry blinked at her. He had assumed that all of his blood family but Aunt Petunia had long since died. Now, standing before him, was his grandmother. He looked over at Aunt Petunia, the only family he had ever known. Her hands were gripping Dudley’s shoulders, who looked upset that he was not the center of attention. Aunt Petunia nodded, almost imperceptibly. Thea Evans stood up, pulling Harry with her. She hugged him tightly, and then led him over to her truck.
“Come on, I’ll take you to lunch.”
She lifted Harry with only a little grunt, which surprised him- he may have been skinny, but he wasn’t that small!-, into the bed of her truck. Then she helped Dudley up. Aunt Petunia climbed into the passenger seat, and Thea took her place in the driver’s seat. She turned the key in the ignition, the engine groaned, and it backfired suddenly. Dudley grabbed a hold of the side of the truck bed, and Harry laughed at him.
“Hold tight, boys!” Thea called as the truck rumbled to life. They drove down a couple blocks before Thea parallel parked the truck in front of a corner dinner. Harry hopped down from the truck bed, feeling very happy, knowing that his hair was in a right state. Thea helped Dudley down, and then, ruffling Harry’s hair, messing it up even more, she led them into the dinner. The hostess, a young Spanish girl, was talking with a red haired woman. By her side was a little girl, nine or ten, with the same red hair, looking up expectantly at the woman, who Harry guessed to be her mother. Thea and Aunt Petunia started talking to each other, while Dudley sulked by his mother. Harry watched the little girl. Then, as if sensing his gaze, she turned. And Harry felt a sensation akin to being punched in the gut, something he knew quite well, unfortunately. The little girl’s mouth opened to form a perfect ‘o’, and, Harry let his jaw drop.
You? His friend said in his mind. His imaginary friend, the one that only existed in his brain and his dreams.
But- but you’re my imagination! Harry thought stupidly.
You’re my imagination!
“Can it be?” he whispered.
“Are you real?” she whispered back. Without knowing it, Harry had moved forward. So had she.
“Of course I’m real; it’s you that’s supposed to be a figment of my imagination!” Harry said.
The girl’s mother had stopped her conversation with the hostess.
“Ginny, come over here, dear,” she said. The little girl- his not-so-imaginary friend- didn’t move.
“Harry?” Aunt Petunia called. “Come here, now.”
Harry glanced back, but his eyes wandered back to her again just as quickly. She cocked her head, and slowly stretched out a hand to touch his face. She laid her palm on his cheek, and gasped, jerking it back.
“I must be dreaming!” she insisted.
“You’re not,” Harry said, touching the spot her hand had touched. “I am.”
“Harry, what are you doing?” Aunt Petunia said, stepping forward. She grabbed his arm and tried to tug him away from the girl. There was a short blast of light, his aunt gasped, and backed up quickly. She cradled her arm close to her, staring at him in confusion. Harry looked back to his friend, and shrugged. She frowned too, and poked him hard in the shoulder.
“Ow!” he said, rubbing the spot. “What was that for?”
“Do people normally do that when they try to touch you?” she asked, pointing to Aunt Petunia.
“No,” Harry glanced back at his aunt.
“Who is she, anyway?”
“My aunt Petunia,” he said. “I’ve told you about her.”
“OH!” the girl said, now beginning to smile. “The Queen of Cleaning.”
“Ginny, come over here,” the girl’s mother called. She stepped forward and tried to pull her away from Harry, but another blast of light and the girl's mother let go with a gasp of pain.
“Is that something that happens a lot around you?” Harry asked. She shook her head.
“Mum, what’s going on?” Dudley said in a loud, whiny voice. She glanced at him, and then her eyes found Thea.
“Mum, that’s the lady who sold us my new necklace!” she said happily. Harry turned to look over at his newfound grandmother, and then turned his eyes back to his friend. “This necklace, see?” She said, touching the necklace around her neck. Harry reached out to touch it, and his fingers slid over the largest blue stone, which rested at her clavicle. She smiled, looking down at it.
“It’s pretty,” he said. “I thought you didn’t mess around with things like jewelry, and skirts!” he let out a laugh, reaching down and fingering the blue fabric of her skirt. She shrugged.
“I am allowed to be a girl at times,” she sniffed.
He laughed. “Of course you are.”
“Ginny, who is this?” her mother asked. She turned.
“Oh, Mum, this is my imaginary friend, the one I told you about, his name’s…” she trailed off, and then turned back to him. “Who are you?”
“What’s your name?” she corrected herself.
“Oh,” Harry said, feeling warmth spread to his cheeks. He stuck out his hand, and she took it. She had a firm grip.
“I’m Harry,” he said. “Harry Potter.”
She let go of his hand so quickly you would have thought it had turned to a live snake. She stared at him, mouth open in a silent question, eyes wide and cheeks growing to a light shade of rosy pink.
“What?” he asked, glancing between her and her mother, who looked just as stunned as she did.
“Imaginary friend?” he heard Aunt Petunia ask.
His friend’s mother brushed a strand of hair from her face. “Ginny, I want to know exactly what is happening.”
“So do I,” Harry said. “What’s so special about my last name? Half the people I meet nearly jump a foot in the air when I say my name’s Potter, and complete strangers walk up to me on the street wanting to shake my hand. So what’s so special about me?”
His friend shut her mouth and swallowed. “You- you’re famous.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “You’re taking the mickey,” he said.
“But you are!” she said, taking a step back. “Your story is my favorite bedtime story, and I have friends who have Harry Potter dolls, and Luna Lovegood’s father does a piece on you every Halloween in the Quibbler. You- you’re the Boy Who Lived.”
Harry blinked. “The people at the B and B said the same thing. But what’s it mean?”
“You lived when you should have died,” she whispered. “You should have been killed ten years ago, on Halloween, but you lived.”
“I still don’t understand,” Harry said.
“Perhaps we should explain over lunch,” Thea Evans interrupted, and Harry turned. She nodded in the direction of the hostess, who was looking just as confused as Harry felt. Thea knew as well?
“Quick question,” Harry turned back to his friend while Thea went to his friend’s mother and persuaded her to join them for lunch. “What’s your name?”
She shook her head slowly. “You really are stupid at times.”
“Mum’s said it over and over,” she sighed. “It’s Ginny.”
Harry nodded, feeling his already warm cheeks grow warmer. Thea and Aunt Petunia and Ginny’s mother had spoken with the hostess by then, and she was counting out menus.
“What should I call your mother?” he asked as the hostess led them to a booth in the back.
“Mrs. Weasley,” she said. “What do I call your aunt? And the other lady?”
“Oh, my aunt is Mrs. Dursley, and that’s Mrs. Evans. She’s my grandmother. You were right, by the way,” he added as they slipped into the booth. “She’s Aunt Petunia’s mother.”
Dudley, who had been looking very surly ever since the conversation had started, chose that moment to stick out his fat hand to Ginny.
“I’m Dudley,” he said. “And if you’ve got any brains, you’ll drop him. He’s a freak.”
Ginny, who had reached out to grasp his hand, pulled back. “I think I’ll stick with him, thanks.”
Dudley scowled, but sat beside his mother. Mrs. Weasley took the seat beside Ginny, and Thea sat next to Dudley.
“So, Harry,” she said, “you want to know why you are the Boy Who Lived. I would have thought that my daughter would have been kind enough to tell you. But I guess I was wrong. It all starts years and years ago…”
“Mum!” Lily Evans called. She ran into the dining room, holding a letter in her hand. Mrs. Thea Evans, who was sorting through that day’s mail, looked up and smiled at her youngest daughter. She was a delight, already beautiful at eleven years old. She had her father's red hair, but her mother’s bright green eyes. Thea set aside the bill in her hands and pulled out a chair for Lily. She sat down beside her, her face flushed with excitement.
“What is it, my flower?” Thea asked.
“You know that letter I got?” Lily said. “Well, it said that I’ve been accepted at this school”
“How lovely darling,” Thea said, feeling a little confused. She had signed Lily up for any schools, just the local primary school. “What school?”
“A magic school!” Lily said.
Thea raised her eyebrows. “Now, now, dear, I’ve told you, magic isn’t real. You must stop all this nonsense. You’re a big girl now, Lily.”
“But Mum! I’m telling the truth!”
“Lily, stop it,” Thea insisted. “There is no such thing as magic.”
Just then, the doorbell rang. Petunia, Lily’s older sister, called from the foyer, “I’ll get it.”
Thea stood, shaking her head at Petunia’s blunder. She always volunteered to get the door, no matter how many times Thea told her to let her get the door. Lily followed her mother into the foyer, where Petunia had already opened the door.
“May I help you?” Thea asked, putting a hand on Petunia’s shoulder. The woman at the door smiled. She was rather short, and quite plump. She had curly black hair, and gray eyes.
“My name is Augusta Longbottom, and I’m here to see Lily Evans.”
Thea crossed her arms. “I’m Lily’s mother. How can I help you?”
“Oh, well then, I am sure that Lily has received her letter already,” Augusta Longbottom said. “From Hogwarts?”
“Oh, yes, I got it this morning!” Lily piped up behind her mother. Thea turned and pressed a finger to her lips. Then she addressed Longbottom.
“What’s it to you?”
“I am sure then, that you are rather confused,” she said. “My job is to explain to you the nature of Lily’s abilities.”
“Her magic, of course.”
Thea raised her eyebrows, then, she gently pulled Petunia aside and gestured for Longbottom to enter. She did so, smiling genially.
“Through here,” Thea said, leading the group into the adjoining sitting room. Longbottom took a seat on the couch, still smiling. Thea sat in an armchair, and Lily climbed into her mother’s lap. Petunia took a seat on the floor.
“Now what is this about?” Thea asked.
“I have never had the patience for subtlety, so I will be blunt. Your daughter is a witch.”
Thea raised her eyebrows for a third time that day. “A what?”
“A witch. An honest to goodness witch,” Longbottom said. “Hogwarts is a school for children like her, who have magical abilities, to learn how to control their magic, and how to use it.”
“You’re joking,” Thea laughed. “There’s no such thing as magic!”
“Oh, is there?” Longbottom said. She smiled, and then pulled from the pocket of her jacket a long thin wooden stick. “I am a witch as well, Mrs. Evans, and I will prove to you that magic is very real.” She pointed her stick at the coffee table, and said “Evanesco.” The coffee table vanished. Petunia gasped, and Lily clapped her hands in enjoyment. Thea stared in shocked silence at the place where her coffee table had been. Mrs. Evans waved her stick once more and the table reappeared. “And so, magic is real.”
“Do more, do more!” Lily said, grinning rather broadly. Longbottom smiled, and pointed her stick at the grate. “Incendio!” Fire erupted from the end of her stick, and lit the grate. Lily squealed with joy. “Orchidus,” Longbottom said, and a bunch of flowers spouted from her stick. She handed the bouquet to Lily, who looked overjoyed.
“You’re saying that Lily can do that?” Thea said, staring at the flowers in Lily’s hands.
“Not right away, but once she has completed her training at Hogwarts, she will.”
Thea took the flowers from Lily, and laid them on the newly returned coffee table.
“So there are witches still in England?”
“All over the world!” Longbottom said. “In America, in Asia, in Africa. Everywhere. In fact, there is a witch and her son living not far from here, in Spinner’s End.”
“Snape!” Petunia said. “That greasy old git who’s always spying on us?”
“Severus doesn’t spy, Tuny,” Lily said. “He’s lonely. He wants to be friends.”
“Yes, Severus Snape is a wizard,” Longbottom said. “I went to school with his mother.”
“Oh, wonderful!” Lily said. “I’m really a witch, just like Sev said!”
“You knew?” Thea said, turning to her daughter.
“Sev told me,” Lily said, looking at her feet. “But he made me swear to not tell anyone else.”
“Why?” Thea asked, looking at her daughter in confusion, though a little worried.
“He said it was our secret,” she said, her smile fading.
“Uh, Mrs. Evans,” Longbottom interrupted. “As you and your husband are Muggles, or non-magical, I must ask you to not divulge what I have revealed to you to anyone outside your family. Grandparents, close family members, you may tell them about Lily’s abilities but make sure they do not tell anyone else. We, that is to say, the magical community find it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of the Muggle community in secrecy.”
“So we can’t tell our friends?” Thea asked. “I mean, this is extraordinary; Lily has had these abilities for forever, and some of our friends know about them, but they, like us, have never understood it. Now we understand, and you are saying they are not allowed to?”
“If you can trust them to never reveal her abilities, then yes, you may tell them. But if they have a tendency to be a little loose lipped, then no, do not. I am telling you this not to restrict you, but to protect Lily. There are still some people out there that will look down on her because of what she can do, even detest her. You have heard of Lenard Lament?”
“The serial killer?” Thea said. “He caused quite a panic. But they caught him, didn’t they? Three years ago; he’s in prison.”
“Lament is in prison, and he will never escape I assure you. He was caught purely because the Ministry of Magic, our government, found the connection between his victims: they were all wizards and witches. We tracked Lament down and he confessed, under the influence of a truth potion, to having killed more than thirty witches and wizards. Why? Because of their abilities. I’m not saying this to scare you, but to warn you. Lament wasn’t the only Muggle to hate wizards: the many witch burnings during the seventeenth century are proof of that. I ask you to be cautious of whom you tell about Lily’s abilities to keep her and your family safe.”
Thea hugged Lily to her tightly, gesturing for Petunia to come over to her. When Lament had still been at large, a young girl down their street had disappeared. The police were sure that she had been one of his victims. It had terrified everyone on the street. It was then that Thea quit her job and stayed at home with her children twenty-four-seven. In particular, she had ordered Lily to stay indoors, and never go outside, because Lily and the girl down the street had been very similar, and she had some of the same powers that Lily had. Petunia wasn’t allowed outside either. The thought that Lily could have been killed because of her abilities struck too close to home.
“With that said,” Longbottom said, “I have one last thing to say. Lily will need school supplies and I will be the one to escort you and Lily to Diagon Alley. Since you are not a witch, and Lily isn’t a proper witch yet, you will need my help.”
“What is Diagon Alley?” Thea asked.
“It is a Wizarding shopping mall, basically. There are more across the world, but Diagon Alley is closest, and it is the home to the England branch of Gringotts, our bank. There you can have your Muggle money converted to Wizarding money.”
Thea nodded, trying to take it all in. “When do we go?”
“Whenever it is possible for you,” Longbottom replied. “But soon, she will need her supplies by August 31st at the latest. The sooner, the better.”
Thea smiled. “Well, we have this Saturday free. How about you swing by Saturday morning about nine, and we go then? And Petunia can come with us if she wants, right?”
“Of course, of course!” Longbottom said, smiling. “Well, I must be going. Did you send your reply to your letter before I arrived, Lily?”
“Well, how about you go write your reply, and I will take it to the post office for you.”
Lily smiled, jumped up, and ran from the room. About five minutes later, she returned with a sealed envelope. She handed it to Longbottom, who took it with a smile.
“Thank you, Lily,” Longbottom said. She stood. “I must take my leave. Thank you, Mrs. Evans, for being so understanding.”
Thea nodded once more, and showed Longbottom out.
“After that, things were never the same,” Thea added to the conclusion to her story. “Lily’s father wasn’t exactly happy with her being a witch. He was a religious man, and he believed witchcraft to be a terrible sin. He kept quiet about it, fortunately, but he never delighted in the feats of magic she showed over the years, and he did not approve of James. Still, Lily was excellent at magic, and she never let it go to her head. She didn’t brag about it to Petunia, but she wasn’t tight lipped about either. She told us all about Hogwarts in her letters, about her friends; and as she matured, I never had to worry about boys because Lily just wasn’t interested in that sort of thing.
“Then, in her very last year at Hogwarts, she started dating James Potter. He was such a nice boy, so polite and very handsome. Lily was enamored with him. They got married about two years after finishing at Hogwarts, and they had you almost immediately. Lily and Petunia hadn’t been as close as they once were during that time, but Lily wanted to change that, I think, because she made Petunia your godmother. And then, Lily stopped sending us letters as often. The last one I got was just a few weeks before she died. She told me that she had to go into hiding with James and you, because her world was at war. There was a man named Lord Voldemort who wanted power, and he wanted to kill people like Lily, people who had Muggle parents. I still don’t understand completely, but Lord Voldemort had made personal threats to Lily and James, and so they went underground. But it didn’t help. I was visited on November first, ten years ago, by the Minister of Magic himself- the wizards have their own government you know- and he told me what had happened. Lily and James had used some sort of magic to hide them, and the only person who knew where they were was a close friend of James’s, but that close friend betrayed them, and told Voldemort where they were. He went to the place where they were hiding, in a small village called Godric’s Hollow, and killed them.
“But for some reason, he couldn’t kill you. He tried to, but he could not. That’s why you’re famous Harry. When Lord Voldemort tried to kill you, the spell he used rebounded, and he was killed, but you lived! I would have taken you myself, but Petunia was your godmother, and she insisted to have you,” Thea said. “I would have visited, but that dreadful husband of hers never let me. And I told you,” she said, turning to Petunia, “I told you he was no good. And now look what’s happened!”
“Mum, can we please discuss this sometime else?” Aunt Petunia said.
“Yes, all right,” Thea sighed.
“But what about Ginny?” Harry asked. “Why can we read each other’s minds?”
Thea frowned. “I don’t rightly know.”
“Neither do I,” said Ginny’s mother. “We should ask Dumbledore.”
“Dumbledore?” Thea said. “The Headmaster of Hogwarts?”
“Yes, he ought to know,” Mrs. Weasley said.
“In the meantime,” Aunt Petunia said, “let’s order lunch.”
Lunch was low-key. Harry tried to order water, but Thea told him to get whatever he wanted so he ordered a root beer. He'd never had one before, but Dudley got it a lot, so it seemed like something that would be good.
After lunch was when it happened.
They had left the restaurant and stood by Thea's truck. Harry glanced between the beat up old car Mrs. Weasley was standing by and the truck.
“Harry, we have to go,” Aunt Petunia said. “We'll stay with your grandmother for a while, all right?”
Harry frowned. “But what about Ginny?”
Aunt Petunia smiled tightly. Harry knew she was faking it.
“Your friend will have to wait. It's been a long day. Dudley needs to rest.”
Thea turned on her daughter with a steely look in her eyes. “Now, Tuny, we ought to think this through. These two are connected, they should be together. We don't want to stretch the connection.”
“They've been apart for their entire lives, they'll be fine,” Aunt Petunia sighed.
Ginny gripped his hand. He felt warmth spread up his arms, starting from his fingers.
I don't want to leave you, he thought.
I don't want you to leave either, she thought.
“Can't I stay with her?” Harry asked.
Mrs. Weasley stepped towards them. “Harry, I'm afraid Ginny and I have to go home.”
“Mummy, can't he come with us?” Ginny asked.
Mrs. Weasley looked hesitant. She glanced at Thea and Aunt Petunia. Thea shrugged and Aunt Petunia frowned.
“Well, it would seem better to keep you two together,” Mrs. Weasley mused.
Ginny stuck out her bottom lip. Harry fought the urge to laugh.
Shut up, she thought.
You're funny! Harry thought back. It's cute.
Mrs. Weasley sighed. “If his aunt says he can, then yes.”
“Well, I don't.” Aunt Petunia grabbed his arm. “Harry, come on.”
A flash of light erupted between them, throwing Aunt Petunia backwards. She hit the ground, and stared up at him in shock.
“I didn't do that!” Harry said quickly.
Aunt Petunia pushed herself up, brushing off her slacks. She glanced around, but no one was watching.
“Harry, come here,” she ordered.
Harry glanced at Ginny. She was looking at the ground, down at her sandals.
What should I do?
Ginny looked up at him. Her face seemed sad. I don't want you to go, but your aunt told you to go.
Harry furrowed his brow. All his life, he'd done what he'd been told. Harry, do this. Harry, do that. He'd obeyed every command he'd been given.
Could he obey this one?
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