|SIYE Time:6:55 on 21st October 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.
on indefinite hiatus.
Hitcount: Story Total: 116535; Chapter Total: 1619
Awards: View Trophy Room
hiya just like to remind you that this fic is also available on FF.net and ao3, though FF.net is currently the most up to date; I’m trying to bring ao3 and you guys here up to date as well.
The Impossibility of Reality
Not long after they collapsed onto the sofa in their lounge, Harry pulled Ginny up and led her back towards their room. Despite it being mid-afternoon, they were both tired and in desperate need of a rest. They flopped down on top of the blankets, Ginny curling into Harry’s side, Harry locking his arms around her. Her fingers played with the edge of his shirt, brushing against the skin of his side, comforting him as they fell asleep.
Harry didn’t recognize the dimly lit room. There were candles everywhere, and a fire burning in the hearth. An old man sat in an armchair by the hearth, fast asleep. He was snoring ever so softly, so that the woman in the rocking chair across the room, knitting by the light of the flames most likely didn’t hear him. The woman did not respond to either Harry or Ginny’s presence, just continued to count her stitches.
“Three times, he knocked again,” came a soft whisper from the old woman. They turned, but she wasn’t speaking to them. Rather, she was speaking to empty air, her head turned down to gaze at her work. “And two times, he has come for him.”
“And what will you do when he comes a third time, I know, Mother,” said a disembodied voice. Harry jumped, looking around for the source of the voice, but did not find it.
“Take that off, please, it’s not meant for messing about,” said the old woman.
“How did you know I was wearing it!” said the voice again, and there was a fluttering of fabric, then a young boy, maybe thirteen or fourteen, appeared from nowhere, folding up a an old cloak.
“My sight might be gone, young man, but my hearing is not.”
“Wha — your hearing?” the boy stammered.
“Yes!” cried the old woman. “It’s not hard to find you when you’re flapping around in that thing.”
“Flapping?” the boy protested.
“Bat-like, I would say,” sniffed the old woman.
The boy huffed. He folded up the travelling cloak in his arms and crossed the room to where the man lay sleeping; he laid it gently on the back of the man’s armchair, before tip-toeing away and back to the old woman in her rocking chair.
“When he comes the third time, I am afraid it will be the last,” the old woman whispered. “He has been searching for him for many years. And it is getting so hard to hide from him now.”
“Mother, why is Death hunting for father?” the boy asked in a hushed voice, and Harry drew in a sharp breath.
“He took something from him,” the old woman said quietly, her voice dropping to a lower note than even before. “He couldn’t have known then what trouble it would bring.”
The young boy sat quietly for a while, so that the only noise in the little room was the crackling of the fire, the clinking of the woman’s knitting needles, and the soft snoring of the old man.
“What’ll happen if he finds him?” the boy asked. The woman stopped her knitting. She set it aside, and leaned back in her chair.
“I will stay,” she said. “I’ll take care of you. But it will be his time to go.”
The boy hung his head, and rubbed at his eyes. The old woman leaned forward, reaching out to take the boy’s hands. “There, there, my pet, it wouldn’t be for long. We’d get to see him again after Death comes for us.”
“But I don’t want death to come for any of us,” the boy sniffed.
“We’ve had him for this long, and he’s not gone yet, pet,” the woman crooned. “It might be years before Death knocks on our door again to look for him. It has been years already.”
“Which means that his time has to be running up,” the boy murmured.
“That’s not how it works, pet.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, pet. We’ll have him for years and years to come.”
The boy nodded, sniffing loudly. The man in the armchair shifted, and the cloak the boy had set on the back of the chair fell down, covering the man’s body, and causing it to vanish.
“Would you look at this, Molly!” called Arthur, hitting his newspaper with his hand while Molly poured tea into mugs, the both of them sitting at the kitchen table at the Burrow. “The Wizengamot finally legalized same-sex marriage!”
“About time,” Molly sniffed.
“I wonder why it took them so long,” Arthur mused. “It’s 2002 already. We’ve seen the end of two great magic wars, the turn of the century; half the other Wizarding nations had it legal for ages, and another third made it legal before You-Know-Who disappeared!”
“Careful, Arthur, the grandchildren will be getting up soon, I don’t want them asking about that again,” Molly chided him.
“Sorry, dear,” Arthur said with a sigh, adjusting his glasses and going back to his paper.
“What just happened?” Harry asked Ginny.
“I don’t know,” Ginny said with a shrug. “Maybe it’s the mushrooms.”
Harry looked over at her; they met eyes, and stared at each other for a moment before Ginny sniggered. “Maybe it’s the mushrooms,” he repeated with a chuckle.
Ginny started to giggle as well. “We drank magic mushroom stew,” she said.
Harry set down the two glasses for fear of dropping, he was now laughing so hard. “Funny mushroom stew,” he wheezed.
“Supernatural mushroom stew,” Ginny laughed, now leaning on the counter.
Harry snorted again. “Okay, stop with the mushrooms, I think something important is happening.”
Ginny stifled another snicker. “I’m sorry, it’s just, we drank magic mushroom stew earlier.”
Harry tried to not laugh, then his face broke into a grin and he giggled. “Stop it, Ginny!” he scolded her. “Something important is happening!”
“What are you two snickering about back there?” Molly called. “Go get your little ones, tell them that Grandma wants their help in making pancakes.”
“You really want them to help you make pancakes, Mum?” Ginny asked. Then she frowned. “Little ones?” she murmured.
“You know, your children?” Molly said. “Honestly, Ginny…”
Harry glanced at Ginny, who shrugged. “I still blame the mushrooms.”
Harry sighed, then chuckled, shook his head and started out of the kitchen. “Erm, remind me, Mrs. Weasley —”
“How many times do I need to tell you, call me Mum, Harry!”
“Sorry, Mum, remind me which rooms the kids are in?”
“The boys are in Fred and George’s old room, the girls are in Ginny’s old room. Just send them all down.”
“How many kids did we have?” Harry asked Ginny in a hushed whisper.
“I don’t know, you’re the one with the sperm,” Ginny said to him.
“What — you’re the one with a history of seven kids per family!”
“That was all Dad, please, Mum had three siblings.”
Harry spluttered. “I’m an only child!”
“That’s not the fault of your parents, so that argument is invalid.”
Harry continued to splutter and bluster all the way up the stairs. Ginny knocked on the door to her room, or her old room, apparently, and opened it. Then, she said: “Okay, I know that we didn’t have all these kids.”
Harry stuck his head in the room and raised his eyebrows. There were seven girls, as far as he could see, all spread out over mattresses on the floor. The girl closest to him, who seemed one of the older ones, had tightly curled black hair and dark skin.
“Yep, we didn’t have all of them,” Harry said.
"I'm assuming now that all of my brothers had at least one girl, or two of them had two," Ginny said. "Ron probably had one with Hermione, and Fred or George married Angelina. Or Lee Jordan, and they adopted."
"Do we have one?" Harry asked, ignoring the comment about Fred or George marrying Lee Jordan.
“Um,” Ginny sighed. “I’m going to decide right now that we will have one girl. That’s exactly how that works.”
“I’d always thought two girls and two boys,” Harry said. “That way it’s even.”
“Two is even,” Ginny said.
“Yeah, but if there’s just two, they might not always like each other. With four, they’ve got at least one friend at all times.”
“But… then three would be better,” Ginny argued. “Or even better, just one so I don’t have to have four pregnancies.”
“But if we had just one, then they might be lonely, they’ve got to have a friend!” Harry said.
“What about the dozens of cousins my brothers are apparently turning out?” Ginny asked.
“They won’t always be around,” Harry pointed out.
“Fine, not one, and not two, what’s wrong with three?”
“Two of them might gang up on the other,” he said.
Ginny stared at him. “But with four, three of them might gang up on the other.”
“Hey, at least I’m not suggesting more than four,” Harry pointed out.
“You know what, we’re going to have just three,” Ginny decided. “Then you’re getting your pipes snipped because I’m not my mother.”
Harry yelped and quickly covered himself. “Ginny!”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, calm down, I’m kidding. We’d take infertility potions, obviously.”
“Mummy, Dad, what ah you doin’?”
They stopped talking. A small girl with a long red braid was rising up from her sleeping bag, rubbing at her eyes with a fist. Ginny cooed quietly.
“Oh, she’s so cute!” Ginny whispered.
The little girl, maybe three or four, rose from her sleeping bag and tiptoed around the other girls, dragging a dark blue blanket behind her. She reached them and threw her arms around Harry’s knees. He grunted a little, startled. “Um…”
“Mow-nin, Daddy,” the little girl mumbled.
“Uh, morning… Lily,” Harry said.
“Lily?” Ginny mouthed.
He shrugged; he had thought for a split second of the hallucination they’d had earlier, the three children that all looked like him, and Ginny, and what the little girl there had been called. But the girl seemed to like the name, or maybe his deciding then that Lily was a good name was enough for the mushroom induced dream. Ginny sighed, accepting the name in silence.
“Grandma wants help making pancakes,” Ginny said to Lily.
“Pancakes!” Lily shouted, surprisingly loud for such a small child. Immediately, all the other girls in the room were up and they were running for the stairs; Lily doubled back and pressed the blanket she was carrying into Harry’s arms.
“Hewe’s Gammy’s blankey,” she said to him before running off. Harry looked down at it, frowning.
“What does gammy mean?” he asked Ginny.
“Grammy, probably,” she said. “Seeing as she’s having trouble with ‘r’s.”
“Oh,” he said. Then, “Is it your mum’s then?”
Ginny shrugged. “Mum made us all new blankets as kids.”
Harry turned it over in his hands; it was surprisingly soft as it looked so old, much older than the little girl who’d been sleeping with it. There was a smooth border of a slightly lighter blue on the edges, and as he looked over it, he found some faded stitching in one of the corners. He lifted it up, turning to let the light from the windows catch the embroidery.
“Lily,” he read. “Did your mum make one for our kids, then?”
“I don’t know,” Ginny said with another shrug. “Maybe, but it looks very old. Should we go see how many sons we have?”
He nodded vaguely, folding up the blanket and draping it over his shoulder as he followed Ginny farther up the stairs. She opened a door, and leaned against it to survey the room.
“We definitely didn’t have all of these kids as well as Lily,” Ginny said.
Harry shrugged. “You don’t think we could manage to make six babies?”
Ginny raised an eyebrow at him, silently daring him to go further with that suggestion. Harry laughed and shook his head; “Blame the mushrooms,” he mumbled. Ginny shook her head and turned to face the room.
“Grandma wants help to make pancakes!” she called.
“Pancakes!” shouted all five boys, and in a few seconds they were up and running for the first floor. Ginny turned to Harry with a content and pleased smile, who gave his own shoulders a shrug and started down the stairs after them.
As he stepped down into the sitting room, he was faced with not the patchwork and mismatched furniture of the Burrow, but soft brown sofas and white carpeting. There was a table and a china cabinet in the room adjoining this sitting room, the table set for breakfast with plates of eggs and toast and glasses of orange juice already set out. Sirius appeared from another doorway, not noticing them, carrying a platter of kippers.
“Sirius, what’s this?”
Ginny and Harry jumped away from the stairs, yet Remus didn’t pay them any attention. He yawned and walked past them, towards the dining room.
“Breakfast,” Sirius answered. “What does it look like?”
“What are you making scrambled eggs and kippers for on a Wednesday morning?” Remus asked, but they could hear the smile in his voice.
“Aren’t I allowed to make breakfast for the man I love?” Sirius asked with a sniff.
“Of course, you are,” Remus chuckled, pressing a kiss to Sirius’s cheek. Sirius smiled warmly at him and gestured for him to sit down. He did, and Sirius poured some coffee for him.
“Did you break something again?” Remus asked. “You’re being awfully nice.”
“No, I just felt like treating you,” said Sirius seriously.
“If you insist,” Remus said, chuckling under his breath. Harry glanced at Ginny, wondering if they were intruding. Sirius handed Remus a copy of the Daily Prophet, who thanked him and opened it to the front page. Harry, feeling curious, stepped closer. Remus’s eyes flicked over the front page, then he almost choked on his coffee and jerked his gaze back to the middle of the front page.
Sirius had already slipped out of his chair, lowering himself to one knee as Remus gaped at the headline that just moments before Arthur had been talking about with Molly, saying how so many other wizarding countries had legalized gay marriage from the very beginning. But Harry was stepping closer, not to look at Remus’s shocked gaze drifting to Sirius, who was now holding up a glinting gold ring, but to see the date on the Prophet.
Wednesday, May 2nd 2002.
He smiled softly. So his godfathers would get to marry only a few years from now.
“Marry me, Remus?” he heard Sirius say. “Now that we actually can?”
Harry looked to Remus’s face, and saw the tears forming behind his broadening grin. Remus nodded, blinking away his tears, and Sirius took his hand, slipping the ring onto it. Harry stepped back, smiling still, and took Ginny’s hand. They didn’t need to stay. They’d seen enough.
Harry opened the front door and stepped outside. The sunlight was bright, almost too harsh on their eyes. Harry blinked quickly, raising a hand to cover his eyes. Then the light dimmed and they were able to see their surroundings properly. Harry frowned slightly, as this area wasn’t as urban as he thought it would be. They were in fact standing in the middle of a forest, with a dirt path leading away from the house they’d just left and deep into the woods. Harry turned to look at the house, and raised his eyebrows to see a small cottage instead, with a thatch roof and stone walls. He looked to Ginny, his eyebrows still raised, who shrugged.
“They’re weird,” she said, “maybe they decided to live out in the middle of nowhere.”
“Maybe,” Harry murmured. He gave a shrug and started down the dirt path. Ginny followed beside him, still holding his hand. They could hear birds, a soft breeze rustling the leaves of the trees, the sound of a forest untouched by the machines and smog of the Muggle cities.
“It’s so peaceful,” Ginny whispered, her voice low so she didn’t disturb the woods.
“Yeah,” he murmured. “Maybe that’s why they’re here.”
“I think so,” she answered.
The dirt path slowly widened, the thickets becoming more controlled. As they walked, Harry saw a wooden sign nailed to a tree, carved with the words PRIVATE PROPERTY: NO TRESPASSING. He raised an eyebrow at it, wondering if they were trespassing, even in a dream. The sign repeated every so often, until they reached a tall, wrought iron gate and fence, with tall stone columns that were topped by majestic iron griffins; the trees stopped at the fence, followed by a long stretch of lawn, the dirt path leading up to an impressive but dark manor house.
“Wow,” Ginny said softly, staring up. “Maybe it’s not the middle of nowhere.”
Harry stepped up to the gate, looking at the intricate and complex looking lock. The gate was held shut by metal vines coiling around every bar, doubling in the thickness of the overlapping on the two middle bars, where the two halves of the gate were separated. He wondered how one would open it, as there was no keyhole or even a break in the vines.
“Look at this, Ginny,” he said, raising a hand and brushing his fingers over the iron. It was warm from the sun, but as his skin touched it, the iron grew warmer, and the metal shuttered; the vines began to retract, releasing their grip over the gap in the gate. Harry stepped back quickly, his mouth hanging open, as the gate swung open.
He looked over at Ginny. She just shrugged.
They began to walk again, following the path up to the manor house. As they moved away from the gate, it swung shut again and they heard the vines grow back to lock it once more. They neared the steps up to the patio on the front of the house, the front door opened automatically for them. Harry peered inside, however the sunlight did not stretch very far inside, and he could only just see the dark paneled floor of an entryway.
“Should we go inside?” Harry asked Ginny in a hushed voice.
“Hell yes,” Ginny said.
He looked at her. “What?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
“We find a spooky manor house in the middle of nowhere, whose gate opens magically because I touched it, and the doors opened the second we set foot on the front porch,” he said. “And when I ask, should we go in, you say “hell yes”?”
“If you’re too scared, then you can wait outside,” she told him, stepping past him and into the house. Harry sighed, and followed her.
There were no lights on inside, and as they moved away from the door the light from outside proved even less helpful. Harry took out his wand, raising it as his lips formed the word Lumos, when the door creaked behind them. He turned quickly, in time to see it slam shut. They both jumped.
“Lumos!” Harry cried quickly, and his wand tip ignited, casting the house in a soft blue light. Ginny drew her own wand, lighting its tip as well. Harry rotated slowly on the spot, looking for a light switch or a candle, anything to light more of the house than his wand.
“What is this place?” he asked.
“Harry, come look at this.”
He turned, finding Ginny standing off to the far end of the room. The foyer was much larger and grander than Harry would have thought it to be, and as he crossed to reach her he realized that the floor was marble.
“It’s a family crest,” Ginny said, her voice faintly echoing throughout the hall.
Harry raised his wand up, doubling the light casted on the tall tapestry, black with a golden border at the top and bottom. There were two griffins, like the ones flanking the gate outside, standing on their hind legs with their wings unfolded. Both griffins held their front legs outstretched, and clutched in the talons of the forefront leg was a grapevine, with large clusters of grapes scattered all over it. Between the two griffins and held by the background talons of each was a shield, brown in color with a red arrow at the bottom and a silver band at the top, bearing a golden star on its center. Like the Hogwarts coat of arms, there was a helmet at the top of the shield and the leaves of the grapevines flanked it. There were words written both at the top and at the bottom, but the light did not reach the top of the tapestry. At the bottom, the words read: Fuddugoliaeth Yn Dod Trwy Cyfiawnder A Nerth.
“It’s not English,” Harry said definitively, squinting at the words.
“I think it’s Welsh,” Ginny stated.
“Let me guess, your mother taught you how to read that too.”
“Nope, I just know that few languages have so few vowels.”
Harry’s gaze flicked over the words, trying to decipher what they might possibly mean. As he stared at it, the letters began to shake. Then they began to change, rearranging themselves and some morphing into completely different letters.
“Victory comes through justice and strength,” Ginny read them aloud.
“I like that,” Harry said.
“You would,” she answered, turning away.
“So, whose crest do you suppose it is?” he asked her, following her as she crossed the hall again.
“Not mine, certainly,” she answered. “Not enough orange.”
“Have you seen the Weasley family crest?”
“Once, I think. It’s creed was in Gaelic, not Welsh, though.”
“Well, of course,” Harry said.
“And didn’t have griffins. I think there was a lion and a badger.”
“What, like Gryffindor and Hufflepuff?”
“I think so. Or maybe it was a weasel and a badger…”
“Stairs,” Harry said.
They stopped, Harry having realized that they had passed a flight of stairs. He glanced at Ginny, then started up them.
“Where are you going?” she hissed.
“Up,” he answered.
Ginny heaved a sigh and followed him, their wands casting eerie light over the stone stairs. Harry reached a landing, and raised his wand higher to peer down a corridor. The stairs kept going up, but there was something at the end of the corridor… Something glinting in the light of his wand…
Harry stepped towards it. Ginny followed behind him, her hand slipping into his. They drew nearer, and nearer, until the corridor ended and the light revealed a stone pedestal with a shallow silver bowl upon it.
“What is that?” Harry asked.
Ginny stepped past him, up to the pedestal and the silver bowl. She looked down into it, then waved her wand over it. “I think that it’s a Pensieve,” she said, looking up.
“What’s that?” he asked her.
“It’s a vessel that can contain memories,” she told him, looking back to it with a furrowed brow. “Dumbledore has one, he took some of my memories about my dreams last year, remember? I’ve never seen one in person, just in books. They’re very rare.”
Harry stepped up to the Pensieve and looked down at the contents; the liquid inside was more like a vapor, silver in color like the bowl but somehow different. From the side, the bowl seemed very shallow, but now that he was looking directly into it, it seemed impossibly deep. Faint images and words formed in the silver vapor, only to vanish before he could focus in on them.
“How does it work?” he asked.
“I’m not quite sure,” Ginny answered. “At least, I don’t know how you put memories in. But I do know that once they are in the Pensieve, all you have to do is touch it and you’re transported into it.”
“What?” said Harry, looking up at her. “Transported?”
“You get to live through the memory,” she said. “Experience it as a neutral party, invisible.”
Harry raised an eyebrow, looking back into the bowl. He raised his wand, and let it hover over the surface of the vapor. Ginny grabbed his arm.
“Be careful, you don’t know what memory you might be picking,” she said.
Harry gave a nod, and flicked his wand cautiously over the surface of the bowl. The contents stirred, then an image, clearer than before, rose to the surface. He saw Hogwarts, the sun shining above and the battlements and towers destroyed. Harry gave a start, but before he could say a word, another surfaced, to replace the first. This one was of a tall black tower, shrouded in mist, but the mist was seeping away, across the land and the ocean, gathering speed, the image backing up as the mist overtook it. Harry frowned, peering closer, and saw a hospital room, empty but for a basinet. Everything in the room was white, but for a large blood stain on the sheets of the bed. Harry’s heart skipped a beat at the sight, but then the image was changing again, and he saw children playing with sparkling dragons.
“Harry, be careful!” Ginny cried, but, too late, Harry’s nose had touched the surface of the vapor.
Harry felt himself being yanked forward by the head, tugged rapidly into the shallow silver bowl that should not have been able to hold him, until he was falling into the sunny playroom, Ginny right beside him; they hit the carpeted floor, Ginny landing on top of Harry. He groaned quietly, and Ginny rolled off him.
“I told you to be careful,” Ginny scolded him. Harry nodded as he sat up, rubbing at his back.
A child ran past Harry, snatching at the tiny dragon, which was sparking bright colors. Harry gave a look around, seeing four total, then a woman sitting in a corner of the playroom, reading. Harry stood up and walked towards her, then started when he saw her bright pink hair. He wondered what Tonks was doing in this playroom.
He heard a child’s cry and turned; Tonks looked up as well and closed her book. “Teddy, come here!” she called. One of the boys let go of the toy he’d been tugging on, and trotted over to Tonks. She leaned forward in her chair and fixed him with a level gaze.
“What have I said about sharing?” she asked the little boy.
“To always share,” mumbled the boy. “But I had it first, Mummy!”
Tonks raised her eyebrows. “Does that mean that you shouldn’t share? That’s Jamie’s toy to begin with!”
Little Teddy hung his head in shame. “I sorry, Mummy.”
“Don’t apologize to me, apologize to Jamie.”
Teddy turned around. “I sorry, Jamie!”
Harry looked at the other children, trying to tell which child was Jamie. A moment later, Teddy ran off to play with the dragons again and Tonks leaned back in her chair once more.
“Kids,” she muttered to herself.
The children and Tonks all froze, then slowly the colors began to drain from the playroom. The images blurred, swirling together, until they were uniform in color and shapelessness. Harry reached for Ginny, uncertain of what was happening. The swirling stopped, then began to reverse, and they were in Dumbledore’s office.
“… I cannot press you to officiate it,” Dumbledore was saying.
“It would work, yes,” said a woman, who was seated back from Dumbledore’s desk and staring blankly ahead. “I only worry what will happen to the boy, and to Ginny. Imagine how it would make the boy feel if the first time he spoke to his parents was through their ghosts?”
Harry drew in a rapid breath, but then the image froze again and began to swirl once more. “No, stop, what was she saying?” Harry cried, running forward. He swiped at the woman, but his hand passed through her, draining her color as it did. Their surroundings swirled and swirled, then stopped. Harry turned back to Ginny.
“I don’t know what’s happening,” she said before he could ask. The vapor began to reverse, rebuilding an image of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. It was full of students scribbling with long black quills, and a woman in pink walked up and down the aisles. Then again, it vanished and reformed, into a room with peach paint and broken toys all over it, a floorboard near Harry’s feet lifted up and out of place. Then, the Gryffindor Common Room, and Harry saw Remus and Sirius, much younger, and someone that Harry knew was his father. They were laughing, and Sirius had his arm over Remus’s shoulders. The colors drained and everything swirled into each other, and they were in a nursery, and Ginny was holding a baby in her arms. And again, swirling even faster now, almost making Harry sick, and it turned into dorm room that Harry had shared with Ron up until the year before.
The door opened, and Harry walked in, much older than he was now, dirty, bloody, wearing robes that were ripped. He held two wands in his hand, and as he stepped inside he looked around, his eyes wide with an emotion that Harry could not recognize in his own eyes. He stepped towards his old bed, then fell onto it with a sigh.
The image drained of color, but this time, instead of changing, it stretched. Then Harry realized that they were the ones stretching, being pulled up and out.
They were in the corridor again. The Pensieve glowed innocently in their wand light. Harry fixed his gaze on Ginny, unsure of what he could even say. She held his gaze for a moment, but then her eyes drifted past his and over his shoulder. Her hands flew to her mouth and her eyes grew wide. Harry turned, looking for whatever it was that she saw.
There was a fox sitting in the corridor behind them.
“Sometimes what you see is very likely to come to pass,” the fox told them. “But sometimes, it just isn’t possible.”
Harry clenched his fists. “You’re trying to trick us, aren’t you? You’re trying to scare us into thinking that we’ll lose. Well, guess what, I’m going to defeat Voldemort, and no one else is going to die for me. No one!”
Slowly, the fox hung its head. It rose to all fours, and padded into the darkness.
“Hey!” he shouted. The fox kept going. Harry started forward, shouting again. The fox broke into a run, and he chased it, Ginny right behind him; the corridor changed, its walls becoming moss covered and the floor grass, trees sprung up and Harry realized they were back in the forest, the fox ducking and dodging trees, the two of them right behind it.
They froze, the sudden voice frightening them.
“I thought I instructed you to leave that one alone.”
The woods were gone as soon as they had appeared, they were now standing in a cavern light by torches with blue flames. The source of the voices were out of sight, but almost familiar.
“I was just examining it.” This voice was familiar as well, but in a different way. It was much more feminine than the other, but at the same time darker.
“It must be left where it is, it is too fractured to enter the mortal world.”
“Yes, I know, but what if…”
“What if you tried to fix it? Into two instead of one?”
“Now that it has been made, it cannot be changed, at least not without great cost.”
“What cost would that be?”
“And why do you ask?”
“I’m only curious.”
“The destinies of three hundred and nine virtuous magic users.”
“Three hundred and nine?”
“Isn’t that a bit much, for two halves of a soul?”
“It is, however, I am not the master of magic.”
“What sort of destiny would the three hundred and nine need to be?”
“You ask many questions, young one.”
“Is that a question?”
“Not in of itself.”
“But what sort?”
“They would need to be killed fighting to protect someone. The self-sacrifice would be enough to heal the halves into two distinct pieces.”
Footsteps echoed through the cavern, and suddenly a very large shadow appeared on the opposite wall, one that was ten times as tall as theirs. Harry grabbed Ginny’s arm and pulled, running away as fast as he could. But the shadows followed them, now distinctly two, a man and a woman’s; still larger than was humanly possible.
“Would you tell me the story of how you convinced Mother to marry you again?”
“Again? Haven’t I told it to you often enough that you could tell it to me?”
“Humor me, please.”
“I made her very angry, but then what I did ended up good and she turned out to be pleased. It had not been my intention to woo her through irritating her, but it worked.”
“But the things you made, the ones that made her angry, tell me about them again.”
“I made many things that irritated your mother.”
“But those three in particular, you know to which I am referring.”
“Yes, I do. But let us save that for another time. There are eavesdroppers here. I suspect one of those your mother gifted.”
“Do you not smell them in the air? Do you not smell their fright?”
Harry’s breathing caught in his throat. That made him even more worried.
“Hmph. You got your nose from your mother, that’s for certain.”
“Who is it?”
“It is of no consequence. They will wake from their slumber soon.”
“There are two.”
“Harry, Ginny, are you in here?”
Harry raised his hands to rub at his eyes. He looked around, raising his head to search for the voice.
“Are you two awake?” called another. Ron’s voice.
“In here,” Harry said to them. He reached over and touched Ginny’s shoulder, but she hadn’t woken up. She seemed peaceful, so he didn’t wake her. He sat up, stretching his arms and shoulders.
The door to their room opened and Hermione peeked inside. Harry saw Ron standing behind her, his hand covering his eyes. “Honestly, Ronald,” she muttered, waving to him. Harry raised an eyebrow at them.
“Really?” he said. “Really, Ron?”
“Hey, I’m not risking it,” Ron said, raising his hands up in defense of himself as he followed Hermione in.
Harry shook his head at him, dropping his gaze to the bedspread. He yawned, then looked back at Ginny, though he still didn’t want to wake her.
“So, what’s up?” he asked them, looking back up.
“Well, we were wondering if you were feeling any better,” Hermione said. “McGonagall had us all rest in her office before letting us go, and even then she told us to straight to our dorm rooms and keep resting, until we were sure we’d gotten past the last of the effects of that potion.”
“I think we’re okay,” Harry said, mumbling a little as he rubbed at his eyes. “We kept dreaming, but I think that it’s just the mushrooms.”
“What was it that startled you so much?” Ron asked. “I know you said you didn’t want to say, but I got the feeling that you didn’t want to say it to Sirius.”
Harry looked at him, a little startled at his clarity on the situation. Though it was half true, he most especially couldn’t tell Sirius, but Ron and Hermione had been in their hallucination too…
“I don’t think I should tell you either,” he said finally, dropping his gaze as he was no longer able to hold Ron’s eye. “But… it wasn’t anything… anything that could actually happen. Ginny reckons that it was a metaphor of some kind, just a generic warning, but…”
“Did you see something happen?” Hermione asked him, her eyes wide.
“A village,” he admitted, “that burned down. But like I said, Ginny thinks it was a metaphor.”
“Why?” Ron asked.
“Because… because we saw a lot of people, the future of a lot of people, except my parents were there,” he said. “They were alive. But since they’re dead, what happened can’t actually happen.”
“A metaphoric warning,” Hermione mused.
“Yeah,” Harry said, his word ending in a yawn. “Metaphoric.”
“Well, are you at least feeling calmer?” Ron asked.
Harry nodded, then he glanced at Ginny. “Yeah, I think we’re good.”
“Then, what did you see? Your animal forms, I mean,” he asked quickly, as he sat himself on the edge of their bed.
“The first one was this long black snake,” Harry said. “It had red bands on it, and a hood with a red mark on the back of it, like a star.”
“But there are a lot of red and black snakes, like Sirius said,” Ron sighed.
“But very few with star shaped marks on their hoods,” Hermione said quickly. “Was the snake swimming when you found it?”
“That sounds like a Star-Hooded Runespoor to me,” she said excitedly.
“A what now?” Harry asked.
“A Star-Hooded Runespoor,” Hermione repeated. “They’re a crossbreed of the regular Runespoor and certain kinds of cobras native to parts of South Asia and Northern Africa.”
“Runespoors?” Ron said. “The three headed snake that Dark Wizards always have?”
“That one, yes,” Hermione said.
“I still don’t know what that is,” Harry said with a shrug.
Hermione took a seat on the bed, preparing to launch into an explanation of Runespoors which was likely to end up being very long. Ron quickly cut her off: “It’s this three headed snake, and each of the heads governs a different aspect of its life, direction and peace and anger.”
Hermione looked a little disappointed that she didn’t get to share all she knew on the snake.
“That’s a bit creepy,” Harry said, beginning to get worried. “And you think that my Animagus is a cross of that animal and a cobra?”
“It could be Ginny’s,” Ron said. “In which case it would make perfect sense. She’s scary sometimes.”
“No, it talked to me,” Harry said. “Can that snake talk normally?”
“No, but it can mimic the sound of human voices,” Hermione said, “it often pretends to be a crying child to lure adults into its nest so it can kill and eat.”
“Definitely creepy,” Harry said. “Why would I have that as my Animagus?”
“What did it say to you?” Hermione asked. “I know mine said three things about me.”
“It said…” Harry trailed off. He wasn’t much more fond of what it had said than of the snake itself. “It said that it was the fear in my eyes, the anger in my belly, and the hunger for… for blood in my mind…”
There was silence for a moment. Then, Ron broke it with: “Are you sure that it’s not Ginny’s?”
“Ron!” Hermione scolded, as Ginny finally stirred. Harry turned his attention away from them to her, reaching over to take her hand.
“Are you awake now?” he asked her.
“No,” she mumbled, shifting closer to rest her head on his thigh. He pulled his hand away and set it on her shoulder, rubbing back and forth absently.
“Are you done now?” Harry asked them, looking up.
“— rude as you are — oh, yes, sorry,” Hermione cut herself off, looking away from Ron.
“As I recall, yesterday afternoon you didn’t care about me being rude to my sister,” Ron said. Hermione turned bright pink and covered her face with her hands. Harry rolled his eyes at them.
“I’m sure that the snake not Ginny’s form, because that would make the fluffy pink cat mine,” Harry said to them.
Ron laughed loudly, leaning back as he did and clutching his stomach. Hermione looked sideways at him, a scowl growing on her face still, and then he suddenly gasped and fell off the bed.
“Hermione, you did that on purpose!” Ron shouted from the floor.
“What?” Hermione sniffed. “I did nothing.”
Ron popped up past the foot of the bed, glaring at her. She stuck her nose in the air and looked away.
“Cut it out, or I’ll make you leave,” Harry said. “Ginny’s still sleeping.”
“Sorry,” Ron said as he sat back on the bed. “Continue describing my sister’s fluffy pink Animagus form.”
Harry scowled at him. He stifled a snort.
“Luna said that it might be a Cheshire cat, didn’t she?” Hermione asked him, tilting her head as she looked at him.
“Yeah, but I thought that wasn’t a real cat,” Harry said.
“No, it is,” Hermione said. “It’s a relative of the Nundu, but obviously much smaller. It’s native to rainforests, mostly the Amazon.”
“Nundu?” Harry whispered to Ron.
“Giant cat, always angry, lives in Africa,” Ron said. “Its fur is really resistant to spells, if you manage to get a cloak made from its skin, I think it’s better than dragon hide, but you can’t ever get one because it takes about a hundred wizards at once to kill one.”
“It also has very toxic breath,” Hermione added, “which is how maizoologists figure that the Cheshire cat is related to it, because it has similar breath.”
“Is it as bad as Ron’s breath in the morning?” Harry asked.
Ron protested loudly, but Hermione glared at him and said: “I wouldn’t know.” Harry chuckled to himself.
“Anyway,” Hermione said pointedly, “the Cheshire cat was discovered by Charles Dodgson, who later wrote about it in his books which were published under the name Lewis Carrol.”
“It could float,” Harry said, “in our hallucination.”
“It can in real life too,” Hermione said, “and turn invisible as it does in Alice in Wonderland. But it can’t talk like it did in the book.”
“What did Ginny say when she saw it?” Ron asked.
“She told it to buzz off, then to get off her head,” Harry said.
They frowned. “It floated onto her head and sat there for a minute,” he explained.
“What did it say to her?” Hermione asked.
“Cruelty in my heart, delight in my soul, desire I’ll always have,” Ginny mumbled.
“Wait, what was that last one?” Ron asked.
“Desire,” Ginny snapped, lifting herself up to look at him. “For chocolate and silence and tea, I assume.”
Hermione looked at Ginny with a raised eyebrow. “Buzz off to you too,” Ginny muttered, though she was smirking now. Ron groaned and clapped his hands over his face.
“Don’t lean back too far,” Harry reminded him, then winced when Ron fell back off the bed again.
“What was your form, Hermione?” Ginny asked, settling herself back with her head on Harry’s thigh again.
“An eagle owl,” she said, smiling. “It told me that it was the curiosity in my heart, the rationality in my mind, and the instinct for the hunt in my soul.”
“Figures,” Harry said. “Of course you’d get the wisest creature known to man.”
“I thought that was the Sphinx,” Ron asked, getting back up.
“Ron, how about you stop putting your foot in your mouth for a second here,” Harry suggested.
“I think that was his Animagus,” Ginny said to Harry. “A man with his foot perpetually in his mouth.”
“Hey!” Ron protested. “It was a dog, for your information!”
“What kind of dog?” Hermione asked.
“I think it was an Irish Setter,” Ron said.
“Ooh, I love Setters,” Hermione said.
Ron perked up. Ginny rolled her eyes.
“What did it say, though?” Harry asked.
“Something about playfulness, protectiveness, and nobility.”
“I get playfulness and protectiveness, but nobility?” Ginny said.
“Oh, shut up,” Ron said.
Ginny stuck her tongue out at him. He made an ugly face at her. Ginny jabbed her wand at him, and he fell off the bed with a yelp again.
“You little shit, Ginny,” Ron snapped.
“Love you too, twinsie,” Ginny said.
“Coming, Remus!” Harry shouted to answer the voice that he guessed was coming from the fireplace. He slipped off the bed, leaving his wife and best mate/brother-in-law to continue squabbling, and moved into lounge where Remus’s head was floating in the grate.
“How are you feeling?” Remus asked. “Sirius said that something happened while you were under.”
“We’re fine now,” Harry sighed. “We just… the mushrooms made us see a few things we didn’t want to.”
Remus frowned. “What things?”
Harry glanced back at the bedroom, now thinking of the dream they’d had after the hallucination. “It was nothing. Just weird.”
Remus still frowned. “Well, if you’re sure…”
“Yeah, we are,” Harry said quickly. “Ron and Hermione are over here now, we were talking about our Animagus forms.”
“Well, how about the four of you come and have dinner with Sirius and I?” Remus suggested. “You can tell us about your forms.”
They like the idea.
“Sure,” Harry said. “Wait, do they know…” he gestured awkwardly towards Remus, “about, you know, you and Sirius?” he finished in a quiet voice.
Remus’s face colored even in the fire. “Um, no, I don’t think so. I’m sure it wouldn’t matter, however. I know that Muggle opinion of… ahem, our situation, is much better than wizard opinion. Ron’s parents know and they don’t mind, so I assume they taught Ron to have the same values…”
“Oh, okay. I just… never mind. Uh, we’ll be down in a bit,” Harry said. “Um, right. See you.”
“See you in a bit then,” Remus said. His head vanished from the flames. Harry straightened up, then exhaled forcefully.
“You really are awkward as hell,” Ginny said as she left their room.
“Oh, shut up,” Harry told her. Ginny giggled and pecked his lips quickly.
“No PDA!” Ron begged from the doorway.
Harry slipped his arms around her and pressed his lips to hers, quickly pushing his tongue into her mouth and holding the kiss for several seconds, until Ron stopped groaning.
“You can’t tell me no PDA in my own room,” Harry said. “You came here, remember that.”
Ron moaned pitifully. Hermione rolled her eyes and Ginny giggled again, hugging Harry’s chest tightly.
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