|SIYE Time:8:45 on 16th January 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, All, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, General, Humor, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Harry had never friends, so he imagined one: a red haired girl he kept forgetting to name. Ginny imagined a shy boy with untidy hair and bright eyes, who knew nothing of magic, so she told him. He dreamt of a world of magic and of a girl who wanted to be his friend. She dreamt of a boy who loved to hear her voice, no matter what. Then dreams become a reality when Harry met Ginny.
Rating changed for later chapters.
*Nominated for 2014 November/December DSTA for Best New Story and Best Romance* *Nominated for 2016 January/Feburary DSTA for Best Comedy, Drama, and Romance*
Hitcount: Story Total: 98135; Chapter Total: 1149
The four of them left Gryffindor Tower a few minutes later, heading for the fourth floor and Remus and Sirius’s quarters. When they reached their destination, Harry knocked on the door and waited for one of the two professors to come and open it. He didn’t try the handle, though it was likely to be unlocked; he was not willing to risk walking in on them again.
Ginny rolled her eyes at him as Sirius opened the door.
“Remus is making tea,” Sirius told them as he waved them in, gesturing for them to take seats. “Are the two of you feeling better now?”
Harry was beginning to feel a bit irritated with that question; it wasn’t as if they were made of glass. “We’re fine,” he answered his godfather with a nod. “It was just the mushrooms messing with our heads.”
Sirius nodded, though Harry wasn’t quite sure if he believed him. Sirius dropped into an armchair, sprawling in it like a dog taking its place by the hearth, while the others took seats on the couch, and Remus levitated a tea tray over to where they were seated.
“So, your forms,” Sirius said. “What did you lot see?”
“An eagle owl,” Hermione said, pleased.
Sirius gave a nod. “Makes sense, I guess. Did it speak to you?”
“Yes, it said that it was my curiosity, my rationality, and instinct for the hunt,” Hermione told him with a small puff of pride.
“Mine’s a dog, looked like an Irish Setter,” Ron said as she finished. “Playful, protective, and noble apparently.”
“Apparently,” Ginny added with raised eyebrows. Ron elbowed her.
“And what did you two see, Harry?” Remus asked them as he took his own seat.
“Mine is a snake,” Harry answered. “Hermione reckons it’s a Star-Hooded Runespoor.”
Sirius gave a shiver. “Those things freak me out,” he said. “You know that they can mimic the voices of children crying and screaming? It’s freaky sh—”
“Of course, I’m sure that yours will be less frightening than the actual animal,” Remus interrupted Sirius, casually reaching over and hitting him with the back of his hand on the arm.
“They are freaky!” Sirius said as he batted Remus’s hand away. “Have you ever been outside late at night, alone, and suddenly heard a kid crying out of nowhere? It’s scary!”
“Perhaps you ought to watch fewer horror films,” Remus said as he shook his head. “I regret introducing them to you.”
Sirius rolled his eyes at Remus. “Your form is definitely going to be intimidating, Harry,” he told him.
Harry gave a nod, though all of what Sirius had said did not comfort him. Ginny patted his hand, leaning into him a bit.
You have to admit, crying children can be freaky.
Harry narrowed his eyes at her, his lips turning down in a frown. She shrugged.
“What was yours, Ginny?” Sirius asked.
“A Cheshire cat,” she answered. “Because apparently those things are real.”
“They are, they have foul breath,” Remus said.
Ginny shrugged. “Not as bad as Ron’s in the morning, I imagine.”
“Hey!” Ron protested.
“Didn’t you say that you saw a third animal?” Sirius asked. “What was it?”
“A normal fox,” Harry answered. “But, later, when we went back to our room and fell asleep, it was in our dreams.”
Sirius nodded. “That happened to me too, after the hallucinations ended and I passed out, my form showed up in my dreams.”
“What did your form say to you when you found it?” Hermione asked Sirius, her voice inquisitive.
“First off, it bowled me over,” Sirius said, “and it shoved its nose in my face and stared at me without saying anything for like three minutes.”
“As I recall your original telling of this, it was closer to three or four seconds,” Remus said.
“Ignore him, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Sirius said with a dismissive wave towards Remus. “After I finally asked it what the f— hell it was doing, it said that it was my clever mind, my vibrant personality, and the fierce love I had for my friends. The important part was that it called me clever.”
Sirius tapped his nose knowingly. Remus rolled his eyes.
A thought occurred to Harry; he glanced between the two of them, then spoke up. “How come Remus didn’t recognize your Animagus form when I brought you on the train with me two years ago?”
Sirius’s smirk vanished instantly. He leaned back in his chair and frowned at Harry, then glanced at Remus, who was now looking deeply into his mug of tea. Sirius flicked his gaze back to Harry, then answered him in a much more somber tone. “My Animagus form changed while I was in Azkaban. I used to be a much larger dog, with thicker fur and a completely different face. What happened… things like that — they change you, in lots of ways. Remus couldn’t have recognized me.”
Something in Sirius’s voice and the way Remus was sipping at his tea made Harry think that he shouldn’t have asked. He murmured “Oh,” and picked up his own mug of tea. He took a sip, feeling awkward.
Shut up, Ginny.
Love you too.
There was quiet in the room a moment while everyone slowly sipped at the cups of tea, until a timer in the kitchen went off and Remus set his mug down before he stood up.
“That’ll be dinner,” Remus said, setting down his tea and moving to the kitchenette. Hermione got up as well, trailing behind Remus and offering her help.
Sirius heaved a sigh and clapped his hands against the arms of his chair. “The Wasps’ll be playing the Harpies tonight,” he said as he rose as well. “You want to listen to the match?”
“Sure,” Ginny said eagerly. “I love the Harpies.”
“I figured that,” Sirius said, giving her a warm smile. “Bet you one day you’ll be playing for them too.”
Ginny flushed. “I thought I was the one with the gift of prophecy?” she said in an attempt to brush off her blush.
Sirius shrugged his shoulders. “Call it the science of deduction.” He switched on the radio and soft jazz came from the speakers. He fiddled with the dial for a second, and the sound of an announcer’s voice replaced the music, praising the Wasps’ as they scored a goal.
“Come on, Gwenog!” Ginny called.
“Nah, Gwenny, just let them score five million more times,” Sirius said jovially. “Remus, is the lasagna done?”
Harry saw Remus roll his eyes at Sirius’s words. “Yes, dear,” he answered, carrying a pan over to the kitchen table.
“Excellent!” Sirius clapped his hands together. “Hermione, Ginny, take notes, this is what a good housewife does.”
Hermione frowned, seeming confused as she carried a bowl of asparagus to the table, Remus rolled his eyes — again —, and Ron snorted. “Ginny can’t cook anything,” he said with a smirk and an accusatory finger pointed in Ginny’s direction. “Except tea and maybe boxed macaroni and cheese.”
“That’s why she ought to be taking notes,” Sirius said.
“This did come from a box,” Remus admitted as he set the pan on the table. “I didn’t make it from scratch.”
Sirius clapped a hand to his heart. “What? You lied to me, Remus?”
Remus patted him on the shoulder. “Yes, dear,” he repeated mockingly, and once again, he rolled his eyes.
They sat down to eat, and Harry had to say that even though it came from a box, the lasagna was quite delicious. Remus rolled his eyes a total of seven more times, and Ron was once again elbowed by Ginny a total of three times, however he elbowed her back twice. Both times she deserved it. Hermione snorted tea out her nose once, and Harry nearly choked on the lasagna twice, each time due to Sirius making them laugh. They finished around eight, then stayed to wash dishes; or rather, Harry, Hermione and Remus washed dishes while Ginny, Ron and Sirius gathered around the radio. As they finished cleaning up, the match finished with the Harpies catching the Snitch.
“Oh, no!” Sirius shouted.
“Yes!” Ginny whooped.
“Why?” Ron moaned.
“Alright, I’ll help clean up now,” Sirius said, walking over to the kitchenette. “Oh, you’re already done!” Remus gave him a scornful look, raising one eyebrow and pulling the corners of his mouth downward. “What?” Sirius asked incredulously.
“You’d better watch yourself, Black,” Remus said, pressing a damp dish towel into Sirius’s arms.
A pleased smile grew on Sirius’s face. “Or you’ll do what, Lupin?”
Remus shook his head, beginning to smile himself though he tried to hide it, and started away. Sirius chuckled to himself, and set the towel down. Hermione glanced at Harry and raised an eyebrow. Harry shrugged.
“Curfew is soon,” Ron said, stretching his arms. “Hermione, do you have to patrol tonight?”
“Yes,” answered Hermione. “Do you?”
Ron dropped his arms and grinned. “Yup!”
Ginny rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Glad to see our prefects are being responsible.”
Harry walked over to her and threw his arm around her shoulders. “I already gave Ron that talk, responsibility and protection and all that, don’t worry.”
Ron spluttered loudly and Hermione turned beet red. Ginny sniggered, then elbowed Harry in the ribs, though not nearly as hard as she elbowed Ron.
“Alright, alright, that’s enough of that,” Remus said. “Off to bed with you lot, or off to patrol with you two,” he added to Ron and Hermione. “Before I tell McGonagall two of her prefects are misbehaving.”
“Remus, you’re one to talk,” Sirius said with a grin from the kitchenette. Remus turned just as red as Hermione and turned away quickly, muttering something under his breath.
They said their goodnights, and left for Gryffindor Tower. Ron and Hermione left them on the fifth floor for McGonagall’s office, and Harry and Ginny carried on to the tower on their own. Ginny dropped her head onto Harry’s shoulder as they walked, closing her eyes with a contented sigh.
You know that you’re just the perfect height for me to lean on you now.
What was I before?
Thanks for that.
You’re welcome, love.
Harry stopped in the corridor, taking her in his arms and pressing a kiss to her lips. She smiled against his lips.
You know what, he thought, pulling back. I love you.
Ginny beamed. “I love you too,” she giggled; her gaze drifted over his shoulder. “And there’s a couple of first years watching us.”
Harry turned around, to see two boys in Ravenclaw robes gaping open mouthed at them. “What are you looking at?” he asked.
“Nothing!” said the first hurriedly.
“What he said!” squeaked the second.
“Curfew for the first years was ten minutes ago,” Ginny said, checking her watch. “What are you doing outside Ravenclaw Tower?”
“We got lost!” the second boy said. The first boy elbowed him hard in the ribs. “Ow!”
“We’re just taking the scenic route,” the first boy told them. “We’ll be fine.”
“No, we’re not, we’re lost!” the second boy moaned.
“Ravenclaw tower is that way,” Harry said. “It’s the West tower.”
“Walk towards the Transfiguration classroom, then turn right, then left, and take the stairs up,” Ginny told them. “If you reach the Trophy room, you’ve gone too far.”
“The entrance to the Tower is a few corridors before that,” Harry added.
“Thank you!” the second boy said, perking up. “Come on, Billy.” The second boy grabbed the first by the arm and tugged him away, down the corridor and out of their sight. Harry turned back to Ginny with a raised eyebrow.
Ginny giggled again.
Harry shook his head and draped his arm over her shoulder, resuming their walk back up to Gryffindor Tower. Fred and George were giving performances of their Puking Pastilles in the common room as they passed through it, and Ginny shook her head at them, shuddering a little at the sound of the repetitive retching. Up in their room, they prepared for bed and turned down their covers. Harry slid under the blankets first, then leaned back on the pillows while he waited for Ginny to finish brushing her teeth.
“Ginny?” he said, his voice carrying through the bathroom door.
“What?” she asked, her voice garbled by the toothpaste.
“How many kids do you want to have?”
Ginny opened the bathroom door and stared at him for a moment. Then she spat out her toothpaste, rinsed her mouth, and exited the bathroom, resuming her stare at him.
“It’s a serious question!” he said, beginning to smile.
“None right now,” she answered with raised eyebrows. “I don’t know, maybe two or three in the future.”
“I think three or four,” Harry said.
Ginny gave him a dark look as she got into bed. “You’re not the one having to carry them.”
“Yeah, but I’ll be in your head so every symptom and mood swing you get I’ll get, like your PMS.”
Ginny rolled her eyes, then switched off her lamp. “Harry, you barely get my PMS anymore. I barely get my PMS anymore.”
“But when you do, I do as well!”
“I don’t think that the same applies to pregnancy.”
“Do you think that while you’re giving birth, I’ll be able to feel it?”
Ginny looked over at him, her face unamused. “Harry, go to sleep.”
“It’s a legitimate question!”
“I’m not thinking about this right now.”
Harry huffed. “Thought you might care about the welfare of your husband, but whatever.”
“Are you PMSing?”
“Dammit, my period is coming up soon.”
“The fact that you use me to predict your period concerns me somewhat.”
Ginny waved her wand and Harry’s lamp went out. “Go to sleep, Harry.”
“Love you too,” he said. Ginny rolled over and draped her arm across his chest, then pressed a kiss to his lips.
“I love you, you big git,” she said. “Now, go to sleep.”
Harry laughed softly as she settled herself on his shoulder.
The next morning, Sunday, they spent most of their time sleeping; the rest of the day was spent in the library doing homework. Hermione found a few books on the Star-Hooded Runespoor and the Cheshire cat, confirming them as Harry and Ginny’s forms. Ron’s spell check quill kept correcting his grammar, frustrating him to the point of an outburst, after which Hermione pointed out that he had been using the incorrect words to begin with, and Madam Pince warned them to be quiet. After dinner they returned to the common room, where Fred and George hailed them from a corner of the room.
“Harry, come look at this!” George said. “We’ve got thirty six Galleons, 22 Sickles, and 14 Knuts from the presales of the Puking Pastilles last night alone!”
“I did not hear any of that,” Ron said quickly, turning around and walking into Hermione. “Hey! Hermione, come on, I think I need you to look over my Charms essay.”
“Ronald, I —”
“Or we can go snog in a corner or something until they’re done talking, I s’pose, but that Charms essay probably does need your approval, come on.”
Hermione spluttered, bright pink, as Ron pulled her away, Harry rolled his eyes.
“I’m going to pretend that I heard none of that,” Fred muttered to himself. “Charms essay. Hmph. We taught him better than that.”
“Oh, Fred, thirty seven Galleons,” George told him as he picked a coin off the ground.
“I don’t think that was ours,” Lee pointed out, but George shushed him.
“Thirty-seven Galleons,” George insisted.
“Well done, you guys,” Harry said, beaming at them.
“Yes, well done, I’m sure there’s going to be an epidemic of puking later,” Ginny sighed. “How long exactly have you been working on this? It’s barely a week into October!”
“The Puking Pastilles we’ve been working on for at least a year now,” George said. “They were almost perfected when we came to Hogwarts.”
“We decided to focus on them so we could start up presales and get our name out there before working on the rest of the Skiving Snackboxes,” Fred said.
“That was my idea,” Lee piped up.
“What would we do without you?” Fred sighed, throwing his arm over Lee’s shoulder. Lee rolled his eyes.
“This is fantastic, you guys,” Harry said. “I’m glad that money’s being put to good use.”
“Oh, definitely,” George grinned. “We’ve already setting up a mail-order service until the end of the year and we can set up premises in Diagon Alley.”
“Have you already got someplace to set up shop?” Ginny asked them, her voice impressed.
“Plans for one,” Fred said.
“The landlord’s a friend of me dad,” Lee said, “his tenant’s lease ends in June, and they’re not planning on renewing it.”
“As long as we can jump in with enough for a down payment by July, then the place is ours!” Fred told them.
“Excellent,” Harry replied, genuinely pleased that they were having such luck.
“Anyway, we wanted to offer you some of the Pastilles,” George said, raising a small box. “We had some left over from the demonstration last night.”
“No, thanks,” Harry said with a shake of his head. “I’m pretty sure Hermione’d kill me if she found one of those on me.”
“I’d protect you,” Ginny said, curling an arm around his.
“Well, isn’t that sweet,” Lee said. “The little family all sticking together to guard against the big, bad Hermione.”
“Oi!” Ron shouted from nearby. “I can put you lot in detention!”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Fred said without concern.
Ron shrugged but gave a gesture of I’m watching you, then went back to distracting Hermione.
“Anyway,” George said. “If you’re sure, Harry…?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” Harry said with a nod. “Thanks for the offer, though.”
George shrugged. “Anything for our benefactor.”
They said goodnight to the twins and Lee, and to Ron and Hermione who were still going over Ron’s Charms essay, which, judging by the suddenly panicked look on Ron’s face, needed the checking by Hermione. They separated to take the stairs up to their room, giving a wave to the Head Girl, Hollins, as they approached their door.
“Evening, Potter,” she said. “Potter.”
“Evening,” Ginny answered. She was still a bit miffed by what Hollins had said to them back on the first night.
Harry rolled his eyes at Ginny after Hollins had shut her door, then collapsed onto the sofa.
“I hate writing essays,” he said with a sigh.
“Me too,” Ginny sighed as she joined him. She turned, then draped her legs over the arm of the couch and rested her head on Harry’s lap. He set a hand on her hair and began to stroke it absent mindedly, combing it with his fingers. He felt more contented than tired, but as he closed his eyes he began to feel himself to drift off.
Sometime later, Ginny patted his shoulder, sitting up. We’ve got to get to bed, she thought. Sleeping here will not be comfortable.
No, I s’pose not.
They brushed their teeth and Ginny her hair, then got into bed. Ginny left her hair down so Harry could keep running his fingers through it. She leaned on his chest and he stayed up to read for a while longer, having nearly finished with Lord of the Rings. He fell asleep not long after she did, having enough wakefulness to mark his place in the book and switch off the lamps.
They sat on a rock by a waterfall and a clear blue pool. Around them was a thick forest, and the full moon above cast enough light in the clearing for it to resemble day. Ginny lay with her head in Harry’s lap once again, as he combed her hair with his hands. Harry stared into the pool, half watching the images and scenes playing out in it. The sound of the waterfall lulled his mind into a calm that was just as artificial as it was shallow.
“Powerful indeed,” whispered a voice, a voice that echoed across the rocks and through the trees. The water cleared of its images, and still the voice echoed. Harry knew it was a voice familiar to them, but he could not remember to whom it belonged. As he looked up, he was awakened by the voice of Remus.
“Come on, Harry, just because Tonks isn’t here doesn’t mean you get out of training!”
Monday was long, and Tuesday even longer. Wednesday had Divination, Potions and History of Magic back to back. During their practice on Thursday, Harry managed to defeat Sirius in a mock duel, and they were taught a new and interesting hex in DADA the next day. The weekend was spent in training, Quidditch and otherwise, Saturday they spent with Remus and Sirius dueling again, on Sunday Angelina called in the Reserve team for a practice game. On Monday morning, Sirius told them that Tonks was still held up in America; their last raid had gone wrong and one of the American Aurors had died. Tuesday, however, Dumbledore had finally returned, though briefly, from counselling the ICW and MACUSA.
They received a note at breakfast that morning, with the news that he was able to meet with them for a short time that evening and that the password had changed from Peppermint Toads to Snickers, which Harry assumed was an American candy.
“Good evening,” Professor Dumbledore greeted them as they entered his office. “I assume you remember Mr. Vance?”
“Of course,” Harry said, nodding to the man. He looked much better than the last time they had seen him, his hair was cut and his face shaved, he wore clean robes and appeared better fed. His hands were still badly marred, making Harry doubt that they would ever heal and wonder what had happened to him. Beside him sat a thin woman, her face hollow and her eyes staring unblinkingly at the wall opposite her.
“This is his wife, Vanessa,” Dumbledore said. “You’ll remember I told you that we found her with Aurora and Philip Sinestra in Norway.”
Harry noticed Mr. Vance’s hands clench at the mention of the Sinestra siblings. Harry’s own jaw had tightened at their name, so he was not surprised.
“We remember,” Ginny said, stepping closer. Mrs. Vance’s head turned slightly, towards Ginny. It was then that Harry saw that her eyes were cloudy, and the surface of them visibly scarred. He held himself still, preventing his body from starting backwards in fright at the sight of her damaged eyes.
She’s blind, Ginny thought.
I noticed, Harry answered.
“Mrs. Vance, as I told you then, is versed in knowledge of the occult and with death.”
“I worked in the Department of Mysteries,” said Mrs. Vance, and Harry was surprised at the roughness of her voice. It sounded as if she had only just begun to use her voice again after being silent for a long time. “I am considered an expert in the area of necromancy.”
“But —” Harry began, glancing at Dumbledore. “You said that necromancy — it is a black magic, isn’t it?”
Mrs. Vance turned her head, and then her eyes moved in their sockets, her unseeing gaze moving to lock onto Harry’s eyes. How she knew where he was and where his eyes were escaped him; her milky and murky irises were disturbing alone in their damaged state, and their movement increased Harry’s discomfort. “There are many magics that are considered black,” Mrs. Vance answered before the Headmaster could speak, “however, their study is still needed.”
“The Department of Mysteries is devoted to the study of the ancient and strange arts,” Dumbledore told them. “Death is a mystery that has fascinated Wizards and Muggles alike for eons.”
“Your Headmaster has asked me to speak with you on the subject of death,” Mrs. Vance murmured. “And especially how to escape it.”
The house was cramped and dirty, but served its purpose. They would not be found here, not any time soon at least. This was very likely the last place that the fool Dumbledore and his minions would search for them. He stayed to care for his master, who was still getting used to his new body, while others waited for commands. He knew that he at least waited anxiously for the direction to go and do something, anything, to aid his master in his crusade. He grew uneasy remaining in the crumbling and rotten house, sitting still and doing nothing but carrying out simple daily tasks for his master. His master remained in the upper floors, meditating most of the time he assumed. There were times when he heard him casting spells, perhaps adjusting himself to his new body. His master was still weak, requiring extensive rest. He knew that his master was frustrated by his lack of power, but given that he had been less than a man for so long, he was impressed by his master’s skill even in his weak state. He tried his best to remain out of his way. He brought him meals and news, but remained on the ground floor whenever his presence was not required.
“Come here,” his master called him one afternoon. He got up, and went.
“My lord,” he said, falling to his knees.
“Rise, and listen closely,” his master bade him. He was seated in the center of the room, his eyes shut and his face focused. “I require your service.”
“At all times, my lord.”
“I have a task for you.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“The world of the Muggles is complacent, and my rival grows too comfortable. The time to strike is near.”
“What is it you wish me to do?”
“Go to London. Find a place filled with Muggles on a daily basis. Someplace important. Someplace that will make them stumble and fear.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Report it back to me. I shall then determine when best to attack.”
“As you wish, my lord.”
“Leave at dawn. Return in three days.”
He bowed low before his master, waiting to be dismissed.
“You may go.”
“Thank you, my lord.”
He exited his master’s room, backing up until he had cleared the doorway. The door shut of its own accord, and he returned to the first floor.
At dawn, he donned a cloak and slipped his wand into his sleeve. He paused in front of a mirror, checking his reflection. He combed his fingers through his sandy blonde hair, then stroked his unshaven chin. He removed his wand and gave it a flick, murmuring an enchantment. His reflection changed with the glamor charm, his beard becoming fuller and darker, his hair thinning and graying, lines appearing in his forehead and at the corner of his eyes. He stared into the mirror, and hated the reminder of his father in it.
He left the crumbling house, moving through the small village until he reached the church. He entered the graveyard, where there would be no Muggles. He crossed it quickly, bearing no attention to the headstones, save one. He paused over them, then flicked his wand at them and caused the wreaths and flowers to turn to ash. He sneered down at the names on it, then gave a scoff.
“The last enemy to be defeated is death,” he murmured mockingly. “Indeed.”
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