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SIYE Time:14:04 on 20th November 2017


The Space Between
By YelloWitchGrl

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Category: Post-Hogwarts, Post-DH/AB, Post-DH/PM
Characters:All
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Fluff, General, Humor, Tragedy
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mental Abuse, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Rape, Sexual Situations, Spouse/Adult/Child Abuse, Violence, Violence/Physical Abuse
Rating: R
Reviews: 316
Summary: Harry and Ginny's lives have finally evened out. They've faced trauma, and loss, more than most have, but they've fought hard to find a normal.

If only things could stay that way... Old enemies find new ways to seek revenge.

This story is the sequel to Bound. It would be extremely helpful if you read that first.


Warnings are to be safe. It's probably overkill. Please message me if you have any questions or concerns.
Hitcount: Story Total: 75558; Chapter Total: 3609
Awards: View Trophy Room




Author's Notes:
Here comes the main story!

Silver Trinket Voting is up! Go vote, even if it isn't for me! :)

Also, check my profile to find the information for my original story. If you like my writing, I think you'll enjoy it. It comes out Jan 20th, 2015 YAY!!!! I'm actually working on the third book in the series.

Thanks for all of your support and the reviews. Let me know what you think of this chapter, okay? We're settling in for a very long journey, readers. The prologues were important to get us here, but now we start the meat of the story.

Arnel, who has read the first five chapters, is saying it's great. I need to get through the edits, but I did get through this one. Thank you to her for all of her help! She also edited my original story for me, which I can't thank her for enough.

Okay, on to the story...




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August 31st, 2017

Harry stared blankly down at the note.

‘I know your secret.’

He sighed heavily and looked around his office at Auror Headquarters. The door was closed, and the bustle of the busy office around him was hushed. He glanced at the picture of his kids, including Teddy, which graced his desk. Yet another picture showed himself and Ginny, his hair starting to gray ever so slightly, and lines deepening around his eyes. Ginny looked as beautiful as she ever had, her figure trim, and her hair in a short, red bob that was just long enough for her to tie up in a short tail. They were snogging in the picture. They were usually snogging. It incited James to fake gagging and retching noises every time he saw it, but it made Harry smile. He’d been married for nineteen years, and the fact that he still loved kissing his wife was cause for celebration in his book.

He glanced back down at the note. Harry did have a secret, but it wasn’t the one the note spoke of.

It was the note itself. Only Ginny knew that he still received them regularly.

He rose slowly, feeling the weight of the parchment that had arrived, like all the others, through the Muggle post. He pulled open a file cabinet, and sorted through until he found the right folder. He dropped the note in, along with the nineteen others he had accumulated. He hadn’t told anyone of the second note’s arrival, or any of the subsequent ones. He’d quietly investigated them by himself, and that hadn’t moved the search at all. He’d investigate this one as well, but not yet.

Harry had no leads on the note. He’d thought, at first, that it had come from the woman that had turned his life so completely upside down, but she’d died a long time ago and still the notes came every summer. They didn’t always arrive in the same month, but they came nonetheless.

He sighed wearily and grabbed his cloak. It was nearly five o’clock and both James and Al would be heading to Hogwarts that next morning. It was Al’s first year, which was enough to leave Harry queasy and a little off balance. He wasn’t sure how his small, shy child had managed to turn eleven.

He shook off the wool-gathering. If he didn’t get home shortly to help harass James into packing his trunk, Ginny would have his head.

A knock sounded at his door.

“Enter,” Harry called and hoped that it wasn’t something urgent that would tie him up.

Teddy poked his head through the door. “I was wondering if you’d left yet,” he said as he sidled into the room. “I got a note from Ginny saying I was coming for dinner, and to make sure you left promptly at five.”

“She doesn’t trust me,” Harry grinned as he fastened his cloak. “Weren’t you eating with Victoire tonight?”

“Apparently, they’re shopping,” Teddy informed him, holding out his hands helplessly. “She told me yesterday that her mum is taking her out or something. I’m going to see her off tomorrow, though.”

“Ah,” Harry nodded. He wasn’t entirely sure what that was about, but knew better than to dwell on the things his sisters-in-law did. Only Hermione ever made sense to him, and that wasn’t often. “Well, let’s get on them before we both get murdered. How was Auror training today?”

Teddy shrugged as they walked out to the lifts. “Really interesting,” he said as he explained what he’d learned that day.

They arrived through his Floo to find Ginny sitting at the table drinking a glass of wine, with a sour expression on her face. Lily, Hugo, Rose and Al were all playing a game of Exploding Snap in front of the fireplace, and none gave the two newcomers more than a cursory ‘hello’ before turning resolutely back to the game. The atmosphere in the room was so thick that they couldn’t have cut it with Gryffindor’s Sword.

Harry exchanged a glance with Teddy, who promptly sat down with the little kids so Harry could go sort out his wife.

Ginny glanced up at him and took a long sip from her glass. “He’s all yours. I’m done for today.”

Harry looked up the stairs. “Is he in his room?”

“He was,” Ginny said dismissively.

Harry heard a noise and turned to see Hermione’s head in the fireplace. “I’m home kids, you can come through. Thanks, Ginny!”

“Sure,” Ginny called out, not moving from her spot.

“Bye Aunt Ginny, bye Uncle Harry!” Rose and Huge called out together as they left. Ginny had watched first Rose, then Hugo all their lives. Her job as a sports writer let her work from home much of the time, and when she couldn’t Molly Weasley or Fleur would step in.

As of the next day she would only have Lily and Hugo, and them for only two more years. Time was flying. Harry sighed heavily. “What did he do this time?”

“If it was just one thing,” Ginny growled, pointing at him with the wine glass, “would I be drinking a glass of wine?”

The short answer was no. Ginny had unbelievable reserves for James’ antics, which often brought a tear of joy and pride to his Uncle George’s eye.

That exact trait had been a major focus of Ginny’s years of therapy, in fact. They had lost their first child, Hope, through a late miscarriage. Ginny had been poisoned and Hope hadn’t survived. She’d blamed herself for their daughter’s death, but it was only when she was pregnant with Al did they realize just how deeply the pain was entrenched. Ginny had started therapy shortly after, and her therapist had told her point blank that she needed to get tougher on James, and that letting him get away with things wasn’t serving him, and wouldn’t make up for Hope’s loss. Harry had heard the same speech during his own therapy sessions.

Ginny had turned around completely, and while she wasn’t exactly like her own mum, she did now rule the house with more an iron backbone. However, James’ character was already well cemented by that time. Almost nothing James pulled, and he did pull a lot of hair raising stunts, ever really rattled her. When she was really stressed she’d go out to their back yard and sit by their daughter’s grave. She’d come back in, and tell him that it didn’t matter what he did because he was alive. It was hard to fight with that.

“He turned my clothes pink,” Al said quietly from beside him.

Harry startled a bit, not having realized his son had wandered over. “Sorry?”

“Everything pink,” Al confirmed gloomily. “Mum couldn’t get my pants to turn back.”

“Then,” nine-year-old Lily jumped in as she hopped on one foot across the kitchen tiles, “he relabeled all of Mum’s spices and potion ingredients.”

“That was to distract me long enough to get the Marauder’s Map and your Invisibility Cloak,” Ginny scoffed. “Like I’m stupid and was born yesterday. If he’s not clever enough to sneak them out without me knowing, then he doesn’t deserve them.”

Al shifted from one leg to the other, “Then he-”

Harry held up his hand. “I get the picture.”

They’d never been a household where Ginny had said to the children, ‘wait till your father gets home’. She’d told him that just wasn’t her style and she’d rather deal with it herself. They were a team, partners, and in a partnership if one of them had been driven to drink by the children, the other was honor bound to step in. Harry bent and left a lingering kiss on his bride’s lips, tasting the wine and her frustration mingled together. “Okay, you’re off the clock. Go take a bubble bath.”

“Dinner,” Ginny sighed. “I couldn’t make anything because I had to reorganize the kitchen.”

“Take away,” Harry countered. He turned to his godson, who was smiling sympathetically. “Why don’t you, Al and Lily walk down to the village and come back with something?”

“Sure,” Teddy agreed easily. It wasn’t the first time he’d taken the kids down to the large village. Even for nineteen he was eminently responsible, and Harry trusted his kids with him. He was their unofficial, but recognized, big brother.

Harry went for the drawer and fished out some Muggle money, which he handed over to Teddy. Then he retrieved the Portkey Galleons that Hermione had made so many years ago for him, and handed one each to Al and Lily. They rolled their eyes, but stuck them in their pockets.

If someone snatched them, all they had to do was touch the gold coin and say, ‘home’ and they’d be whisked away to the safety of their house. It had saved Ginny’s life once, and when the children were out of his sight, except for at school, they always had one on them.

“Come on, squirts,” Teddy called out jovially, heading for the door.

Lily ran to him and took his hand. “I want ice cream, too.”

“You’re not supposed to say that until after we’ve left the house,” Teddy teased. “They can still hear us, you know.”

“Pshhh,” Lily blew out as she waved that off dismissively. “Mummy isn’t stupid, remember? She knows I’m going to talk you into ice cream.”

Al grinned back at his bemused parents, and closed the door behind them.

Harry pulled Ginny to her feet and held her close. They swayed a little on the spot and he ran his hand up and down her back, enjoying the feel of her curves pressed against him. “I’m sorry your day was so lousy.”

“It wasn’t all bad,” she muttered in to his chest. “Al is all packed, minus his pants. I called in the expert and she’s trying to get them changed back. If Mum can’t get them fixed, then I’m going to beg Hermione to have a look.”

“If that doesn’t work,” he said firmly, “Al gets James’ pants. They will switch.” The two were very close in size, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

She nodded, “That was exactly what I was thinking. It’s also what I told him, which is why he’s sulking in his room.”

“Let’s just leave him there,” Harry said suddenly. “I think I want a bath, too.”

Ginny cocked her head to the side and stared up at him. “You have to be kidding.”

“Nope,” he assured her. “Locking and Silencing Charms were invented for just such an occasion.”

“You pick the worst times to-”

Harry kissed her deeply, trying to drag her in to the bliss of a nearly empty house. He ran his hands down her back, over her very nice butt, and hoisted her up by her thighs. She wrapped her legs around his waist, and held on to his neck. “I’ll beg if you want,” he grinned against her mouth.

She laughed. “I wouldn’t want that.”

Harry turned and started for the stairs, his wife still firmly wrapped in his arms.

~*~

September 1st, 2017

“What are you doing?”

Teddy broke away from the kiss and glared down at James. “Go away.”

“I will if you tell me what you’re doing,” James said with a sly grin.

“If I have to tell you, then you’re in big trouble, kid. I’m here to see her off, now scram.” Teddy growled as Victoire buried her face in his shoulder. He ran a hand up into her long, soft locks and watched his god-brother run off down the platform, his messy black hair flying up as he ran. “Don’t worry about it,” he said to her, looking into her beautiful blue eyes.

“I know,” she said, her cheeks stained with a charming blush. “It’s just that little twerp is never going to let me forget it.”

Teddy grinned and rested his forehead against hers, cradling her smaller hand in his against his heart. “He’ll grow out of it soon.”

Victoire raised an eyebrow. “You’re sure about that, are you?”

“Well, no,” Teddy replied honestly. “But he’s twelve, so who cares? The adults all know and the littler kids were going to find out eventually.”

Victoire stood on her tip toes and wrapped her arms around his neck. He lifted her off her feet a bit with another kiss. “I’m going to miss you,” she said against his lips.

“I’m going to miss you, too,” he promised, feeling the ache in his gut and wishing they could put off this parting.

“Hogsmeade weekend?” she asked, not for the first time, but he didn’t mind reassuring her.

“Definitely,” he promised. “Write to me when you get there.”

“I will,” Victoire whispered and he lost himself in the feel of her lips one last time.

~*~

“Hang on, Nat, I’ll put it up for you,” her dad said and she struggled in vain to get the trunk up onto the scarlet train as the steam from the engine swirled around them, dancing in between the moving families.

Natalie shook her strawberry blonde hair out of her face, ready to tell him she had it when she tripped on the step, slammed her hip hard and slid painfully back onto the platform. “Owww.” She groaned and knew she was going to have a massive bruise on her hip.

Her dad sighed and hauled her up. Unfortunately, they were used to this. “Are you all right?” he asked. Nat nodded, although she wasn’t entirely certain. “You wait here and I’ll put the trunk up for you.”

Nat nodded and waited. She saw families all around and wished like crazy that her mother could have been there. Unfortunately, when your mother is Julienne Parker a top reporter for Britain’s most respected news station, she had to travel quite a lot. Her dad was there, though, which was a blessing. They’d had to juggle to make sure that one of her parents would be there to get to Diagon Alley the day before and to see her onto the train today, but they’d managed. Her dad, Curtis Parker, her handsome, tall and amazingly brilliant father hopped off the train and pulled her into a hug. “I’m going to miss you so much, Peanut,” he assured her, bending down to kiss the top of her strawberry blonde head. “Who am I going to show my findings to, hm?”

“Hopefully, Mum,” Nat grinned and her dad laughed. Her father was a forensic anthropologist, one of the best, and Nat had spent her childhood traveling with him, being homeschooled and seeing the world. There used to be a TV show in America about a forensic anthropologist who fought crime, but that wasn’t what her father did. Mostly he worked in the background making identifications of old skeletons and often testifying in courts all over the world. Her mother covered the biggest stories around the globe and then spent the down time with them, wherever she and her dad happened to be. It had been a crazy life, but nothing thus far had compared to the wiry man in an eye-watering neon orange suit showing up to give her a letter and explain that she was a witch. It wasn’t the witch part that was odd, though. It was definitely the orange suit.

The whistle blew and Nat jumped. “Dad, I’ve- I’m-”

“I know,” he told her. “I love you.”

“I love you, too!” Nat said, and she scrambled up onto the train. She’d have fallen again if he hadn’t been prepared to catch her. She stood and watched him waving, a lone tear sliding down her cheek. She swiped at it. She’d seen other parents waving, other students also sad. She’d be all right, though. Nat knew how to go new places and meet new people.

Nat turned to her trunk and groaned, amending her thoughts. She might be all right if she could get her trunk moved without killing herself in the process. Grumbling, she grabbed the handle and started to slowly drag the trunk down the aisle of the train, her bruised hip causing her excruciating pain with every step. Natalie’s normally chipper mood and good sense of humor were failing her, probably, she reasoned, because she’d just said goodbye to her dad and hadn’t seen her mum in nearly two weeks.

“Hey, do you need some help?” a hesitant voiced asked.

She fell onto her bum, right onto her bruise, and nearly blacked out from the pain as stars danced before her eyes. She shook her head, trying to clear it, and looked up to see a boy with messy black hair and piercingly green eyes staring down at her. Right behind her was a girl with curly red hair and a decidedly kind face. The boy was dressed in jeans, but the girl was already in the black school robes. “I really could use the help. I’m dead klutzy and I hurt myself getting on the train.”

The boy held out a hand and helped her to her feet. “We’re just in here. You can sit with us if you want-” then he did a double take. “You’re short!”

Nat laughed. He wasn’t being mean. Some people were, but she could tell he was just surprised. “Yep. My mum is tall, my dad is tall… we’re not sure what happened to me, but I’ve always been at least two inches shorter than anyone else my age.”

This boy was a good six or more inches taller than her, though. “I’m Al, this is my cousin, Rose.”

“I’m Nat, err, Natalie, but I go by Nat. It’s nice to meet you both.”

Rose grinned at her. “We’re just in here,” she said, pointing into the compartment she’d just passed. “Go on in and Al and I will sort out your trunk.”

“Oh, I couldn’t let you-”

“It’s all right,” Al assured her. “Anyway, you look like you can barely walk.”

Rose helped her into a seat and she sank into it gratefully. The two hauled her trunk in, but before they could get it lifted up a burly boy, about fifteen and with medium dark skin and black hair poked his head in. “You lot alright?”

“Can you put this up for us, Fred?” Rose asked.

“Sure can,” he said affably and single handedly stuck the trunk up top. “Anything else? Aunt Hermione ordered me to check on you at least once.” He winked at them and Nat saw Rose roll her eyes.

She looked between them and saw the facial resemblance between Rose and Fred even though their coloring was so different. Part of having a father who studied people meant that she was good at picking up on those things. “Are you related?” she asked.

“Cousins,” they all said together. “Our grandparents had seven kids.” Rose explained.

“Oh,” she said. “I’m an only child.” The train hit a bump and Nat caught her breath as the pain shot down her leg.

“Are you sure you’re all right?” Al asked, his face showing his concern.

Nat shrugged. “I get bumps and bruises all the time. I’ve broken a ton of bones. I keep falling into the pits my dad works in. It’s all right; I’m used to the casts.”

“Why don’t your parents just heal it for you?” Rose asked and then gasped at Nat’s blank look. “Oh! You’re Muggleborn, aren’t you?”

Nat grinned and sat back. “No idea, maybe?”

“It means your parents aren’t magical,” Fred explained. He pointed to Rose. “Her mum is Muggleborn.”

Al looked to Fred. “Do you know where Victoire went? Maybe she can heal it for Nat.”

“Probably down in the Prefect carriage giving out instructions,” Fred said. “Thankfully I escaped this year.” He pretended to shudder and Rose giggled. “Only prats,” Fred told Nat, “become Prefects. Unfortunately, our cousin Victoire is Head Girl this year. It’s going to make getting into trouble more difficult.”

Al grinned. “You’ll manage.”

“Too right I will.” Fred looked out of the compartment door. “Oi, Molly!”

“Another cousin,” Rose told her.

Nat laughed. “How many do you have?”

“All told there are twelve of us, well, thirteen really,” she amended. “Teddy isn’t technically our cousin, but he might as well be.”

A girl with chestnut brown hair and eyes to match popped her head in. She was already in her uniform and Nat noticed a blue and bronze patch with what looked like an eagle stitched on. Next to it was a silver letter P. “I’m going to be late Fred. What’s up?”

“Can you ask Victoire to come have a look at her?” he pointed to Nat. “She hurt herself and Merlin knows Victoire’s great at healing spells.”

Molly’s face turned instantly to concern and she looked at Natalie. “Are you okay? Should I send her down now?”

Nat shook her head. “I’ll be all right.”

Molly nodded. “I’ll tell her, then. I expect she’ll come down right after the meeting so maybe an hour.”

She left and with a wave Fred followed her out.

~*~

Ginny put her arm around Harry’s waist, and held on. She knew he was going to brood all day over Al’s leaving. Al’s quiet, careful countenance, which was so unlike any of them, had always given him a soft spot in her husband’s heart. He squeezed her shoulders and kissed the top of her head.

Hermione dabbed at her nose. “My baby just left.”

“You’ve still got me,” Hugo reminded her with a grin. He was a few months older than Lily, but they would still be going to Hogwarts together.

Hermione gave a watery chuckled and pulled her son in for a hug. “You’re right.”

Hugo pretended to grimace, but Ginny could tell he liked it.

It was hard losing your siblings to school, but at least Lily and Hugo, who were the last two to go, would still have each other during the wait. Ginny had been all alone, and it had been awful.

“Why don’t we skip school work today,” Ginny said suddenly. Hermione eyed her warily, but didn’t comment.

Ginny was in charge of their schooling and after Rose’s first year with her, she’d backed off on trying to control it. It hadn’t been easy, but Hermione had accepted that Ginny knew how to school the children better than she did. After all, Hermione hadn’t ever been schooled at home.

Lily and Hugo cheered. “Can we go to Diagon Alley, Mum?” Lily pleaded.

“I think that sounds fun,” Ginny said easily. She looked to Ron. “Do you want to Apparate over, or drive with us?”

“I’ll Apparate,” Ron shuddered. “I do not like it when you drive.”

She rolled her eyes, but didn’t otherwise comment. Ron couldn’t drive without magic, and she could. Ginny fished the keys from Harry’s pocket and stood on tiptoes to kiss him. “I’ll see you later, Luv.”

Lily threw herself at Harry, who swung her up into his arms. She planted a noisy kiss on his cheek. “I love you, Daddy. Catch some bad guys for me, okay?”

“I’ll try,” Harry assured her, hugging her in close. “Bye, sweetheart.”

Hermione gave her son a hug, bid him to behave, and she and Harry wandered out to her car, which Hermione would drive to the Ministry, before taking it home later that day. Harry always said he liked Hermione’s driving. She never broke any of the speeding laws, and it was entertaining to watch her get flustered at those who did. Muggles constantly made rude hand gestures at her for driving like an old biddy.

Ginny took the children’s hands and led them out of the station. It was very odd only having two of them.

~*~

“All right,” Nat said, getting down to business as Al and Rose sat across from her in the train’s compartment as they sped away from London. She heard a hoot and looked up to see two owls. “Why are there owls up there?”

“For sending letters,” Rose explained. “Owls are dead useful.”

There was so much she didn’t know, but thankfully these two seemed very friendly and her mother wasn’t a top journalist for nothing. Nat had learned a few tricks through the years. “Right… well, I need to know what’s going on here. I’m hopelessly lost.”

Al shrugged, “There’s a lot to know, but you’ll figure it out.”

“What do you want to know first?” Rose asked.

“Your family,” Nat decided. “Go through it for me, will you?”

They looked at each other then back to her. Rose spoke. “There are an awful lot of us.”

“I have an excellent memory,” Nat told them. “My dad studies people and I like to know where people fit in, so fire away.”

“Are you from England? You accent is different,” Rose said cocking her head to the side.

Nat grinned sheepishly. “I’m from all over really.”

Rose nodded. “All right, well I’ll start at the top,” Rose said, taking a deep breath. “First is that my Gran and Granddad are Arthur and Molly Weasley. They had Bill who married Fleur and they have Victoire, Dominique and Louis.” She paused, studying Nat who was taking it all in. “Do you want to know how old everyone is and what house they’re in?”

“House?” Nat probed.

“We’ll be Sorted into one of four houses at Hogwarts,” Al explained. “Most of our family is in Gryffindor, but we have two cousins in Ravenclaw and one in Hufflepuff. You don’t want to be in Slytherin,” he said firmly and Nat thought he was referring more to himself than her.

“What’s wrong with Slytherin?”

He shrugged. “They’re just not the best people, usually.”

“Stuck up,” Rose added helpfully.

Nat nodded. “All right, ages and houses would be excellent.”

“Well, Victoire is seventeen and in Ravenclaw. She’s the Head Girl, as you already know. Dominique is fourteen and in Gryffindor, and Louis is twelve and also in Gryffindor. Then there’s Uncle Charlie, but he’s in Romania and not married. He works with dragons.”

Nat’s mouth fell open. “Dragons? Really?!”

“Yep,” they said.

“I’ve been to Romania many times and I’ve never seen a dragon there!”

“You wouldn’t have, they’re kept away from Muggles. Let’s see,” Rose said, tapping at her chin. “Then there’s Uncle Percy and Aunt Audrey and they have Molly, who is fifteen and is the Prefect in Ravenclaw, and Lucy who is twelve and she’s the only cousin in Hufflepuff. After that is Uncle George. He had a twin brother, Fred, but Fred died in the Battle of Hogwarts.”

Nat frowned, but not at all the details. Those she could keep straight. She had a knack for names. “What battle?”

“Oh, right, you wouldn’t know about that!” Rose exclaimed.

“It’s a relief,” Al muttered.

His cousin grinned at him. “Shouldn’t we tell her that our parents are famous?”

Nat shrugged. “So are mine- at least my mum is famous. It sucks.”

A look of understanding passed between the three of them and they all grinned, each knowing it was in relief.

“About the battle…” Rose paused, thinking.

Al picked up the story. “There was this evil git named Voldemort who tried to kill a lot of people, and my dad was the one who killed him. Uncle Fred died in the last battle.”

“I’m sorry,” Nat said sincerely.

“We didn’t know him, this was years before we were born,” Rose said. “Uncle George was apparently not the same ever again, although he’s still the coolest uncle of them all. Well,” she said fairly, “Uncle Charlie is awesome, but we don’t get to see him much. So Uncle George married Aunt Angelina and they have Fred who is fifteen and in Gryffindor and Roxy, erm, Roxanne, who is thirteen and also in Gryffindor. Then there’s my dad, Ron and my mum Hermione and there’s me, I’m eleven and my brother Hugo who is nine.”

“My parents and Harry and Ginny Potter,” Al told her. “My mum is the youngest Weasley and only girl in the family. I have an older brother, James, who is twelve, but only for another few days. His birthday is September tenth. He’s in Gryffindor, and there’s me, I’m eleven, and my little sister Lily who is nine.”

“That must have been hard for your mum to be the youngest and only girl,” Nat said, pondering it.

They both laughed, shaking their heads. “My mum is tough,” Al told her. “She was a professional Quidditch player.”

“What’s Quidditch?”

“It’s this sport played on broomsticks,” Al started to explain, but Rose cut him off.

“It’s hard to explain. I have an excellent book on it, though, with pictures. When we get to Hogwarts I’ll dig it out of my trunk and show it to you.” Rose beamed, her eyes twinkling. “I want to make my house team, but I’m not sure I will. I’m a fair player, but it depends on the competition. Al’s great, though. I’m sure he and James will play. James might even make it this year.”

Nat cycled through all the information. “Okay, let’s see if I’ve got this straight then…” and she quickly rattled back through all the names and information she’d been given.

Al and Rose goggled at her. “Blimey, you do have a good memory!” Al spit out.

“Only for people and details like that; I have to study hard in other subjects, but I’m great in history. Now, who’s Teddy?” Nat asked.

“Teddy Lupin is my dad’s godson. His parents were killed during the war and he’s nineteen now. He lives with his grandmother, Andromeda Tonks, but Dad and Mum have had him over a lot.” Al smiled happily. “Teddy is excellent. He always keeps James from picking on me and he takes us to do fun things like get ice cream in the village.”

The compartment door opened and a truly stunning girl with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes walked in. Nat was amazed by her. There wasn’t a flaw in her face or her bone structure, which almost never happened. She zeroed in on Nat. “I’m Victoire, the Head Girl. Molly said you got hurt.”

“Yeah, I fell getting onto the train. It’s a nasty bruise.” Nat pointed to the spot on her hip. She studied her. Despite the French name, she had only a British accent.

Victoire’s beautiful face was pinched with concern. “Well, I can relieve the pain a bit, but if it’s bad you’re going to need to see the school matron when we get there. I’ve started studying to become a Healer, but only just.”

“That’s like a doctor,” Rose added at Nat’s blank look.

“I will send an owl to the Headmistress to let her know, so hopefully she’ll have Madam Pomfrey waiting for you. Here,” Victoire bent down next to her and pointed her wand at Nat’s leg. She didn’t say anything, but a pale blue light streaked into her leg and the pain lessened considerably.

“Wow,” Nat breathed out in relief. “That feels so much better.”

Victoire was muttering, still waving her wand and shook her head, clearly not liking the results. “You did a lot of damage. You’ll need to get seen before the Sorting, just as soon as we get there. I can’t believe you’re sitting there so calmly. Don’t try to do much. I’ll send someone along to help you off the train when we get to school. Leave these clothes on, don’t change. I don’t want you to hurt yourself further.”

She turned to Al and Rose. “If you need me, I’ll be up front in the Prefects’ carriage. Just run to fetch me, all right?”

They nodded. “Thanks, Victoire,” Al said and she left.

“She’s really nice,” Nat said, feeling better than she had in hours.

They were both studying her. “Why didn’t you say you were so hurt?” Rose asked her voice wobbling.

Nat shrugged. “I hurt myself all the time. I’m unbelievably gifted at it. I’ve lost count at this points of how many times I’ve been to the hospital and when you’re in some of the remote places I’ve lived, that’s not always fun.”

Shortly after that a squat witch came by with a cart offering sweets. “Want one?” Al asked through a mouthful of chocolate frog.

Nat shook her head. “I can’t eat those things. They make me sick. I brought some snacks.” Al stood up and retrieved the sack from her trunk for her.

“Rabbit food,” Al scoffed at her almonds, carrots, hummus and cheese. “No wonder you’re so small.”

Rose smacked his arm playfully. “Sweets wouldn’t help her get any taller!”

Nat ate a few bites and then put her food back into her bag. She knew she should eat more or she’d start to get dizzy, but the pain was back and it was making her feel sick.

About ten minutes before they arrived at Hogsmeade Station Rose told Al to get changed and Fred showed up to tell Nat that he was going to carry her off the train. Nat groaned. “That’s humiliating,” she said, and then laughed. “Well, it’s always fun to make an entrance, right?”

“That’s the spirit,” he told her as he gently picked her up. Al and Rose followed behind him. “Blimey, you are little! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a first year as small as you.”

Nat winced and had to suck in a breath as he climbed down the train steps. She was afraid she was going to throw up, the pain was so bad. Fred was being gentle, but something was definitely wrong. She’d been hurt enough times in her life to know that something was likely broken. Fred walked over to an older woman in a nurse’s uniform, who had a stretcher and was clucking disapprovingly. “Here you are, Madam Pomfrey. This is Nat.”

“Natalie Parker,” Nat told her as she lay back onto the very soft stretcher.

“What happened?” Madam Pomfrey asked before waving the others off.

Nat heard a booming voice calling for first years and she knew she should be with them, but she was afraid to move. “I fell getting onto the train. I get hurt a lot.”

“I’ll reserve a bed for you,” Madam Pomfrey said, and Nat thought she was probably not joking. She was waving her wand and also muttering like Victoire had done. “Oh dear, it looks like Miss Weasley was correct and you’ve broken your hip socket. I’m glad she sent us that note. I’m going to fix it, and then we’ll take you up to the castle on the stretcher. I don’t want you to injure yourself again before the swelling has gone down.” She waved her wand and Nat felt a momentary zing of pain before the bone mended.

“That’s amazing,” Nat said, letting out a happy sound. “Does this mean I don’t have to wear a cast anymore when I break a bone?”

Madam Pomfrey chuckled and waved her wand, the stretcher moving along with her and Nat on it. “No, no more casts. How many times have you been in a cast?”

“Uhm,” Nat tried to think back, “At least twelve, probably more. I’ve broken both legs twice and my arms several times. Mostly it’s been fingers and toes, though, and those don’t always get a cast.”

Madam Pomfrey glanced sideways at her. “You’re not allowed to get on a broom. When Madam Hooch does lessons you’re to stay on the ground. Understood?”

Nat sighed and nodded even though she really didn’t understand it. She knew that tone, though, and it’s the one her mother always used when Nat wanted to climb a tree or ride a bike. “Understood.”

They passed by a set of carriages and Nat blinked in surprise. “What are those?” She asked pointing to the skeletal horses that were hitched to the carriages.

Madam Pomfrey looked at her appraisingly. “You can see them?”

Nat turned back, confused. “Why wouldn’t I be able to see them?”

The matron shook her head. “They’re called Thestrals. You can only see them if you’ve seen someone die.”

“Oh,” Nat breathed out, amazed. She’d seen several people die. The Thestrals looked horrible but they seemed docile enough. She wasn’t sorry to not be getting in to one of the carriages, though.
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