|SIYE Time:12:33 on 26th September 2017|
The Space Between
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Category: Post-Hogwarts, Post-DH/AB, Post-DH/PM
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
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: 72734; Chapter Total: 2596
Awards: View Trophy Room
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Thank you Arnel for beta'ing for me :D
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Some asked in reviews, and I responded, but here's the LAST bit in Nat's POV for a couple of chapters. We'll have a small POV from her in three chapters or so, but that's it for a while. No way am I making Nat this all powerful something like Dumbledore. Nope, not happening. That kind of character irks me. Anyway, hope you enjoy.
Next chapter has Al's POV in it for some :D
“How was it?” Rose asked Scorpius, her face pinched in concern as she shifted restlessly on her seat. Nat sat next to her as they sped along the countryside back to Hogwarts. Christmas was over. It was time to get back to school.
Scorpius shrugged. “He was a prat all through Christmas. Aunt Daphne eventually blew up at him and told him to get over it and that I could have worse friends.” A smirk flitted across his face. “Then she said, ‘you know, Draco, just like the friends you had during your years at Hogwarts? The ones that nearly got you killed?’ That shut him up and he’s not said anything since. My aunt is basically the only one who stands up to him anymore. He did say that I’m not to mention you three to my grandparents.”
Al rolled his eyes. “Uncle Ron told Rose she wasn’t to get too friendly with you when we were about to get on the train, remember, Rose?”
Nat looked over to see Rose blushing. “Really?”
Rose sighed, “Yes, but I can decide whom I want to be friends with and Dad was joking.”
“I don’t think he cares about you being friends, he just doesn’t want you two to get married,” Al said.
Rose’s face went red and Scorpius looked as though he wanted to throw himself from the train. Nat had to fight hard not to bang her head against the compartment wall. “Al, you just said the exact wrong thing.”
“What?” Al said, clearly confused. “That’s what he said!”
Nat blew out a breath. “He was probably teasing her and while in some cultures kids get married at thirteen, we’re not one of them. They’re not ready to get married any time before they’re twenty-five or so.”
“My dad and mum got married earlier, at twenty I think,” Al told her. “I think Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione were twenty-two.”
Nat stared at him. He clearly doesn’t know, she thought. But she wanted desperately to save Rose from the waves of embracement that she could feel rolling off the other girl. “Yes, but it’s embarrassing. Would you like Rose to tell me all about how your parents had told you not to marry me?”
Al squeaked, before cottoning on to the fact that she’d turned the tables on him. “Oh. Sorry, you two, I didn’t mean to…you know.”
Scorpius clapped him on the shoulder. “The picture you sent me was excellent. I really like the mirror, too. How did you get the owl to me without my parents seeing it?”
“Dad did it,” Al told him. “One of the perks of having an Auror in the family is getting letters to people secretly.”
Rose seemed all too glad of a reason to change subjects and launched into an explanation on the mirrors as the train clacked along the tracks.
A frantic knock rapped at Harry’s office door, and before he could say anything Hermione sidled in, closing the door behind her. Her short hair was tied back from her face, but the curls were starting to explode out. She looked slightly manic. “I need your assistance.”
“What?” Harry asked standing and grabbing his cloak. He moved over to her, but she still hadn’t opened the door. “What’s up?”
“I got a message from Timons. We’ve had a girl brought in from a raid of an old hut that the MLE was investigating for possible smuggling of magical objects. She’s… oh, Harry, she’s not doing well and her story…” She nattered on rapidly. Tears filled her eyes, but she quickly shut them down. “It’s a matter for the Aurors now, which was partly why I was brought in to liaise. She’s hysterical, and the MLE were having trouble and they wanted the boss to make the call.”
“Slow down,” Harry took her shoulders, looking down in to her shattered face. “What happened?”
“She was being held,” Hermione whispered. “Raped and beaten, Harry. She’s a mess and…”
His stomach did a slow roll. He nodded curtly and led the way out of his office, on his way to St. Mungo’s. “Is Audrey on it?”
“Yes,” she assured him as she hurried to catch up. “I’m hoping you can get through to her, but I’m not sure. I wanted you to see her before an Auror was assigned to her case. You’ll know who is best to handle it.”
Harry didn’t respond. He knew that likely he would handle this case all on his own. He only had one senior female Auror at the moment, and she was on maternity leave. He’d been trying to pull more women in, but with no luck.
They arrived at the hospital quickly, and moved towards the room without alerting anyone that they had arrived. The door to her room was guarded, and the MLE officer, Timons, gave them a nod. “She’s awake, and calm. The Healers gave her something.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said briskly as she gave a quick knock and entered, with Harry behind her.
He saw the instant panic on a face that closely resembled Hagrid’s after he’d first arrived back with his brother, Gawp. She was average height, with shorn blonde hair, and blue eyes that he could barely make out behind the swollen, matching black eyes. It was telling that they hadn’t yet healed the bruising. Her injuries must have been extensive.
Harry held up his hands, and paused. “My name is Harry Potter. I’m here to help.” He didn’t often use his name to his advantage, but this is one time where it would be an asset. Children had been told from early on that he had saved the world. It made people trust him, even when he hadn’t done anything to deserve it.
The girl relaxed slightly. “Coriander Yale,” she croaked out through cracked, dry lips. “Cori.”
“Cori,” Hermione moved slowly over to her. “I told you I would be back. Do you remember?”
“Yes,” Cori said, her eyes flitting between them.
“Can we sit?” Harry asked, giving her all of the power. If she hesitated, he’d back off. His training, plus decades of experience, took over and he didn’t move until he saw her nod. Harry dragged over another chair for Hermione, and they sat to her left. “We’re going to be talking a lot in the next few weeks so that we can bring down whoever did this to you, but I need something to get started on. Is there anything you can tell me right now?” He didn’t expect much right away, but he also knew not to push. She’d been pushed around enough.
Also, if he pushed her, Audrey would box his ears. Percy’s wife was a force to be reckoned with.
Cori took a deep breath, and stared down at her scratched and bruised hands. To his surprise, she started talking. It was a little disordered, but the story that poured forth was so heartbreaking that he could hardly sit still through it. He wasn’t going to need to make notes to remember anything she said, even though he would make copious notes once he arrived back at his office. He was never going to be able to erase the poison that flowed from her, or the horrors of what she’d been put through. How Hermione had stopped herself from crying, he had no idea. He was choked up.
When she finished, he turned to look at Audrey. She’d entered noiselessly during the story, and had waited silently by the closed door. She came forward and ran her wand along Cori’s body, nodding at Harry, indicating that he could go on.
“Do you remember what your attacker looked like?” Harry questioned.
“Somewhat,” Cori admitted quietly.
“We have a sketch artist,” Harry said gently. “He prefers to work from a moment in your memory. We’ve found that it is easier on your survivors.”
Cori gave a short nod, and then looked to Audrey. “Am I pregnant?”
“I think you are,” Audrey confirmed carefully, sitting down gingerly on the side of the bed. “It looks like that’s what’s going on. You’re not far enough along yet for the Ministry to have been alerted, though. I just checked. We probably have a day or two. I’m sorry, Cori.”
Harry closed his eyes briefly, trying to bring back some calm to his thoughts. Then he looked at her straight on. “Here’s what will happen. You will have to marry him if he’s magical, and odds are good that he is, but once that is done you will never have to see him again. He will be in prison for the rest of his life and we can make it so that he can’t contact you. We will do a Muggle ceremony so that the union doesn’t have to be consummated. I have a friend who is a Squib who became a Lutheran pastor and he’s helped me out before.”
He hated this part most of all. He hated having to tell these women what was in store for them, and just how messed up the magical laws really were. No amount of pushing had moved the Wizengamot to change the law.
At least they had a day before she’d be forced into anything.
She sniffed and looked away. “I’m just stuck with no real husband and a baby I can’t care for.”
“You can put the baby up for adoption,” Audrey assured her. “The other, I’m sorry… it’s horrible and unfair and we’ve fought for almost twenty years to get the law changed.”
“I need to tell my boyfriend,” Cori whimpered. “Not that he’d likely want me now, but–”
Harry held up a hand. “You have a boyfriend?”
“Yeah,” Cori nodded.
“What’s his name?” Harry asked her, his eyes narrowing as an idea struck him.
Minutes later, Harry was heading back to the Ministry and down towards the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to meet one Carter Oldford. He was a nineteen-year-old man, new to the department, and probably one of Teddy’s classmates. Harry walked in and everyone stopped to stare.
“I need Oldford,” he asked, looking around.
A thinner man, medium height with brown hair and black glasses stepped forward looking nervous. He also looked like he hadn’t slept in a month. “That’s me,” he swallowed. “Did you–” but he didn’t seem to be able to finish his question.
“Yes,” Harry answer with a jerk of his head. He looked over to the head of the department, and couldn’t think what her name was. He should know, since she was Hermione’s replacement from when she was promoted, but his mind was a blank. “He’s with me, probably the rest of the day. Official business.”
“Of course, Mr. Potter,” she replied.
Carter followed him silently back to his office. Once they were seated, Harry carefully chose his words. “The MLE found her today. Cori has been put through hell, but she’s alive and she will heal. Unfortunately, it’s likely that she’s pregnant.”
Carter sucked in a breath.
“That means she has to marry her attacker,” Harry told him slowly, and was somewhat gratified to see the tears that remained unshed in the other man’s eyes. That gave him hope. “I have a plan that could save her, but we’d have to move fast and it means your help.”
“What?” Carter asked him instantly, sitting forward a bit.
He took a deep breath. “She needs to be married before the Ministry registers that she’s pregnant. We have a day at most. Once the Ministry is notified officially, she has to marry the biological father. If she’s married to someone else before that happens, then she’s in the clear.”
Carter didn’t hesitate. “I’ll do it. I wanted to anyway, but we were too young.”
Harry bit back a triumphant smile. “She’s pregnant with someone else’s child. That’s going to be a lot.”
“I’ve had three weeks of worrying and wondering,” Carter shook his head. “I don’t care.”
“She also might want to give the baby up for adoption,” Harry informed him.
That gave the other man pause. “Okay,” he agreed slowly. “Whatever she wants.”
“She needs therapy, too,” Harry told him. “She needs lots of support. We’ll need to use a Muggle pastor to marry you. You can’t be soul bound. She’s not physically capable of being intimate right now. It’s going to be difficult, painful, and a hell of a lot of work.”
Carter’s brow furrowed. “You talk like you know from experience.”
“Not personally,” he said grimly. “I’ve had my own troubles, but not this. I’ve just seen a few survivors who made it out without getting pregnant. It’s very difficult for the men in their lives.”
“We’ll go to therapy,” Carter repeated, twisting his hands. “Anything.”
“Do you have enough gold to buy two plain wedding bands?” Harry probed.
Carter nodded without hesitation. “What about her mum?”
“The hospital will have alerted her,” Harry told him. “I want you to go get wedding rings, and get back to St. Mungo’s as soon as you can. Ask for Healer Audrey Weasley when you get there, tell her you’re Cori’s boyfriend. If anyone gives you any grief, tell them I ordered you to come.”
“I will,” Carter said getting to his feet. He stuck out his hand. “Thanks.”
Harry sent his assistant to track down his pastor friend. The Muggles had a lot of paperwork, but his friend knew all the ways they could magically make the paperwork appear all in order. It was still legal, which was all they needed. He then traveled back to the hospital.
Cori’s mother was in the room when he made it back. After a brief introduction, he explained what had happened with Carter.
Cori looked stunned. “Really?”
“It’s up to you,” Harry said in a low voice. “You don’t have to marry him, but I thought he might be a better alternative.”
“I want to,” Cori said, and she smiled tentatively. Then her face fell. “I forgot to tell you something.”
“What?” he asked, coming in closer to her.
Her bottom lip trembled. “There were others, and she didn’t let them live. Most were men and I think a few of them were Muggles.”
Harry’s heart slammed into his throat. “Who… who is she?”
“I don’t know,” Cori shook her head helplessly. “I only saw her once, but she was older. Her men were doing something for her.”
Harry gave her a reassuring look. “We’ll figure it out.” He made a mental note to get Dean to the hospital as soon as he could so they could get that sketch.
Al turned twelve on January nineteenth, with Rose following along two days later.
“I think Mum and Aunt Ginny planned it,” Rose told Nat over breakfast the morning of her birthday. “I mean, they got pregnant the exact same time. I think they wanted Al and me to have each other.”
Al groaned and dropped his head to the table. “I really don’t want to be thinking about this, you know.”
Scorpius snorted. “Who would?”
“I think it’s interesting,” Rose said, sounding hurt. “I mean, Mum won’t admit it or anything…”
Al made a pitiful noise. “You asked?”
“Of course, I asked,” Rose said indignantly. “I wanted to know. Mum just stalled and promised to tell me when I was older.”
“Maybe one of you wasn’t planned,” Nat speculated. “They wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings.”
Rose nodded thoughtfully. “True. It would likely be Al, since James was so young when they conceived him and my mum never does anything without planning it all out.”
Al started to bang his head on the table.
Scorpius took pity on him and tried to change the subject. “Should we go down and see Hagrid later today?”
Nat ignored this. “Al, it’s not like your parents don’t love you or anything. They clearly do and it could be just as easy to assume that neither of you was planned. Birth control is only about ninety-five percent effective when used properly and that’s only if it’s used.”
“Why do you know that?” Scorpius asked, his lips twitching into a smile.
Nat shrugged. “I spent lots of times in hospitals for broken bones and stitches. Sometimes I’d forget to bring a book and pick up pamphlets or magazines.”
“But Nat, they’d not have used Muggle means,” Rose told her. “Wizards have their own methods and they’re usually more effective than the stuff Muggles use.”
In the exact same tone, Scorpius asked, “Why do you know that?”
Rose grinned mischievously. “Extendable Ears, of course. Roxy, Lucy, Lily and I learned quite a lot last summer. We were spending the night with Lily after Uncle Harry’s birthday party and all the mums were chatting in the kitchen. They thought we’d gone to bed hours before, but we were upstairs talking. Then Lily wanted hot chocolate and we snuck down to get some, and heard them talking, so she ran back up for her stash of Ears and we listened in.” A glint of amusement filled her eyes. “You’d be amazed at just how silly they all get when it’s just them. We learned loads!”
“Don’t tell me,” Al’s muted voice came from where his forehead still rested on the table. “I really, really don’t want to know.”
Nat looked at Rose thoughtfully. “I suppose it makes sense that the Wizarding world would be different. Am I going to run into more surprises along the way?”
“Probably,” Rose admitted. “My mum’s parents are Muggles so I’ve seen both and some things seem really different. I know my mum and dad got married way before my grandparents did. I think wizards and witches marry sooner than Muggles.”
“I think we also live longer,” Scorpius added. “My mum said something about that once. She’s got a few Muggleborn friends, although my dad doesn’t know that.”
“Is your dad really as bad as everyone says?” Al asked, looking up with concern.
Scorpius shrugged as if flicking off an annoying fly and shoveled in a large bite of porridge. “It depends. I think he’s trying to impress his dad. My grandfather Malfoy is an arrogant berk. I hate having to spend time with him.”
Rose placed a comforting hand on his arm. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s all right. I only have to see them twice a year. My mum’s parents are great and my Aunt Daphne is a kick.” He took a sip of pumpkin juice before continuing. “Mum was in Ravenclaw, but Aunt Daphne was in Slytherin and just before Voldemort took over here her parents left England with her and my mum and moved to America. They knew that if they didn’t join they’d be killed instantly, or worse. They came back after Al’s dad killed Voldemort.”
“What would have been worse?” Al asked, confused. “I mean, if you’re dead…”
Scorpius’ eyes darkened. “My mum and my aunt are both purebloods, you know? There were a lot of Death Eaters they could have been married off to who wouldn’t have been nice to them. It would have been punishment for not supporting Voldemort since they weren’t blood traitors.” He stared down into his plate. “I’d have stayed and fought against them, but I can see why my granddad didn’t.”
“So what about your dad?” Nat asked. “Did he fight the Death Eaters?”
Scorpius laughed bitterly in a way that shocked Nat. She’d never heard a kid make that kind of sound. “My dad and Grandfather Malfoy were both Death Eaters. They were both punished after the war, but since they quit before the end of the final battle they weren’t punished too much. My grandfather likes to pretend that he wasn’t publicly humiliated and he still struts around like he’s some important man because he’s a Malfoy. It’s a load of dragon dung.”
“Your grandmother saved my dad’s life,” Al told him. “Right after he’d been hit with the Killing Curse in the forest.”
Rose looked aghast. “How do you know that?”
“I heard Dad and Mum talking the day after Scorpius came to visit. Mum told him how nice Scorpius is and reminded him that if Narcissa Malfoy hadn’t lied to Voldemort about him in the forest, he’d have been killed.”
“I’ve never heard that,” Rose whispered.
Al rolled his eyes. “It’s not like they tell us much of anything, Rose! We didn’t even know our parents were famous until about a few years ago. We’ve only gotten the general story of the last battle and they’ve never gone into detail.”
Nat looked over at Scorpius and saw that he was clearly stunned. “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?” she asked.
“I dunno,” Al said, clearing his throat. “It was just… I dunno. I didn’t know if Scorpius knew.”
“I didn’t,” Scorpius said quietly. “Wow.”
Al shrugged. “It doesn’t really matter. We aren’t our parents. We can choose to be who we want to be.”
Rose looked impressed. “That’s very insightful.”
“Yes,” Nat said dryly. “Who did you hear it from?”
Al grinned sheepishly. “Teddy.”
“Miss Parker,” Professor Longbottom’s voice floated over to them. “The Headmistress wants to see you in her office. Please come with me.” He smiled kindly at her stunned look. “Don’t worry, you aren’t in trouble.”
“Are you sure about this, Potter?” McGonagall asked him, staring at him above her spectacles.
Harry wasn’t sure about anything. They had the sketch of the woman that Cori had described, and he couldn’t tell for sure that it wasn’t Isabella Crabbe, the insane woman who had used magic to impregnate Ginny and had poisoned both of them. But something in the eyes looked the same. He’d seen the memory, too, in fact he’d brought it along just in case.
When Hermione had suggested asking Natalie to look at the sketch, he’d dismissed it and reminded her that Isabella was dead.
“I know,” Hermione said slowly, her brow furrowed, “but Harry, that child has a gift for this. I swear it’s magical… we don’t have to scare her. You show her the sketch that Dean created, and a stack of photos of various women. If she can match them… well, I won’t go there just yet. It doesn’t have to be traumatic for her.”
Harry hadn’t agreed until he’s spoken to Nat’s mother, who was miraculously in London at the moment. He’d explained Hermione’s idea and told her that he’d lie to Nat about what he was after. Julienne had agreed.
“It will be fine,” Harry said. “I have her mother’s permission.”
There was a knock at the door and Neville came in with the girl. She smiled when she recognized him, before her face fell. “Is everyone okay?”
“Everyone is fine,” Harry reassured her and he shook Neville’s hand.
“I’ve got a class,” Neville said, “but come say ‘hello’ before you leave.”
Harry shepherded her over to a seat, and he sat across from her. “I actually have a favor to ask of you. I need help placing a woman. She was found wandering the streets, and we’re sure she’s magical, but we’re having trouble putting a name to a face. We want to find her family.”
“Oh,” Nat brightened, and grinned. “I can do that.”
Harry pulled out the sketch. “This is the woman, and I have a stack of photos of possibility from missing persons. Some of them are over thirty years old, but I wanted to be thorough.”
“It’s no problem,” Nat said absently as she studied the sketch. “This artist is good.”
“He’s a classmate of mine,” Harry said, and he agreed with her. “We don’t need a full time artist, so he comes in when we do.”
She nodded, her eyes flying over the picture. “Okay, let me see the photos.”
Harry handed her the stack of moving pictures. In it were people he knew couldn’t be guilty, as well as both Isabella Crabbe and her sister, Fiona Goyle.
Nat flipped through them. Some she passed over almost instantly. Others she studied a little closer. She came to Fiona and paused for a full minute. “I want to say that this person is a relative.”
Harry could have fallen off his chair. “But that’s not her?”
“No,” Nat assured him firmly. “But they share a few characteristics that I’d say make them close blood relations.” Harry felt awful, but he kept his face impassive. He’d been living under the hope that Isabella was dead. If she wasn’t…
She kept going. Isabella’s photo came up, and Nat stopped. Thirty long, silent seconds ticked by. “This is her, but it’s at least twenty years old.”
His heart sank. He wanted to ignore her, wanted to dismiss her as a kid, even as his mind slapped him for being stupid. How many times had adults ignored him as a child, when they shouldn’t have? “Natalie, thank you. You’ve been so helpful.”
She smiled happily. “I don’t mind. This is fun for me.” She handed the photos back to him. “I hope that helps you.”
“More than I can say,” he assured her, even if he wished he could erase what she’d said from his brain.
“Off to class with you, Miss Parker,” McGonagall said with a rare, encouraging smile. “You’ve done well.”
As soon as the door closed, the old professor pulled out a scrap of parchment and wrote something down. “Do some research on this, Potter. I think you’ll find it interesting.”
Harry wasn’t sure he was going to find much of interest. He had to get his house back under the Fidelius Charm immediately, and start a massive manhunt for a woman who had faked her own death, and had hidden herself for almost two decades, but he took the slip of parchment and glanced down at it.
On it was written, ‘Augmentum Imaginari’.
Going home to tell Ginny that Isabella Crabbe wasn’t dead just about broke Harry’s heart. He waited until Lily was asleep before explaining what had happened that day.
“She’s sure?” Ginny asked quietly. “Nat was positive?”
Harry shrugged helplessly. “I couldn’t push her, Gin, but she seemed that way. She knew who her sister was, even though I couldn’t have ever pointed them out as sisters. Also, Minerva gave me a phrase to look up.” He fished the slip of paper from his pocket and handed it to Ginny.
“Augmentum Imaginari?” she studied it, even as her hands shook. “Imagine change? Something like that?”
He nodded. “My Latin is very rusty. She told me to figure out what it meant, but I’ve got no clue. No one I trusted enough to ask at the Ministry knew either. Your dad suggested I go digging through the archives, but I haven’t got the time right now. I dunno why she wouldn’t just tell me what it meant. It was almost like having Dumbledore back, and not in a good way.”
Harry walked over to a cabinet and pulled out a bottle of red wine and two glasses. He poured them each half a glass.
Ginny’s brow furrowed. “You can get me into the archives, right?”
“Sure,” he agreed after taking a sip. “Not the really restricted stuff, of course, but everything else only needs a Department Head to sign off.”
“I’ll find it,” she told him, flicking her gaze up to his.
It was exactly what she did. To everyone else who saw her going in to the archives, it appeared that Ginny was teaching Lily and Hugo how to do research. Much to Hermione’s chagrin, and everyone else’s delight, the kids decided to research the history of Quidditch while Ginny frantically searched for the term.
She’d bring the kids up to say ‘hello’ to him or Hermione sometimes before they went home, and both of them were bursting with fun facts, most of which he already knew, and pages of hand written notes that they’d compiled themselves.
They finished their project on Quidditch well before Ginny had located the Latin phrase, and they presented a well-written report to Ginny, Harry, Hermione and Ron along with a model one evening after supper. Harry had to admit that he was really impressed with all they’d accomplished. Even Hermione had to agree that she’d learned a few things she didn’t already know.
They continued to go down into the archives, and the kids started reading whatever took their fancy. Lily read up on magical creatures, while Hugo fixated on learning about vampires.
Ginny looked for almost a full month, between her Quidditch games and articles, before she found what she was looking for. Harry had contacted McGonagall a couple of times, but she’d either ignored his letters or told him she didn’t know enough to be helpful.
The day she found it, she arranged for Hugo to spend the night so that the adults could talk as late as they wanted without wearing the kids out. As soon as the two little ones were in bed, and their doors warded so they couldn’t listen in, the adults assembled around the kitchen table.
“I’m dying here,” Harry groaned as Ginny leisurely poured herself a glass of wine. “Gin, come on.”
“The phrase refers to a magical gift,” Ginny informed them as she sat down. “In this case, it refers to Natalie herself as magically gifted.”
“Her ability with faces,” Hermione concluded instantly. “When you told me what her parents said, and that she started when she was four or five, well, I knew that something was working there. I’ve never heard of it, though.”
Ron took a swig of his beer and shook his head. “It’s funny to think of that titchy girl as being powerful.”
“It’s her vision that’s so amazing, actually,” Ginny said. She pulled out a long scroll of parchment on which she’d taken copious notes. “Basically, it works like this. She sees people for who they were, who they are, and who they will become. Her dad says she can do that with skulls as well, but I imagine that’s more because she’s been given the chance to practice with him, rather than this inborn skill. Like I can run fast, but if given a trainer, I could eventually run a marathon. If someone is born without legs, they’ll never be able to do that. Do you see what I mean?”
They all nodded. “So other people have done what she can do?” Harry asked her.
“Yes,” Ginny sighed heavily, “but it’s been hundreds of years since the last one was alive. It goes beyond seeing faces, though, and here is where it gets interesting.”
“Yeah,” Ron drawled sarcastically, “what would I do without an interesting plot twist?”
Hermione must have kicked him under the table because he winced. “Go on, Ginny.”
“As she grows, Nat’s ability will grow until she is able to see things exactly as they were before they were magically altered.” Ginny stared around at them as they ingested that bit. “So in effect, if someone like Teddy alters his appearance, she will always be able to see through it. If someone transfigures a mouse into a cat, she will still be able to see the mouse as well as the cat.”
“Holy effing Merlin,” Ron sat back in his chair, completely stunned. “You’re serious?”
“No,” Ginny rolled her eyes, “I’m lying to you for the fun of it. This gift is going to make her not only a valuable asset, but also a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.”
Hermione rubbed at her temple and shook her head. “If she can see through things, and can see magic at its core, then she’s going to be able to function like Dumbledore being able to see magical signatures, including who performed the magic.”
“Better,” Ginny corrected. “Dumbledore had to teach himself how to do this. This is an innate ability in her already. She’s a natural.”
“But,” Harry closed his eyes, “as smart as she is, Nat isn’t magically powerful overall like Dumbledore. She’s doing well, but she isn’t a gifted in defensive magic. Al’s told us that her best subject is History of Magic.”
They all fell silent at that. Ron voiced what they all feared. “So unlike Dumbledore, if someone finds out that she can do this, Nat won’t be able to protect herself.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Ginny agreed quietly. “This gift has been mostly in one or two old families. The children typically didn’t make it to adulthood. They were kidnapped and exploited. The last one who lived had only one son, who was a Squib and no other magical children so it appeared to have died out there.”
Hermione groaned. “Did you trace them?”
“Yep,” Ginny nodded. “Direct descendant. I spoke with Julienne Parker this afternoon, and she had a genealogy done from some sort of computer program. I was able to find the Squib son on her chart.”
“We have to protect her,” Harry said instantly, and saw his wife shoot him a grateful look. “We need to make sure this stays as quiet as possible while she’s very young, and help her cope. We have to tell her parents.”
The four of them looked around at each other. They’d all liked Al and Rose’s friend, and her parents. Not only that, but Nat had helped Harry realize that his family was in jeopardy. Without her, they might have gone another few years without realizing Isabella Crabbe was alive. Harry owed her. He reached out for Ginny’s hand and squeezed it gently. He didn’t know what was going to happen, but he was pretty sure it was going to be a rough go.
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