|SIYE Time:23:09 on 23rd June 2018|
Category: Alternate Universe
Genres: Action/Adventure, Romance
Warnings: Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations
Summary: When the Weasley wedding is attacked, Harry grabs the first hand that comes to mind - Ginny's. They find Voldemort has hidden his Horcruxes in plain sight out of some of Muggle history's most important artifacts. Now the pair go across the continent, risking capture by both the Muggle and wizarding worlds, to end the war.
Hitcount: Story Total: 30501; Chapter Total: 1363
Awards: View Trophy Room
I'm sorry if anyone is offended by Ginny's reaction to the story of Jesus. That wasn't the point. I just thought it was interesting to have an outsider's opinion - especially one who can do many of the same feats.
Harry’s shaking of Ginny’s shoulder became progressively harder with each lack of response he met.
“Gin, wake up. We’ve got to catch a train back in Munich,”
Harry thought Ginny was always beautiful, of course, but this morning’s visage stretched his belief. Her red mane had somehow bunched itself on top of her head like the nest of a particularly lazy bird. And then there was the drool. When she regained a bit of her faculties, that’s what she sensed first. Her eyes went wide. She rose to a seated position and wondered if it was too late for a Disillusionment spell. It was. Harry tried to pretend he didn’t know what she was worried about, but his upturned mouth betrayed him.
“It was a long day, alright?” she stated as she fell on top of her head and grew an even deeper shade of scarlet. “Where are we going?”
“Italy. Turin. The bloody sheet. We can talk about it on the train. But we need to get moving.”
Ginny took a longing glance back on her pillow. “I need to take a shower,” she pronounced.
“Yeah, I know,” he said with a smirk, then deftly spun out of the room and avoided the pillow that was thrown at him.
When Ginny finally emerged, Harry and Matilda were leaning together at the breakfast table conspiratorially, even with the sound of her steps on the wooden stairs. She cleared her throat and they split apart. She turned and observed that Harry had already brought their luggage down.
“Good morning, Ginny! How did you sleep?” Matilda asked. Harry hid his mouth with his sleeve and Ginny pressed her lips together.
“Fine, thank you,” she stated as she walked around the table, flicking Harry in the back of the head along the way. An array of baked goods was deposited around the table, but she moved straight for the coffee pot. She picked up a coffee mug, considered it, then pulled one of the beer mugs out from the bar instead.
“I was just telling Harry about how it feels like a new day in Hammerschmidt. And not because the sun just came up.”
Ginny couldn’t help but make a little shudder. She understood that once word got out, the village would celebrate Grindelwald’s death. The whole Wizarding world as well. She just couldn’t bring herself to join them, especially if they found out what role she had to play in the affair. The reluctant hero. At least she knew somebody with whom she could relate.
“But now it’s up to you, Matilda. The village has the opportunity to bring magic back to Germany. You don’t have the memory of Grindelwald stalking you anymore,” Harry told the older woman. He turned to Ginny, who was still standing at the bar and looking off into space. “I told her about the library and maybe bringing back some magical education to Hammerschmidt.”
“It’s a lovely gesture, Harry. But you’re correct; we need to take this opportunity for ourselves. Maybe the Muggles will listen to us now. Ve can work together.”
Harry reached over and covered her hand with his own. “We’ll help however we can, but we have some things to take care of in Britain first.”
“Yes, of course. Please let us know if ve can do anything. Ve can’t go and fight, but I’m sure the village would like to do something for you.”
A flare of light caught Ginny’s eye from the front window. Then there was another. Harry and Matilda were turned away from it, so they continued their conversation. Ginny padded over to the nook of the glass, one hand holding her mug and the other resting over her wand pocket. Her heart sank.
“Harry. We’ve got a problem.”
Instinctually, Harry reached for his wand as well, but relaxed when he saw Ginny move her hand away from her jeans. He walked over and stood next to her, looking out the dusty windowpane. They both turned to Matilda, Ginny with crossed arms and Harry with a scowl. The innkeeper knew exactly what they were upset about.
“I only told Klaus when I arranged for your ride back to Munich! I swear!”
It looked as if the entire village of Hammerschmidt had crammed itself into the one block surrounding the inn, all waiting for their famous guests to emerge. Klaus’s taxi was in the direct middle of the crowd with its owner standing on the roof. When they saw Harry and Ginny’s heads through the glass, they started singing some sort of celebratory song in German, with Klaus pretending to conduct them from on high.
“You didn’t think we could avoid it, did you?” Harry asked her under his breath.
“No. But I still hoped.”
Harry forcefully motioned for Klaus to get off his car and come to the door. The driver simply waved and carried on directing the chorale.
“Matilda, is there a rear exit?”
A slight smile formed around her mouth. “No, Herr Potter.”
Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand and sighed. As soon as the door opened, an ear-rattling cheer that greatly outsized the crowd rose up to greet them, Matilda included from within. They turned and kissed their friend on both cheeks.
“Thanks for everything,” Harry told her.
“Except for this,” Ginny said with a smirk.
They both waved politely to the people and shook as many hands as they could while weaving their way to the motorcar. Just as Harry reached the door handle, four small bodies squeezed their way through the sea of masses. Dumbledore’s Army — German Division. Ginny hugged and kissed each of them and told Helene they would write as soon as they could.
“Could you guys help make a little path through the crowd?” she asked the children. Helene nodded, turned to her brother and cousins and gave directions. They formed two lines and pushed the people away from the path.
“Accio luggage!” Harry called. The bags flew to the motorcar and the people gasped and renewed their cheers. Klaus finally descended from the roof and shoved the bags into the trunk.
“I swear, I only told Maurice ven I bought breakfast this morning.” Klaus said as he pressed himself into the driver’s seat. Harry and Ginny both rolled their eyes.
Ginny was squinting at a picture only a few inches from her nose while Harry was tracing a path across Regulus’s map on the table between them. Out the window, German foothills slid effortlessly past them.
“So what’s so important about this sheet?" she asked. She reckoned she could make out the outline of a face and the thought gave her a shudder.
When they had got to their seats on the train, Harry had explained that he had gone back to Fritz’s bookshop to ask for help identifying the artifacts after his temper tantrum. Fritz knew all of them and was even able to match them up with the circled cities on Regulus’s map. The only trouble was that there were six pictures and cities, not four. Regulus hadn’t been able to narrow the list down before he was killed. Harry and Ginny would probably travel to at least one artifact only to find it was harmless, risking capture in the process.
“Maybe you’ll keep having visions of the others,” Ginny reasoned. That was their sole hope of getting the hunt done as soon as possible.
But the first thing was the one artifact they knew for certain: the bloody sheet.
“It’s called the Shroud of Turin. How much do you know about the Muggle god?” Harry asked.
“They just have one?”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Well, that gets complicated. Different groups believe different things. They often fight wars about it.”
Ginny turned up her nose. “That seems like a waste.”
“Anyway, one of the biggest groups believes God had a son, Jesus, who lived here on Earth for a time. I remember the stories from when Aunt Petunia would drag Dudley and I to church, usually after I had performed some accidental magic as a kid. Maybe she thought it would clean me up, since Uncle Vernon couldn’t beat it out of me. Whatever.”
Ginny started grinding her teeth. “It’s amazing you have any love in your heart at all after what those people did to you.”
“Well, I do,” he sounded out as he looked at her for the briefest of moments, then returned to the map. Ginny could feel her ears grow hot and unconsciously pushed her hair behind them.
“Have I ever told you what I’ll do if I ever meet them?” Ginny asked. Nearly every Weasley has shared their ideas around this topic with Harry over the years, ranging from the hilarious (Fred and George) to the shockingly profane (Ron). Even Mrs. Weasley had a try one summer when Harry had arrived at the Burrow particularly depressed, but her ideas lost their punch because she self-edited every other word or so. Somehow Ginny had not yet had the pleasure.
What followed was five minutes of an imaginary procedure that, to Harry’s surprise, featured very little magic but was rich in public shaming and psychological warfare that would even give Voldemort pause (but he would be grateful for the ideas). It was obvious that Ginny had put a great deal of previous thought into her revenge on Harry’s guardians. She may have even written her methods down sometime in the past. Harry’s reactions progressed from horrified to hysterical. At the end, most everyone in the train car was looking at their raucousness.
“Believe it or not, Dudley wasn’t so bad in the end. After I saved him from the Dementors,” Harry said as he caught his breath.
Ginny considered. “Fine. But he still has to do the naked parts.”
“But that would punish everyone else, too!” Harry’s thought restarted another round of laughter. When it was over, they somehow came back to the task at hand.
“What made the Muggles think this man was God’s son?” Ginny asked.
“Well, first, he was born to a woman who had never… uh…” Harry looked down at the table again.
Ginny looked at him and smiled quizzically. “Had sex? She was a virgin?” Harry nodded. “You know, Harry, one day, if you’re lucky, we’re going to talk about having sex. Please don’t drop dead of embarrassment when we do. That defeats the purpose.” She smirked as his face turned crimson and he scrambled to look anywhere but in front of him.
“Ummm, yeah… I mean, thanks. I mean… whatever. Anyway yeah, so there's that. Then he started doing stuff that Muggles can’t do. He turned water into wine.”
“So what? I see Professor McGonagall do that all the time at dinner when she thinks no one is watching her.”
“He walked on water.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Levitation. Sounds like the bloke was just a show-off wizard. Gilderoy Lockhart with actual skills.”
“He fed thousands of people with just five loaves of bread and two fish.”
Ginny was about to say something, but halted. “That’s against Gamp’s Law.”
“Ok, they might have something there. Only if it was a spell, Mum would love it!”
Harry laughed. “But another group who didn’t agree with Jesus, or supposed he had too much power, had him killed. The Shroud of Turin is supposedly the cloth he was buried in. They say that’s his face,” he articulated as he pointed at a grainy spot between the pattern in the cloth.
Ginny looked closer at the photo. Eyes, mouth, nose. All there. She could even catch the hint of a beard.
“Then why isn’t it in his tomb with his body?”
Harry smirked. “Because he rose from the dead.”
Ginny nodded, duly impressed. “Well, to be fair, your parents showed up at the cemetery when you fought Voldemort after the Triwizard Tournament.” Harry looked away again. “I’m sorry, Harry. I got carried away.”
“S’ok. It’s true. But it doesn’t matter whether Jesus was a wizard, the son of God, or a street performer. The Shroud is real and it’s a Horcrux. Now what do we do about it?”
Ginny relayed the reversal spell as closely as she could to how Grindelwald described it. Harry's face went from one of dawning realization to frustration as she worked through the steps.
"That's it?" Harry asked when Ginny finished.
"It sounds pretty complicated to me!”
"But it's common sense! Just do the opposite of what Voldemort did. Hermione could've figured that out in an hour, tops."
Ginny's countenance gloomed. "Well, she's not here."
Harry read his mistake. "But if it was so easy and we could've put it together ourselves, you wouldn't have needed to…"
Ginny made for his hand and gave him a look that bored right through his guilt. “I still don't regret it," she told him.
“I know. But I do." His eyes broke with Ginny's and went to the window. He gazed at nothing in particular for at least five minutes, after which he gave a series of hearty yawns.
"Tired?" Ginny asked.
"Guess so. I didn't sleep well last night.”
“Really? I didn't hear you have a dream or a vision or anything."
"It wasn't like that." And from his tone Ginny understood that he hadn’t slept not because of himself, only because he was watching out for her, making sure she didn't have another nightmare.
She smiled at Harry and patted her lap. "Come here." Harry crossed the table, laid down across the seats next to Ginny, and put his head in her lap. She folded herself and kissed his brow.
"Just a half hour or so. I've still got studying to do,” he warned. Ginny nodded with a knowing smile that relayed she wasn't waking him up no matter what he said.
Ginny made for an Italian dictionary that Harry had also gathered from Fritz's shop. At least she could memorize some of the important words. Yes. No. Wizard. Witch. Bathroom. But it wasn't long before her attention was pulled outside. The train had finally weaved through the foothills of the Alps and was now exposing Ginny to soaring peaks that scraped through the clouds. Some still had snow even in early August. The landscape seemed to shift every few seconds, from tiny villages of only a few shacks to sprawling farms with hundreds, maybe thousands of livestock. On more than one occasion, Ginny's breath caught.
“Oh, Harry,” she found herself saying, but he didn't stir.
Her thoughts went everywhere and nowhere, the past and the future, friends and foes. Fear and love.
"Thank you for bringing me here,” Ginny whispered. Then, after checking that Harry hadn't reacted, "I love you, too.”
After an encounter with another spinning glass door in the train station, Harry and Ginny were greeted by a Turin bathed in the setting sunlight.
"Wow," Harry marveled. Ginny glanced at him, impressed. It wasn’t often his brain stopped turning long enough for him to acknowledge the beauty around him, except for when it was right in front of him. She always thought herself lucky when she fell in that category.
The streets were lined with centuries-old edifices, all of which featured rows of small balconies and ornate molds and sculptures along the facades. The buildings weren't tall enough to obscure the sight of the occasional ancient spire, including one that looked like a taller version of the pyramids Ginny visited in Egypt with her family. It was a good deal taller than those found at Hogwarts. Meanwhile, the sidewalks seemed to be populated solely by lovers walking
hand-in-hand, strolling to a late dinner or a stop at a cafe.
"Ron, isn't this sooo romantic?” Ginny asked in an eery impression of Hermione whenever she grew excited about something. Harry cracked up.
“Ummm, yeah, I reckon. If you like that kind of thing." Harry replied as he kicked the cobblestones, doing his best version of Ron. Now they were both chuckling.
"Who knows? Maybe Italy would finally get them to snog each other," Ginny said. Harry broke off and kissed her briefly.
“It's working for us."
She smiled. "Hotel, Potter. We can snog all we want on the streets of Turin after we drop off these bags."
Harry hailed the nearest taxi.
"A hotel near the church with the Shroud, please,” he told the driver as they slid into the backseat. The grizzled man just stared at him. Ginny pulled the dictionary out of Regulus's briefcase and fanned through the pages furiously.
"Hotel… vicino… duomo… Shroud?” she asked dubiously. The driver narrowed his eyes at her.
They only rode a few blocks when the car stopped at a space with only a single glass door and a couple of windows. It looked like an apartment.
"Is this it?" Ginny asked. The driver must have read her tone because he pointed to a small plaster sign, no larger than a dinner tray, proclaiming the Hotel Vendome. Harry and Ginny shrugged, paid and thanked the driver, and pulled their bags inside.
“Does Italy have a Prime Minister?” Ginny whispered to Harry as they crossed the threshold, only partly joking.
The lobby seemed to be someone's living room that happened to have a desk in the middle. All of the furniture was antique but polished and recently reupholstered. An intricate rug laid in front of a large, roaring fireplace.
"I reckon he did know what he was doing," Harry remarked. Ginny was too busy inspecting the painting of a lady riding side-saddle on a shiny black horse which hung over the mantelpiece. Harry rung the bell on the desk and a young man in a suit appeared from a room to the side.
"Buonasera," he greeted them.
"Uh, hi. Do you speak English?" Harry asked uncertainly. Ginny started reaching for the dictionary again.
"Yes, sir. Good evening. Now may I help?”
"We were hoping for a room."
The man handed Harry a book to sign. Harry initially pulled out the credit card, then changed his mind and gave over some cash instead.
"The room has a TV, right?" Harry asked. Ginny turned around and beamed at him.
The man looked at Harry as if he had grown another nose. "Of course, sir.”
When the business was finished, Harry and Ginny made to follow the man's directions up the staircase when Harry turned back around.
"What time does the Cathedral open tomorrow? We’re… really eager to see the Shroud.”
The clerk's face fell. "Signore James, you didn't hear? The Cathedral suffered a fire a few months ago. It’s closed. No one knows where the Shroud is."
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