|SIYE Time:4:46 on 16th January 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Sequel to Darkness Within. This story begins the night before Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. Canon couples accurate to JKR. The romance between Harry and Ginny will develop slowly due to their ages. Please note rating and warnings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 13308; Chapter Total: 350
Awards: View Trophy Room
With thanks to my beta, Arnel!
Ginny stepped out of the Floo into Longbottom Manor. Dad had finally convinced Mum to let her and Ron visit for the afternoon. Hermione had arrived at The Burrow just the night before and was eager to see her fellow Gryffindors. Harry had spent every day and a few nights at the Manor over the past week. Ginny wished they could spend the night, but Mum had insisted that Dad pick them up on his way home from work at the Ministry.
After a flurry of greetings, the six teens were quickly ensconced in the Garden Room.
“What have you all been doing here at the Manor every day?” Hermione asked eagerly. “I’m so jealous you’re having regular lessons with Professor Lupin.”
Harry smiled. “It’s been great! Remus and Sirius are here with us all the time conducting or supervising our lessons. Tonks drops by occasionally to help, especially when we are dueling or doing spell work. We have dueling, with a bit of charms and transfiguration practice for half the day, and work in the potions lab or in the greenhouse for the other half. Most days we have a bit of free time to go to the stream, fly, or take a walk around the grounds as well.”
“So, what are we doing this afternoon?” Ron inquired.
“They’ve given us the afternoon off,” Neville grinned. “We can do whatever we want. Of course, if we leave the house, Remus and Sirius will come with us.”
Hermione frowned. “I was rather hoping we would have lessons.”
“Yeah, well, I’m still sore from this morning,” Anna admitted. “We had a solid two hours of dueling practice just before lunch.”
“How does that work exactly?” Ginny asked.
“Usually we pair off and duel, but this morning, it was Sirius against the three of us with Remus monitoring, then they switched off.” Harry explained. “They switched off positions every twenty minutes or so, but we didn’t have a break all morning.”
“When practice is over, we discuss what went well, and what we need to work on,” Neville explained. “We’re definitely learning a lot, but it’s rather intense.”
“Doesn’t sound like much of a summer break?” Ron observed.
“Sirius is going to be pushing hard all summer.” Harry took a slow breath. “Listen, I’ve been waiting for us all to be together to talk. I need to tell you about the prophecy.”
Glances were exchanged throughout the room. “I thought it was destroyed in the Department of Mysteries and you weren’t able to hear it,” Ginny said.
Harry nodded. “That’s true. What I didn’t know at the time is that Professor Dumbledore would be able to tell me the prophecy. It was actually made by Professor Trelawney to the Headmaster before I was born.”
Everyone was silent for a moment as though no one was willing to ask the question racing through all their minds. “What does the prophecy say?” Hermione asked.
Harry closed his eyes in thought as he slowly recited. “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…”
Ron rubbed his forehead. “It really has to be you, then. I mean you’re the only one who can get rid of You-Know-Who.”
“And the marking you as his equal bit? Is that the scar?” Neville questioned.
“Yeah. Voldemort made the decision to come after my family. When he killed my parents and gave me this,” Harry pointed to the lightning-bolt shaped scar on his forehead, “I guess he made the prophecy start to become true.”
“It’s so vague though,” Hermione frowned. “I mean born as the seventh month dies obviously means an end of July birthday, and I suppose your parents were defying Voldemort because they refused to join him, but...”
“It could have been me, couldn’t it?” Neville interrupted. “I mean my birthday’s the day before yours. As Aurors, my parents were defying You-Know-Who.”
“Professor Dumbledore mentioned that it could have been you based on the description from the prophecy, but once Voldemort attacked me…” he shrugged.
Neville closed his eyes and hung his head, raking his hands through his hair in an agitated gesture.
“And the power that Voldemort knows not?” Anna asked. “Did the Headmaster explain that at all?”
“He said it was love. I’m not entirely sure what he meant by that, or how I’m supposed to use the power of love to destroy Riddle.”
“So, that’s why Sirius and Remus are training you this summer,” Ginny murmured. “They’re preparing you to be ready to face him. Again.”
Harry nodded. “I don’t think they really believe the dueling practice alone is going to help me destroy Voldemort, but until we understand how exactly I’m supposed to use the power he knows not…”
“Are the numbers important?” Ginny demanded looking from Harry to Hermione.
“What do you mean?” Anna questioned.
“The numbers. Thrice and seventh. Three and Seven. Those are powerful magical numbers!” Ginny insisted. “I understand that they helped to identify Harry, but could they mean more than that? I mean think about the reference to the seventh month. Why not just say July?”
“Well, it is a prophecy, told by Trelawney no less,” Ron muttered. “Born as the seventh month dies sounds more theatrical than just saying born at the end of July. I can see the old fraud flowering it up a bit for effect.”
“Yeah, but this is a real prophecy, not just her normal Divination class rubbish,” Neville argued.
Anna and Hermione, the only Arithmancy students of the group, stared at each other for a moment before Hermione spoke. “I need to do some research, but Ginny has a point. Three and Seven are powerful magical numbers. They’re vitally important numbers in the Muggle world as well.”
“What do you mean exactly?” Harry asked, his attention roaming among the three girls.
“Well, take three for example. It’s such an important number mathematically. Three is the noblest of all digits according to the Pythagorean school of thought. It’s the first odd prime number. Three is the rough approximation of pi. In Alchemy, the three primes, or tria prima, are salt, sulfur, and mercury,” Hermione explained.
“Three is a significant number in many religious and spiritual traditions as well,” Anna continued. “Many Muggles believe in the Holy Trinity which is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Triple Goddess of course is the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. In the Jewish mystical tradition of the Kabbalah, the soul consists of three parts. They are breath, spirit, and repose.”
“And the number seven?” Sirius asked. He and Remus were standing in the doorway with focused expressions on their faces.
“Seven celestial objects in the solar system are visible to the naked eye from Earth. Every seven years the Queen of the Fairies pays a tithe to Hell,” Ginny said.
“There are seven days in a week, seven colors in a rainbow, and seven notes in a standard musical scale,” Hermione added.
“The most common story of creation states that it was completed in seven days. There are seven Deadly sins. Honestly, we could go on for a long time.” Anna shrugged. “The question is whether the numbers three and seven are actually important in the prophecy. Do they influence the power he knows not in some way?”
“We have a rather extensive library at Grimmauld Place,” Sirius said. “If I bring some pertinent books…”
“I would love to do some research on the numbers!” Hermione exclaimed.
Sirius grinned. “Alright, then! You all need to go have some fun. How about we take the brooms and some games and snacks down by the stream?”
“Sounds great!” Ron agreed. “Do you think the house-elves have any pies in the kitchen?”
Molly breathed a sigh of relief she wasn’t even aware of holding when the Floo activated and her husband came home, followed quickly by Ginny, Hermione, and Ron.
“You’re right on time,” she praised as she kissed her husband’s cheek. “I’ll have dinner on the table in just a moment!”
Molly tried to tune out the voice of the newest temporary member of her household as she finished preparing the meal and transferred it to the table. In truth, she did not really dislike Fleur Delacour. Obviously, the young woman was an intelligent and powerful witch to have been named the Triwizard Champion representing Beauxbatons. Molly just couldn’t understand the relationship between this tall, willowy blonde and her son, Bill.
He had announced his engagement only days before when he and Fleur had moved in, ostensibly to give the family an opportunity to become acquainted with the witch he intended to marry next summer. Molly had hoped for someone more down-to-earth for her oldest son than the graceful, elegant creature he brought home. She couldn’t deny that there was something powerful between them. She and Arthur had discussed the slightly odd magical connection that was sometimes visible when the two were together. Molly had suggested it had something to do with Veela magic, since the girl’s grandmother was a full Veela. Arthur disagreed, though he had not been able to explain the relationship between the two.
Molly waited until after dinner to talk to the girls. Bill and Fleur had conveniently gone for an evening stroll. She knew they would not be back for at least an hour. Arthur and Ron were playing a game of chess in the living room.
“How are Harry and Sirius?” she asked.
Hermione obliging went into a detailed analysis of how her best friend and his godfather were doing. Clearly, they were spending more time at Longbottom Manor than at Grimmauld Place. Harry seemed to be spending an inordinate amount of time on lessons rather than having the relaxing summer that Molly felt was more beneficial. Grudgingly, she admitted to herself that Sirius seemed to be doing a decent job as Harry’s guardian.
“And how are Anna and Neville?” Molly asked.
“Neville’s fine,” Ginny replied. “I think they’re having a pretty typical summer for the most part. They start dancing lessons again next week. Apparently, Harry will be joining them, so Anna will likely have quite the work-out while the boys will be able to take turns partnering her.”
Molly smiled. “Dancing lessons never hurt anyone. I remember teaching your father how to dance. He was rather light on his feet once he relaxed enough to actually move to the music.”
The girls both laughed.
“Anna asked about Charlie again,” Ginny volunteered. “We talked while the boys were having a splash fight in the stream. She didn’t make it seem like a confidential conversation, so I don’t think she’d mind me mentioning it.”
Hermione nodded. “If it was private, she would have asked to talk to you alone, instead of in front of me. Besides when the boys wandered over for snacks, she asked if Charlie liked swimming in the ocean.”
Ginny laughed. “I think she really misses the beach. Anna had the dreamiest expression on her face when she asked that.”
“Excuse me, ladies,” Arthur kissed his wife on the cheek. “Molly, I almost forgot to tell you. Augusta asked if we would allow Ron, Ginny, and Hermione to attend dancing lessons with Neville, Anna, and Harry. The lessons will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next two weeks from one to three in the afternoon. She suggested they could arrive at noon to have lunch at the Manor, and I can collect them on my way home from work each evening.”
Molly frowned as she considered the invitation. The girls were staring at her with hopeful expressions on their faces. A few years ago, she would have agreed instantly to such a proposal.
“Augusta reminded me that a war is no excuse to delay the children’s education in proper wizarding social traditions,” Arthur said quietly. “The wards around the Manor are as secure as the wards here, Molly. If I didn’t believe the kids would be safe there, I would have already declined the invitation.”
She swallowed and forced a smile. “I’ll send Errol off with a letter accepting the invitation. Dancing lessons are certainly a wonderful idea, and it’s kind of Augusta to want to include all the teens.”
Harry glanced around the room taking note of each occupant. Anna was reading one of the books Sirius had just brought back from the library at Grimmauld Place. Augusta was writing a letter at the small desk by the window. Neville and Remus were playing chess.
“Sirius, do you want to maybe go take a walk?” Harry suggested.
His godfather glanced up and smiled. “Sure, Harry. Let’s go check out the moon.”
They walked in silence for several minutes. Harry’s appreciation for the many twisting paths in the vast gardens of Longbottom Manor increased with every step.
“Anything in particular you wanted to discuss?” Sirius asked.
“Yeah, I was thinking about things after our conversation the other night,” Harry began. “Well, I…erm…” He felt his cheeks flaming and suddenly wondered if perhaps they should simply return to the house.
“Do you have a question about sex?” Sirius smirked.
“No!” Harry exclaimed. “I mean I think you covered all of that. It’s just…well…I’m not sure how to get started.”
“I thought I covered that rather well. It’s always best to start with kissing and a few gentle caresses to gauge the witch’s mood.”
“That’s not what I mean!” Harry groaned and raked one hand through his hair roughly. “How do I ask a girl out?”
“Oh, well, that’s easy. Just ask the witch to be your date to Hogsmeade.”
“I’m not sure I really want to wait that long,” he admitted.
Sirius stopped walking and grabbed his arm. “Explain.”
Harry sighed. “I want to ask Ginny to be my girlfriend, but I don’t know how to say it.”
“What is it with Potter men and witches with red hair?” His godfather grinned. “Just ask her.”
“That’s it? That’s your advice?”
“Well, you can jazz it up as much as you want with compliments on her beautiful hair, her lovely skin, whatever…but you just have to work up the courage to ask her to be your girlfriend.”
Harry shrugged helplessly. “I’m just not sure I’ll be able to get the words out.”
“The other alternative is to take her into your arms and kiss her,” Sirius said. “Just, you know, be careful not to be too demanding. It’s never okay to force a girl into doing anything.”
“I would never force myself on Ginny! I wouldn’t hurt her.”
“I know that. I just felt the need to say it.”
He nodded. “Anyways, I already kissed her.”
“You did!” Sirius sputtered. “When?”
“Fred and George started up a game of Spin the Bottle a few months ago at Hogwarts. Ron and Hermione were on prefect rounds, so they don’t know about it.”
“It was brilliant,” Harry murmured. “I keep thinking about it and wondering how to do it again, but…”
Sirius laughed, a happy booming sound that echoed through the trees surrounding them. “Just ask her to be your girlfriend.”
“Right,” he nodded. “I’ll just ask her.”
His godfather continued chuckling most of the way back to the house.
Remus leaned back in the chair and stared at the dying embers of the fire. He’d drunk too much Firewhisky. Logically, he knew he should set down the glass and go to bed. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the energy or motivation to move. Glancing over at Sirius in the wingback chair, he saw that his friend’s eyes were closed. They’d been reminiscing about the old days when James had finally succeeded in winning Lily’s affection. He missed them both so much it was almost painful. James would be so proud that his son was finally falling for a beautiful red-headed witch. Lily would be pleased with the girl’s fiery spirit and fierce loyalty to her friends.
The door opened, and Anna walked quietly into the room. She went directly to the decanter, poured herself a double shot of Firewhisky, and drained the contents in one long swallow. Her hands were still shaking as she refilled the glass.
“Anna,” he said.
She turned quickly, raising the wand that Remus had failed to notice was in her left hand. Her eyes darted from him to Sirius, and she lowered the wand.
“Anything you want to tell us,” Sirius drawled, sounding rather soberer than Remus expected considering the amount of alcohol he had recently consumed.
“I didn’t think anyone would still be awake,” Anna murmured. She raised the glass to her lips and slowly emptied it.
“What are you doing?” Remus asked. “You shouldn’t be drinking like that!”
“Sorry,” she muttered, not sounding apologetic in the least, as she set the empty glass on the table. “I’ll go back to bed.”
“Sit down!” Sirius ordered. “You can’t come down here, sneak four shots and then leave. Talk!”
Anna frowned, but sat cross-legged on the sofa.
Remus rubbed his forehead wishing he was sober. “Did you have a nightmare?”
“No,” she replied. “Not really. It was just weird.”
“Do you need a dose of Sleeping Draught?” Sirius asked.
Anna shook her head. “I’ve already taken it three times this week. Madam Pomfrey suggested it not be taken more than twice a week.”
“Why aren’t you in bed with Neville, then?” Remus asked.
“What?” Sirius stammered.
“It’s platonic,” he explained with a careless wave of his hand. “They’ve been sleeping together occasionally for years now. Believe me, Augusta wished they were actually up to something so they could be betrothed to one another, and she wouldn’t be dealing with the stress of multiple betrothal offers.”
“Moony, you’re way too informative when drunk,” Sirius declared before shifting his attention to the witch. “Why aren’t you in bed with your cousin?”
“He was with me last night, and Harry’s in his room tonight.” She exhaled slowly. “I don’t want to risk waking them both up. It’s bad enough that Neville knows about my frequent sleeping problems. I don’t want Harry to know, too.”
Remus sighed. “Drinking is not the best way to deal with problems, Anna.”
“Of course it’s not,” she murmured.
He grimaced realizing she was perfectly aware that he and Sirius were far from sober.
“Well, now that we’ve all established our mutual misuse of the genial beverage, why don’t you tell us about the weird dream you had?” Sirius suggested.
Anna pressed her fingertips against her closed eyelids. “It started off fine, quite wonderful in fact. I was at the beach Grandma used to always take me to back in Virginia. She wasn’t there though. It wasn’t a memory from my childhood.” She inhaled deeply as her hands lowered to her lap. “It was a hot day, and the water was pleasantly cool. The salty air was heavy before the wind picked up. A summer storm was coming, and the waves were rolling in. The water started pounding against the sand, so hard and fast. I was in the water up to my waist. The waves pushed me over several times. It was exciting, the wildness of it all, the raw power of the ocean! It took my breath away, and I was laughing.”
Her smile slowly faded. “Then, the dream changed. I was eating something, or at least it seemed like I was. I kept chewing, but I didn’t swallow. The things in my mouth were so hard, like pieces of glass or small stones. Eventually, I realized I was chewing on my teeth. They were all falling out.” She shifted on the sofa, drawing her legs up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. “Even in the dream, I knew it wasn’t real, but it felt so…disgusting. I think I woke up just enough to tell myself to stop it. Then I started to see the fat people.” A shudder rippled through her form, and she shook her head slightly. “Not fat exactly, more like they kept swelling. I thought they would explode, but they never did. They just kept expanding, grotesquely. I couldn’t get them out of my mind. I was awake at that point, but every time I closed my eyes, I saw them. The image wouldn’t leave my mind. I just couldn’t handle it another second.”
Remus shifted uncomfortably. “I’m sorry, Anna. That does sound rather awful. Do you think you can sleep now?”
She nodded and finally gazed into his eyes. “It all seems so silly now that I’ve said it out loud. Teeth falling out and people swelling. I’m not sure why it upset me so much.” She stood up slowly. Her body was visibly more relaxed, a bit too relaxed. Remus realized she was at least slightly tipsy. “Good night.”
He and Sirius murmured ‘good night’ as she left the room.
“Fuck,” Remus murmured.
Sirius threw his glass into the fireplace.
There really was nothing else to say.
Author’s Notes: Disclaimer — Part of this chapter comes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
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