|SIYE Time:4:45 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: 13303; Chapter Total: 305
Awards: View Trophy Room
With gratitude to my beta, Arnel, and everyone who is reading and reviewing!
“Bill, look!” Fleur exclaimed.
Cursing under his breath, Bill drew his wand and hurried towards Charlie and Anna. He cast a diagnostic scan of the magic and read it quickly before flicking his wand again. He needed to know exactly what was happening. He needed to understand.
“Anna!” Neville’s eyes were wild. “What happened to her?”
“She’s okay,” Bill tersely responded and flicked his wand once more at the couple.
“Anna!” Neville stretched out his arm, trying to reach his cousin through the elongated sphere of golden light. A pulse of energy struck his hand, throwing him back several feet. He hit the ground hard, clearly unconscious.
Everyone was rapidly gathering around the pair, staring in trepidation at the semi-solid wall of light surrounding Charlie and Anna.
“Don’t touch them!” Fleur shouted out the warning as she knelt beside Neville trying to revive him. Bill spared a quick glance in their direction and was relieved when her second attempt worked.
“What’s going on? What’s happened to them?” Mum demanded.
“It’ll be okay, Molly.” Dad’s voice was purposefully calm. “Let’s not distract Bill. Albus is on his way.”
Bill tried to tune everyone out as he continued to work, casting one spell after another. His years at Gringotts had served him well. He knew a ridiculous number of spells and could usually identify the exact magic being utilized in any given space. He was vaguely aware of others near him, drawing their wands, waiting to see what would happen next.
The light vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, dispersing through the pores in their skin. Lowering his wand, Bill moved rapidly towards his brother, reaching out to help him as he began to sag. Charlie’s legs were buckling beneath him, muscle fatigue evident in his clumsy movements.
“Don’t touch her!” Charlie growled, his grip tightening around the limp form of Anna as he staggered slightly. Gritting his teeth, he straightened his legs.
Bill spread his arms and took a step back, trying to indicate to the others to keep their distance. “No one is trying to take Anna from you.” He forced himself to speak slowly, calmly. “We understand. You have her. Do you need help carrying her back to the house?”
“No!” Charlie snapped. He swept Anna up into his arms and held her tightly against him. His eyes held a feral look as they swept over the gathered crowd. Locking his jaw, he stalked towards The Burrow.
Bill looked around, noting the shocked stares as everyone followed Charlie’s progress to the house. Ginny slipped ahead and threw open the door before stepping out of the way. Charlie entered the house and moved directly to the living room, collapsing into the large armchair. He cradled Anna carefully in his arms. Her body was turned towards him, her face pressed against the side of his neck.
Wary glances swept the room as everyone cautiously approached the couple. The perplexed look on Albus Dumbledore’s face was perhaps the most disturbing to Bill.
“Charlie, dear,” Mum said. “Please put Anna on the sofa so we can examine her.”
His brother gave no indication he heard the request.
“Charlie, we need to examine Anna. She’s unconscious. We’re all very concerned about what just happened.” Mum’s voice was coaxing. She slowly reached a hand towards Anna and gently stroked the girl’s arm.
“Anna’s awake,” Charlie stated clearly. “And she stays with me.”
Bill looked more carefully at the still form on his brother’s lap. He observed the steady movement of her torso as she breathed, the slight tremble of her hand, fisted in the front of Charlie’s shirt. Raking a hand roughly through his hair, he closed his eyes. Fleur leaned against him, immediately centering his confused mind.
“Son, can you tell us what just happened?” Dad asked.
Charlie closed his eyes briefly before focusing on Dad. He seemed lost in thought for a moment, or was perhaps trying to organize the chaos of emotions and experiences in his mind before attempting an explanation. “We were dancing. It was such a great ending to the day. Anna looked so happy, so relaxed.” He cleared his throat. “I asked Anna if she was willing to enter into the betrothal agreement with me. She said ‘yes.’ I picked her up and twirled her around. She was laughing.” His gaze lowered to the witch in his arms. “Then the light appeared. I couldn’t move. It was like being hit with a Full-Body Bind. The power that surrounded us was…I don’t know how to describe it.” He dropped his head to Anna’s hair and pressed her to him more securely.
When Charlie finished speaking, Bill discovered he wasn’t the only one glancing about the room, noting the impotent frustration and mute anxiety of those around him. Ginny had taken a single step forward, concern writ on her face, while Harry laced her fingers with his own and attempted to give her a reassuring smile. Mum brushed a tear from her cheek as Dad embraced her. Neville shifted uneasily beside Remus, whose calm expression contrasted with his clenched fists. The only one of the group who didn’t seem disturbed by the story was Dumbledore. If truth be told, he seemed to be rather pleased.
“It is quite late,” Albus observed. “Perhaps since they both seem to be well for the moment, we should delay further conversation until the morning.”
Augusta nodded as she took a step forward. “Anna dear, I need you to say something. Please look at me.”
Charlie raised his head warily and eased his grip slightly on the girl in his arms. Anna turned her face towards her aunt. She looked frighteningly pale, but her eyes were clear.
“Anna, are you okay?” Augusta asked.
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Do you want to come home to the Manor?” her aunt inquired.
“No. I want to stay.” Anna’s voice cracked as she clung to Charlie and hid her face against his neck.
Charlie’s eyes glinted dangerously as he tightened his hold on her.
“They are clearly exhausted and overwrought,” Augusta observed. “Albus is correct. We should wait until morning to talk about this situation.”
As she withdrew to speak with Albus and his parents, Bill leaned forward. “Charlie, I’m going to cast a spell to widen and lengthen the chair, so you can both sleep here tonight.”
At Charlie’s nod, he flicked his wand.
“Bill, what are you doing?” Mum asked.
“Just making the chair more comfortable for sleeping. I’ll fix it in the morning.”
Mum gaped in shock. “They can’t sleep down here together like this!”
“It’s nearly midnight. They’re physically exhausted and magically drained.” Bill rubbed his forehead and sighed in exasperation. “Mum, are you really concerned Charlie’s even capable of rolling over and f…”
“Bill!” Fleur grabbed his arm. Her quelling look silencing him.
“Sorry,” he muttered. “We’re all tired. Let’s call it a night and discuss this in the morning.”
Dad wrapped an arm around Mum and nodded decisively. “Children! Off to bed now please!”
The teens slowly ascended the stairs, some casting concerned glances towards the still forms on the enlarged chair. Dad escorted their adult guests to the Floo, watched them depart, and closed the Network connection for the night.
“Bill, we must tell them!” Fleur insisted.
He rubbed his hands over his face. “I know! It’s just…if we say anything to Charlie and Anna, we’ll have to tell everyone. They’ll all know.”
“So, what if they do? I’m not ashamed. Are you?” One perfect eyebrow was raised in challenge.
“Of course, I’m not ashamed!” Bill grabbed her, pulling her into a tight embrace. “It’s just so personal. It’s no one’s business.”
She exhaled slowly, threading one hand through his hair. “We were lucky enough to be alone when this happened to us. We have had months to adjust to this bond. Charlie and Anna won’t have that luxury. They are afraid and overwhelmed. Your family and friends may not understand what occurred, but they all witnessed it. How can we not share what we know?”
“I just…I wish I understood more about it.” He gently kissed her forehead, her cheek and finally her lips. They weren’t passionate kisses, but kisses of comfort, of devotion.
“You must have learned a great deal last night with all the diagnostic spells you were casting.”
Bill nodded. “The magic is extraordinary!” He allowed himself a moment of intellectual wonder. “I still have more questions than answers though.”
“Well, one thing is now clear,” Fleur declared. “This phenomenon happens in the Weasley family.”
“Are you blaming me for this?” He raised an eyebrow.
She smiled. “Two Weasleys have now experienced this…whatever it is, with two witches. Anna and I are not connected, so I think you Weasley men can fairly be blamed.”
Bill smirked as he pulled his fiancé onto his lap. “Oh, yes. You ladies are so innocent in all of this.”
“Of course, we are,” she replied. “Anna and I are both seven years younger than the Weasley men who have swept us off our feet.”
“Mm hmm,” he groaned as his mouth descended on hers. She melted against him, moaning as her lips moved with his.
The faint chiming of an alarm sounded through The Burrow. It was the alert of the Floo being opened. Bill sighed in resignation. “I suppose we have to go downstairs.”
“Look on the bright side. You can finally talk to your brother honestly about our relationship. I know you have wanted to.” She smiled brightly. “I’m eager to talk to Anna. We will be sisters-in-law and friends. We have a great deal in common.” Fleur stroked her fingertips down his arms as she stood up.
Ginny and Hermione dressed rapidly and hurried down the stairs. They’d stayed up late the night before speculating about what had occurred between Charlie and Anna. When they arrived in the living room, they noticed the couple still sleeping and continued into the kitchen.
“Morning, Mum,” Ginny said. She noted the absence of most of her family.
“Good morning, girls. I don’t know when everyone will arrive. Will you help me set the table for breakfast?”
“Of course!” Hermione grabbed cutlery and napkins and quickly dispersed them, while Ginny set out teacups and juice glasses on the magically expanded table.
Dad came in and opened the Floo just as Harry, Ron, and Neville walked into the kitchen.
“Anna and Charlie are still asleep,” Neville said. “They’re okay, aren’t they?”
Dad nodded. “I’m sure they are, but let’s go check on them.” He patted Neville’s shoulder as they went into the living room.
Emerald green flames illuminated the room as the Floo flared. Augusta and Remus were the first to arrive, followed by Tonks, Sirius and Dumbledore.
Mum was quick to serve everyone a plate of eggs and sausage. Stacks of toast floated over at regular intervals. Pots of tea and carafes of pumpkin juice were already on the table. The twins sat in their normal places, followed by Bill and Fleur. Neville looked visibly relieved as he led Anna into the kitchen. She was trying to smooth the wrinkles out of her skirt while nodding in response to her cousin’s whispered words. Charlie and Dad were the last to join them. Dad went to his seat at the head of the table, while Charlie squeezed into the spot beside Anna. They accepted their breakfasts with murmurs of thanks.
Everyone was silent for several minutes as food quickly disappeared from the table. No one seemed prepared to be the first to speak about the events of the previous night.
“Charlie. Anna,” Dad began. “I know it may be difficult to talk about what happened last evening, but we are all here to help you and support you in whatever way we can.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Charlie said. “I honestly don’t know what else to say about it.”
“I’ve done a bit of research in my private library. From what I witnessed last night, I do believe some kind of magical bond occurred between you and Miss Henry.” Dumbledore announced. “I wonder if your findings concur with mine, Bill.”
He nodded and focused on Charlie as he spoke. “I cast a series of diagnostic spells last night to obtain a feel for the magic in the air. The light we witnessed was a product of the power of your magical core joining Anna’s. It caused a protective force that surrounded you both for several minutes. The magic was strong enough to literally repel Neville when he tried to approach you. By the time the energy receded, you were both drained, physically and magically. That’s why Anna briefly lost consciousness and why you had some difficulty summoning the strength to carry her back to the house. There’s no doubt in my mind that your magic bonded with Anna’s in a significant way.”
“What does that mean exactly?” Mum had a bewildered look on her face. “Surely, you don’t mean a soul bond? It’s just a legend, isn’t it?”
Dumbledore shrugged. “There is often some truth in everything we think of as being legend.”
“What’s a soul bond?” Harry asked.
“I’ve only ever heard of them as part of romantic fairy tales,” Ginny explained. “The wizard and witch are connected in a soul bond. They must be physically together for a period of time until the bond becomes permanent. Some legends say if the couple are separated for even a moment, they can fall ill and die. They can hear each other’s thoughts. Feel each other’s emotions. Their minds are so connected neither can really function on their own. The couple must be together all the time. In many of the stories, when one dies, the other soon perishes.”
Hermione’s eyes widened in shock. “That’s ridiculous!”
“Yes, it certainly is!” Fleur declared. She gave Bill a challenging look.
He groaned. “Charlie, what happened between you and Anna last night, happened to Fleur and me about a year ago.”
“What?” Mum shrieked. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Because it’s incredibly personal!” Bill exclaimed. “I wouldn’t be admitting to it now, but Charlie and Anna shouldn’t have to face this on their own!”
“Son, I understand that as an adult, you’re certainly not obligated to tell us everything that happens between you and Fleur.” Dad rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m confused about why this magical bonding is so personal, though. Nothing that happened between Charlie and Anna last night seemed particularly private.”
The expressions of the four became exceptionally closed. A slight blush suffused Anna’s cheeks as she reached for her tea cup.
“What are we missing?” Remus asked.
“My guess is we’re missing what Charlie and Anna actually experienced while surrounded by the light,” Sirius commented. “Several minutes are somewhat unaccounted for.”
Charlie slid an arm around Anna. “As Bill said, it’s personal.”
“And it’s not important to this discussion,” Fleur declared.
“What is important?” Dad inquired.
Bill smiled at his fiancé. “Power. It was such a subtle shift neither of us noticed initially.”
“I thought it was simply natural maturation of my magic until Bill asked me if I’d noticed any changes.” Fleur added.
“It’s not an overwhelming shift in my magic, but I can feel a noticeable difference. I have greater control, better focus. My spell work has become increasingly automatic,” Bill explained.
Fleur stroked his arm. “My ability to cast nonverbal spells has improved and I feel as though my reflexes are just slightly faster. As Bill explained, the changes are not dramatic, but you will likely pick up on some refinements in your magic.”
“What else can you tell us about the bond?” Anna asked.
Fleur looked at Bill thoughtfully. “The other benefit is I can feel Bill’s presence. I’m not certain exactly how, but I always know where Bill is in the house or at the bank. It is a vague pulling, I suppose, in his direction.”
Bill nodded. “My only guess is our magic tries to reach out to each other when we are near, but not together. It’s not an uncomfortable feeling and it only works when we’re in the same building. If Fleur went out to the orchard or the pond right now, I wouldn’t know where she was.”
“And the stuff from the legends?” Charlie asked.
“We can’t hear each other’s thoughts or feel each other’s emotions.” Bill shrugged. “Obviously, we aren’t together all the time. Fleur spent a few days last Christmas in France with her family while I was here. I’ve been to Germany a couple of times. We definitely prefer to be together as much as possible, but neither of us suffers physically or magically from being apart.”
A brief silence descended as everyone considered the situation.
“Why did these bonds form?” Remus wondered. “Magic is generally very cause and effect in practice. Spells must be cast. Potions must be brewed. What made this happen? And why Bill and Fleur? Why Charlie and Anna?”
Bill sighed. “Those are questions I don’t have the answers for. Fleur and I have been quietly researching this phenomenon for months. We haven’t been able to identify any other couples that have experienced this, currently or in the past. I know Fleur and I weren’t dabbling in any obscure branches of magic that accidentally caused our bond to form. We all saw Charlie and Anna dancing before they were bonded. Clearly, they didn’t do anything to cause this. I found no evidence of malicious spells or anything along those lines. Beyond that…Mum, Dad, I don’t suppose there are any old stories about events like this happening in the Weasley or Prewett families?”
“No, son,” Dad responded. “And, I’m assuming you all want this kept quiet, but perhaps…”
Molly nodded in accord. “I can speak with Muriel. She’s a font of knowledge, and not only about the Prewett family. I’ll be very careful about what I say.”
“Wait a minute!” George exclaimed. “Do you think this is just happening in our family?”
“Relax, little brother.” Bill smirked. “Even if this was somehow caused by our family traits, that doesn’t automatically mean it will happen again. I mean as far as we know it never happened previously.”
“Well, it sounds as though last night’s event will cause no harm and may indeed offer a few benefits.” Dumbledore cast his twinkling gaze towards Charlie and Anna. “I’ll be most curious to learn whether your experiences are similar to those of Bill and Fleur, or whether they will be different in some manner.”
“I agree with Albus,” Augusta said. “I’ll admit to being rather concerned last night, but you both seem perfectly well now.”
The smile on Anna’s face fell as she turned to Charlie. “What’s wrong?”
He stroked the side of her face gently with his fingertips. “You have two more years left at Hogwarts. You in Scotland…me in Romania.” Charlie shook his head. “We can’t do that. Bill and Fleur have spent days apart, not months on end.”
“You’re right,” Anna chewed her lip. “What are we going to do?”
“I’ll contact the Welsh Green and Hebridean Black Sanctuaries. They already have my transfer applications. Hopefully, one of them will have an opening. Soon.”
“And if they don’t?”
“We have a few weeks to consider our options,” Charlie replied.
Augusta cleared her throat. “Anna dear, I do believe you and Charlie are getting a bit ahead of yourselves. Let’s tackle one practical matter at a time. I’m thinking you have some news for me?”
She nodded and smiled. “Charlie and I would like to proceed with the betrothal agreement.”
“That’s wonderful news!” Augusta smiled. “I have the preliminary contract with me. Molly, if you would help me finalize the agreement, we can have it ready to be signed within the hour.”
“Oh, yes, of course! We’ll need to prepare a betrothal announcement for publication in the Daily Prophet, as well.” Turning from Augusta to Charlie and Anna, Mum hurried over to them. “I’m so happy for you both!” She reached them just as they stood up and quickly pulled them both into a fierce hug.
When she let go, the others in the room surged forward, each offering Charlie and Anna hugs and words of congratulation. Mum joined Augusta at the small desk in the corner of the kitchen, pouring over the necessary paperwork that would formalize the couple’s relationship. Bill smirked as Fleur tried to draw Anna into a conversation about wedding plans. Judging by the look on her face, Anna wasn’t half as interested in color schemes and fabric options as his fiancé.
Charlie exuded calm satisfaction as he watched his future wife. The possessive anger of the night before was completely absent, apparently a brief after-effect of their public bonding. Bill’s mind wandered as he considered their conversation about the bond. He understood more now about the magic involved, but so many questions remained unanswered. At least he and Fleur would have the opportunity to share their observations and experiences with Charlie and Anna. His thoughts were interrupted by Ron’s suggestion of a brief Quidditch game or swim in the pond. With a smile on his face, he followed the buoyant group out of the kitchen.
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