|SIYE Time:3:20 on 26th April 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: 21477; Chapter Total: 338
Awards: View Trophy Room
Thank you all so much for the Silver Trinket for Best Romance! I am sincerely grateful for the response to this story, and I love reading your reviews. Special thanks as always to my beta, Arnel!
Touched by Darkness
Harry rolled off Ginny and sat up, pulling her firmly against his side. Her eyes were wide, and her face held a rather bemused expression.
“Hi everyone,” Ginny muttered.
“Good morning!” Fleur smiled. “Welcome to the first meeting of the magically bonded Weasley couples. We have much to discuss.”
Bill shook his head slightly -- a smirk on his face -- as he kissed his fiancé’s hand.
“Ginny, how do you feel?” Anna asked.
Ginny shrugged. “I don’t even know how to describe it.” She snuggled closer to Harry. “Exhausted. Exhilarated. At peace for the first time in more years than I care to admit.”
“How are you feeling, Harry?” Charlie asked.
Ginny felt Harry’s hands pressing into her almost painfully as he pulled her more securely against him. She glanced at his face in surprise and was immediately caught in the intensity of his gaze. His eyes entranced hers briefly before sweeping over the others in the hospital wing. The warning in his countenance shocked her, as did the almost resigned looks on her brothers’ faces as they pushed their chairs back a few feet from the bed.
“I know it’s disorienting, Harry,” Charlie said. “I well remember wanting to keep everyone as far away as possible after I bonded with Anna at The Burrow. It’s instinct — pure animalistic instinct to protect one’s mate. I knew I had to protect her from everything and anything, and even family felt like a potential threat.” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t know what had happened or what it meant. I felt so drained physically and magically that I wasn’t at all sure I was up for the task of taking care of her, that I was even capable of that responsibility. My own doubt of course just made me feel more defensive.” He pulled Anna gently from her chair and settled her on his lap. She kissed his cheek and began stroking his arm with the very tips of her fingers. A smile crossed his face briefly before he focused again on Harry and Ginny. “The feeling will pass. Once you’ve recovered your physical and magical strength, you’ll feel better about everything. In the meantime, you’re both safe here in the hospital wing at Hogwarts. No one will try to separate you. Ginny is safe, Harry.”
Harry’s arms relaxed slightly as he pressed his face into the side of her neck. Ginny could feel his warm breath on her skin. “Something happened while we were bonding -- or maybe just after?” He spoke slowly, his words betraying the concern he could not hide. “I was trying to keep her safely under me, but we were…I don’t know…not attacked exactly…but…” His voice trailed off.
“Pain you never imagined possible overwhelmed you completely,” Remus said.
Ginny turned towards the new voice and saw that Remus and Sirius were both standing against the wall. Remus stood still, exuding his usual calm resilience and strength in the face of the very worst life had to offer. Sirius was a coiled spring, ready and waiting to meet any threat with force and violence. Since no danger was immediately imminent, he appeared very like a caged lion, poised and waiting.
“What happened?” Ginny asked.
“As far as we’ve been able to decipher, the two of you magically bonded up in the Astronomy Tower,” Remus began. “You know what that means?”
His pause was perfunctory, as they all knew very well what it meant in the most basic sense.
“Neville and Luna reported seeing a dark mist emerge from you, Harry,” Sirius continued. “It evaporated into the night sky and is gone from you now.”
Ginny frowned slightly as she tried to understand their words and reconcile them with her understanding of the magical bonds that had impacted her two eldest brothers. While she knew few details of how the bond had formed between Bill and Fleur, she had witnessed the bond between Charlie and Anna. Dark mist had not been part of their experience.
A tortured sob erupted from Harry’s throat as he squeezed her against him desperately.
“It’s gone, Harry,” Bill said. “The Horcrux is gone.”
Harry’s body shuddered against hers as he clung to her. Ginny held him tightly, her arms wrapped around him fiercely as she attempted to reassure him. The word Horcrux had been whispered among them for a few months now. Realization hit Ginny in a sudden wave of horror that left her reeling emotionally. The thought of Tom Riddle, any small part of him being inside her boyfriend was almost too much to bear. Her eyes watered and stung as the terrible truth swept over her.
“How?” Ginny didn’t recognize her own voice as she asked the question and wasn’t even certain what she was trying to ask.
“Albus believes that when Voldemort tried to kill Harry as a toddler, his soul was so damaged from making Horcruxes and so unstable from killing James and Lily that a piece splintered off and attached to Harry,” Remus explained. “It was completely unintentional on Voldemort’s part. He didn’t mean to make you into a living Horcrux, Harry. When you and Ginny bonded last night, the power of your combined magic seems to have literally driven that piece of his soul from your body. It left both of you far more magically drained than the bonding magic alone caused.”
Harry rubbed at his face. Only a few tears had fallen from his eyes — eyes that looked haunted. “For all these years I’ve been…tainted.”
“No!” Sirius’s ferocious growl drowned out the other voices raised in protest. He reached the bed in a few quick strides and grabbed Harry by the shoulders. “You are not tainted and never were! You are the son of James and Lily. Nothing that bastard did to you when he attacked your family tainted you!”
Ginny cupped Harry’s face in both hands and forced him to meet her gaze. “Harry, am I tainted because Tom Riddle possessed me with the diary during my first year? Am I tainted because he made me kill Hagrid’s roosters and open the Chamber of Secrets? Am I tainted because he took over my mind and controlled my body?”
“No,” Harry whispered. “You’re not tainted. It wasn’t your fault, and you fought against it. You fought against him all year.” His jaw clenched for a moment. “It’s different with me. A piece of him was living inside me for fifteen years. Dark magic leaves a mark — a permanent stain. I’m —"
“Harry!” Bill cut in. “None of us can completely understand what you’re thinking or feeling.” His hands moved in an agitated gesture that swept over the room. “No one else here has lived what you have. We can’t relate to your experiences, but not a single person here believes you are tainted in any way. This is not your fault.”
Ginny’s eyes stung in frustration at the despondent look on Harry’s face. How could he not understand that he was a victim in this? How could he not see that he always fought against the evil of Tom Riddle, and that he always succeeded?
“I won’t argue with you about whether or not the Horcrux tainted you in some way,” Remus said slowly. “I do know what it’s like to have Darkness living inside you. I’ve felt cursed by my lycanthropy all my life.”
“Wishing my full moon playmate away again, Remus,” Sirius quipped. A small smirk attempting to form on his face.
Remus grinned at his old friend. “Wishing it away or not, I know the wolf will always be a part of me. Harry, my goal for…well, as long as I can remember has always been to keep the wolf at bay — to never let it control me except for the night of the full moon when I accept that I must succumb to the dark creature within. You have had a Dark soul, perhaps the Darkest soul imaginable within you most of your life, and you have never let it win, have never failed to do what is right in the end.”
“But he was inside of me.” Harry grimaced. “A piece of Tom Riddle’s soul was inside of me for years.”
“Yes.” Anna nodded. “And Tom Riddle’s blood flows through my veins. I’ll always be his granddaughter no matter how much I wish I wasn’t. We’ve all been touched by Darkness, Harry -- you, Ginny, Remus, and me. None of us are bad people. None of us are evil in any way.”
“Albus told me long ago that it’s the choices we make in our life that define who we are,” Remus said. “You have consistently chosen well. I know your parents would be as proud of you as Sirius and I are.”
Ginny laced her fingers through Harry’s and stared into his eyes. She offered a small smile when she saw the tension drain from his countenance.
Harry sighed. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I didn’t mean to panic or —"
“You didn’t panic, and you have nothing to apologize for,” Sirius interrupted.
“And,” Remus interjected. “The most important fact to remember is that the Horcrux is gone. We are one step closer to permanently destroying Voldemort.”
“Is this the power he knows not that was mentioned in The Prophecy?” Ginny asked. “Is it our bond?”
“Albus believes it may be,” Sirius allowed. “You all bonding your magic the way you have.” He gestured towards each of the three couples. “This circumstance is unprecedented. Nothing in our research, nothing in the memories of Albus or your Great Aunt Muriel can explain this.”
“When will I have to face him?” Harry asked.
“We’re working on a plan, but it’s far from ready,” Bill began.
“In the meantime, focus on developing your bond with Ginny,” Sirius said. “By the way, I know it’s not exactly my business, but what triggered the formation of your bond? Was it simply the pair of you saying, ‘I love you’?”
Ginny’s lips curved upward as she leaned towards Harry for a brief kiss. His thumb caressed her cheek before he slid his hand back to tangle in her hair.
“I think it must have been,” Harry said.
Bill cleared his throat loudly. “Well, just to clarify on the whole ‘developing your bond’ idea, sex is not necessary,” he declared firmly. “You do need to spend a great deal of time together working on your magic, but the physical contact can be as simple as holding hands.”
“How do you know?” Ginny challenged. “My understanding is that you and Fleur bonded while being very intimate indeed.”
Bill’s glare moved rapidly from Ginny to Fleur to Anna before settling on Charlie.
He shrugged. “Witches talk. I think we may as well accept now that they’re going to be sharing things with each other.” Turning to Harry and Ginny, Charlie continued. “Bill’s correct. The magical bond you share is not an excuse to push your sexual relationship faster or further than you’re ready to take it.”
“Not to disagree with you because I completely approve of them waiting, but how do you know physical consummation of their bond wouldn’t strengthen the magical relationship?” Remus asked.
“Every benefit of the bond, every increase of magical power, was evident within a few months of the bond occurring,” Bill said. “Once we knew what to look for, we realized how quickly the changes happened.”
Fleur nodded. “Our power hasn’t continued to improve over time. We simply understand it better than we did initially.”
Sirius didn’t even try to restrain his smirk. “Yes, but as Ginny stated, if the two of you bonded immediately after coitus, you may not —”
“Charlie and I haven’t noticed any recent changes to our bond or to our magic.” Anna blushed as she spoke and kept her gaze firmly directed to the hospital wing floor.
Her brother met Remus’s hard stare while he lightly stroked Anna’s back.
Their former professor exhaled audibly and rubbed his chin. “Harry, we need to work on strengthening your magical skills. Hopefully, Arthur and Molly will be amenable to you and Ginny spending most of the Christmas holidays together. We need to spend most of the break working on dueling, including the use of nonverbal spells and wandless magic.”
The conversation quickly wrapped up when Madam Pomfrey entered with food trays and insisted that her patients needed more rest.
As they all stood to leave, Anna approached Remus. “Are you disappointed in me?” she quietly asked.
He shook his head and pulled her into his arms. “Of course not. As long as he’s being good to you, as long as you’re happy, I’ll never be disappointed.”
Ginny smiled wistfully as she noticed her brother mouthing a silent ‘thank you’ to Remus.
Christmas at Longbottom Manor was truly a magical experience. Hermione and Luna had gone home to spend the holidays with their parents, but the rest of their group was all celebrating the season together. Harry and Sirius had spent quite a lot of time at the Manor over the past year, but the house had never been so full as it was for this holiday. Augusta was obviously pleased to have so many guests and welcomed everyone with true pleasure. Harry and Ron were bunking with Neville. Ginny was sharing Anna’s room. Sirius and Charlie were in the guest rooms closest to Remus’s room, while Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were in the one at the end of the corridor. Bill and Fleur, as well as Fred and George, arrived early Christmas morning with the intention of spending the entire day.
The teens had passed the days leading up to Christmas in almost constant dueling practice. Harry could feel his magic pulsing through his body in a way he had never experienced before bonding with Ginny. No one knew whether his magic felt different solely because of the bond or whether jettisoning a piece of Riddle’s soul had also contributed. Harry suspected it was a combination of the two that left him feeling as though his magic had been unleashed. The feeling of having more power and greater control over it was heady. Everything felt easier -- more natural. He trusted in his instincts, and the flow of his magic became increasingly automatic.
Tonks had joined many of their dueling sessions, working mostly with the girls as she was sure Remus and Sirius were not pushing them hard enough. Harry had found it difficult to hold his temper as he watched Ginny being Stunned or otherwise defeated day after day. As Charlie had predicted the strongest of his violent instincts to protect Ginny had passed relatively quickly, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch his girlfriend collapse under a barrage of spell work. The fact that Ginny could generally hold her own when facing a single combatant was little consolation since Tonks repeatedly paired up with whoever was available to subdue the younger witch.
Charlie was his ally in frustration as he watched Anna being attacked repeatedly. Though Charlie was perfectly willing to participate in the dueling practice and cast against anyone other than Anna, he refused to do anything other than monitor her duels. Objectively, they both realized the practice was necessary and the witches were clearly gaining in speed and confidence with each passing day. Harry wasn’t sure if he should be proud or upset by the fact that Charlie cracked first, punching a wall in fury and breaking several bones in his hand before grabbing a Petrified Anna and Apparating away. They returned several hours later looking perfectly calm with Charlie’s hand completely healed.
Harry was quite pleased for the one full day reprieve offered by the Christmas holiday. The Weasley matriarch had insisted that the teens spend the day engaged solely in festive activities. After opening their presents, they had all enjoyed a delicious full English breakfast. The remainder of the day had included a snowball fight, decorating gingerbread biscuits, building snowmen, singing carols while dancing, and engaging in a prolonged game of sardines which enabled he and Ginny to spend almost a half-hour alone in a large linen cupboard. Miraculously, no one had commented on their swollen lips or rumpled attire after the game. It was perhaps very helpful that Bill and Fleur, Charlie and Anna, and even Remus and Tonks had been similarly mussed.
They had just entered the kitchen in search of drinks when Sirius cursed fluently, Mrs. Weasley moaned, but made no effort to reprimand his language, Augusta poured herself a small glass of sherry, and Mr. Weasley commented that it was just an Order Meeting and there was no need to worry yet.
“When?” Remus asked.
“We’re to meet at Grimmauld Place in one hour,” Sirius replied. “Albus didn’t sound particularly urgent, but he felt we needed to be apprised of the most recent news sooner rather than later.”
Mrs. Weasley glanced around the room. “Perhaps we should leave the children here at The Manor. They’ll be safe alone with the house-elves, and hopefully we’ll only be gone for an hour or two.”
“I’m bringing Harry, Molly,” Sirius said. “Believe me, I know how tempting it is to leave them behind, but he needs to know. Whatever the news is, he needs to know.”
She blinked back tears as she nodded and walked into her husband’s arms. He held her securely as he glanced at each of the teens in turn. “Be ready to leave in fifty minutes. Pack an overnight bag just in case the meeting goes longer than anticipated. Bring your wands.”
They all nodded as they walked away.
Ginny looked up to see her brother’s eyes widen in surprise at the attractive, dark-haired woman standing in the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. She appeared to be at least a few years older than her brother, and her accent was not English.
“Katerina, how are you?” he asked.
“Well enough,” she smiled. “Are you happy to be home?”
Charlie nodded. “Very happy.” He turned to Anna and pulled her gently into his arms. “Anna, this is Katerina Dinu. Katerina, this is my fiancé Anna Henry.”
Katerina held out her hand. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Anna. Charlie and I are old friends. I’m sure he’s taking excellent care of you.”
Anna shook her hand. “It’s nice to meet a friend of Charlie’s. Are you from Romania?”
“Yes. I’ve come to England to support the efforts against your Lord Voldemort.” Her face was calm, but her tone showed clear disdain. “He caused some…difficulties in Albania for my mother’s family many years ago. I’m eager to see his downfall.”
“Of course,” Anna said. She turned to Charlie with a look in her eyes Ginny could not begin to decipher.
He kissed her lips gently. “Anna, why don’t you and Ginny go on upstairs? I’ll be up once the meeting’s over.”
Anna nodded. “I’ll see you soon.”
Harry hugged Ginny one last time. “I’ll fill you in after the meeting,” he murmured.
“Love you,” she whispered against his ear.
His arms tightened briefly before letting her go.
Ginny and Anna made their way up the stairs followed by Ron and Neville. They had barely crossed the threshold to the first empty room when the boys each pulled Extendable Ears from their pockets and began quickly and carefully lowering them down the stairs and into the kitchen. Neville passed his to Ginny so that she and Anna could listen, while he joined Ron.
“Rather young, isn’t she?”
“She’s of age.”
“But not a member of the Order?”
“Because she’s still a student?”
“Let it go, Kat.”
“I’m just curious.”
“You know what they say about curiosity.”
Her throaty chuckle sounded far too intimate to Ginny.
Anna walked away from the ear in Ginny’s hand and leaned against the wall. Ginny continued to listen for a moment, but nothing more was said between her brother and Katerina. The Headmaster had called the meeting to order.
“The meeting has started,” Ginny murmured.
Anna stood still, breathing harshly for a moment before coming back. The news from Professor Dumbledore was as bad as they had all feared. Death Eaters, along with several of Voldemort’s lesser followers, had attacked multiple Muggle villages across the country. The attacks were well-coordinated and very brief. Dozens of innocent people were murdered in less than an hour. Numerous houses had been burned to the ground. A couple of Voldemort’s followers had been killed by Aurors and Order members who had responded to the scenes of violence and destruction. A few Order members had been injured but were expected to make full recoveries.
Foreign governments were beginning to take an active interest in the events occurring on British soil, but none were yet willing to commit to a side in the upcoming war. The meeting ended with reminders for Order members to report any suspicious activity immediately and to make every effort to protect Muggle friends and family members.
“Ginny!” Harry exclaimed.
“He and Neville just finished breakfast and decided to play a game of chess. Ron said you were asleep and figured you needed a bit of a lie in.”
“Ginny, what are you…uhhh!”
She continued to move over him, her own breath becoming a bit unsteady, as his breathing became increasingly labored.
“We shouldn’t be doing this.” Harry’s voice was something between a whine and whimper.
“But it feels so good,” Ginny whispered.
“What if we’re caught?” he moaned.
She leaned down and nipped at his earlobe. “I’m fully clothed and you still have your pajamas on. If we’re found, we can reasonably claim we were just snogging.”
“Oh Merlin!” He thrust upwards against her instinctively.
“Don’t hold back, Harry,” Ginny purred. She increased the speed and pressure of her movements. The friction felt brilliant to her, and she knew from the look on her boyfriend’s face that he was very close. “Let it happen, love.”
His lips caught hers in a kiss as he slipped one hand down the back of her jeans, squeezing her arse briefly before groaning loudly into her mouth. She leaned back and watched the tension drain from his face and a look of sheer bliss light his features.
“Love you, Ginny,” he whispered.
“I love you too, Harry.”
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