Dreaming a Life by GryffindorHealer



Summary: The last thing Ginny Potter heard before the Bludger hit her was ‘Harry! Al!’ Then she woke up in St. Mungo’s, and no one knew who Harry, James, Al, Lily, or Teddy were that she kept asking for. What the hell was happening?
Rating: R starstarstarstarstar
Categories: Alternate Universe
Characters: None
Genres: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2021.03.28
Updated: 2021.06.06


Index

Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
Chapter 10: Chapter 10
Chapter 11: Chapter 11


Chapter 1: Chapter 1

Author's Notes: This fic is for Pottermum, and is a part of the 2020 Harry and Ginny Discord Incognito Elf fan fic and fan art gift exchange. I wrote it for herpartly because because she writes really good Alternate Universe fics. When I came back to reading fan-fic after a long hiatus, her Surprise! was the first AU I read. And partly because in a PM chat with her, I asked what happened to Older Ginny in her Living a Dream fic, she said she hadn't thought about that, and it sounded like I had a fic to write. I'm listing it as AU because, well, read on; but parts of it are based in whay I think of as my HC for the 19 Years and longer... Posting schedule will be one chapter a week.

Ginny has a Quantum Leap moment. There’s angst. There’s family feels. There’s people you wouldn’t expect to see. There’s even some hawt.


Sunday 3 July 2011

Ginny Potter closed her eyes to better feel the July afternoon sunlight on her face, idly bouncing the Quaffle with her left hand. Conversations between family members blurred to murmurs from 50 feet below her as she rode Charlie’s old Cleansweep to her upcoming turn. With a nonchalant flip of her wrist she sent the Quaffle arcing above her. Her left knee nudging the broom she leaned into the turn while extending both arms out to her sides. The slipstream breeze fluttered her t-shirt sleeves while she coasted around the curve, gradually straightening her course. Eyes still closed, she closed both hands on the Quaffle with a light slap, ending the faint whistle of its falling arc.

Looking down at the meadow that made the Burrow’s Quidditch pitch, her course now approaching the crossing point of her Figure 8 path, she started bouncing the ball with her right hand. Waving at Charlie where he stood holding her Shooting Star Professional next to Harry and Bill, she watched Bill return Harry’s Firebolt, taking his old broom in exchange. Charlie waved back, nudging Bill and pointing to her. Hermione and Audrey sat with Lily Luna, Hugo, and young Molly, Lily’’s laughter reaching her while waving to her mother. Behind them stood Angelina, looking up at her as well with Roxanne in tow, carrying her mother’s Firebolt .

With another casual flip the Quaffle arced upwards, and she executed a perfect mirror of her previous gentle curve, eyes closed, ears tuned for that same gentle whistle which ended with a quick cupping of her palm, turning her left hand into a suction cup holding the ball. Applause and cheers rose up to her. Glancing down she gathered in the two thumbs-up Angie offered, her own broom now tucked into the crook of one arm. Ron put two fingers to his mouth and whistled as he walked up to his wife. Bill and Charlie both clapped loudly. Harry danced his Number One Fan routine. With a flourish of arms and a seated, flying bow, she acknowledged the praise.

Then another gente toss of the Quaffle. Far too much time passed since she’d enjoyed a good fly after retiring from the Harpies and beginning to write full time professionally. She refused to land after the pick-up game with her family. Instead she began mimicking what she’d done when, seven years old, she began teaching herself to fly and play Quidditch. Back then, she pushed herself when tossing and catching the Quaffle, surging around the curve of the figure eight to catch it. Now, though, she simply wanted to continue flying, and found herself performing this old self-drill to entertain her family.

As she made another easy curve she watched Arthur gesticulate while telling Andromeda Tonks snippets describing events leading to the game. Ginny’s siblings once again plotted to handicap her and Harry in various ways. Her, because of her professional years, and Harry because even though he’d never pursued professional Quidditch, his natural talents on a broom still made him formidable. This week, George and Ron declared that Ginny needed to play Keeper, and since there weren’t enough players to make full teams, Harry to play Chaser. Bill and Charlie insisted the two of them use their old Cleansweeps, the two oldest brooms in the Burrow broom shed.

Then they moaned loudly when the lottery to make the two teams put both Ginny and Harry together with her two oldest brothers. George laughingly named their team the Pottering Plodders (with the two oldest brothers). Ron named his and George’s team the Weasley Wizzes, making Teddy beam as an Honorary Weasley.

Ginny laughed out loud to herself at the final score of 150 to 10, Pottering Plodders. Charlie played Beater with gleeful abandon, quickly reading George and Angie’s passing plays and smacking the Bludger to knock the Quaffle astray. Harry and Bill proved just as fast at developing their own passing game, even mimicking some of the best Harpy maneuvers. Their perfectly emulated Harpy Snarl totally befuddled Ron’s Keeper skills. Teddy, made a Hufflepuff Beater this past year at Hogwarts, did his best, but proved unable to disrupt either Harry or Bill as they fiercely attacked the three goals and drove the score up.

When George bemoaned the lack of scores for the Wizzes, Ginny gleefully reminded him that Gwenog strictly enforced a policy of all Harpies playing in all positions during team scrimmages, not simply the two that they listed as their usual ones. Rounding on Harry to demand when he’d become so good as a Chaser, he shrugged.

‘There’s more to being Ginny’s Number One Fan than you lot saw at the games,’ he replied. ‘I helped her practice all their routines, drilling their playbook with her, and then again in the air.’ With Potter’s Plodders laughing at the gaping mouths of the Wizzes, Ginny then congratulated Angie for the excellent feint making the one goal she did manage.

She spotted George with Teddy and James, George obviously telling stories of old Gryffindor games with him and Fred as Beaters. Walking out to the pitch from the house came Molly with Victoire, Dominique, and Lucy. The girls helped Molly by carrying platters of sandwiches, pitcher’s of cool drinks, and trays of empty mugs. Before tossing the Quaffle and beginning her curve she saw George demonstrating how to hold a bat and swing. Finishing this curve and rather mindlessly catching the Quaffle, she watched Al with young Fred and Louis, their heads bend together obviously reliving the game. She smiled, wondering if she should let them know she could see them when she heard the sharp, loud crack of a bat hitting a Bludger.

That was well hit, she thought, scanning back towards George and Teddy. Then she dropped the Quaffle, her professional Quidditch brain instantly analysing the Bludger’s flight path and tipping her broom into a steep dive while stretching out along it as if once again she flew in a Harpies game. The increasing rush of wind in her face and roar of the slipstream past her ears did not cover Teddy yelling, ‘Harry! Al!’ She didn’t need to look back to see him gesturing wildly towards his brother on the opposite end of the meadow; she already knew Harry could never get to their son in time before the impersonal iron ball struck five year old Al.

She could. It needed all her skills on a broom, particularly this antique one, but the only one in a position to prevent the Bludger hitting Al currently urged the old broom her brothers insisted she fly beyond its safety limits.

Experience wanted to tell her she already passed 100 knots in airspeed, but she told herself that would be if she flew her own Shooting Star that Harry bought her when she retired. She couldn’t trust the vibrations of the elderly Cleansweep to gauge her flight speed. She kept in the dive a few seconds longer, gaining precious speed, before beginning to pull up. In her peripheral vision she could see the Bludger gaining on her but she still had an edge. Focusing on keeping the Cleansweep steady she urged more speed into it while still gaining some from the shallower dive that allowed her to intersect the flight of the iron ball. She needed to catch it before it hit Al, and needed to do it in a way she wouldn’t be still flying toward him. And she knew in her bones it would be a near thing.

Urging a bit more speed into the broom, she edged the nose up slightly preparing for the catch. Three things happened in such rapid sequence that to everyone else now watching the race to prevent serious injury it appeared simultaneous.

Ginny gathered the Bludger to her middle, their relative speeds matching so that it felt a gentle hug.

The abused broom’s vibration from the excess speed rose to a crescendo and the old Cleansweep shattered in a series of snapping reports that echoed back off the surrounding trees.

Tucking in to roll as she’d been taught by the Harpies trainers, Ginny’s head still found the tip of the last remaining rock in the meadow. Her world went black as her body tumbled across the ground. The Bludger rolled peacefully away from her and came to a halt as if nothing at all happened.

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Chapter 2: Chapter 2

Ginny floated on her back in a slight arch, arms flexed slightly above her head, palms up. Her entire body relaxed, yet poised. Warm.

Warm?

Brow creased, she opened her eyes. The sky above held the same few clouds as it had all day, but cool pond waters didn’t support her. She raised her head, looked at herself. Not wearing a bathing costume. In fact, not wearing anything. Mum might object, she thought. Then again, where was she? Was Mum even here?

Rolling over she found herself above a beehive of activity in the Quidditch Pitch. Andromeda Tonks knelt over a sprawled figure on the Burrow’s pitch, her wand flicking through a series of diagnostic charms. Nearby, her dad stood with Al, Fred, Louis looking on, while Bill, Charlie, and Harry ran towards the scene. Hermione held Lily and Hugo, speaking to them seriously and calmly; Audrey held Molly close, shielding her daughter from seeing the events. Roxy stood next to Hermione, the broom forgotten on the ground.

Ron and Angie ran towards the fallen person, Angie’s hair streaming behind her. George, Teddy, James hurried from the other end of the pitch, Teddy’s face screwed tight in fear and screaming, though curiously Ginny couldn’t hear what.

Molly and the girls set down their loads and came running, except Dominique who still carried her two pitchers. Harry knelt, skidding to a stop next to the sprawled figure and Andromeda spoke to him and Bill, her face and hands both showing anxious urgency. Bill took a pitcher from his daughter, pouring out the fluid and touching it with his wand. He handed it to Harry, who placed it on the figure’s chest. Andromeda straightened up, and Ginny saw her own face, eyes closed. Harry gathered one of Ginny’s hands, and pressed it to the pitcher. Andromeda reached out to touch it as well. It glowed blue, and Ginny felt the familiar rapid tug of a portkey behind her navel, pulling her with the others into the whirling press.

When her vision cleared, she saw her blurry reflection in a mist-covered mirror of a tiny bathroom. She reached up with the flannel in her hand and wiped the wet surface, revealing her long hair pinned up behind her head with her wand. A large fluffy towel wrapped her, leaving her shoulders bare, her freckles dark against her fair skin.

She heard the muffled sound of a door closing, and turned to leave the bathroom. The next room was barely big enough to fit the single bed with a small bedside chest of drawers, and one wooden chair. Just inside the door stood a blonde, brown eyed young man, holding two insulated mugs of coffee. His jaw dropped when he saw her towel-clad form, then he slowly held out one of the mugs to her.

She took it, looking at him, knowing he still needed to do this because his employees didn't know yet. ‘Please take the glamours off,’ she said, and he reached into the drawer of the bedside chest for his wand. With a wave, once again Harry stood before her. She smirked at him, while somewhere far in the back of her mind a thought wondered what was happening. ‘This flat needs some serious charm work. There's no way we'll both fit in that shower, and I definitely need more closet space.’

His face lit with surprised hope as she sipped her coffee. ‘You’re going to stay? Here? With me?’ The longing in his eyes lit the fire inside her.

‘It’s where you are. And that’s what partners do, Harry. They live together.’ She stepped around him, nudging him over a bit with her hip, turning to him. She set her coffee down on the top of the chest. ‘For now, let’s go back to bed. We’ll enlarge it later.’ She pulled her wand out of her hair, shaking the coppery red locks down around her shoulders. Setting the wand on top of the chest next to her coffee, she dropped the towel and giggled as Harry’s eyes widened. Turning, she slipped between the stiff, starched, sheets smelling of antiseptics.

She blessed the sudden quiet and dark. The pounding behind her closed eyes timed with her pulse, and the rush of her own blood coursing seemed terribly loud. Stiff, starched sheets lay over her, a pungent chemical scent burning her nostrils. Eyes closed, she focused on slowing her breathing until her own heart slowed to match, the raging river rapids in her head stilling to a babbling brook.

In fact, it quieted enough for her to hear soft, steady breathing nearby. Breathing which didn’t match her own. She chanced opening her eyes slightly. Faint light leaked through gauzy curtains over the window, dim enough it didn’t add to her discomfort. Moving her head to see who else occupied the room that sheltered her tipped the babbling brook back over a short waterfall, though. Closing her eyes, she held still briefly, again focusing on her breathing. Opening her eyes after a bit, she could see the shadowed shape of a man in a chair near her bed. Slowly, she tried to push her hand over the side of the bed, only to be pushed back by a familiar charm.

Side rail charm, St. Mungo’s, then, she thought, as vague recollections of flying and her broom breaking up under her rode the bubbling brook from deep in her memory. She tried to speak, dry lips refusing to open. When did her mouth get so dry? She’d just been drinking some tea, hadn’t she? She worked her parched tongue against the roof of her mouth, trying to get enough moisture to speak.

‘Harry? Is Al all right?’ she croaked, voice raspy, unused. The figure startled awake, taking a deep breath in. She still couldn’t see features in the low light.

‘Ginny, you’re awake,’ came the response in a voice she hadn’t heard in 13 long years, a voice that sent a shivering chill up and down her spine.

‘Fred?’ Her voice came out in such a quiet whisper she doubted it could be heard.

‘The one and only, Oh Favorite Sister mine, and it still amazes me how you can tell us apart when even our mother can’t.’

She scoffed quietly. ‘I’m your only sister. But sweet Merlin, if I’m talking with you I've died.’

Fred laughed quietly back, and leaning forward replied, 'I hope not because that would mean that I am talking to a ghost, and that doesn't sound like my sister. In fact the only one of our siblings I could expect would choose to remain as a ghost is our dear brother Percy.' She laughed at that thought, bringing a spike of pain.

‘Which one of you took one of Mum’s old meat cleavers to my head?’ She moaned, the blood rushing through her head again became tumbling rapids, gaining speed. Fred leaned forward, concerned.

‘Ginny, stay with me. I’m calling a Healer!’

‘Oh, Harry, it hurts. I’m so sleepy,’ she whispered. Hearing Fred open the door, she wondered idly why a ghost would call a healer.

Turning her head Harry stood next to her in the night on a well-lit busy street. The direction of the cars whizzing past told her she wasn’t in Australia, but looking around she couldn’t tell where she was. Over Harry’s shoulder, she spotted a guitarist with longish salt-and-pepper mahogany hair and huge reddish-gray sideburns. His guitar case open on the pavement before him, his deep baritone voice rang out in time with his playing. ‘You’ve got to pick up every stitch, The rabbit’s running in the ditch, Beatniks out to make it rich, Oh no, must be the season of the Witch…’

A short distance past him, in front of the next store front stood a full size cutout photograph of a famous Muggle singer wearing a sparkly white suit, black hair brushed up high on his head. A sign next to him proclaimed Let the King serenade you during your wedding. No Extra Charge! The blinking marquee over the door proclaimed the establishment to be The Little Wedding Chapel. Confusion filled her mind again. Where was she?

‘Ginny, are you sure?’ She looked into Harry’s emerald eyes, hope and desire lighting them.

A smile came to her face, As if from a short distance she heard her voice. ‘We were drunk the first night, Harry. But neither of us had more than one drink on any day since then. Yes, I am sure.’ She turned her attention back to the busker, tilting her head slightly as he continued his ballad. Harry followed her gaze.

‘He’s good, isn’t he?’ She nodded, looking back at Harry. ‘Ginny, you know what they say about Vegas?’

She was in Las Vegas, in America, with Harry. What was she doing in Las Vegas, stone cold sober yet feeling deliriously happy?

‘That what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?’ she asked cheekily.

He grinned back at her. ‘If we do this, Weasley, it’s not staying in Vegas. I know you’ve got to go back to Australia to settle things with your team there, and I’ve got to finish my exchange program here. But we will get back together, we will let both our families know.’

Her smile lit her face brighter than the morning sun, and she nodded. ‘Definitely, Potter. Let’s do this.’ They both turned, hand in hand, and stopped at the sight of the busker one more time as he belted out the chorus again. She swore she saw him wink at her as he sang. ‘He really is good,’ she said, pulling an American bill out of her pocket. Harry nodded to her and did the same. They both dropped the money into his guitar case on top of a pile of random bills and coins. Neither one saw the musician’s eyes enlarge in the flickering lights at the size of the two denominations.

Flickering light caused her to blink a bit, opening her eyes to the same room at St. Mungo’s again, head aching as she listened to low voices.

‘How is she, Gred?’

‘She woke up a bit, Forge, but I’m not sure. She thought I was someone named Harry at first, and asked about an Al.’

‘Oh ho! Do you think our favorite sister…’

‘Has a series of blokes on the hook?’

‘A scandalous hidden multi-partner love life…’

‘Well, she is a Harpy. We all know what’s being said about those Harpies.’

No. No, there’s only Harry, she cried silently. Al’s my son, Harry, where are you I can feel you but where are you… Then she coasted off on a gentle tide of soft laughter as her two brothers enjoyed their wit. George can talk with our dead brother, she thought, how nice.

Sitting at the dinner table in the round dining room, remnants of shepherds pie and bread scattered across three bowls, Ginny struggled not to glare at Luna. They’d discussed this at length prior to inviting Harry over. Something they both wanted, needed. She took a small bite of the still warm buttered garlic bread she’d baked, using the act to literally bite down on the happy memory when Neville apologetically told them he couldn’t help. She’d hoped and wanted Harry for this from the beginning of her and Luna’s discussion; only knowing how important their time with Neville that year at Hogwarts felt to Luna brought her acquiescence to Luna’s insistence they ask their First, first.

But this, this conversation, she’d not intended it to go quite this way. She’d wanted to be the one asking, controlling the flow of the interaction. Still. She let out a slow breath, trusting her lover to know the flow of emotions better. Luna, frankly, did better judging how to steer through the currents of potentially fraught situations. Her unique worldview helped, no doubt. So despite her need to control some things, she confined herself to the occasional heated look, or a touch.

Knowing the prime subject about to be broached, what with Luna describing her upcoming trip to search for Snorkaks and how long it would last, she finished her bite and swallowed. At least a fortnight, probably longer. That Scamander man, oh how he irritated her, using Luna’s ownership of the Quibbler for publicity and funding of these trips.

Harry complimented them on the meal with a toast, they all sipped the dry, lightly fruity red wine together. Ginny looked at Harry to reassure him of his welcome in her and Luna’s home, and reinforced it by even inviting him to bring Teddy over for a picnic. The short, pregnant silence brought her eyes to Luna’s.

‘Actually, Harry, perhaps you could pop over and see Ginny while I’m away. I don’t want her to get lonely,” said Luna.

‘Lu,’ said Ginny, voice low, a warning quiver coloring the affectionate name..

‘Of course I will. You know I'd do anything for you both,’ said Harry, smiling at them. The truth in his words spread through the room, the connection between them ever since the Battle of the Department of Mysteries humming.

‘Would you, Harry?’ asked Luna.

‘Of course. Anything,’ said Harry, taking a sip of his tea

Ginny held her breath as Luna reached forward and lightly rested her fingers on his other hand. ‘Would you get Ginny pregnant, please Harry?’

The spray of dark brown droplets across the table demonstrated both Harry’s reaction and why Luna insisted neither one of them sit directly opposite him.

Ginny turned to watch Seamus dancing a jig in the Gryffindor Common Room, loudly chanting ‘Quidditch Cup! Quidditch Cup!’ joined by Dean and a double handful more Gryffindors. Her own face split in a huge smile, her head bouncing in time with them. Ron, Lavender, and a Fifth Year girl danced a circle in front of the fireplace, the Quidditch Cup held between them. She laughed at the adoring look girls focused on Ron.

Parvati, Katie, Demelza, Jack, and Jimmy danced in a ring going the opposite direction chanting ‘Weasley is our King!’ Colin’s flash illuminated the scene preserving it in his camera for future memory. Cormac sat and pontificated how he would have organized the game, mostly being ignored by everyone. Other Gryffindors surrounding them laughed at Euan Abercrombie and Andrew Kirke standing behind him and gesticulating in a broad parody of McLaggen’s arrogance.

Neville smiled at her, setting the butterbeer he brought for her on the table in front of her. ‘What are you doing?’

She looked at her hands, and scoffed. Her fingers kept working the crochet hook through the loops of yarn on the scarf, adding another row of gold yarn to the stripe against the blue. ‘I’m waiting for Harry to finish his detention,’ she said.

Neville cocked his head slightly, a mannerism she more frequently saw in his responses to Luna than to her. ‘Harry who?’

Ginny smirked at him, soft scratchiness flowing across her fingers as she pulled loops of yarn through the pattern. So like Neville to tease her about this. ‘He’s going to come in through the Portrait Hole any second now,’ she said, anticipation warming her voice.

Neville shook his head. ‘There’s no Harry in Gryffindor, and I meant what are you making.’ Ginny glanced down at the crochet work, then her eyes bored into Nevilles.

‘It’s a Gryffindor scarf for Harry.’ Really, his teasing is becoming annoying, she thought.

‘Then why is it blue and gold?’ Neville said. She looked down and her fingers bobbled slightly.

Her mother’s voice roared in her ears, louder than a Howler. ‘Ginny, you’ve dropped a stitch. You’ve got to pick up every stitch. You’ve got to pick up every stitch, or it will all unravel!’

She grabbed for strands flying about her hands as the scratchy wool flew away from the unravelling scarf and around the room. A silent scream echoed in her head. No! This is for Harry! Where are you, Harry where are you?

The room quieted suddenly. Head throbbing lightly, she parted her eyelids slightly to find a bit more light, early morning dusk seeping through the gauzy curtains. George sat in the chair where she thought she’d seen Fred, his face lit from below with flickering light from the small mirror he held.

‘No, Mum, she’s still out. She’s been dreaming or something though, calling out names,’ George said quietly, and the light on his face from the small hand mirror flickered.

‘You’ll call as soon as she wakes, won’t you,’ she heard her mother's voice, and George nodded. ‘Whose names is she calling out?’

‘I’m not sure who they are,’ he replied quietly. ‘Someone named Teddy one time, also Harry, James, and Al. Quite concerned about Al she is. She called to you and Dad as well. Ron. And Charlie, of all people. Oh, and an Andromeda.’

‘We knew an Andromeda Tonks, she’s Charlie’s old girlfriend's mother. But who are those boys she’s calling. She hardly ever seems to spend her time with anyone other than those Harpies. She needs to get out more. Quidditch is far too dangerous for her to be doing that.’

‘Mum, now isn’t the time. We need to help her get better from this injury. Besides, she is bloody fantastic at Quidditch.’

‘Language, George. Well, stay with her. Bill will be there later this morning to take over. If she wakes up tell her we all love her.’

‘I will, Mum.’ And those voices swirled together into a soft buzz as the darkness creeped closer. Why didn’t George tell Mum to reassure her other family members? Teddy needed to know she wasn’t angry at him for that Bludger. Her head throbbed a bit more with that word, and she wondered what Bludger, why did she think about a Bludger? Such odd dreams. Then she drifted into the comforting warmth of the darkness again, the throbbing in her head fading away.

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Chapter 3: Chapter 3

Light brushstrokes across the insides of her eyelids woke her to a warm, diffuse, soothing glow. Slowly she realized someone removed the meat cleaver in her head, returning it to Mum’s butcher block. Quiet murmuring as from a distance played a game with soft susurrations of newsprint paper being turned for her attention. Starched sheets covered her, running under her bare forearms. Newspaper, she thought. Harry never brought a newspaper with him. His surprised expression from when she told him she took the sports correspondent position with the Daily Prophet flashed before her closed eyelids. Dad, then, that’s who’s sitting with me now, she thought.

Sudden awareness of a rather intense pressure in her lower abdomen brought a complete stop to her game. Opening her eyes she rolled to get off the bed, only to be pushed back by a familiar feeling; the St. Mungo’s Side Rail Charm. The rattling sound that came from that charm caused the Daily Prophet to drop, revealing a fang earring dangling from one ear, long red hair, and Bill’’s scarred face.

‘Ginny, you’re awake!’ he blurted.

‘Brilliant observation, Bill. Now help me get out of this bed. I need the loo.’ He chuckled, setting the paper down.

‘Not sure I can, GInny. My wife will have my guts for garters if I let you up before a Healer examines you.’

‘Bill,’ she ground out, ‘you’ve got two choices here. Let me out of bed, or…’ She stopped, not quite gaping, as she studied the face grinning at her, a face with fewer laugh and worry lines, a face smoother by nearly ten years.

‘Or what?’ Bill’s grin grew to a smile, eyes glinting, deepening the creases Ginny felt more closely represented how his face should look. She shook her head, tossing off the sensation.

‘Or you can clean up the sheets and the mattress, because I. Need. To. Use. The. Loo. Now!’

His laugh grew a bit louder, but his wand came up in his hand as he stood, whistling through the motions as he whispered the Finite Incantatem. He held her arm as she stood, walking with her to the door of the loo. She nodded her thanks to him as she closed the door, then sat, gathering the hospital robes around her waist. This was probably the only time she appreciated the damn things, sighing at the pleasant relief as she took care of the morning need.

Standing and flushing the toilet, she turned to the sink to wash her hands and again froze at the image before her.

‘Oh, honey,’ said the mirror, ‘are you all right? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.’ She shook her head slowly, eyes fixed on her reflection. A reflection that, like Bill’s face on the other side of the door, presented fewer laugh wrinkles at the corners of her eyes. A face framed by longer hair than she’d worn since before her three children were born. ‘Seriously, dear, do I need to call for some help?’

‘Shut it, you,’ Ginny muttered back. ‘Just… not what I expected after what happened to me.’

‘If I had a galleon for every time someone said that to me,’ scoffed the mirror, ‘I’d be able to pay to relocate from this place. Though I can see with a little work your hair and face could look marvelous, darling. All those freckles!’ Ginny snorted, slowly turning her back to the mirror and looking over her shoulder. She spread the gap of the hospital robes as much as she could. ‘Ooooo, lovely, freckles all down your back as well,’ murmured the mirror.

But no scars, Ginny thought. Bill, and her own face, younger. None of the scars on her back. She suddenly felt bereft, what would Harry count to calm her down after a night terror. Fred, she thought again, her heartbeat picking up slightly recalling the short conversation during the night.. What the hell is going on?

‘I’m younger,’ she whispered to herself. The mirror tsk-tsked back.

‘Well of course you’re younger than me, dearie, I’ve been on this wall near as long as St. Mungo’s has been here.’ Ginny shook her head, her reflection matching her. She knew the charms that made these mirrors, but she didn’t need this now. She needed to figure out how it came to be that she appeared 10 years younger, with no scars on her back. Out of curiosity she suddenly lifted the hospital robes, baring her belly and the landing strip of red curls that Harry loved. Except a full bush showed instead of a landing strip cut . ‘Oi! While you’re quite pretty in your way, dearie, I’m afraid flashing me won’t do any good, you’re not my type.’

‘You’re not my type either, no worries,’ Ginny laughed, shaking her head at the deep masculine voice of the mirror. The absence of the few stretch marks her pregnancies gave her brought an ache to her heart, remembering Harry lips pressing them gently, calling them her marks of valor. Closing her eyes, she dropped the hospital robes and gripped the edges of the sink as a wave of vertigo swept over her. Where are you, Harry? Why can I feel you and you’re not here?

What is happening?!

‘Well,’ said the mirror, ‘right now you are looking like you might fall over, and I’m trying to decide if I need to call for help.’ Realizing she’d said at least some of that out loud, she opened her eyes to her pale reflection again. Taking in a deep breath, she let it out slowly.

‘No one will believe what I think is going on,’ she said, pushing the vertigo down and relaxing her shoulders.

‘Oh, honey, this is St. Mungo’s. People come in here with chickens or bicorn horns or such growing out of their heads. All. The. Time. Needing spells that turned their hands into flatirons reversed, or Chameleon Ghouls unstuck from their backs. Whatever it is that’s happening, someone will figure it out. Simplify your questions, what do you need to know first about what’s happening?’

Ginny gawked at the mirror, her cheeks turning bright red as it giggled at her reaction. The mirror was right, this was St. Mungo’s. She needed information. Even basic information would help, and starting somewhere, anywhere, started on finding answers. She and Bill looked ten years or so younger. So, ‘I need to know the date.’

‘I’m not a Healer, I’ve only been listening to them prattle on for 300 years or so. But, yes, orientation to time. Well, that gorgeous redhead with the fang earring brought a newspaper with him. That should provide today’s date. By the by, do you know if he’s available?’

Ginny stared at the mirror. Of course! The Prophet, I should have thought of that, she thought. Then she asked herself, is this younger Bill available? He’d mentioned his wife would be unhappy if he helped her out of bed. Presuming his wife to be Fleur, why would she be unhappy?

‘Um, no, actually, he isn’t available, he’s married.’ She nearly laughed at the mirror’s huge sigh.

‘Why are all the good ones taken already? Never mind, I suppose that’s rhetorical,’ the mirror said.

‘Uh, yeah, well, thank you for the suggestion. I, uh, don’t know if I’ll see you again. I rather hope I get out of here soon.’

‘Right, sweetie, so do I if you’re feeling better. And I hope you find what you’re looking for, too,’ came the reply. Ginny shook out the hospital robes around herself, gathering the back to make sure it closed, and stepped out of the loo. She froze from the icy glare aimed at her by the blonde and rather pregnant Healer standing just inside the door to the hall. Bill looked between the two women, his expression struggling between trepidation, mirth, and relief that Fleur’s focus now rested entirely on his sister.

Mais enfin! What are you doing out of bed, Ginny?’

Ginny’s jaw dropped. Definitely Fleur’s voice, and again a younger face. She shook her head once, gathering her wits. ‘I needed to use the loo.’

‘We ‘ave spells for that, you should ‘ave called someone. Bill, you should ‘ave called someone. Or at least ‘elped your sister walk instead of sitting there.’

Merlin's balls, her accent’s getting thicker, she’s really pissed, Ginny thought, taking a step towards the bed. ‘I told him he could either get me out of bed or change the sheets, Fleur, that’s how urgent it felt. And he did help me walk to the loo. I feel fine.’ Bill stood quickly, reaching for Ginny’s arm and she waved him off with a glare. Still he stepped next to her until she turned and sat on the edge of the hospital bed. Fleur stepped around, pushing Bill back with a firm hand.

‘That remains to be determined,’ she said. Her wand came up and the room dimmed, then with a whispered, ‘Lumos,’ the tip lit. Ginny squinted slightly at the relative brightness as Fleur peered at her face, moving the wand slightly off to the side, then quickly to Ginny’s opposite eye. She repeated the checks a few times, then the wand extinguished and the room lights came back up. ‘Follow the tip of the wand, s’il vous plat!’ Fleur continued to watch Ginny’s eyes as she moved them to track the wand tip from side to side. ‘Merci. You may stop now,’ she said.

Fleur’s wand began moving through a mesmerizing series of sweeps and twists, rising and falling. Ginny’s eyes, captivated by the movements for the diagnostic spells, missed the blonde eyebrows slightly squinched together in concentration. Finally, the wand returned to Fleur’s robes, and her sister-in-law stepped back.

‘Do you ‘ave any pain?’

Ginny shrugged slightly. ‘ Some muscle aches across my ribs. I’ve felt much worse at times. My head doesn’t hurt any more,’

Fleur nodded, apparently satisfied, and waved for Ginny to sit back further on the bed. Ginny started to refuse, then acquiesced at the fierce look from the icy blue eyes. She scooted up onto the mattress and leaned back against the pillows which Fleur fluffed slightly. Bill sat back into the chair as the two witches regarded each other, Fleur’s chin in the palm of one hand, index finger along the side of her face.

‘You do appear to be recovered. What do you remember?’

Ginny looked between Fleur and Bill, a tangible pressure in her chest pushing her to simply snatch that Prophet and look for the date. Her eyes settled on this younger Fleur before her in Healer’s robes. She’d watched Harry on the receiving side of healing wandwork far too often, and from some of the best. She’d felt diagnostic magic as well, too many times to count. Ginny doubted not one second this Fleur stood proudly in that group.

As such, she also knew this Fleur swore an Unbreakable Vow to protect her patients, and any information about them.

But, wherever, no, whenever she was, what her answers could be would sound like the ravings of a deranged witch. She couldn’t remain silent. Fleur would pressure her for an answer shortly.

She needed more information. Deciding, she let out a breath she hadn't known she was holding. ‘BIll?’ He looked at her, and she gestured to the paper. ‘Can I see that, please.’

Bill handed over the closed newsprint, glancing at Fleur’s frown with the diversion. One small spot on the masthead grabbed Ginny’s focus, narrowing her vision to a tunnel as the room faded off to the sides. Silence pressed in like a poorly cast Muffliato.

Thursday 4 July 2002.

‘Oh, bloody hell,’ she whispered, her already pale skin blanching.

Nine years.

Nine years of marriage. Six of those years, with the Harpies and driving more and more successful seasons. Seven of them celebrating one and more of their children's birthdays, of nieces and nephews. Eleven years with Harry, even given most of the year before the Battle she didn’t know how or where he fared. A Dementor entering the room could not drive cold chills up and down her spine harder than the shiver she experienced. What unknown, terrible thing happened?

She closed her eyes, reaching inside herself to that faint sense of Harry. Stroked it lightly with internal fingers, the taste of fear that even that non-touch would sever the vital connection a hot and bitter flavor. Harry, where are you?

‘Ginny,’ said Fleur.

Like wrenching her feet from thick mud, Ginny tore her eyes from the paper. Her gaze met Bill’s, eyebrows knit close in concern, then looked over to her sister-in-law’s pale blue eyes.

‘I remember playing Quidditch,’ she said. Soft voice, faint voice, desperate voice trying to avoid making ripples in the calm cool pond Fleur’s presence provided.

‘Yes, the championship match with the Bats,’ he said, pulling her attention to him. Her lips pursed tightly, she shook her head no. He leaned forward in the chair, resting his hand on her forearm while taking the paper in his other. Doubts assaulted her again, imagining the reactions should she tell them of her thoughts: No, not a championship match, one nine years later. Head cocked slightly to the left, Bill nodded, his brows knit close. Ginny’s lips moved, no sound coming out.

Then she recalled. Yes, that year after an undefeated season, the Harpies played Ballycastle.

The Bats lost only one match, early on, and that to the Harpies. Ballycastle surprised everyone by defeating powerhouse Puddlemere. Following that match, in an interview Gwenog Jones speculated the only reason the Bats won was because they were the next team to play Puddlemere the week after that stunning upset loss to Holyhead. That fact, coupled to the Bats stinging loss to the Harpies turned the final game into a grudge match. Ginny nearly winced at the old memories of multiple blatchings, most of the fouls not called by the referee. Her current bruises echoed remembered pain from her part in that match, even now. Still, the Harpies Chaser’s pulled ahead in goals. Until the Bats Seeker caught the Snitch and tipped the score by 20 points over Holyhead.

‘You won, Ginny.’ She raised surprised eyes to Bills, confusion painting her face, a slight shake of her head as the memory of her old match stepped aside from the forceful shove of a fresher one. Sharp crack of a well-hit Bludger, a fear-driven mad flight pushing a broom past tolerances to destruction, a hard landing...

‘What?’

‘Yes. Suzy Summers edged the Bats Seeker and nearly pulled the Snitch out of his fingers. The Bludger that hit you got sent your way just after the catch.’ Suzy? Who’s Suzy? Barbara Greyling was our Seeker that year.

She opened her lips to reply, closed them again, nodding gently. ‘That’s… great. But it isn’t the game I was remembering.’ Her eyes flicked between the other two, weighing the risks of sounding insane again, recalling the advice from the mirror. So many strange things at St. Mungo’s.

They will never believe you, started a Voice in her head, and the fierce frown that came to her face as she mercilessly squashed it down into oblivion caused Fleur to take a half-step back. Ginny proverbially twisted the Voice under her heel, turning to her brother.

Early in their visit in Egypt during the summer after her First Year, she woke from a night terror and followed the sound of low voices to find him with their parents. Bill’s face, eyes wide filled with horror as Mum and Dad related what happened to her, added to her fear. She stopped in the shadows, close enough to hear and far enough to not be seen. His descriptions of incidents at various sites avoided being graphic when he convinced their parents that he knew someone to help her get through the night terrors.

She retreated to her bed, face hot with shame, and acted surprised when Bill came into the room to wake her, promising her a special day spent just with him and a friend tomorrow. Bill’s friend did indeed help her start to recover, and the time they spent together in Egypt brought her to realize that even though he’d mostly been away at Hogwarts when she was little, he held a special place in his heart just for her.

With another deep breath, she made her decision. To trust.

‘Bill,’ she started, ‘are there curses that can… disrupt… someone’s place in time?’

Goosebumps formed on her arms and the exposed parts of her back when Bill’s face hardened following her question. Twice before, she saw that same exact expression.

The first time, she’d just hexed one of the Death Eaters during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower and spun at a noise behind her. Bill stood over another one who was slumped against the wall on the floor, bleeding from his nose and the side of his head. Bill was shaking his hand, and obviously hadn’t hexed the Death Eater.

Then during the fighting after Kingsley Shacklbolt’s patronus delivered his message, she’d looked up from hexing someone and Bill aimed his wand over her shoulder. When she turned, Amycus Carrow beat at the bats around his head, emerging from his nose, from the same spell Bill taught her years before, that summer in Egypt.

She reached forward and rested her palm on his forearm, the hairs there standing erect, his pulse against her fingertips in the crook of his elbow racing.

‘I don’t know that I was,’ she said, watching him deliberately slow his breathing at her touch. ‘That’s the thing of it; I don’t know what’s happened. I need more information. What I do know is this: you and Fleur, you’re younger than you should be. I’m younger as well. And the date on this paper…’ She waved the Prophet between the three of them. She looked back to Fleur, to the calming pool of her eyes. ‘I’ve got lots of memories, even for just before whatever happened to put me in St. Mungo’s. But based on what Bill just said they aren’t the memories you’re going to have of me.’

‘What do you remember?’ Fleur’s voice brushed Ginny’s skin as a warm, gentle Summer breeze, and.her eyes glowed Blue like a calm Spring sky. The calm she radiated filled Ginny when Fleur asked that question.

‘Where’s Harry?’ she responded, rather than reveal any differences yet.

‘George said you called for someone named Harry, and that Fred told him the same thing,’ said Bill. Ginny turned back to him, furrowed brow relaxing as she gathered her wits. Fred. She remembered speaking to his ghost in the night. Was he not a ghost, then? ‘James, Teddy, Al, Harry- who are they, Ginny? George and Fred are wondering if you’re holding out on the family about relationships; you’ve always told us you’re too busy with the Harpies and Quidditch to date just now. “Just now” is going on three years.’

Ginny looked down, hiding the uncertainty that maybe, possibly, that Voice… no. ‘What was the weather like on 17 March?’ She brought her eyes back up, looking between the two of them, a thickening in the air making their confusion palpable.

‘Overcast, light rain in the morning,’ replied Fleur, ‘though it cleared off in the afternoon. Why, Ginny? What does that ‘ave to do with your memory?’

‘Because I remember steady rain all day, sometimes heavy. And because it’s a very important day to me.’ She turned to Bill. ‘Where’s Harry? He should be here unless there is something major going on.’

Bill shook his head gently. ‘Who is Harry?’ His eyes widened suddenly, face filled with incredulity. ‘Wait… the Boy Who LIved? Your crush?’ Ginny nodded. ‘Hardly anyone’s seen Harry Potter since the Battle of Hogwarts.’

‘Was he…’ She couldn’t go on, her eyes shiny, stinging. Bill shook his head again.

‘No, he wasn’t injured, or not severely. He took down He Who Was Never Named. It’s just he disappeared after his parents were killed. There’d been stories, rumors, but no confirmed sightings before he showed up at the Battle.’

She turned to Fleur. ‘The Healer with the Harpies, she learned Legilimency as part of her training. She says most Healer’s do, but can’t use it without consent.’

Fleur nodded. ‘Oui. It is like everything else we do; the benefits must outweigh the risks. Why do you bring this up?’

Ginny again looked between the two of them. ‘I, Ginny Pot… Ginny Weasley consent for you, Healer Fleur Weasley to use Legilimency as I answer questions and tell you my memories. You’ve examined me recently, and know I am of sound mind.’ She turned to Bill. ‘What I tell you, it’s going to sound like I’m a nutter. But something happened.’ She turned back to Fleur.

‘On 17 March, 2002, I married Harry James Potter, at my parents home known as The Burrow. Our entire family attended. We’ve been married nine years with three children, James, Albus, and Lily. Teddy Lupin, Harry’s godson whose parents were both killed in the Battle of Hogwarts, lives with us as well.’ She turned to Bill, his mouth now agape, and watched as he sat back into the chair.

The blue eyes hardened into ice as Fleur considered her. Then she took her wand in hand. ‘Legilemens.’ Ginny felt Fleur’s gentle touch as she walked through Ginny’s memory of that Sunday afternoon, in the sitting room of the Burrow. Then, reverently, Fleur whispered. ‘Bon sang de bonsoir.’

Bill turned to his wife, their eyes meeting in a silent conversation. Ginny’s heart pounded in her chest. Slowly, his eyes focused on something, somewhere else than here, forehead furrowed in thought. Then he turned to Ginny.

‘Curses, I don’t know of any off the top of my head. Time-turners, on the other hand, but those are limited.’

‘And all the Time-turners in Great Britain were destroyed in early June, ‘96,’ Ginny replied. Bill gawked.

‘How do you know that?’

‘I was there.’

He shook his head forcefully. ‘No, you were too young. Mum wouldn’t let either you or Ron do anything… Oh.’ He and Fleur locked eyes again, and he nodded. ‘It’s not simply something she believes, is it?’

Certainement, she believes. She believes because it is the truth for 'er.’

Bill turned back to Ginny, his eyes shining and lips parted slightly, then reverently, ‘Merlin’s hairy balls!’

Ginny broke into laughter, gripping her sides instantly where bruised ribs complained, unable to stop. She rocked on her seat, face turning between her two relatives, both of their expressions filled with concern. As her laughter slowed, Ginny gasped out in Molly’s voice, ‘Language, Bill.’

Bill and Fleur’s lips lips quirked up at the corners. Bill started laughing first, joined in a second by Fleur and then again by Ginny. A knock on the door followed by it opening stilled them. ‘We’ll continue this later,’ Bill said.

‘Good morning,’ said the tall Healer that entered. ‘Sounds like someone is recovering nicely.’ Ginny turned to face him, taking in salt and pepper hair, more grey at the temples than black, and a calm grin. Fleur nodded to him deferentially.

Bonjour, ‘ealer Treelop. Yes, she is feeling better. Ginny, this is ‘ealer Treelop. He is your admitting ‘ealer, the first to see you when you arrived from Wales.’ Ginny nodded, noting the hint.

‘Good morning, Healer Treelop, and yes, I do feel better. Some aches from these bruises, but no head pain. I’ve even been to use the loo and didn’t fall over.’ He chuckled at that, stepping around in front of her.

‘Healer Weasley, might I presume you’ve already examined our patient?’

Oui, but only because I found her coming out of the water closet and was concerned.’

‘And what did you find?’ Ginny watched calmly as his wand began the same series of charm movements, felt the warmth of magic flowing over and around her.

‘The bruises she mentions, yes, but ‘er bones did knit properly. There is no pressure within ‘er ‘ead, so no ‘emorrhage from the concussion. There are no physical signs that she is in pain, blood pressure and heart rate are consistently normal. She does ‘ave some mild memory loss, also consistent with the head injury.’ His own examination ended as Fleur finished. Ginny looked at a serious face with grinning eyes that belied the expression.

‘I concur. I am willing to discharge you today, Miss Weasley, with the one provision that you not be alone for the next couple days at home. Or wherever you can make arrangements to be. Can you do this?’ Ginny glanced at Bill briefly, eyes imploring for a hint.

‘Mum will be happy to put you up at the Burrow,’ he said, eyes twinkling. She shook her head in response, remembering the conversation between George and Mum she overheard during the night.

‘No. She’ll just use this as more fuel to tell me I should quit Quidditch,’ she said.

Healer Treelop laughed. ‘Oh, please don’t do that, Miss Weasley. I need to thank you. Healer MacIntyre will be taking my next three on-call nights because of our wager on the game, due to you.’ She nodded back. ‘Somewhere else, then. Any of your teammates available to stay with you?’

She paused a moment, thinking. ‘No, by now they’re all off starting their post-season holiday. As I would be if this hadn’t happened.’ It wasn’t, exactly, a lie. She didn’t know if any of the current Harpies matched those she’d played with, but in her time they would all be on holiday by the first day after the season ended.

‘You can come to Shell Cottage, Ginny,’ said Fleur, and Bill nodded as well. ‘After all, I am starting a few days off, and will be there if you need me.’

‘I’ll call Mum as soon as we get you settled, then let her know you’re all right and Fleur is seeing to you,’ Bill added. Healer Treelop nodded.

‘Very good then. I’m afraid it’s your uniform that’s in the side cabinet there, but feel free to get dressed while I go write up your discharge orders and instructions. I’ll include a pain potion if you need it, and you are not to do strenuous exercise for a couple weeks. That shouldn’t be a problem since you mention postseason holidays. Thank you again for helping with my little wager, even if you didn’t know you were. MacIntyre is far too much a Bats fan.’ With an exchange of general pleasantries between them, Healer Treelop closed the door behind him.

Bill opened the bedside cabinet and took out Ginny’s uniform robes, cleaned (which surprised her) and folded. She stood and took them from him, gesturing towards the loo again. ‘I’ll just, and you and Fleur can start getting whatever else is here ready, right.’ Bill nodded, then gently pulled her into a hug.

‘Mum’s wrong about trying to make you stop playing, Ginny, you truly are brilliant at it. But she’s right as well. This is the worst you’ve been hurt so far. Scared all of us, it did.’ He looked into her eyes, then, ‘Er, even …’

‘Even if I’m not quite the sister you expected to see this morning?’

Eyes darkening, lips firm, he nodded. ‘Yeah. Even if.’ She hugged him back, surprised at herself. This isn’t the Bill I grew up knowing, she thought, and yet everything he did matched what she expected. She pushed out of his embrace and closed the bathroom door behind her.

‘How did it go, dear?’ She looked into the mirror, nodding. ‘So you’re going home, then. Good. Will you put in a good word with that fit redhead, please?’

Chuckling, Ginny pulled off the hospital robe and picked up the uniform trousers. ‘His wife is expecting a child, I seriously doubt he’s interested, sorry.’ Feeling slightly odd about sudden modesty, she turned away from the mirror.

‘You’d be surprised, sweetie, sometimes that’s the best opportunity.’ GInny looked back over her shoulder to reply, but nothing came out. Muscles tensing slightly to turn her torso a bit more away, she blinked at the smooth, freckled expanse of her back. Again. No lacework scars from a conjured whip. Sighing, she turned away and pulled the trousers up, thinking This younger Ginny is luckier than I. They didn’t whip her.

Dressed, she stepped back into the room and stopped at the look both Bill and Fleur gave her. ‘What?’

‘Do it again,’ said Bill.

‘Do what again?’

‘Say something like Mum.’ Ginny’s brow knit briefly, puzzling out why Bill would ask that, then she grinned wickedly. She shook her head.

‘No, since despite how much we love her…’

‘Despite her carrying us for nearly nine months…’

‘Then giving birth…’

‘And watching us grow…’

‘She still can’t tell us apart for some reason.’

Fleur’s laugh chimed through the air. Bill’s jaw dropped, eyes wide, shaking his head slowly. ‘That was Fred and George!’

Non, non, mon amour. That was George first, then Fred! C'est magnifique!’' Ginny winked in reply.

‘How long have you been able to do that?’ Bill continued to shake his head incredulously.

‘I’ve always been able to tell the twins apart,’ said Ginny. Slowly, Bill’s mouth closed, his eyes glinting.

‘No, I meant being able to sound like them, or Mum.’

Ginny smiled gently ‘‘All my life,’

‘You really are and aren’t the sister I grew up with,’ he said, and Fleur nodded. Looking between the two, understanding swept across Ginny. His sister either didn’t, or couldn’t mimic others as she could. Then he nodded. ‘Come on, let’s get you to our house before Mum shows up, so I can honestly tell her you aren’t here and you’re supposed to rest quietly. We can start sorting this all out there’ Ginny nodded, and Bill held out his hand with her yew wand. Taking it from him, she felt the tingle running up her arm from her fingers, the sense of completeness holding her wand gave her. She turned to her brother and sister-in-law.

‘Let’s go,’ she said.

Back to index


Chapter 4: Chapter 4

When the familiar extremely unpleasant navel-inverting pull of the portkey spewed them out, Ginny staggered. She managed a few steps in the face of the sudden head pain and nausea, stopped at the push of moisture-laden wind. The salty tang tingling in her nostrils eased the nausea from her spinning head, reminding her that something had indeed injured this younger body. She reached up and shook out her hair, reveling in the tug and pull, the ends snapping flag-like in the offshore winds. Walking to the low stone wall that separated the front garden of Shell Cottage from the bluff bought her some more time to settle. Below, green waves rose into frothing peaks, breaking with a booming shwaash on the rocky beach. She closed her eyes to the stinging, leaning into the song and dance of the air and sea.

Bill arranged the transport with St. Mungo’s, citing Ginny’s desire to avoid publicity. She no longer thought about reporters much. Her own desire for celebrity, years of Quidditch fame, and her outgoing personality provided an ability to deflect them from her husband who still judged them from his Hogwarts experiences.

Harry. With the thought of his absence the firm, gentle tug of awareness surged within her. She rested her palms on the rough stone, leaning into the wind. Reopening her eyes, she followed the mesmerizing march of rolling green, the regularity further settling her, the sounds easing the ache between her eyes.

Small fingers lightly wrapped her elbow as Fleur joined her, gazing out over the ocean at the scattered sunbeams breaking through gaps in the scudding clouds. Fleur leaned into her, their pressed sides warming quickly once blocked from the heavy breezes. Ginny rested her head softly against her sister-in-laws. ‘I’ve always loved coming to visit your home. It’s part of why I chose and bought my own home on Cymyran Bay.’

‘When did you buy a house, Ginny?’ Ginny straightened with a start, her heart skipping a beat.

‘I … I suppose I haven’t, then, here and now. For me, almost ten years ago now. It’s a lovely cottage, Harry loves it, though he felt a need to add chickens. We’ve enough bedrooms for all of us. There’s an ensuite for ourselves, so the children use the other bath.’ She squeezed her eyes shut at the sudden sense of absence, blaming the wet that ran down her cheeks on the wind. Where are you, Harry? I feel you…

With a gentle tug on her arm, Fleur urged Ginny into turning her back to the surf and wind. ‘Viens, ma chre sur, we will go in, Bill already starts breakfast.’ Fleur held her close as they walked towards the house. Ginny briefly took in the gentle smile on Fleur’s face.

‘You and… your Ginny, are you close, then?’ she asked.

Fleur nodded, regarding Ginny. ‘Oui, ma sur, are you and I not close?’

Ginny’s face warmed and she looked back towards the house, the walls covered with sea shells pressed into the stuco. ‘We are now. We were not at first.’ Fleur’s lilting laugh carried joy through the air, Ginny smiling back. They rounded the house and stepped in through the back door to the kitchen, where Bill looked up from the cooktop and the scrambled eggs he stirred. Fleur motioned for Ginny to sit at the table, and Fleur grinned mischievously as she poured tea.

‘Bill, Ginny just told me that, in ‘er other life, she felt I stole you away from ‘er.’ Ginny’s face grew hot as Bill glanced over, a wicked Prewett grin gleaming at her.

‘I can see that. I’m her favorite brother, and she’s my favorite sister.’

C'est ta seule soeur.’ Fleur shook her head, mock scowling at Bill. She sat, adding a dollop of cream to her tea, blue eyes regarding Ginny as she sipped. ‘I expect that joke could get old, is that ‘ow the saying goes?’ Ginny chuckled, stirring cream and sugar into her own tea.

‘Not so old as you might imagine. After all, as you said I am their only sister, so there’s no competition.’ Bill plated the eggs and bacon, levitating the three plates to the table before him. He nodded approvingly as Ginny tucked in.

Eyes closed, savoring the cheddar cheese and onions mixed into the eggs, she finished her third mouthful. Opening her eyes she caught Bill’s slow shaking head and grin. ‘What?’

‘If I had any doubt, which I don’t because Fleur is confident, watching you eat would erase any thought that you’re impersonating a Weasley,’ he said. Ginny smirked back.

‘At least I’m not talking to you while eating and spewing food back at you.’

Bill laughed, Fleur now shaking her head ruefully. ‘No,’ said Bill, ‘you’ve always been more serious about actually getting all the food inside you than Ron. He just goes for speed.’

They finished, Fleur levitating the plates to the sink by the window, beginning to clean up after the late breakfast. Ginny felt Bill studying the freckles on her face, his brows furrowed, the atmosphere thickening slightly.

‘What happened?’ His face, now serious, held her eyes.

A series of surreal dreams through a night blended with occasional periods of semi-consciousness flashed through her mind like the Muggle films Harry introduced her to. ‘I don’t know, that’s the problem.’

‘I may not have been clear. I’m looking for anything you remember leading up to you waking in St. Mungo’s that might be this curse you asked me about. You mentioned playing Quidditch.’ Bill rested his arms on the table as Fleur returned and refreshed all their mugs with tea. Ginny sipped, buying time to sort her thoughts, surreal from real. If anything actually was real. Is this all only me dreaming? she wondered, closing her eyes.

‘If you’re dreaming, I feel very awake. Just so you know.’ Ginny jumped at Bill’s voice, eyes opening wide, switching between Bill’s smirk and Fleur’s impish smile lighting her face. Bill’s smirk ended with Fleur pinching his arm. Both witches laughed at Bill’s pained expression.

‘Apparently,’ Fleur purred, ‘you are indeed awake.’

‘I said that aloud?’ They both looked at her, nodding.

Then sunlight warmed her shoulders, her heart thrilling to the joy of simply flying, the vision of her oldest brothers with her husband, her own children with their cousins calming the disturbing pull within her.

‘Family,’ she whispered, ‘at the Burrow for the day and dinner. Enough people wanted to play to make two teams of four. No Seekers, two Chasers, a Beater, and a Keeper, and first team to make 150 wins. George, Ron, Angelina, and Teddy against you, Charlie, Harry, and I.’

‘Charlie was there?’ The anguished surprise filling Bill’s voice shattered Ginny’s thought stream, her eyes opening wider.

‘Why wouldn’t he be? He moved to the Hebrides Islands in 2000.’

‘Charlie hasn’t been back to Britain since he left for Romania after the Battle.’ Bill turned to look out the kitchen window, blinking repeatedly.

‘Why? What happened?’ She looked between Bill’s profile and Fleur, as Fleur reached forward resting her hands gently on Bill’s clenched fists. Light shimmered around her and the air in the kitchen became redolent with the scent of bluebells and foxglove. Ginny watched in awe as Fleur used her Veela heritage, and the muscles around Bill’s eyes and mouth began to relax.

‘I’m sorry, Bill,’ Ginny said. ‘If it’s any consolation, you and Charlie are just as close.’ She stopped cold, thoughts of home and family bringing a surge of longing. Fleur turned to face her, blue eyes glowing and that incongruous sense of Spring calm and peace in this summer month soothing Ginny’s emotions as well. She took a shuddering breath, then calmly exhaled. ‘What happened?’

‘Charlie joined us from Romania a couple days before the Battle. He’d been helping gain support through Europe, was there just to make his report when things came to a head suddenly. During the fighting he, Percy, and Fred took on a double handful of Death Eaters. They’d taken them all down when the wall behind them collapsed. He shoved Fred out of the way, turned to Percy and they both got caught in the avalanche of stone. Charlie’s left leg got crushed, couldn’t be saved. Percy…’

Silence filled the kitchen, thickening the air and slowing the sounds of waves on the shore outside. The meaning of that single word, that name, reverberated in Ginny’s head in synchrony with the waves, like a bell tolling her brother’s passing. All things must balance , she thought. Another thought tickled, nagged at the back of her head. ‘You said much more. More than a leg and a brother?’

Oui, ‘is girlfriend of many years died in the Battle as well. Charlie learned this after the fighting ended.’

‘His face closed up when I told him,’ said Bill. His own voice flat, he looked into Ginny’s eyes, then closed his again and continued. ‘He turned away from us all. He stayed long enough for the funerals, enough to heal his leg and get his prosthesis. Then he went back to Romania. Hasn’t been home since.’

‘Charlie had a girlfriend?’ Both Bill and Fleur turned at the sound of her incredulous voice. Slowly Bill’s lips turned up at the corner. Fleur regarded her more seriously.

‘Your Charlie, is there a lady ‘e is seeing?’

Ginny chuckled. ‘Quite a few, but they’re all dragons. He makes time for family, now he’s in the Hebrides. But I don’t think there’s a witch in his life other than us.’

Bill nodded, then with a big sigh, turned back to Ginny and resumed the conversation. ‘That does sound like Charlie. Surprised all of us when he and Tonks got together.’

‘Tonks? And Charlie?’ Ginny startled slightly as Fleur’s left hand now covered hers in reaction to the younger witch’s surprise.

‘Yeah, on and off, since Hogwarts. The War brought them back together with a will, she relayed Order messages to him and brought his reports as he worked around Europe building support for us,’ Bill said. ‘You knew her too?’

Ginny nodded slowly, images of Tonks stumbling over the hideous troll’s leg umbrella stand beneath Mrs. Black’s portrait, sprouting a pigs nose to amuse her and Ron at the dark kitchen table in Grimmauld’s kitchen filling her memory. ‘She became a good friend. She and her husband named Harry godfather to their son Teddy.’

‘Charlie?’ Bill's voice, heavy with longing, curiosity, hope. Ginny shook her head once.

‘No, Remus Lupin. They both died in the Battle. Charlie wasn’t ever in that picture, with her.’

Bill sighed softly. ‘Lupin killed Greyback after that bastard did this to me,’ he said, waving his hand at the scars on his face. ‘Then someone else killed Lupin.’ He tilted his head at the sudden widening in Ginny’s eyes. ‘What?’

‘Fred,’ she whispered, shaking her head slowly. ‘I remember strange dreams, and some periods when I probably woke up. The first time, Fred was here. I remember telling him I died because I was talking with a ghost.’ Her eyes flicked between Bill’s, Fleur’s. ‘He’s alive, isn’t he?’ Bill nodded. ‘Because, well, because Charlie wasn’t there, at that point in the Battle, and it was Percy that couldn’t save Fred.’ The two Weasley’s paused, each remembering their respective siblings, Ginny wondering what she would feel when she saw Fred again. Bill cleared his throat.

‘Interesting, the things that are the same, and the differences. Let’s get back to business. What else happened the last day you remember there, er, then.’

Ginny chuckled. ‘Bit hard to describe the differences, isn’t it. Well, you lot all take great pleasure finding ways to handicap Harry and I in our pick up games. This time, you and Charlie made us use your oldest brooms, and we played different positions than we usually do.’ She looked between them, then added, ‘Harry is one of the best Seeker’s ever, even better than Charlie. And you already know I played, or play Chaser.’

‘Did it work?’ She tilted her head slightly in reaction to his curious grin and question.

‘You two both groused a bit when the four of us wound up making the same team. You didn’t care when we trounced George, Ron, Angelina, and Teddy.’

Brother and sister laughed, Fleur shaking her head. ‘So you were not hurt during the game itself?’

‘No, Fleur, that happened after. I retired from Quidditch when Lily was born, started writing sports articles for the Prophet, believe it or not. But even though I can do a lot of my work from home, staying with the kids, the paper sends me to nearly all the matches. Hadn’t been able to fly for a while, wanted to stay in the air. George was teaching Teddy some bits about Beating. I think Teddy then hit a solid one that was accidentally aimed straight at Al. I was the only one in a place to do something about it.’

‘That Bludger hit you, then?”

Ginny shook her head at Fleur, then sipped her tea to slow her breathing a bit. ‘No, I caught it. But I destroyed Charlie’s old broom in the process. I guess I hit my head on something in the crash.’

‘Charlie’s Cleansweep from Hogwarts days?’

Ginny nodded to Bill.

‘Merlin, that thing is old. And this happened to you what, nine years from now?’

‘Yes, about that.’ Bill shook his head slowly, eyebrows creased in thought. ‘I think that wasn’t a curse then, just old equipment. Anything unusual in the week or two leading up to this?’ Ginny’s eyebrows knit in turn, thinking back over several busy weeks travelling to games in England, France, and Italy. Perhaps she’d become complacent, so many years after the War. Still, Harry’s work kept them both aware of the number of people who held reasons to wish them harm. Harry insisted she continue to practice Defense magic with him for that reason, something no one outside of her family, and very few of them, knew. Considering the situation, those present would not know.

But it didn’t matter whether or not they knew, what mattered only consisted of she did not remember ever feeling any attempt to charm or curse her over those recent weeks. ‘No. So, what’s next?’

Bill nodded slowly. ‘First, I go in to Gringotts. They’re all right with me being late, I told them family issues. I still need to check in and review current projects. Then I can consult a couple of my colleagues and do some research. You need to rest.’

‘No.’

Both Bill and Fleur pulled back from the expression on Ginny’s face, harder than a diamond, eyes burning into both of them brighter than the sun. ‘Bill, I can’t rest. I need to get back to my husband and children. It’s not… this feels… I am constantly aching, my entire being. Right now it isn’t… I can think, I can act, but it’s only going to get stronger. It’s part of the reason I retired from Quidditch, this feeling would get really bad during extended tours, sometimes Harry had to take time from his work to come see me, it would throw my game off. I won’t do anything strenuous, but I’ve got to do something.’

She sat back in her chair, slowing and deepening her breathing, focusing on an old stain spot on the wall opposite her. She knew this sensation, knew what she needed to do to control it. Control her breathing, focus on the present, right now don’t think about the eleven years together since she and Harry exchanged vows. Vows that bound them together. Vows that…

‘Ginny?’

She wrenched her eyes from the stain spot, looking into the shining calm blue of Fleur's eyes. ‘Are you and ‘Arry soul-bonded?’

‘Soul-bonding is a romance fantasy thing, Fleur, it doesn’t exist,’ said Bill. Fleur kept her eyes on Ginny, a lifeline helping to calm the younger witch as she replied to Bill.

‘Non. They are real. It is true that the romance novels are something else. Soul-bonds are rare, very, very rare. Perhaps once in one hundred years. It is something which ‘Ealers learn about, sinse always, always they ‘appen because of severe magical trauma.’

‘What sort of trauma?’ Bill's quiet voice hung in the air. Fleur and Ginny's eyes remained focused together, Ginny’s breathing easier, muscles relaxing with relief. Then Fleur turned to her husband.

‘Something like what ‘appened with us, mon amour, per’aps. You, being mauled by a werewolf, myself witnessing the death of a beloved sibling due to an ashwinder bite.’ Ginny blinked, her confidence filling her from Fleur’s help.

‘Something like one partner being possessed by a horcrux, and the other partner unknowingly being a horcrux, both from the same individual,’ she whispered.

Bill’s neck crackled loudly his head snapped around so fast. His eyes round in remembered fear, his hand tightened on Fleurs still gripping him. Fleur’s eyes creased in puzzlement.

‘What is an ‘orcrux?’

‘Something beyond dark magic, so incredibly evil… Ginny? Tell me, no, not you. Please, tell me.’ Her brown eyes met his, a trait from their mother they shared. She watched his face become colder, ice seizing his heart, cracking down his chest, out to his fingers when she did not respond.

Bill, qu'est-ce qu'un horcruxe?’

Bill broke his focus on his sister, turning to his wife. ‘It is a piece of a witch or wizard’s torn soul, preserved in a containment vessel of some sort, to achieve immortality. To create one requires a ritual to create the vessel, and a premeditated, calculated murder which tears the soul apart, combined with a spell that finishes the ritual by encapsulating the torn soul fragment in the vessel.’ Fleur blanched at the description, both of the older Weasley’s turning to Ginny. Raw pain etched lines into Bill’s face. Fleur’s held both trepidation and curiosity.

‘What was it? And, you said Harry was one as well? How? Who?’

Ginny took in a deep breath, lungs pressing her diaphragm down, steadying her. ‘A diary,’ she whispered. ‘And yes. Tom Riddle made them. How? I never did want to know how he made them.’

‘Who’s this Tom Riddle? I’ve never heard of him.’

‘He was a half-blood wizard born to a Squib and sired by a Muggle, and yes you have heard of him. He used the letters in his birth name to style himself Lord Voldemort.’ Fleur nodded slightly acknowledging Ginny’s correct French pronunciation of the name.

Bill simply shook his head, struggling still with disbelief. ‘And he made two horcruxes.’

‘Seven,’ Ginny replied, voice flat, emotionless.

‘He made seven horcruxes?!’

She nodded. ‘Harry believes his becoming a horcrux was accidental,’ she said. ‘He thinks Tom only intended to make six, splitting his soul seven ways. When his mother’s death protected him, Tom’s soul segment needed a place to go…’

She watched Bill’s face, mouth working, eyes focused hard upon herself. Then he stood and began pacing between the table and the sink, his hands waving while his lips moved silently, the internal conversation evident only in that. After his third turn, words erupted from his mouth.

‘I first ran into one in Egypt. Some of the ancient pharaohs were also wizards, and that was one of their means to preserve themselves for the afterlife. I was lucky, my mentor recognized it before I picked it up. She told me a story, two Muggle anthropologists in the 1920’s, an American and a Brit, found one buried under an old temple. The events that followed got very, very ugly. They were lucky there was help nearby. And you say the Dark Lord made seven of them.’

‘He planned to make six, splitting his soul into seven parts. I told you, Harry becoming one was accidental.’ Bill stopped, shaking his head. ‘Seven times. No wonder he didn’t even look human at the end.’ He turned to face Ginny. ‘You said, a diary. How did you come by that?’

‘Luc-- someone put it in with my school books when we went to buy them for my First Year.’

‘You were eleven?Oh merciful Merlin. You started saying a name. Lucius Malfoy?’

She nodded. His lips hardened, eyes flintlike. ‘If the son of a bitch hadn’t died in the Battle, I’d kill him now. How did you survive the possession? They always try to reincarnate if that happens.’

‘Harry destroyed it with Basilisk venom.’ Both of the older Weasley’s eyes goggled at that.

‘Basilisks are so rare!’ Fleur gasped. Bill started to speak.

‘It’s a long story, Bill, save it for later, please,’ Ginny said.

He stopped, nodded. ‘One last thing, though. You said Harry was also…’ She nodded. ‘Is he still, or, how isn’t he now?’

She took a long, slow breath. ‘He went to face Tom during the Battle. He went to protect all of us, like his mother did for him. Because Tom made the horcrux, even accidentally, it needed to be Tom to destroy it. He killed Harry. But Harry told me later that while he was dead, he was offered a choice, and he chose to come back, to finish his task. And for me.’ Fleur nodded at that. ‘That’s why I need to get back to him, Bill.’

Bill sat. The air in the room thickened, the only sound from wind lightly rattling window panes. Then his fingers began drumming lightly on the tabletop. Ginny fought a grin, listening to the rhythm of his fingers matching the winds outside. With a sigh, Bill stopped. ‘That’s a lot to take in.’

‘Believe me, Bill, if I didn’t live it, I likely wouldn’t believe it.’ His fingers resumed tapping. She could no longer resist, chuckling and waving her hand. ‘You’re drumming in time with the wind,’ she said. He stopped, looking first at his hand on the table, then at Fleur who also grinned at him.

‘Right.’ He straightened in his chair. ‘I will go to Gringotts. I can inquire with some of my Curse Breaker colleagues there if they know anything I don’t, I’ll tell them it’s for a monograph I’m writing. When I get there, first I need to floo-call Mum to keep her calm. You’re going to take it easy.’

The glare Ginny sent at him would have stunned an erumpent, but Bill simply stood and walked into the sitting room. Ginny started to follow, stopped when Fleur rested a hand on her arm. The feather- light touch, warm palm smooth on the skin of Ginny’s forearm, brought a sense of serenity to her. With an impish grin, Fleur lifted Ginny’s hand and pressed to her swollen abdomen. Immediately a small foot pushed back against the pressure.

‘The little one is dancing this morning, ne c’est pas? Wait for Bill, Ginny. I believe ‘e ‘as a plan forming.’ The foot bounced against Ginny’s palm a second time, she couldn’t help smiling. ‘We married last summer, at the Burrow. In March, we knew,’ Fleur said.

‘In my memory, your wedding was also at the Burrow but on the first of August in ‘97. So this is your first baby.’

‘That is when I started practicing at St. Mungo’s. Bill and I met after the Battle, when ‘is brothers brought ‘im to Hospital with ‘is wounds. We started seeing each other after ‘e recovered.’

Bill returned to the kitchen, setting two books on the table. ‘This is to get you started on your research, Ginny. The first one you can take a big grain of salt about the personal aspects, but Skeeter’s representation of current events is accurate enough. It occurred to me your time may not match ours and this will help you avoid some odd blunders when you do go out. The second one covers some possible curses. Read these to keep busy until after Mum comes to check on you. Fleur, I’m counting on you trumping Mum’s Mother Hen card with your Healer one, yeah?’

Fleur smiled and nodded. ‘If you go up to your room to start reading, Ginny, I will tell Maman Molly that you are sleeping. Maybe it works, maybe not. But if we come up and find you on your bed reading I can be properly annoyed at you, oui?’

Ginny considered the books, while thinking over Bill and Fleur’s comments. She lightly flogged herself mentally for not thinking further what it meant to be in a younger version of herself. All she really knew about changing time included a few stories her brother, Harry, and Hermione told about the year Sirius escaped from Azkaban, and the help they contributed to his surviving from using a time-turner. They emphasized how much effort it took to avoid being seen by themselves and potentially changing things. But time-turner limitations meant her current situation didn’t compare.

What even did happen? Did some curse transport her back in time, or across time into an alternate dimension. Or, something even simpler, this whole experience, simply a dream? Her head throbbed as she considered this, idly opening Road to War: Stairs to Recovery. Whatever she experienced was, past, alternate dimension, or dream, Rita Skeeter seemed to always be present.

But she’d slept, while in St. Mungo’s. People didn’t sleep in their dreams, they dreamed in their sleep.

She caught Bill’s eyes. ‘Mum’s always protective, but is she really going to be that hard to convince?’ The flash of pain in his eyes surprised her.

‘From what you say, you experienced the same war we did, or much like it. For you, you said our family experiences losses, too?’ The parade of faces Bill’s words evoked marched through her memory, some simply faces from her years at Hogwarts, and more, others closer to her, Colin, Remus, Tonks, Dobby, Fred. Even Harry, briefly, the hollow sensation of the void she’d felt starting shortly before Riddle announced Harry’s death sucking her awareness towards a dark place-- No. She would not go there. She could still feel him, somewhere. Her head throbbed in both real and remembered pain.

‘Yes, we did.’

Bill nodded. ‘Mum copes. I need to tell you, though, we all remind her we’re still alive, and she continues to mother-hen all of us. Our best bet is to convince her you’re here to recover because Fleur is here to watch you, and you’re being a good girl and listening.’ He smiled brightly in response to the lightning glare she launched at him. ‘Under duress, of course, grumbling and grumping the entire time. She will not believe us if you don’t.’

The glare flared, forehead frown creases deepening, and, ‘I’m fine, Bill, and there are things I need to do,’ growled between clenched teeth. Ginny’s fingers rubbed her temple lightly.

‘Do you need the pain potion?’ Fleur picked up the stoppered bottle, preparing to uncork it. She stopped when Ginny grinned at her. ‘Oh, tue tes bon. Do that, and we shall not find problems!’

‘I actually could use a bit of that potion, Fleur. Then I suppose I should take these upstairs and get into my role. But I am not sleeping in my Quidditch robes.’

Fleur’s sparkling laugh rang lightly as she levitated a small glass from the cupboard. She poured a small portion, and held it out. ‘I will find you something to wear, oui?’ At Ginny’s scoff, she chuckled again, and as Ginny took the pain potion continued, ‘Nothing too frilly, I promise.’ Ginny nodded her thanks.

Bill tapped Skeeter’s book. ‘Skim this one.’

Ginny nodded. ‘Out of curiosity, who is the current Minister of Magic?’

‘Amelia Bones,’ Bill said.

‘Susan Bones’ aunt?’ The surprise in Ginny’s voice caused Bill to tilt his head slightly, nodding.

‘She’s not, when you’re from?’

‘Kingsley Shacklebolt,’ Ginny replied.

Bill’s face made an Ah. ‘He’s the Head of DMLE now, though some say he may be the next Minister. What is Minister Bones doing, in your… place? Time? This is odd, isn’t it?’

Ginny frowned, nodding. ‘It is, yeah. Not sure exactly what to call it. As for Amelia Bones, she was killed earlier in the war.’ Fleur’s hand rested lightly on her shoulder.

‘I am sorry for ‘er family, then and there. Come. Let us go, and Bill, you go to work now. We shall see you soon enough.’ He opened his arms and she flowed into them, wrapping each other into a hug and a short kiss. Bill stepped back a half step, resting his hand on Fleur’s belly and leaning down. ‘You be good to your mum, LittleOne. Dad will be home soon.’ Then with another quick hug, he left the house. Ginny heard a soft crack of Apparition.

‘Not using the floo?’ Fleur shook her head in reply.

Non. We decided, we do not wish to be on the floo network. Shell Cottage is under Fidle, your family, notre famille, we are a bit famous for your part in the War. Come.’

Picking up the two books, Ginny followed her sister-in-law from the kitchen.

Back to index


Chapter 5: Chapter 5

Friday 5 July, 2002

Steady, gentle shrooshiss of waves on the shore flowed through the open window, tickling GInny’s ears and coaxing her into wakefulness. She stretched her arms over her head and arched her back, breasts pushing against the soft linens, lips curling to a gentle smile. Home , she thought, and rolled onto her side reaching out to snuggle against Harry. Her eyes flew wide at the touch of cold, empty sheets. Only one window, not three let in pre-dawn dusklight, illuminating rosette wallpaper and not the panelled bleached birch walls of her bedroom. Where are you Harry?! Her eyes flicked about the small room nearly filled with the double bed, his clothing absent. Where was she?

At the gentle knock knock knock at the door her hand slid under the pillow, grasping her yew and unicorn hair wand. At least she had her wand. ‘Ginny?’ Fleur’s muffled voice brought focus. Shell Cottage. Not Harry. She bit back the sudden sob at the empty, aching sensations that amplified the need to find him, rejoin her own family. Not quick enough as the door flew open admitting Fleur. With a single look, the older witch sat on the bed and gathered the younger into a tight hug, Ginny’s face pressed to her shoulder.

Thoughts flicked in and out of her awareness, a weight pressing in on her. Deftly fending off Molly’s mothering the previous day between reading Skeeter’s discordant, blistering prose describing the odd differences between her War and theirs. Waking from the surprise nap which, apparently, this Bludger and fall abused body she inhabited insisted upon, a sense of losing precious time to discover how to get back to when she belonged, or where she should go here and now. The constant pull of Harry’s absence tugged her to the edge of a dark precipice, the edge of a shouting void: Teddy. James. Al. Lily. Her head spun, shoulders shaking. She surrendered to the arms pulling her back.

Non, non, tout va bien. Je suis l. Tu es l, ’ Fleur said, one hand supporting GInny’s head against the silk shoulder of her dressing gown, the other stroking Ginny’s bare shoulders. Fleur began rocking gently, ignoring the growing wetness from Ginny’s tears. Ginny wrapped her own arms around her sister-in-law, the warm embrace easing away the empty aching. Gradually she quieted her breathing, finding her center. With growing confidence she pushed herself back, Fleur’s arms relaxing yet still around her, a smooth un-calloused palm on her neck, another between her shoulder blades.

‘I’m sorry,’ Ginny said, wiping the last bit of moisture from her cheeks. ‘I don’t usually let myself cry…’ Fleur’s glowing blue eyes stopped her apology. Her sister-in-law shone, cheekbones accentuated by the slight curve of lips in a small smile. Ginny’s eyes followed as Fleur’s gaze slid down, over her own freckles scattered across her chest and the cream colored tops of her breasts. Followed unable to pause at the pale areolas and soft nipples not yet darkened and firmed by her pregnancies and nursing three babies, and now stiffening at the stroke of blue eyes. Across her freckled abdomen to the red-gold curls between her thighs. Her face grew hot.

Ginny reached to pull up the sheets, only to be stopped by the sight of taught skin across Fleur’s full abdomen in the gap between lapels of her pale blue silk gown, pulled open by Ginny’s movements as Fleur held her and she cried. Her belly rippled as the baby within rolled, calling to Ginny. She rested her palm lightly on warm, smooth skin. A smile blossoming on her face at movement underneath, the touch of life.

With a sudden realization when Fleur’s hand rested on hers, she gasped. ‘I’m sorry, I should have asked first before touching you. That always bothered me when I was pregnant, people thinking they could touch me there.’

Non, non ,’ Fleur replied, voice husky. Ginny’s eyes trailed up, pausing at the swell of breasts, the darkening brown curve of areolas peeking out from under the edges of the lapels. With a start, Ginny brought her gaze back to flaming blue eyes, Fleur leaned closer to Ginny, nostrils flaring to take in GInny’s scent, as her lips parted slightly, drawing her, begging to be kissed. Ginny bit her lower lip, fighting the urge to do so, the intensity of feminine presence around her drowning her resistance.

Tu dors nue ,’ Fleur said. Ginny shivered slightly at the husky voice, and took in a slow, deep breath, lifting her hand away from Fleur. Deep inside herself she heard a wail at the loss of contact. She closed her eyes letting the air out slowly.

‘Yes. I mean, not always. Last night I missed Harry so much. I needed to feel closer to him. When we’re apart, it’s always been a release, picturing him as I ... I’m sorry, Fleur, I didn’t mean…’

Non. Je suis dsol .’ Ginny met Fleur’s gaze again, relief washing over her that the intense glow she’d just experienced dimmed. ‘It is the bb . Usually I am much better at keeping my Veela, what is the phrase, “on a leash?” But, catching your scent, feeling your radiance, and even though Bill and I spent quite a pleasant morning…’ Fleur laughed at the sudden change in Ginny’s expression, the unspoken too much information . Then Ginny sobered, shaking her head slightly.

‘It’s good to know, that you two love each other as much as the two I know,’ she said, budging back and sitting against the headboard. Fleur shifted onto the bed further, her gown opening more. Ginny unabashedly took in the darkening areolas, nipples firming up in preparation for a baby’s suckling, and the triangle of close-cropped blonde hairs below her baby bump between lithe legs. She inhaled sharply at the unexpected stirring within her.

Fleur’s eyebrow arched. ‘Oh, tu aimes les hommes et les femmes ?’ The heat in Ginny’s cheeks flared, and her chest grew warm as well. Fleur’s calm face regarded her in return, a warm smile accentuating light laugh creases at the corners of those captivating blue eyes.

‘You know this? Just looking at me?’ Ginny’s voice came out husky now.

Fleur laughed, a cool brook dancing across small stones and pressed a soft palm against Ginny’s cheek. ‘It is the Veela.’ Her hand waved, elegant fingers curling slightly as if cupping something round, soft. ‘We see the flush, we hear the heartbeat, the musky scent caresses our nose. On ne peut pas cacher l'amour un Veela .’ Her blue eyes caught and locked in an embrace with Ginny’s.

‘But you’re my sister-in-law. I’ve never felt this about you before.’

Fleur shrugged. ‘As I say, the bb she teases my Veela. Keeping her quiet while at hospital is very tiring.’ Her head tilted nonchalantly, lips curving into a gentle, soft smile. ‘Your ‘Arry knows?’ Ginny nodded, her face growing warmer again, lips smirking. ‘And ‘e accepts this in you, cherishes you the more, oui .’

GInny’s lips parted, eyes round at the comment. ‘He told me,’ and stopped, gathering the memories. ‘I felt so scared, it was a rough spot in our relationship because our work separated us for months. I certainly hadn’t been looking for anyone else because of my commitment to Harry. But then Luna visited me. Luna is, well, we both love her, she loves us. When he first found out, he didn’t know it was Luna, and he just looked at me, his eyes empty. Then he left. Later, when we did see each other again, he stopped me explaining and said “You’re not me. I want you to be you.” Then I told him who. He kissed me. “Always room for Luna,” he said. I told him I chose him, I wouldn’t do that to him ever again. “There’s always room,” he said.’

‘Love as you will, ma sur . William and I do, that is 'ow this bb came to be. That is ‘ow you will be reunited, because you love as you do, as you will.’ Her blue eyes flashed, grin becoming wicked. ‘Your brothers Fred and George certainly do as well.’

Ginny’s eyes grew large. ‘Fred and George?’

‘Angelina and Katie, oui . un quatuor coup sr.

Ginny shook her head slowly, her lips curling up wickedly. A surge of joy bubbled up from her center, that had indeed truly been Fred that night at the hospital. Alive, and happy, together with his twin and their ladies. A sudden thought dimmed her happiness slightly.

‘Fleur, you said yesterday you witnessed a sibling dying.’

Fleur nodded.

‘Gabrielle?’

Oui ,’ Fleur said, then followed with a very Gallic shrug. ‘I became a Gurisseuse , a ‘ealer because of this. If I can spare even one family, it is worth doing.’ Their eyes met again, as a window opening to Ginny. ‘It is why I felt drawn to you, to my Bill’s sister. You aren’t Gabrielle, yet you fill some of the 'ole her absence created. We are sisters, Ginny. And now, since you let me into your thoughts, I know that despite this young body you inhabit, you felt your breasts fill with milk, your belly grow large with life. Your ‘Arry and you three times, many more of course, but three times you joined together in love and passion to make bbs . You are beautiful now. I am sure you were gorgeous when enceinte , as I am sure this younger Ginny will be some day as well.’

Ginny shook her head, still unwilling to break eye contact. ‘I was never as beautiful as you, Fleur. I think that’s one reason why I was less than kind when we first met.’ Fleur answered with a Gallic shrug and an impish grin. ‘No, I’m serious. Particularly later in my pregnancies. I felt, so, big, just-’

‘Comme une baleine choue .’ Ginny’s face creased in confusion.

‘I don’t follow that,’ she said. 'What French I speak I picked up from listening to you, and when the Harpies were on tour.'

Fleur’s grin grew larger. ‘Like a floundering whale.’

Ginny laughed, nodding. ‘Exactly.’

Fleur released Ginny from her arms and stood, tightening the blue silk gown around her. Ginny reached for the dressing gown Fleur lent her at the foot of the bed. ‘Come downstairs when you are ready, tea is already on and Bill is again cooking breakfast.’

Ginny arms slid smoothly through silk sleeves, the soft fabric caressing her back as she pulled the gown around herself. Does she own anything not made of silk , she wondered idly, then laughed internally at herself. This Fleur, like the one she knew so long, certainly indulged herself when in private. But the rest of her clothing, while undoubtedly elegant, would be practical. She turned to the door where Fleur waited for her, watching unabashedly while Ginny crossed the fronts of the gown and tied the sash.

‘You feel better, non ? After thinking about your ‘Arry while pleasuring yourself last night, then sharing this with your sister?’

Ginny stepped to the older witch, nodding her head then pulling her into a gentle hug.

Fleur pulled her head back, gently kissing both Ginny’s cheeks. ‘Bien . Then let us go downstairs.’

Bill looked up while plating pancakes as they entered the kitchen. ‘You’re timing is perfect. Though I was wondering if I’d need to send up a patronus.’ Fleur’s laugh flew about the room as Bill levitated the plates to the table, already set with tea and pumpkin juice. She kissed him lightly on his lips and ear.

‘You would not dare interrupt our sisterly bonding,’ she whispered, and Ginny laughed as his face flushed. ‘Mais je savais que tu nous attendais .’ He held her chair as she sat. Ginny didn’t wait, and reached for the butter and sugar dishes as she sat.

‘What is your plan today, Ginny?’ She finished her mouthful before answering. Initially rushing, she slowed her chewing down at the glimpse of impatience in Bill’s eyes.

‘I need to go look in a couple places, the public records in the Ministry and the offices of the Prophet. You’re right, Skeeter’s book is helpful on the overall scenario, but I don’t believe a bit of her speculations.’

‘Did you find anything I might have missed in Obscure Curses ?’ He told both of them yesterday, after Molly returned to the Burrow, that he didn’t uncover anything in his own readings. He did send inquiries to a couple associates that worked with some of the more esoteric aspects of his field. Ginny shook her head in response when he looked up. ‘So as to this being a curse of some sort, we’re still not sure.’ He looked up when she didn’t respond. He inhaled sharply at her sudden paleness, reached out and rested a hand on her forearm. ‘We’re going to figure this out, Ginny.’

She nodded, squeezing his hand before taking another bite. She concentrated on the tang of buttermilk, zing of sweet, earthy wheat as she chewed to regain her composure. ‘I need to get back, Bill. Whatever that means, if the Ginny you know returns or not, I’m sorry but I don’t want to resist this pull .’

‘But what if you can’t, Ginny. What’s your Plan B?’ Looking into his serious face, corners of his eyes creased, brow knit, the sudden memory of asking Harry that same question flooded her. She laughed at the incongruity, sobered when he frowned deeper. ‘Sorry. It’s just, I asked Harry that, about his work, the day we got engaged.’

‘That’s all right. What, uh, what does Harry do? Your Harry.’

Ginny sat straighter, unconscious that she did so, pride in Harry’s accomplishment. ‘He’s an Auror. The Head Auror, actually.’

Bill tilted his head, thinking. ‘Sort of young for that, isn’t he? How old are you?’

She glanced quickly between Bill and Fleur, suspecting her own face reflected theirs at the awkwardness, discussing multiple time tracks. ‘I’m 29. Just like here, or now, Harry’s a year older than me. And he received his promotion three years ago. In fact…’ She glanced at Fleur, who’s blue eyes flashed back at the mischief in Ginny’s. ‘In fact, his promotion is responsible for our daughter Lily. We, um, we forgot to do something that evening, continuing our celebration after a good bit of wine with dinner.’

Bill set his pumpkin juice down suddenly, coughing. Clearing his throat, he nodded. ‘You got me on that. I’m still adjusting to my baby sister claiming a husband, much less being a mother of three.’ He glared at Fleur, the smile belying any anger. ‘You could have warned me.’

Fleur’s nose rose with a haughty lift, and she smiled at Ginny. ‘We witches understand loving much more easily than wizards do,’ she scoffed. ‘Usually,’ she added at his hurt look.

He turned back to Ginny. ‘Back to my question, though. What will you do if we can’t find a way back for you, if you’re stuck here, now?’

Ginny closed her eyes, relaxing, stilling her breathing. Yes, she still felt that pull . Harry, somewhere, some when, hanging on with her children, anchoring her place in the world. But Bill was also right. She’d been right, when she’d asked Harry about his Plan B. Life happened while people made plans, the world didn’t care about those plans, it cast slings and arrows willy-nilly. She might not be able to get back to her time, her place. If this isn’t a dream and will all be over when I wake, she thought. But I’ve slept, here, last night. You don’t sleep in your dreams .

‘That’s part of my plans for today,’ she said. ‘I need to follow some leads from what I read in Skeeter’s book. There’s hints in it, things you don’t know. There are people mentioned that died in my time, but there are a lot more that share … both times. So I need to follow up on those leads.’

‘What leads?’ She turned to Bill, shook her head.

‘Nothing really big. Look up some public records on ownership of properties, look through old issues of the Daily Prophet . Then I need to go into Muggle London, possibly some other places, to look for some other information. You confirmed, Harry is alive here, now. Skeeter’s book says he simply disappeared from the Wizarding world when his parents were killed. She hints at a few things, but she doesn’t know, and none of her hints match what I know. In my place, my time, Harry was sent to live with his aunt’s family, his mother’s sister. That’s one thing I want to follow up.’

Bill considered her, his thoughts mulling rather visibly across his face. ‘All right. How good are you at glamors? Our whole family is fairly recognizable from the War. You even more so, from Quidditch. You might not want to be interrupted too much.’

‘Pretty good actually. Used them a lot during my sixth year at Hogwarts.’ She sighed softly at the chill that comment brought into the room. ‘Anyway, I’ll head out after breakfast. Where’s a good safe apparition point?’

Bill nodded. ‘You can side-along with me if you want, into Gringotts. Might be helpful to get a bit of money from your account. And I don’t expect any problems, since no one else knows you’re not exactly who they expect.’ Ginny nodded, and returned to her breakfast with a will. It was going to be a long morning.

Back to index


Chapter 6: Chapter 6

Ginny decided to visit the Daily Prophet offices first, reasoning that the Ministry discouraged Wizarding citizens visiting those offices while under a glamour charm. Since she didn’t have the ID card she usually wore when she went to the Prophet offices for work, she needed to check in for a visitor pass. She smiled at the receptionist witch, whose name badge flashed a myriad rainbow of colors “Sarah Blankenship” at her. Sarah Blankenship barely gave the auburn-haired freckle-free witch in front of her a glance as she responded to Ginny’s request for the back issues archive with a bored, ‘Third floor, back of the building.’

She took the lift, muscles still aching from whatever happened to this younger Ginny at the end of the game with the Bats. It proved as rattly as her recent experiences in her own time and place, but nowhere near as exciting a ride as the Ministry lifts. She nearly stumbled walking through the door into the Archives at the sight as Marge looked up from her desk, her tall blue beehive hair bobbing and waving. ‘Can I help you?’ Ginny couldn’t help but smile at the sparkling friendliness in the honeyed gravel voice.

‘Yes, um, Marge,’ Ginny replied, making a point to read the other witch’s name badge. ‘I’m researching for a book about Hogwarts during the ‘97-98 school year, and some of the events leading up to it. I need to look through some old newspapers from then, and probably from 1981 through ‘85 or so, please.’

‘We can do that. You seem a bit young to be writing a book, though.’ Marge stood and walked around her desk, beckoning Ginny to follow. They approached a large wooden cabinet with hundreds of small drawers. Marge waved her wand briefly, and several drawers slid open. She started rifling through the cards inside.

‘Well, I didn’t think I would, but several of my friends tell me I should based on my party stories about that year,’ Ginny said. It was at least partly true. Harry kept telling her she should write a book, saying it would be a lot more accurate than anything Skeeter wrote.

Marge looked up at her briefly. ‘Were you there?’

Ginny nodded.

‘Oh, you poor dear. My cousin’s daughter’s third child was there. His first year, it was. I’m so glad that brave Mr. Potter took care of You-Know-Who.’ Marge whispered the name, glancing around as she did so, then looked back into the card file. She wrote a few glowing notations in the air with her wand before shifting further along the cabinet to the next set of open drawers. Whiffling through those cards quickly, she waved her wand to quickly add more floating glowing notes. She straightened, and the open card files slid shut with loud squeaks. ‘Those should do. Some of these are 20 years old, and all of them are microfilms. Have you used those before?’

‘Yes, I have actually. Isn’t the viewing spell amplificus?’

‘You’ll be fine then.’ Marge turned to her floating notations, tapped each once with her wand. ‘Just follow these, then. They’ll start you off with the most recent ones. If that feels odd, you can tell them “timeline” and they’ll start from the beginning. I’ll be at my desk, just holler if you’ve got any questions.’ She waved cheerily and left Ginny nodding to herself before looking at the floating notes. This earlier Marge felt exactly the same as the Marge she knew.

‘Let’s be about it, then,’ she said to the shining notes, then scurried after them as they flew around the corner of another stack of cabinets. They came to a stop halfway down the row, the first glowing note sinking to stop by a drawer, which slid open slowly revealing the familiar cacophony or semi-transparent strips, fidgeting and rustling against each other, the tiny images of pages dancing about in a blur, small voices calling “Read Me! Read Me!”

‘Hush, now, you’ll all get your chance,’ she said to them, and the noise level diminished a bit though the strips continued hopping in place. Smiling, Ginny tapped the note for this drawer with her wand. Three strips leapt free, weaving giddily through the air until they reached the top of the cabinet. She moved her wand through the charm whispering ‘Amplificus,’ and the full-sized articles she wanted hung in the air before her. She began skimming the pages.

The morning continued in this manner, the first of the old editions she looked into confirming much of what she already read in Skeeter’s book. The Hogwarts students that year served mostly as hostages for their family’s good behavior. The Carrow’s proved just as cruel, though they restricted themselves to using magical punishments rather than anything Muggle. Ginny did read with some surprise they were a married couple. The Carrows in her life had been brother and sister.

The one thing she found that Skeeter hadn’t used was a grainy photograph, slightly blurred and obviously taken with a telephoto lens, of Harry and an older man as they lay a wreath at the Memorial Obelisk at Hogwarts on the first anniversary of the battle. Only one point in the magical photo was clear enough to make out Sirius’ face. She closed her eyes to ease the salty burning sensation when she confirmed her friend, Harry’s godfather, survived the War.

Once she finished with specific strips, she banished them back into their drawers, then continued on to the next set. The news in years leading up to the Battle,all merely confirming the slow increase in magical terrorism and Voldemort’s corporal return in early ‘95. It saddened her to learn Cedric Diggory died, transported away from Hogwarts by a Quidditch Cup turned portkey. His body was found in the Little Hangleton graveyard, magical residue revealing this to be the place Voldemort completed that ritual.

The lack of solid information about Harry disappointed her. What items she did find speculated on the Great Mystery about where he was. The largest amount concerned the speculation about his going to Hogwarts in '91, followed by a great deal of moaning when he did not.

Done reading about the years as the War escalated, she used Marge’s suggestion to continue the search from the beginning. A Special Edition on 31 October 1981 declared the Dark Lord’s Fall. Issues following mentioned very little about Harry other than that he survived, and rumors he was sent to live with relatives. All of those presumed magical relatives, rather than the truth Ginny knew.

More interesting to her, she found a report in June of 1985 about Sirius Black’s escape from Azkaban, a month and a bit before Harry’s birthday. Harry would be five that year , she thought. Since no other mentions contained specific information about Harry until the Battle, she wondered and decided she needed to visit a Muggle newspaper office as well.

All of the old papers returned to their miniature size and storage place, she thanked Marge for her help and left the Prophet offices, apparating to the alleyway outside the Ministry guest entrance. She removed her glamor after sinking below street level in the telephone booth, and processed into the Ministry in the normal manner. Her presence didn’t seem to arouse a bit of notice, other than the wizard weighing her wand wishing her, ‘Good day, Miss Weasley, and I’m glad to see you out and about after that game.’ She took the lift to the Department of Public Records.

This part of her search yielded three important bits of news, as it were. First, that her brothers still owned Number 93, Diagon Alley. But they used the building to make their jokes and pranks, and as the headquarters for their owl-order business. The second listed the owner of the Apothecary as one H.J.P. Evans.

Ginny blinked twice at the sudden blurriness of those words. She caressed them with her fingertips. Swearing she felt an electric tingle, like a portkey beginning to activate, she pressed down. But no hook grabbed her navel, no pipeline to his side sucked her in.

But she knew. Harry owned the Apocathery on Diagon Alley. She filed this solid lead in her memory.

The last item involved a witch, the clerk in the office. She stopped Ginny as she turned her materials back over for filing. ‘Miss Weasley,’ she said,’ I know you don’t know me from Dumbledore. I’m Diana Wright. My daughter Colleen is a huge fan, this feels terribly rude, but could I get your autograph for her? Please?’

Ginny smiled, taking the proffered piece of parchment and quill. ‘How old is she?’

Clerk Wright beamed at her. ‘She turned thirteen this year. My husband had tickets for one of your games on her eleventh birthday, but then he got called in to work unexpectedly. She was ever so disappointed.’ Dipping the quill in the inkpot, Ginny paused before she scrawled on the parchment: ‘Know who you are. Know what you do. And do it with excellence. Best always and thank you for being a fan, GInny Weasley.’ Out of habit she almost wrote Potter, stopping at the last instant. Politely accepting Mrs. Wright's profuse thanks, she left the office.

On impulse she took the lift to the Auror’s Office. The wizard behind the desk looked up as she entered, kindly eyes in a grizzled face and hair more salt than pepper. ‘May I help you?’ His baritone reminded her a bit of Kingsley. His name badge read "B. Miller", and Ginny reflected on another similarity between this here and now and her own, well, whatever.

‘Yes, I need to report some maybe suspicious activity and I’ve been told by a neighbor to ask for Auror Potter.’

His brow furrowed in thought, regarding her. ‘We’ve no Auror Potter working here. Are you quite sure that is the name your neighbor said?’

Ginny quickly glanced both directions, then leaned a bit closer, grinning conspiratorially. ‘It certainly sounded like Potter. But she’s from Hogsmeade, moved to Ottery St. Catchpole just this year. When she gets excited, her accent becomes a bit thicker, you know.’ She deliberately thickened her own underlying Devon accent.

Miller grinned back. ‘Ah, yes, I quite understand. I’m from Birmingham, and a good few of these Londoners say I’ve an accent, when the whole time it’s them. There is an Auror Polter works from this office, could that be them?’ Ginny nodded thoughtfully. ‘Auror Polter is out on a call just now, I can take your information and be sure to get it to them.’

Ginny launched into a gossipy yet brief tale recounting a call Harry received shortly after they got married. ‘Their voices sounded quite young, I suppose they could be children, but one of them definitely said, “Die, Death Eater.” Better safe than sorry, after what we’ve all been through.’

Miller agreed solemnly, while writing down the name Petunia Dursley and the address of a flat above the greengrocers in Ottery. Finishing up, they bid each other good day. Then Ginny left the Ministry.

She didn’t bother re-applying her glamor. No one would recognize her in Muggle London.

The sudden loss of myriad murmured conversations and oddly musical bootheel percussion as they struck the marble floor of the Ministry atrium when Ginny stepped back into the phone booth to exit brought the dull throbbing between her temples to awareness. She pressed her forehead against the relatively cool glass as the booth rose back to street level. The booth clattered to a stop and the odd voice said, ‘Thank you for visiting the Ministry of Magic.’ With a deep breath, Ginny lifted her head away from the glass and opened the door.

Shrieking two-cycle motorbikes, growling autos, and roaring diesel lorrie engines assaulted her ears as the door swung closed behind her. Briefly she pressed her fingertips to her temples, stifling a sneeze at the cacophony of exhaust fumes in the air. Turning into the nearby alleyway helped dim the traffic volume. She took three slow deep breaths, massaging her forehead and building the image of the small park across the road from Grimmauld Place in her mind. Firmly focused on destination, she gripped her wand and turned.

Relative quiet washed across her as she sighed in relief. She looked around gathering her bearings, then stepped across the soft grass and around several flower beds. As she neared the pavement, an urge to go see Number 12 Grimmauld Place tugged briefly upon her feet. But by all indications, this Sirius Black never met Ginny Weasley. He would take a rather dim view of an unknown young redhead finding his Fidelius-protected home.

With a shake of her head she turned towards King’s Cross Station and the London Library she remembered passing on their walk to the Hogwarts’ Express, back at the start of her Fourth year.

The generally quieter neighborhood slowly grew louder as she walked. She nodded with a smile in return to those people she passed that nodded to her. Stopped once when a standard poodle greeted her, followed by embarrassed apologies from his human. She reassured him the exuberant greeting didn’t bother her, (‘Oh, his name is Ourson? That means Teddy Bear. Quite appropriate. No, I only speak a little French, my sister-in-law you know.’) in fact helped a bit with her headache.

She apologized as she turned down his invitation to lunch, politely saying she needed to get to an appointment. She felt his sincerity at the invitation. He looked to be a few years older than this Ginny, attractive enough. And she liked Ourson, leaning against her thigh with a long pink tongue lolling to the side of his mouth. But she didn’t need to even attempt explaining the age difference existing in her head. Not to mention her husband and children. She petted Ourson, and resumed walking to ward off the tug at her heartstrings thinking about her children brought.

Another three-quarters mile and some turns later, she pushed open the door to the London Library. Looking around she spotted a reading area, sat down and rested her head in her hands, massaging her temples. What she hoped to find spanned a fairly short time, so perhaps she wouldn’t be here long. Still, she reached into the shoulder bag she carried for the small single dose vial of the pain potion Fleur packed earlier. Making sure no one watched her, she uncorked it and downed the draught in a single swallow. Dropping the empty vial into the bag she sat back in the chair.

Two minutes later, the throbbing eased to a distant drum roll, she stood and walked to a desk with a “Reference” sign suspended over it. The woman seated there looked up as Ginny approached. Ginny caught the glint of a gold ring on her left hand, then skimmed her name badge quickly, Olivia Caliban. She appeared a few years older than herself-- No , Ginny thought, more like 15 years older than I look now. Overall the face in the ID photograph matched, blonde hair and skin, a small mole at the right edge of her mouth over her upper lip, dark brown eyes. Except today Mrs. Caliban wore lipstick far too dark for her complexion. ‘How may I help you?’ Her soft voice melted into the still air in the library.

‘I’m working on my thesis,’ Ginny said, a variation of her earlier story, ‘and I need to review some older newspapers or other news regarding missing children in Surrey in the early ‘80’s.’ Mrs. Caliban nodded and stood, beckoning Ginny to follow her.

‘Twenty year old issues will be on microfilm, I’ll set you up with a reader. How long a time span are you needing?’ The pair turned into another reading room, similar to the Prophet Archives but without the underlying magical tension. The drawers in the metal cabinets were larger as well.

‘Four years, I should think, 1981 to ‘85,’ Ginny replied, and the librarian scanned for the drawer that held what she wanted. She pulled out two smaller boxes, carried them to a table with a rather old-looking sort of telly on it. Mrs. Caliban pulled a film reel out of the first box, and showed Ginny how to mount it to a spindle and feed it into a slot. She switched the machine on, and demonstrated the buttons to advance and rewind the film, the pages of the newspaper appearing on the screen. Dad will go absolutely spare at this , she thought. She sat down in front of the screen and smiled. ‘Thank you, Mrs. Caliban.’

Mrs. Caliban’s eyebrows lifted slightly. ‘You noticed my ring. Not many of you younger people are so thoughtful,’ she said.

Ginny nodded, her smile still painting her face to hide the persistent throbbing behind her eyes. ‘My parents taught us to be polite.’

‘Good for your parents. If you need more assistance, I’ll be at my desk unless another patron needs me. When you’re done, simply rewind the films and replace them in their boxes. Bring them to my desk, I’ll see to returning them to their place.’

Ginny nodded, turning back to the screen as Mrs. Caliban left the room.

It took an hour and a half. She found it on the last section of the second reel, a short article tucked in between reports of Margaret Thatcher’s activities and Pope John Paul II announcing some new saint, in the Surrey Comet , Thursday 13 June 1985.

Local officials are calling for any information on the whereabouts of five-year-old Harry Potter, missing from his home in Little Whining since Monday. Mr. Adam Wethouse, Headteacher of the Little Whining Primary School notified local police on Wednesday after contacting the boys guardians inquiring why young Potter was absent for the second day. Unsatisfied with Mr. Vernon Durlsley’s responses, Mr. Wethouse then immediately contacted the Little Whining Police to report a missing boy.

The last person that saw Potter is Mrs. Applebee, his teacher. ‘I bid him good afternoon and watched as he left the school,’ she told this reporter. ‘He stopped just outside the gate where a large, scruffy black dog approached him. I felt some concern at first, but the dog appeared quite friendly, wagging its tail and licking Harry’s face. He and the dog got on quite famously, and the two set off in the direction of his home. Frankly I felt surprised that his aunt and uncle allowed him a dog.’

The article went on to report that so far a search begun immediately on that Wednesday evening turned up no clues. Local officials also started an investigation into the Dursley’s for their failure to report young Potter missing when he didn’t return from school the previous Monday afternoon. GInny closed her eyes, blocking the glare from the reading screen, smiling to herself. This happened just two weeks after the reports in the Daily Prophet of Sirius’ escape. Even if she didn’t know where they were now, she knew they’d been together since 10 June, ‘85. Here, now, Harry had grown up with his godfather and not those awful Muggles.

Rewinding the film reel, she replaced it in the box and gathered her things. Depositing the two reels on Mrs. Caliban’s desk, she thanked her for finding exactly what she needed, vaguely waving a small spiral bound notebook as her notes. She glanced at the clock over the circulation desk, quarter three in the afternoon. Time to go. Turning she started towards the door, the outside. Towards her future. Which future? Hopefully Bill found something today to get her back to when she needed to be. But what if there still proved nothing, no signs of a curse, no charm to reverse it?

Her steps faltered slightly; she pushed against a sudden resistance, pulling her back. The throbbing in her head matched her heartbeat. If she couldn’t get back, she’d found confirmation that Harry lived, here, now. She could find him. Court him all over again, Somehow she was young, feeling all the energy she remembered from her early 20’s. Then why this pull backwards? Her hand rested on the push-bar of the glass door.

Teddy. James. Al. Lily. The tug intensified, Purple hair flashed before her eyes, then unruly russet over gold-flecked brown eyes, more unruly black over eyeglasses, followed by auburn copper and freckles. She blinked twice, hand leaving the shoulder strap of her bag to wipe fiercely at her cheeks. Yes, if she had to, she could find Harry, younger Harry again, filling a portion of the hole inside her. But not all of them.

Leaving the library, she quickly found an isolated spot and apparated back to Shell Cottage.

Back to index


Chapter 7: Chapter 7

Spinning and crushing and bright and stumbling and four hands reaching towards two low stone walls and hammers on anvils between her ears and retching and hot acid on her tongue and clammy wet down her back her chest across her forehead and heaving heaving heaving and nothing coming out--

Strong, gentle fingers grasped her upper arms. ‘Breathe,’ Fleur said, a whisper against her ear. Ginny closed her eyes to the double vision, forearms rasping across the top of the stone wall until her hands found each other. She pressed her right thumb hard into her left palm, breathing slowly, the sensation on the acupressure point a team Healer showed her years ago beginning to suppress the nausea. Thank you, Bekka Scott, she thought.

‘You ‘ave pain?’ One hand remained on her arm, the other blotting at her forehead with a handkerchief.

‘Less,’ Ginny whispered. In truth, the decreasing nausea and dizziness seemed to be washing away the throbbing. The blacksmith no longer worked iron in her head, now only white-water rapids rushed about. ‘Or the waves.’

Oui, the waves, there are always waves. When did you last use the pain potion?’ Ginny chuckled at the thought she’d spoken aloud, continuing to breathe slowly.

‘A few hours, I think.’

‘When did you eat?’

Ginny shook her head, a single word, breakfast, hanging in the air between them. She chuckled again at the muttered words that followed. ‘Merde. Weasley imbcile .’ Then louder, ‘Come. There is food inside, I kept it warm. Soupe de nouilles au poulet.’ Ginny straightened off the stone wall at the gentle tug, grateful for the supporting arm around her waist as they started towards the cottage.

Fleur held the chair as she sat at the table, resting her hands on the cool oak. With quick wand movements and muttered spells, a large mug of chicken soup rested lightly before her, accompanied by two slices of bread, the warm sourdough scents blending with the steam from the mug. Her stomach growled loudly, and Fleur ‘tut tutted’, waving her hands for Ginny to start as she walked to the pantry cupboard.

Despite the warm day, the heat from the soup mug felt good in GInny’s hands. She sipped the broth rich with chicken fat, Following several sips, she set the mug down and lifted a spoonful of noodles and chicken. Fleur set another small vial of potion in front of her on the table.

‘When you ‘ave eaten.’ Filling a mug for herself, she sat next to Ginny. Only the rolling schwoosh of the waves over the rocky beach outside filled the air as they ate, Fleur’s stern regard never leaving the younger witch. Ginny finished off her bread by wiping up the last of the broth and noodle pieces in the mug, then wiped her mouth with the serviette.

‘Thank you.’ Her whisper floated in the air between them. Fleur’s blue eyes remained icy. ‘I feel much better already, Fleur. I shouldn’t have skipped eating.’

‘Is what you found worth abusing yourself?’

Ginny focused on the potion vial, working the cork loose using fingers steadier than when she arrived. She tossed it deep to the back of her mouth wanting to keep the kinder flavors of the soup on her tongue. Like a shot of firewhiskey; the liquid burn down her throat not dissimilar though no smoke issued from her ears or nostrils. She faced Fleur straight on.

‘What would you do, to get back to the bb within you?’ She uttered the French word with the finality of a thunderbolt. Fleur held the blazing brown eyes steadily, her own dark blue thawing slowly.

‘Everything. Anything,’ Fleur said, her voice a fluttering whisper of a dove bearing an olive branch. Their hands met on the table, fingers twining together. Ginny nodded.

‘It is not as much as I hoped. It is enough to keep going. But first, I need some rest.’ Fleur stood, nodding, then waved her hand at Ginny when she started to pick up her empty mug.

‘Leave that for now. We go to your room.’ The two climbed the stairs one after the other, Fleur entering Ginny’s room first. She pulled the covers down, turned to Ginny. ‘Strip.’ Ginny raised her eyebrows at the command, and began undressing as Fleur busied herself at the bedside table. ’When you are undressed, lay face down.’ Ginny set her clothing onto the chair, and did as Fleur bid her, though she turned her head to watch.

Fleur finished her business at the table and turned, wand out, whispered incantations and motions. Ginny felt the mattress firm underneath her, the bed raising a half foot or so. The blankets covered her legs and bum, then Fleur lifted the bowl of clear liquid and poured a thin stream of warm oil across Ginny’s shoulders and neck. Lavender and clove wafted through the air. Setting the bowl down, Fleur dipped her fingers and rubbed more oil on her hands.

Ginny moaned softly when surprisingly strong fingers began kneading the muscles in her neck. ‘Merlin, that feels so good.’

Fleur’s chuckle bubbles like a brook dancing over small stones. ‘Merlin ‘as nothing to do with this,’ she said, fingertips still pressing into knots in neck muscles as her palms slid firmly across shoulders. ‘This is all Airmid.’ Ginny didn’t bother to ask who that was, preferring to save her breath as Fleur matched her hands press and rise to Ginny’s breathing, working down her neck, around her shoulder blades.

The aching behind her eyes faded. She began to breathe in time with the waves below, Fleur’s hands continuing their journey in synchronization. Fingers found and released knots, muscles sighed in relief as Fleur worked down her back. Almost too soon, one hand lifted, returned with a towel that gently wiped what little oil hadn’t worked into her skin. Then that too left. Ginny rolled onto her side, following Fleur’s movements as she transfigured the bowl into a bottle and conjured a cork.

‘Thank you again,’ Ginny whispered. Fleur nodded, turning as she wiped her own hands with the towel. GInny regarded her with languid eyes. ‘Did your Veela help with that as well?’

'Un peu, oui. My Veela can be most helpful at times.’

Ginny barely nodded. Fleur dropped the towel and lifted the covers up to Ginny’s shoulders. ‘Rest now, ma sur. I will send Bill if you are not awake by dinner time.’ Closing her eyes, Ginny let out a big breath and snuggled into the covers around her. She did not hear the door close as Fleur left.

GHGHGHGHGHGH

Ginny raised her eyes from Obscure Curses at the soft knock on the bedroom door. ‘Come in.’

The door swung part way open and one brown eye peered in, fang earring bobbing left and below it. Then Bill stepped in, grinning at her. ‘Fleur said you felt a bit rough when you got back. You look like you feel better now.’

Ginny smiled back, nodding. ‘Your wife pours magic through her fingers.’

‘Oh, she most definitely does,’ he replied wickedly. Then gesturing to the book in her hands, ‘Find anything in there?’ I won’t be surprised if you don’t, it’s a bit of a long shot.’

‘Found some things I filed away for future use. Nothing that affects time, though.’

He nodded slightly, then frowned and pointed at her. ‘That’s one of my Unicorns and Roses shirts.’

Ginny smirked. ‘They’re almost as good as the Weird Sisters.’ He cocked his head to his left, crossing his arms. ‘On, don’t worry, Bill, I won’t take it. Fleur lent it to me, since I’ve no idea where the rest of my clothing is.’

‘You didn’t go by your flat today?’

‘Where is my flat, Bill? Didn’t Fleur tell you how I bemoaned missing my house I bought, oh, ten months and nine years ago.’ Bill frowned and the air vibrated slightly between them, her annoyance fueling a sharp, pungent tension.

Then his eyes widened in realization. ‘I keep forgetting, it’s just so odd. You look, sound, and act exactly like my sister who still lives in a barely decorated one bedroom flat, hardly spending any time there to bother because you’re always training at Quidditch.’

Ginny immediately felt a flush of regret. ‘I’m sorry-- ’

‘No,’ Bill said. ‘It’s one of the reasons Mum is so concerned about you, she says you’ve no social life. And you don’t, or at least not the Ginny we live, lived with. That Ginny wouldn’t spend the time to find a house for herself. Then you say or do something that’s so similar except colored with more experience, or depth of maturity.’ He waved his hands in the air. ‘Or something.’

Ginny’s face softened. ‘After my.... experience during my First Year, and some luck coming into a bit of money, Mum and Dad brought us to visit you in Egypt that summer. You said something like that to me then. Mum and Dad were so unsure what to do, how to treat me, but you just acted like it was all in a day’s events, even if unusual, while pointing out things you did there in Egypt. Until I started talking to you about what happened. It helped. A lot.’

Bill blinked, twice, lips turning up on one side, fang earring bobbing slightly to his nod. ‘That’s what Oldest Brothers do, yeah? Speaking of which, guess we better go by your flat tomorrow morning. Before we go to the Burrow.’

‘Why are we going to the Burrow tomorrow? Dinner’s not until Sunday.’ Both siblings frowned in confusion at each other for a breath, then lit in sudden understanding. ‘Another thing that’s different between this time and, well, my time,’ Ginny said.

Bill nodded. ‘Either way, dinner is ready downstairs soon as you join us. I’ll just,’ and he waved back towards the stairs a bit awkwardly, nodding at Ginny sitting with the covers gathered just at her waist.

‘Oh, yeah, I’ll just pull on some jeans,’ she said, not moving. ‘Bill,’ she called when he started to turn, pulling the door. He paused, looking back at her. ‘I’m sort of stuck here, aren’t I? There’s no curse to undo. Whatever happened to bring me to here, now, there’s nothing to change it, is there.’

His brow creased, drawing a vertical line between his eyes reminding her again of that summer before her twelfth birthday, His concern hung in the air between them, and she knew her face showed her aching from the holes inside her, the places filled by Harry and their children. ‘That’s what it looks like, Ginny.’ His voice held the same quiet strength as when he told her 18 years ago that talking about bad events with someone she trusted could help cope with them.

She nodded, closing the book and setting it on the bedside table. “I’ll be right down,’ she said. Bill smiled softly, and closed the door behind him.

GHGHGHGHGHGH

Bill looked up from finishing the table setting when Ginny entered the kitchen. No words came, but the set of his eyes, the tightness in his jaw told her. Whatever this is that dislodged her in time, no curse caused it. They still didn’t know, and not knowing meant no way to reverse it. A surge of longing for Harry’s presence rose within her like the crescendo of the surf outside.

Bill took in her suddenly pale face and waved her to her place, which she gratefully took. Settling herself she bought time to settle the sad emptiness within, she watched as Bill levitated a pitcher to the table. ‘Hope you like French cooking,’ he said, a huge grin painting his face as he winked at her.

At the cooktop, Fleur scoffed at him while stirring a sauce. As she lifted a spoonful to sniff delicately, Ginny caught the scents of garlic, rosemary, and thyme wafting through the air.

Ginny shook her head. ‘I’ve eaten Fleur’s cooking before, Bill. Pretty sure the Ginny you know has as well.’

‘There, you see, Bill? I told you she would not complain.’ Fleur glanced at Ginny. ‘The casserole is just staying warm. This sauce is ready for the side dish. I also told Bill you two could 'ave wine with dinner, but he is only putting out water.’ She waved her wand at the saucepot, which poured the contents into a strainer. Then Ginny watched French-cut green beans float from there into a serving bowl, and the sauce poured itself over the bowl. With another wave of her wand, that bowl floated over to the table. Bill poured water into three glasses while Fleur opened the oven and the casserole dish gracefully wafted to settle onto an iron trivet with a soft click, followed by a plate of warm, sliced baguette.

Bill added serving spoons to both. Then after he helped Fleur into her chair, the three quietly set about the serious business of feeding two Weasleys. Fleur waited until nearly a quarter of the servings on two other plates were consumed. ‘Ginny, ‘ave you and I exchanged recipes then?’

Ginny laughter floated through the room, and she felt her spirits lift. This surprised her a bit, realizing just how much of a load her hope for a simple solution to her situation weighed. ‘I can cook, and it’s edible,’ she said. ‘You’ve exchanged recipes with Harry, but I’m a bit more like Bill I suppose. ’ She returned Bill’s curious look with a smirk. ‘His breakfasts are to die for,’ and waved a chef’s kiss at him. Fleur laughed, the entire room brightening.

‘When did he learn how to cook?’ Ginny looked over to Bill, and Fleur noted her eyes darkening slightly.

‘His relatives started him when he was six years old or so. Speaking of which, I did promise to let you know my progress. But before that,’ she said, then stopped. She’d asked him already. Nothing changed. Silence thickened the air. Ginny looked down at her plate, swallowing nothing.

‘I’m sorry, Ginny,’ he said. She nodded, then sighed.

‘I already knew, but…’ she shook herself, lifting her face. ‘I’ve got a plan. What I found will help,’ she said, raising her glass to sip her water. ‘First of all, I’ve a good idea what happened to him through those years you tell me he disappeared.’ Her eyes lit at the anticipation in their faces. ‘Dumbledore put him with his mother’s sister’s family. Pretty nasty people, too, overall. Like I said, they made him do the cooking starting around six years old. There’s more, but I’m not going into that tonight.’

‘How did no one know them?’ Bill asked.

‘They’re Muggles. Hardly anyone knew about them in my own time, either. Which leads to, do you remember the big news in 1985 about Sirius Black escaping from Azkaban?’

Bill nodded, Fleur looking interested. ‘I also remember Black being completely exonerated after the War,’ Bill said.

Ginny nodded. ‘Since I know Harry was sent to live with his relatives, I went looking through Muggle newspaper archives after I left the Ministry. I found a very interesting article, about an investigation into a Surrey family in Little Whining after their nephew disappeared. They didn’t report it, the Head Teacher at his school did. The last person to see him, a teacher, described him greeting a large black dog while leaving school. This happened about three weeks after Sirius escaped.’ At both Bill and Fleur’s blank expressions she continued, ‘Sirius Black is Harry’s godfather.’

Bill frowned in concentration, but Fleur responded first. ‘So this Sirius Black, ‘e used that dog to entice ‘is godson, then took ‘im away?’

Ginny started to reply, stopped, simply nodded. She felt certain this Sirius Black was also an Animagus, but she didn’t know if this Ministry knew. She couldn’t risk outing him. ‘Yes,’ she continued. ‘I don’t know where to, though. I believe he saw to Harry’s education and upbringing after that, kept them safe and hidden, until it was time to deal with Riddle.’

Bill nodded, slowly. Ginny resumed eating. This is it, she thought. They did their search. They found no curse to reverse. Bill stopped nodding and resumed eating as well, yet his eyes remained on her. Fleur glanced between the two of them. Ginny set her fork down.

‘This is what it is. We’ve looked. There’s no way back. I’m here, and this is my life now, Bill, Fleur.’ He set his own fork down, met the blazing look in her raised eyes.

‘Are you okay with that?’ He appeared surprised when she shook her head.

‘Not yet, no. But I will be. I know what I need to do. I started today, I guess I knew this morning because I didn’t look for anything at all related to curses until I got back here. I need to find him, find Harry. I need to mourn my children, but I won’t give up Harry. I can’t.’ Their eyes locked together for minutes, until Bill turned to Fleur.

Fleur nodded to him. ‘C'est notre soeur. Nous l'aiderons retrouver 'Arry.’ They both turned to her, and Ginny released the breath she held. She wasn’t alone, not totally. The rest of dinner passed silently as she mulled over possible courses of action. When they finished, she started helping clear the table, placing her own dishes in the sink and the serving bowl of green bean leftovers on the worktop. Fleur rested her hand gently on Ginny’s forearm.

‘We will do this,’ she said. Ginny looked into the blue eyes before her and knew Fleur meant more than the quest to find Harry. Her own eyes blazed back, but Fleur gently nudged her away from the counter. Ginny touched her sister-in-law’s cheek lightly, and turned away.

She stepped into the night through the kitchen door, gathering darkness around her as a soft, comforting cloak. It did little to ease the needs within, for a hand with the scent of leather and broom polish on it, the desire for the light slide of that calloused palm up her neck. Nothing to ease the ache for other small fingers twining into her hair. For the sound of three young male voices, one teaching the other two how to play Exploding Snap.

Overhead starlight poured down, ending its miles and centuries long journey by illuminating her steps. She knew she left Fleur’s tended garden by the drag of the dune sand slowing her feet. Her destination called her, so near that only a few more steps sufficed to gain her arrival. So far that she couldn't measure the miles between them.

Arrival did not heal the torn and sundered hole made by Harry’s absence. What she sought, comfort from seeing the physical mark of his once being here, of his caring nature, proved unobtainable. The gravestone for a friend they often visited together, where her Harry once laid that friend to rest, did not exist.

One more hole in my life , she thought, one more reminder that here and now I never met Harry . Her chest tightened, breath stuttering as she inhaled, the tang rising from the flowering Thrift around her tickling her nose, their pink blooms hinted by the starlight. Eyes stinging and wet, she reached up to grasp as many of the twinkling flames as she could, recalling the childhood jingle. So bright, star light, this my wish on you tonight… Harry, please be here.

The light breeze fluttered her hair to caress her face. His sarcastic smirk floated before her eyes, ears echoing his voice, Sirius, Lee ? The nape of her neck ached for the light press of his fingertips. You’re out there, I feel your presence, she thought. But distant. So very distant.

‘A sickle for your thoughts,’ said Bill, behind her, and she stumbled slightly turning, her feet catching in the sand. His hands on her shoulders steadied her, reassuring, but still not the ones she longed to feel. She closed her eyes, tears spilling as she did, then a gentle calloused thumb wiped the damp from her cheeks. Opening her eyes as his thumb lifted the last of the wet from her cheekbone, she caught the tight wrinkles at the corner of his eye, his grin warm in the dim glimmer.

‘I miss the years, Bill, it’s like someone took a chalkboard eraser and wiped them away. I miss… his sunlit smile when I told him, the first time we learned he made me pregnant. James’ fingers wrapping around mine and he still smelling of his birth; Al’ huge smile taking his first steps, Lily laughing at Harry making stars fly from his wand and Harry’s heart melting. We both committed to taking care of his godson Teddy, helping him never feel alone as an orphan ... they’re not here, the four of them aren’t here. All those little things, they mean everything.’

She shivered slightly and he gathered her into a tight hug. She melted into the warmth of her oldest brother’s arms, burying her face in the soft cotton of his Weird Sisters t-shirt. ‘I can’t imagine,’ he said quietly. ‘Each day, whenever Fleur grabs my hand and presses it to her belly so I can feel our growing child kick, or roll, I can’t imagine losing that.’

Pushing back from him, she nodded. Their eyes met, their colors hidden in the dimness yet their connection strong. ‘Treasure it, Bill,’ she said. ‘Treasure it all.’ Then she turned and stepped out of his embrace, one step only, looking down at the empty spot on the dune where the stone should be.

‘What brought you out here tonight then,’ he asked. She sighed largely, and pointed to the sand.

‘I came looking to visit a friend, but even that friend isn’t here.’ She could feel him cock his head just that much, lips quirking up at their corners. His curiosity crackled around them, a discharge of St. Elmo’s Fire.

‘And just why would some friend of yours be sitting at just that spot on my property?’

Ginny laughed at the possessiveness in his voice. She turned slowly, arms thrown out to embrace both the night and the boundaries of Shell Cottage’s place on the coast. ‘All this? Well. Let me tell you a tale, Bill Weasley. Of a house elf that defied his owners to bring Harry a warning, to try to keep him away from mortal peril.’ She paused at that, briefly tensing under the weight of a dead Diary. With a deep breath, she continued. ‘This happened my First Year. Harry ended that year by tricking this house elf’s owner into giving him a sock. Then Dumbledore "hired" him to work at Hogwarts. He continued to help Harry and others. In fact, he helped me a lot during my Sixth year, the Carrows’ year.

‘Toward the end, shortly before the Battle, he was killed while rescuing Harry and several friends including Ron, bringing them here. That’s why we went into hiding over the Easter hols. One of those rescued was a goblin from Gringotts, in fact. Harry made a big impression on that goblin when he watched Harry digging Dobby’s grave by hand. After they buried him, Harry placed a stone here over the grave, and used the wand he had to engrave the stone: Here lies Dobby, a Free Elf.

‘I hoped to come and visit Dobby a bit, is all.’

‘Dobby,’ said Bill. Something in his gravelly voice drew her regard to his face. Even in the starlight, the wonder lit his expression. ‘Your Harry buried Dobby here?’

She nodded. ‘Why? Do you know Dobby?’

Bill started to nod, then shifted to shaking his head slowly. ‘I knew Dobby. We. You.’ One slow breath in and out and he visibly steadied. ‘Summer of ‘95 Aunt Muriel rather uncharacteristically hosted your birthday party at her house. Something she said to her house elf, Pippen, made you comment about how much fun it would be to lure Pippen away from Muriel. Dad and I looked at each other. He nodded his head to the side and we walked away from the group a bit. Mum, Dad, even Charlie and I were already active with the Order by then.’

He shook his head again, looking at the spot on the dune next to Ginny. ‘He asked me if I thought it would be possible to do something like that, to lure a house elf away without it killing itself from betraying its family and House. I said not lure, but free. We brought that idea to Dumbledore, and, well, we came up with a plan. That plan freed Dobby. He went to work at Hogwarts, but mostly provided valuable information on the Death Eaters and some of their plans. Dobby led the house elves in the Battle. He’s buried at Hogwarts, though, not here.’

Ginny closed her eyes. One more thing, almost the same, so very different. All the little things , she thought, and though she knew these to be Bill’s arms that wrapped around her again, she felt Harry’s strong grip. Bill’s slightly salty tang filled her nose, but she felt Harry’s heart beating against her head as she rested it on this chest When she pulled away and looked at the shadows on the face before her, she saw Harry’s bright smile.

‘Come on,’ said Bill’s voice. ‘Let’s go back in.’ They turned, stepping towards the kitchen door, Bill’s arm around her but Harry’s voice in her ears. ‘We’ve got lunch at the Burrow tomorrow, yeah. You’ll need to rest for that. Mum’s sure to fuss at you about you getting hurt, and then not going to the Burrow when we got you out of St. Mungo’s so she could mother-hen you.’

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Chapter 8: Chapter 8

Saturday 6 July, 2002

Ginny stood in the doorway staring at her small flat in a Harpies owned building. Pale blue walls stared back, bare but for two items, a large framed poster featuring the entire team holding their brooms, herself just off center, and a much smaller charcoal portrait of her, probably when she was 14, which bore the initials CW in the lower left corner. Bill confirmed when she asked that Charlie did that. Other than those the room held only two overstuffed chairs with a small table between, and a dining table with two oak chairs. The absence of a cat and associated paraphernalia still surprised her. The clean surfaces probably made her mother happy, but Ginny missed all the small things she expected to see. Books left about, with markers sticking out, on Quidditch strategy (hers, and she was not going to mention the romance novels by loign Lesoir) or history or human nature (Harry’s, and she wasn't mentioning how often he nicked those same romance novels either).

Her fingertips massaged her temples lightly, attempting to banish the headache she woke with that morning. Of course none of Harry’s books would be here. In the small bedroom a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages did sit on the bed, with more Quidditch related books on the small bookshelf. Mostly, though, the small space screamed of an empty presence, filled with a focused pursuit of a dream in an obsession to forget an unpleasant past.

She shouldered the rucksack packed with fresh clothing and closed the door behind her. A rather short walk took her to the common room on the first floor, Bill and Fleur waiting on her. Bill smiled wryly when she handed him the folded Unicorns and Roses t-shirt, then nodded approvingly at the fresh jeans and Weird Sisters shirt she now wore.

‘Nice,’ he said.

‘I would be very disappointed in myself if I didn’t like their music.’ She smiled back. ‘I’m ready. Let’s go.’ They all walked over to the large hearth, taking a pinch of powder from the ceramic bowl on the mantle. With a toss, a flare of green flames, and ‘The Burrow,’ they all left the room.

‘Well, look what the kneazle dragged through the floo,’ said George as he steadied Ginny. She blinked a few times, breathing to clear the dizziness that still bothered her since she woke in St. Mungo’s. She mouthed a Thank You at him, then glared.

‘Pretty sure it was me doing the dragging, not the kneazle, George.’

‘Well, Forge, our wee sister is still fierce.’

‘The knock on the noggin notwithstanding?’

‘I’ll knock you on the noggin, Fred,’ she said, pulling him into a hug. ‘I’m sorry I called you a ghost,’ she whispered in his ear. Fred squeezed his arms a bit tighter.

‘That’s all right, Favorite Sister, I’ll accept a stack of autographed photos we can toss in as some extra with an owl-order.’

‘Turn her loose, now, Fred, and let’s get a look at her,’ said Molly, gently pushing Fred aside and taking Ginny into her own arms. She relaxed into the warm motherly presence, closing her eyes and smelling yeasty bread dough and wildflowers from the same shampoo Molly made for her. Then Molly pushed her back to give her a once-over, sharp brown eyes missing nothing. ‘You need to eat a bit more. Those bruises on your sides?’

‘Gone, or just about, Mum. Fleur’s making sure I use that bruise paste you left for me.’ Molly nodded.

‘Alright then. Come over here, I’ve got a scone for you. What are you planning on doing today?’

‘Playing Quidditch with us!’ George tossed in.

‘We need another to make a team.’ followed Fred.

‘Sorry, no flying, Healer’s Orders,’ Ginny nodded toward Fleur, now being hugged by Molly who then tut-tutted over the baby within. ‘I’ll cheer you on though.’

‘Come now, Chaser Weasley…’

‘When did you start following orders…’

‘She follows them if she wants to continue playing for the ‘Arpies, yes.,’ said Fleur, coming up next to Ginny. ‘The team ‘ealer must approve before she flies again.’

Ginny waved down the twins' protests. ‘Trust me, brothers mine, I am not putting my professional career at risk for a pick-up game, much as I’d like to,’ she said.

‘You need to relax, Ginny,’ said Molly, handing her a small plate with several scones and a stern look. ‘You are far too intense about that game.’ Ginny deflected her by taking the plate and then a bite of the top scone. Letting her face light up in pleasure at the tastes took no effort at all, and did gain deepening smile lines around Molly’s mouth and eyes. Smiling as she finished the bite, she looked full into her mother’s eyes.

‘Nobody bakes scones like you do, Mum. But I am not quitting Quidditch any time soon.’

Molly smiled at that, though she did shake her head. ‘You lot will be the death of me. At least go out some, don’t just practice and play Quidditch. What about that young wizard you dated at Hogwarts?’

Ginny looked into her mother’s brown eyes so like her own, and dared a guess. ‘He moved to America, Mum. Really, I’ve told you that how many times?’ Molly’s eyes darkened slightly. Ginny decided to change the subject. ‘I am thinking about popping over to the Lovegoods and see if Luna is in.’ The sounds of voices outside became suddenly louder in contrast to the silence in the kitchen. Molly’s brows knit in concern. Fred and George's eyes widened in surprise, though Ginny thought no one else would note the tiny difference in pupil dilation that Fred always showed and George never did, nor the slight rise in George’s eyebrows that Fred always avoided. The light in all their eyes brought Ginny back to the summer before her 12th birthday, when she would say something and everyone around her stopped talking to look at her.

Molly broke the silence first. 'Oh, Ginny, I know you liked Luna, but surely you remember they moved away after her mother died.'

Ginny swallowed, once, biting down on her initial reaction to finding another bit of her remembered past that didn’t match with her current present. The brittle edge in Molly’s voice tugged at her heart.

‘I’m sorry, Mum. Yes, now I do, and I recall it to be one of the few times I cried and you held me while I went on about my friend leaving.’ Molly’s eyes softened. Ginny sighed slightly in relief, her gamble that this Molly would be just as supportive as the Molly she knew paying off. She turned to the twins, now smirking. ‘See,’ she said, waving her hand at the side of her head in a circular motion. ‘Scrambled memories. No flying until they settle down, too much motion and they’ll land all out of order.’

Both brothers shook themselves slightly, a hardly noticeable tremor unless one knew to see it. Their eyes met, and their usual mischievous glint found her when they turned back.

‘So, Ginny, tell us this,’ said Fred.

‘How will we know if you’re missing a memory,’ continued George.

‘Or taking the mickey…’

‘And setting the ground for a prank?’

Ginny’s eyes flicked between the two smirking faces. She felt a surge of certainty within her, that some things no matter what would be the same. And even if this memory didn’t actually happen with these two, it would still take the mickey. ‘You mean like that time during my Third Year, when you would follow me through the halls at Hogwarts?’ Three sets of eyes focused on her now, all waiting for the punchline. ‘When all the boys would whistle and call at me, “Looking hot, Weasley!” And then you two would prance over, blowing kisses at whoever yelled and replying in chorus, “I know.”’

Molly’s eyes flashed and focused on the twins. ‘You didn’t!’ The open mouths and quickly exchanged looks between the twins assured Ginny her response worked.

‘Mum,’ Bill called from the door to the sitting room. And at that distraction Fred and George quickly retreated. ‘Let me borrow Ginny for a bit. I promise I’ll keep her off a broom,’ he said, waving to his sister. Molly nodded and turned to pursue the twins.

‘Nice save,’ said Bill when Ginny joined him in the sitting room. ‘Did they really do that, following you?’

Ginny laughed softly. ‘Yes. Boys started noticing me after Neville took me to the Yule Ball.’ Bill’s face squinched slightly in puzzlement. ‘During the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Part of the whole thing was a ball.’

‘Don’t say that around anyone else, Ginny. There hasn’t been a Tournament since shortly after what the Muggles called the Crimean War. Two of the contestants were killed, from Hogwarts and Beauxbatons.’

‘Oh. There’s going to be a lot of that, things I don’t “remember”. Isn’t there?’

Bill nodded. ‘Part of why I wanted to get you away from Mum for a bit. Fleur’s going to prepare her for more memory “lapses”, but here, look at this.’ He pointed her to a framed photo on the wall of the sitting room. All the Weasley siblings stood together, with an empty space for Percy. Bill finished pouring a dark amber liquid into Charlie’s glass, setting down the bottle of Old Ogdens. Then all of them turned to the camera, raising their glasses in a toast. Fred and George’s lips moved and she could hear them say, “To Perfect Percy.” Then together they all drank the contents of their glasses. All their faces scrunched tight, becoming red in concentration until they all vibrated. With a gush a Mt. Vesuvius of smoke erupted from their ears, noses, mouths, followed by the entire group dissolving in laughter.

‘You’re the one told us to hold it as long as we could,’ he whispered. ‘Let him know we miss him, he’s one of us, but yeah he was a bit of a prat.’ She looked at him, started to speak but he shook his head and motioned towards the door. They left the house and set off across the garden. Ginny blinked in the sunlight, face squinting from the slight surge in her headache, Bill conjured a floppy wide-brimmed hat with a low crown and handed it to her.

‘Not a traditional witch’s hat.’ Ginny smirked at him as she put it on. Shading her eyes helped. Bill chuckled.

‘The Ginny I know never struck me as being particularly traditional, and you don’t either,’ he said, and pointed towards the woods opposite the meadow that served as the family Quidditch pitch.

‘I was going to ask where is he buried, but I’m guessing we’re heading there now,’ she said, and Bill nodded back. They listened to the birds singing as they walked, until Ginny couldn’t wait any longer. ‘So, perfect prat Percy?’

Bill chuckled. ‘Yeah. He got in pretty deep at the Ministry, told Mum and Dad they were hurting the family by getting more involved in the Order. He lost his nut when he learned Charlie and I were in it up to our necks as well. Dad asked him to leave until he calmed down. That happen to you, as well?’

Ginny sighed as they entered the woods shadows and the throbbing behind her eyes eased some more. ‘Pretty much. We all saw him once more before the Battle. He brought the Minister by the Burrow at Christmas because Scrimgeor wanted to see Harry. The Twins and I threw mashed parsnips at him.’

Bill laughed. ‘Messy.’

‘Yeah. He was still wearing some when Harry got back and then Percy and Scrimgeor left.’ They walked single-file along the path through the trees, shifting dappled sunlight making Ginny keep her eyes on the ground.

Bill continued talking as they walked. ‘Turns out, though, shortly after Voldemort was seen in the ministry, he sent Dad a charmed memo about some nonsense, and the hidden message being he wanted to meet with Dad. They got together somewhere private in Muggle London near to the Ministry since neither one could be away long. He apologized to Dad for being so taken in by Fudge, and began acting as a spy at the Ministry. Dad never told us who passed the information to him. We figured it out when Percy joined us at the start of the Battle. Apologized to the whole family.’

Glancing up, she could see brighter light ahead as they neared the end of the woods. Ginny tilted her head, her own turn to show puzzlement. ‘If there wasn’t a Tri-Wizard in ‘94, when did Riddle come back, then?’

Bill nodded in thought. ‘Yeah, it was that same school year. Someone infiltrated Hogwarts and enchanted the Quidditch Cup into a portkey. Two Hufflepuffs grabbed it at the same time when they won. Only one came back. Cedric Diggory shoved her behind a big gravestone, told her first chance she got to use the spell that reverses a portkey when they arrived in a cemetery. She watched as Diggory was captured, his blood used in a ritual to give Voldemort his body back, then Voldemort killed him. She’s the one who brought the news back to Hogwarts.’

They cleared the trees, and Ginny squinted in the brighter light even with her hat. Ahead she saw a marble marker, and Bill started towards that. Ginny kept her eyes lowered as they crossed the open space, surprised when she lifted them to see two marble gravestones. ‘Bill,’ she whispered as he knelt and began brushing leaves away from the closer one. She froze as she read the words engraved on it over his shoulder.

Arthur S. Weasley

6 February 1950 - 2 May 1998

Husband, Father, Son, Brother

Greater love has no wizard, than he lay down his life for his family

‘No!’ Her hands and feet suddenly cold, her legs started trembling. Bill looked up from his task to see her rapidly shaking her head, her eyes locked on the stone. He stood to embrace her when she cried out, pressing her hands to her temples. ‘No! No!’ Her knees folded and he eased her to the ground. ‘I told myself, she didn’t suffer as much as I did. Oh Bill! Not Dad. How?’

‘Mum was dueling Bellatrix, who got in something that knocked Mum down. Dad picked up the fight there, and hit her the same time she hit him.’ He hugged her close, the floppy hat crumpling between them as she continued shaking her head. Crying out she turned away from Bill, leaning slightly as she retched dry heaves.

‘Hurts.’ Her hands pressed tightly to the sides of her head, eyes closed. ‘Harry, where are you? I need you.’ Bill’s wand appeared in his hand, and with a whisper his Patronus emerged, the silvery weasel turning to him briefly as he concentrated, then flying off towards the house. Next he tapped a small section of broken branch on the ground. Ginny thought she heard the word ‘Portus’, then Bill wrapped the bit of branch in her hand, his own tight around hers.

‘I’ve got you, Ginny, I’m here.’ Bill said. She felt the familiar harsh pull at her navel, and with the whirling sensations she retched again. The strong odor of antiseptic and bright lights of a treatment room at St. Mungo’s spurred the pain in her head, and squinting her eyes tightly closed, she succumbed to darkness.

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Chapter 9: Chapter 9

Monday, 4 July 2011

Early morning sunlight filtered genty through the gauze curtain over the window when Ginny opened her eyes. Pungent antiseptic almost overpowered something else, faint under the astringent overtones: broom polish, homemade bread, sandalwood. Harry . The scent of her amortentia also brought awareness of fingers lightly entwined with her right hand. Before she turned her head, she ran fingertips lightly over the back of that hand. Though they’d softened over the years a bit, she knew these scars well. I must not tell lies.

She turned at the quiet whoosh of a deep inhalation, smiling into blinking green eyes. He looked at his hand first, her fingers lightly caressing the old wound. Without letting go of her he stretched, then shook out his glasses in his left and put them on. The smile that lit those emeralds set a pleasant blaze in her chest. ‘You’re awake,’ he said.

‘Right in one, brilliant observation, Potter.’

He grinned larger at her cheek. ‘All part of what makes me Britain’s best Head Auror ever.’

‘And modest as well!’

He leaned forward, lifting her hand and pressed soft lips to her palm.

‘Is Al all right?’

Harry nodded. ‘He’s fine, you caught the Bludger. They’re all with your parents at the Burrow. Do you remember what happened?’

‘Yes.’ Her eyes lit suddenly, and she reached up with her left hand to touch her forehead. At the query in his eyes, she smiled. ‘No pain! I feel fine. When can we go home?’

He chuckled. ‘It’s only quarter-five, my Soul. This place hasn’t woken up yet. The healers aren’t going to turn you loose without a check’

‘To hell with that! Let’s get out of here.’

‘Now I know you’re really better. But, Gin.’ At his pause, she touched his cheek lightly.

‘What is it, Harry?’

‘You were brilliant, taking that roll when the broom shattered. Really the worst that happened was a nasty cut on your head. But that’s it, besides some rather glorious bruises. But you wouldn’t wake up.’

She felt her heartbeat quicken, a light surge of adrenaline. ‘How long?’

He shook his head. ‘Not long, about 12 - 14 hours.’

‘What? What... what day is it?’

‘Monday. The game at the Burrow was yesterday.’ She turned from the comfort of his face, eyes now focusing on small cracks in the ceiling plaster. Less than a day since she saved her son from a Bludger hit. How did three days pass for her? ‘Gin?’ His voice filled with concern brought her back from her thoughts. She sank into those emerald pools, nodding and smiling slightly.

‘I’m here. You’re here. We’re alive,’ she whispered.

His eyes narrowed at the words, most often spoken when one or the other woke from a nightmare. She glanced at the closed door, then back to Harry. Quieter, barely above a whisper, she continued. ‘I will tell you.’ His focus intensified, and she relaxed at the easing of her tension as the connection between them warmed. Then he nodded. ‘But not here. It’s… strange. And if we’ve got to wait until they punch my discharge, get into this bed with me, Potter. It’s been too long.’ She shook her head slightly at the resurgence of his concern.

‘The Healers will object.’ With a nod and an impish grin, he stretched out next to her but above the covers. She sighed as his arms wrapped around her and she stretched lightly before turning on her side and settling her head on his chest.

‘They’ll get over it. Besides, not going to actually shag here.’ Her ear pressed to him, she heard the comforting sound of his breathing, purred when his fingers combed into her hair at the base of her skull. Just before she slipped into blissful sleep, she whispered, ‘I missed you so much, my Heart.’

GHGHGHGHGHGH

Harry waved his hand with a silent cleansing spell to clear off the ashes from leaving St. Mungo’s via the floo network. Ginny smiled while looking around the great room of their home, turning slowly to take it all in. Dark oak floor, excepting only the flagstones leading from the door to the large grate where during cold winter months the furnace blew warm air. Warm chestnut wall paneling which always helped the room feel more comfortable during those same months. Water-rounded stones of the hearth and chimney, the flames within returning to cheerful yellow from the green of their transport as she watched. She rested her head against Harry’s shoulder as he pulled her into his arms.

Home.

‘I expect you need to go bring the kids home,’ she said, looking at their most recent family portrait on the wall next to the hearth. The photographer they hired strived for a couple hours to finally capture everyone in a formal pose where the only movement had been everyone relaxing after the shutter snapped. But Ginny selected one where James and Al nudged at each other, and Lily reached over from Harry’s arms to pull at Ginny’s hair. When the photographer asked why that one, incredibly surprised, Ginny replied, ‘Because he and I caught each other’s eyes, and I fell into the joy, love, even fire of his.’

His chuckle interrupted her reverie. ‘You’re looking at The Portrait,’ he said. She murmured something as her hands slid up his chest, left hand knitting into his hair, right touching his beard lightly. ‘I agreed with you,’ he said as she started to ask, ‘because I remember feeling, at that moment, how blessed I am that you gave me three adorable, rambunctious, mischievous, infuriating, loveable children; that you helped me realize my greatest dream.’ Then he pressed lips softly to hers, time standing still for the duration of a single “Tock” from the three cuckoo clocks on the walls.

‘Merlin, I missed you,’ she whispered. Then, pulling back to look into his eyes, ‘But that doesn’t answer my question about the kids.’

‘Well,’ he said, looking deliberately at each of the three clocks. ‘Depending on which one of these is closest to actual time, we’ve got between five and ten minutes before Mum brings them here. I sent a patronus while the healers were deciding if they needed to do another exam before releasing you.’ She smirked at him then her face grew serious.

‘I promised to tell you, but not at St. Mungo’s. I… if they heard what I will tell you happened to me, they wouldn’t have let me go. I’d be up there next to Neville’s parents, probably.’ He held her gaze silently, strength flowing between them. ‘You said I was out for around 14 hours. Harry, I experienced three days. I slept during those three days. I don’t know what happened, and we don’t have time now to get into this in depth. But, you and I, we… I could feel you, my Soul, but we were not together. We never met.’ Harry started to reply when the Floo roared softly. Ginny pressed a finger against his lips, nodding. ‘Later, yeah.’ Then they turned to the hearth as Bill stepped out carrying Lily, followed by James, Al, and a worried looking Teddy.

Al ran out of the green flames and wrapped his arms tightly around Ginny’s legs, followed by James. Cries of ‘Mum’ and ‘You’re back’ filled the room. Bill stepped over and when Ginny reached for Lily she nearly leapt into her mother’s arms. ‘Mummy!’

Bill chuckled, his hands on Ginny’s shoulders as he looked at her. ‘You really all right?’

She smiled back and nodded, shifting Lily to her hip so she could step into a hug with her oldest brother. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘They gave me a clean bill of health, with a caution to not destroy any more brooms for a bit.’

‘Good,’ he said, nodding. ‘That was a big knock you took. Still, I wouldn’t expect anything else involving you protecting your kids, or any of ours, really. I’m glad you’re okay.’ Ginny turned to Teddy, still standing by the hearth, when Bill let her go. His brow furrowed and his eyes flit between the floor, or one of the cuckoo clocks ticking away on the wall.

‘Teddy.’ His eyes finally met hers when she called his name, his hair turning light brown, which combined with the concern in his eyes reminded Ginny so much of his father that she sighed.

‘Ginny, I’m so sorry,’ he started, hearing her sigh. ‘I never meant anyone to get hurt, I just…’ He stopped short at Ginny’s raised hand.

‘Teddy, I’m not angry with you,’ she said, nearly laughing at the sudden relief in his face. ‘Nor am I happy about this.’ The instant return of anxious concern also nearly brought a laugh to her, she struggled to keep her face serious. ‘I never thought you intended to hurt anyone, yet it did happen, and we are all lucky it wasn’t worse, yeah?’ He nodded slowly. ‘So what did you learn from this?’

Bill glanced at Harry looking on, as Teddy regarded her. Then he turned his attention to Teddy, who glanced between all three adults before straightening his back. ‘How to hit a Bludger better,’ he said with a steady voice, and before Ginny could speak again, ‘And to be more careful when I’m practicing.’ Bill stifled a snort. Ginny simply nodded.

‘Good. Yes, you need to be more aware of who and what is in the direction you send your Bludgers. If you want, I’ll talk to George about some private practice time, no one else out there on the pitch. But we were all incredibly lucky in this, Teddy. Harry wasn’t anywhere near enough to do something about that Bludger. It’s just good fortune I wasn’t ready to land yet and stayed in the air.’ He nodded back silently. ‘Now, I will tell you that the first thought I had when I heard your bat is that was well hit. But, to reinforce your lesson, you’re going to de-gnome the garden here.’

Teddy nodded silently, but James pushed back from his mother.

‘That’s not fair, Mum. Grams and Gramma Tonks already made him de-gnome the garden at the Burrow!’

Ginny regarded her oldest son. ‘Speaking of de-gnoming, since you encouraged Teddy to try a good hit, you can join him.’

James sputtered, ‘I didn’t--’ Teddy’s blush and hair changing to match James’ reddish-brown told the three adults all they needed to confirm Ginny’s assessment.

‘James,’ said Ginny, ‘three cuckoo clocks in this room. Pick one.’ The slightly asynchronous ticking of the three clocks grew louder with each tick. Teddy took a breath and walked over to James, resting a hand on his shoulder.

‘Come on, James,’ he said, urging his brother towards the door. ‘We’ll see who can pitch one the furthest. I’ll limit myself to one-hand tosses.’ The two boys started towards the door out to the back garden. Al tugged on Ginny’s hand, she looked down at him. He tilted his head towards the other two, she nodded, and he trotted to catch up. The door closed with a rattle of glass window panes.

‘Really, James, you could have left the door open this time,’ Ginny said softly, a grin painting her face. Bill and Harry chuckled.

‘You looked scarier than Mum, there, Ginny, mostly because you were so bloody calm,’ said Bill. ‘And what’s the bit about the clocks?’

Harry and Ginny both laughed.

‘It means James needed to pick one of those three clocks to find out how long he had until the punishment escalated,’ said Harry. 'We started doing that the time he set all of the cuckoo clocks in the house about five minutes apart, so they were constantly going off.'

Bill laughed.

‘We used to tell him, pick a clock. One time we were in the kitchen when she said that. There’s only two clocks in there, one cuckoo and the Family one Mum and Dad gave us for our wedding present. He picked that one.’

‘And ever since then, I specify it’s a cuckoo clock he needs to pick. Sometimes I include the room,’ Ginny added, turning to Lily as her daughter ran fingers through red hair.

‘Jamie tricksy,’ she said, her young voice light. Ginny kissed her forehead.

‘Yes, both your brothers are tricksy.’ Bill chuckled, and Ginny turned back to him. ‘Stay for some tea?’

He shook his head. ‘No, sorry, I need to get to work. Told Mum to call me if you did get out of St. Mungo’s today. Stopped by there to get the kids when she called early. She says she and Dad will come by this afternoon to check on you.’ Ginny nodded and turned back to Lily when her daughter tugged lightly on her hair.

‘Lily hungry.’ Ginny chuckled, turning briefly back to Bill.

‘Excuse me, then, while I go get my daughter a snack.’ The two men watched as she walked into the kitchen carrying on a brief conversation of rather short sentences with the three-year-old. Ginny paused inside the kitchen, just out of sight.

‘How is she really, Harry?’ Her brother’s voice.

Harry let out a slow sigh. ‘She’s OK, physically. But she’s spooked about what happened. Not the bit at the Burrow, what happened while she was out of it at St. Mungo’s.’ The silence hung thickly for a moment. ‘She wouldn’t talk about it there. We will be, later. Right now, well I told the office I’m available for emergencies, but I want to spend the day with her, and the kids.’

‘Right. Take care of her, Harry,’ her brother said.

A heartbeat passed and in her mind’s eye Ginny saw Bill’s brown eyes boring into her husband’s green.

‘I always will,’ Harry replied softly.

She heard the flames rise a bit, and Bill called out ‘Gringotts.’ Then the sound of his departure, and she walked over to the worktop before Harry joined her in the kitchen. Their eyes met over Lily’s head, calmness flowing between them.

‘I heard,’ she said. He nodded, unsurprised, and gently kissed both her and his daughter on their foreheads.

‘My two most special girls,’ he said, getting a giggle from Lily. ‘What can I fix my hungry girls now?’

‘Chok-late,’ said Lily.

‘You may as well fix up some lunch for all of us, Harry, it’s about that time,’ said Ginny, and he set about summoning ingredients for sandwiches. A gentle smile graced Ginny’s face as she watched him work, either asking Lily to tell him what he was doing (‘Cutting!’ and giggles), or describing what type of ingredient he chose. Through it all, Lily clung to her, and truth to tell she warmed to the presence of her daughter in her arms.

The uncertainty about what happened to her circled around her, like a Border Collie nipping at her heels. On the one hand the certainty that she spent two days, slept three nights at Shell Cottage hung next to the remembered ache from the absence of a certain messy-haired green-eyed father of her children. On the other, the shock discovering different survivors, different deaths still resonated as the fading toll of a bell. Through all those, the certainty of the pull of Harry’s being, somewhere…

What happened? A curse, it seemed not, yet something tore her away from here; could it be only a dream? But people don’t sleep in their dreams , she told herself, we dream when we’re sleeping .

As the lunch preparations progressed, Lily would turn to look into Ginny’s eyes, then pat her cheek with a small, warm hand before responding to another of Harry’s comments Now she turned again, and their eyes met. ‘Mummy home,’ she said.

‘Yes, my love,’ Ginny whispered, kissing Lily’s cheek, ‘Mummy’s home.’

GHGHGHGHGHGH

Flickering yellow light from the small fire in the hearth danced around the walls and ceiling of the sitting room when Ginny came down the stairs from putting Lily to bed, and stopped. The scents of wisteria and star jasmine wafted in from the garden on a calm breeze through the open windows and French doors to the enclosed porch. Harry finished levitating the chesterfield to center before the hearth, then poured something into a glass, not noticing her watching him. He volunteered to help with the children’s bedtime, but she chuckled and said, ‘No, thank you Harry. It’s the little things.’ As she carried Lily up the stairs, her last thought leaving the sitting room touched on campfires and storytelling.

‘Bit of a warm evening for a fire, isn’t it?’’ she asked cheekily. He straightened, turning to hold out a wine glass, and stopped. Even in the flickering firelight she could see his green eyes darken. She glided over to him slowly, her ivory silk dressing gown flowing, and took the glass from his fingers, lifting it to her nose. Oak-aged mead with hints of blueberry tickled her nose before she sipped. The honeyed fluid rolled over her tongue, and she sighed after swallowing. ‘Thank you, Harry.’

She smirked at him still standing, arm outstretched, his jaw and Adam's apple moving as he swallowed. ‘You changed clothes.’ The huskiness in his voice sent a quick shiver down her spine and to her center.

‘This old thing?’ Her left hand waved at the dressing gown, the light silk fabric clinging to her in all the right places. ‘It’s comfortable, and I’ve a tale to tell you now.’ She inclined her head to the chesterfield. Harry sat with his back to the side, stretching his legs out, an arm on the back of the sofa. Ginny handed him the other glass on the coffee table between sofa and hearth. Then in long-practiced manner she curled into his lap, legs folding along his, leaning against his chest. Closing her eyes she took another sip of mead as his fingers began coursing through her hair slowly, the palm of his hand a welcome warmth against the back of her neck.

When the cuckoo from the clock above the telly to their left sounded the quarter hour, she took in a deep breath, and launched the telling of her experiences since catching the Bludger. Three times Harry levitated the mead bottle to refill their glasses. Once, he added a single small wedge of split branch to the fire. Through it all, the gentle touch and stroke of fingertips on her neck, the back of her head, leant her strength as she spun her tale. Twice, that same light touch left her neck to caress her cheek, his thumb surreptitiously wiping a tear as it escaped her closed eyes when she recounted the times her dream-self realized that returning wouldn’t be an option.

The cuckoo above the telly sang seven more times before she reached the end of her tale. The ticking of the three clocks seemed to echo each other, a gentle staccato drum roll as she waited for his response. She took the last sip from her glass, then rested her head against his shoulder, letting his familiar scent fill her being.

‘That is one hell of a story, Gin.’ His voice rumbled through his chest to her ear, his arm sliding around her shoulders. His embrace brought reassurance, serenity, and she sighed softly as the part of her that doubted anyone would believe her slipped into oblivion.

‘Yeah, if I hadn’t lived through it…’ Then she laughed softly, and she could feel his eyes filled with curiosity focused on the top of her head. ‘When I told Bill and Fleur about Tom, and what we both went through, Bill said something similar to what you just did. I said the same exact thing in reply.’ He lifted her chin, emerald eyes meeting hers, and his lips lightly touched hers.

‘I will always believe in you, Gin.’ They held each other's gaze several heartbeats, her hand slowly lifting from his shoulder to cup his cheek.

‘Even when the story sounds like some fantasy fiction, or a drunkards tale?’ The slight quiver in her voice surprised her, and at the same time she knew it came out only because his love surrounded her, grounded her. She could be vulnerable with him, because he could also be vulnerable with her. He nodded. She kissed him again, longer, lingering. ‘Thank you.’

‘You’re right though,’ he said. ‘If any of the Healers at St. Mungo’s heard that story, I’d be visiting you in a high security ward.’ They both chuckled. She rested her head back onto his shoulder, watching the shifting shadows and lights from the fireplace.

‘Harry, do you ever wonder if you never went to Hogwarts, would we still get together?’

‘What are you on about, Gin? I did go to Hogwarts, and we did get together. Even if I was a thick git and broke it off for a bit.’

‘I don't know, maybe someone, McGonagall perhaps, makes a big scene about Sirius never getting a trial and then he's released, and he finds you and takes you away from your horrible relatives. Or maybe your parents aren't killed, which would be wonderful for you, but then they decide to home-school you. Or maybe my parents decided after my first year that I needed to go somewhere else, like Beauxbatons...’

‘If you’d gone to Beauxbatons, you’d have given Fleur a stiff go,’ he chuckled.

She slapped his other shoulder, muttering ‘Prat’ under her breath, and he chuckled. She sighed slowly. ‘In my dream, or memory, or whatever it was Sirius escaped earlier than he did in our life, and he came to get you. And you didn’t go to Hogwarts, the newspapers were full of that the year you should have done.’

‘So we didn’t meet,’ he said.

She shook her head against his shoulder. ‘The last night when, well, I felt incredibly sad because all this life was gone,’ she said, waving her hands in a circle. ‘You, our children, all of it. But I could still feel you, and I started planning how to find you. It felt so real, Harry, that we didn't meet because you didn't go to Hogwarts.’

He wrapped her tightly in his arms, lips pressing to the top of her head. Her hand slid up from his shoulder into his hair, her fingers wrapping tightly enough to almost hurt. ‘I really don't know, Gin. All I do know is our lives would be different. And I can't envision a life without you.’

She pulled away from him at that, shifting to straddle him on the chesterfield, the gown loosening as she moved. She shrugged as she reached to cup his face between her hands, deliberately causing the silk to open exposing more skin. She felt his eyes counting all the freckles that once she hated and now she loved because of him. She watched him visually stroking her now, caressing her with a heat bringing her nipples to a peak through the fabric.

‘I can’t envision life without you, either,’ she said huskily. Her hips shifted on him and he gasped slightly.

‘Wouldn’t you rather go to our bed, first?’ His voice low and rough as he tilted his head towards the stairs. She shook her head, leaning forward to kiss him again, this time fiercely, urgently. He replied in kind, pulling back to gasp. ‘You get loud, you know, and our room is already silenced.’

Her eyes blazed at that, a near feral grin bending her lips. Teasing she rocked her hips on him, feeling his response against her. ‘Not tonight.’ She watched his eyes dilate at her throaty whisper. ‘What's the matter, Potter? Getting old and conservative?' His green eyes flared at her challenge. 'Good. Tonight I need to please you, Harry, feel you inside me. Tonight you’re going to get loud, so you’d better silence those stairs.’ His eyes went wide when she released his face, sliding her fingertips along his neck, down his chest, feeling his nipples tighten through his shirt as she circled them with her thumbs. His hands slowly pulled the tie at her waist loose. She arched her back, opening the front of the gown more, then leaned towards the table and picked up his holly wand. His eyes widened when she lifted it, then with a whispered incantation and a flick, she banished his clothes to their room.

‘Now you’re dressed appropriately,’ she whispered. ‘Are you prepared to scream?’

‘I told you, you’re the one who screams.’

Ginny’s eyes blazed. ‘Care to make a wager on that?’ She rocked her hips, kissing his growing arousal with her own. His eyes darkened as he arched up to her.

‘The usual stakes?’ His grin grew, his hands sliding up along her dressing gown lapels.

‘Oh, I think tonight deserves double stakes, don’t you?’ She settled lower on him, sliding her increasing wetness along his length. He inhaled sharply, biting his lower lip. ‘Something wrong, Potter? Usually I’m the one nibbling on myself.’

‘Oh, you’re on, Potter. Ten massages it is, to whoever doesn’t scream.’ He slid his fingers under her gown, lightly pressing against her breasts. She bit off a shriek at their cold embrace.

‘Did you just put a chilling charm on your hands?’ she gasped. ‘Cheater!’

His grin turned feral in answer. ‘Someone told me once, anything’s possible if you’ve got the nerve,’ he said. But then his fingers grew warm, his touch still light. Reaching down between her legs, she grasped him then lifted on her thighs, aligning his arousal to her entry.

‘I won’t need to cheat,’ she whispered, settling back and slowly taking him inside her. Her eyes blazed watching his enlarge, his mouth forming a silent Oooh. She leaned forward, pressing his hands still holding her breasts against his own chest, stilling his movement. She kept her eyes on his, until the tips of their noses touched lightly. ‘And you will be giving me those massages.’

When she started moving, when she pushed herself up on her arms for a better angle, she kept their gazes locked together. When he reached up to caress her breasts again, she took his hands, weaving both their fingers together, pressing his arms down above his head. With a gentle shake of her head, she tucked his hands behind his head. Then her fingers moved languidly along his arms. Twelve years of mutual exploration, give and take, learning how best to titillate each other guided her hands to all the places she knew brought him pleasure, sent heat lightning along his nerves.

His green eyes burned into hers as he nodded, and she accepted his surrender, watching his fingers wrap into the unruly black locks in the manner she took so much pleasure in doing. His chest rose and fell in time with her movements. When he tried to twist his hips, reaching to touch the spot inside her he knew so well drove her to cry out, she bit her own lip and shook her head once, twisting his nipples. His stifled grunt in response brought the corners of her mouth up, a triumphant grin replying to his nearly losing the wager then.

The air between their locked gaze crackled with their growing arousal. She knew he felt hers, he pushed again with his hips to challenge her, attempting still to heighten his own pleasure in bringing her to a peak. Her nails dug into his flanks, again warning him to still himself, to let her lead. His head rocked back, yet still he maintained their eye contact.

Sweat beaded his forehead, ran between her breasts, his grin shining as her flush grew larger, lighting her shoulders, her breasts, her chest. She watched his breathing quicken as she squeezed and rose, relaxed and sank, and allowed herself to twist, rubbing the spot he’d tried to reach. She nodded slowly, telling him she would accept her own climax. But only when she gave him his.

His sudden thrust when she found her spot surprised her, and she clamped her throat tight on the guttural noise that barely escaped through her nose. Then the three cuckoo clocks began to chorus the hour, and she matched her movements to the rhythm of their song. A low keening sounded, joined by another when Harry took his lower lip between his teeth, and she realized both of them contributed. Then his heat erupted inside her, gasping as he released his lip in low repeated huffs. Gazes still locked, both their eyes blazed, and she peaked as well, her own low keening rising slightly in pitch as her hands gripped his shoulders and she pulsed in waves around him. Perhaps not as intense as the multiples he so enjoyed giving to her, more than sufficient to drive away the remaining shadows from whatever happened to her since Sunday past at the Burrow.

She lowered herself on him, taking him fully into her. Then she leaned against him, arms sliding under his shoulders, hands grasping his head, her lips finding his in a languid kiss as their gazes finally separated. Their breath mingled in shuddering exhalations, their scents conjoined as they slowly descended from the peak. When his arms wrapped around her shoulders, she no longer knew where she ended and he began.

She lay her head on his shoulder, pressing her lips lightly to his ear. ‘I’m calling it a tie. We’ll both get ten massages,’ she whispered, her own fingers now twirling into his hair.

Throaty chuckles replied. ‘And here I was about to concede, say I was louder than you.’ She smiled against his ear. ‘Thank you,’ he whispered.

‘Fourteen years we’ve been together, and you still wonder that I get as much from pleasuring you as you do pleasuring me.’ He turned to face her, their eyes again connecting. ‘I thought I’d lost you all.' Her voice quavered uncharacteristically, her eyes shining. 'Then I woke with you beside me, holding my hand, keeping me anchored,’ she said. ‘You are my Heart, my Soul. You’ve been my world long before we shared our vows, and made our family. Harry James, I will bend Heaven and Hell to find you if we are ever separated.’

His fingers traced lightly the stream of freckles across her cheekbone. Then he pushed her hair behind her ear, fingertips trickled down her neck, along her collarbone, to rest over her heart. ‘That dream, that vision, this which we don’t know what to call it, this scared you more than anything else we’ve faced, didn’t it?’ Their eyes held, green and brown-gold, then she nodded gently. Her tension broke into giggles as he rubbed their nose tips in an Eskimo kiss. She pressed the palm of her hand against his chest, the steady beating of his heart echoing her own, steadying her.

‘I feel like I’ve been given a foreshadowing, what it’s going to feel like when you do actually die.’ She snorted lightly at the sudden flair in his eyes. ‘After a very long life and flocks of grandchildren, Harry. I told you, you die too soon and I’ll--’

‘Bend Heaven and Hell to bring me back. Got it,’ he whispered, his fingertip resting lightly, stilling her lips. She sucked his finger softly, then pushed it out with her tongue. She sighed a bit sadly as he softened and slid out from her.

‘Don’t ever forget that, Potter.’ Brown-gold blazed brighter than the flickering fire in the hearth. He nodded. ‘That last day in my, well, going to call it a dream. That last day, at the Burrow. I wanted to go talk to Luna, thinking of all people she might understand and know a way to get me back here. Mum told me the Lovegoods moved away after her mother died. I felt so disappointed--’

‘She’s here.’

Ginny stopped, confusing painting her face. ‘Who?’

‘Luna. An owl came while you gave Lily her bath. Luna’s in Britain, wants to come and visit.’

Ginny pushed to sit up. ‘I need to send her a reply!’ Harry tightened his arms around her, stroked her shoulders.

‘I already replied, told her to come by any time, we’d both be here tomorrow. I knew you’d want to see her.’

She slapped his chest, but lightly, with a muttered, ‘Prat.’ But the smile on her face belied any anger, though she continued, sounding cross. ‘And you’re just telling me this now? Why?’

His impish grin responded, his face lighting mischievously. ‘You distracted me?’

She scoffed, then yawned. ‘I guess we should go up to bed.’

‘You’ve vanished my clothes, remember?’

She laughed again, low, throaty. ‘They’re all in bed, Harry, and besides they’ve seen it all before in the hot tub. We don’t wear bathing costumes there, remember? And before you say you’re all wet with me, I’ll remind you I’m equally as wet with you.’ He chuckled, helping her to budge up and stand. Taking his wand in hand he used it to bank the small fire in the hearth, closing the Floo connection to all but emergency calls. Ginny was loosely tying her gown closed when he turned to her, cocking his head.

‘Well that’s hardly fair,’ he said, and with the same wand motions as she used earlier, vanished her dressing gown to their room upstairs. She grinned wickedly up at him as he pulled her to him, their skins warm against each other.

‘Be careful doing that, Potter. I may feel the need to ravish you again,’ she whispered cheekily. She felt part of him nudge her hip.

‘It’s a hardship,’ he replied as cheekily. ‘But I think I’m up for it.’

Back to index


Chapter 10: Chapter 10

Tuesday, 5 July, 2011

James slid open the glass door with a bang and yelled, ‘Mum! Aunt Luna’s here!’

Ginny turned from her desk across the room, shaking her head at her son bouncing from foot to foot. ‘James, I am all of 5 meters away from you, there’s no need to shout.’

‘But it’s Aunt Luna! She’s here! You didn’t tell me Aunt Luna’s coming.’

Ginny chuckled at that as James continued to bounce. ‘You’re right, I didn’t, your father told you this morning at breakfast. Don’t you remember?’

James shook his head vigorously. ‘No, I was too busy eating.’ Spinning and pointing. He leapt off the covered veranda and ran to the smiling woman with long dirty-blonde hair who walked towards them, holding hands with Lily and Al and followed by Teddy, the four of them dancing to a vaguely familiar wordless tune Luna hummed as they moved across the lush lawn. Ginny walked slowly down off the veranda over to them, her head tilted trying to remember where she’d heard that tune. James joined the festivities, circling around the other three. They stopped about a meter apart, the three younger children now bouncing.

‘Mum! Mum! It’s Aunt Luna!’ the three chorused as Ginny smiled at her oldest friend.

‘So I see,’ she replied. Luna’s smile grew larger, and the two witches embraced. ‘It’s so good to see you again, Luna,’ she whispered. They pulled back, and Luna gently touched Ginny’s cheek. Then she waved at the building behind Ginny.

‘This is new,’ Luna said. ‘It looks quite Oriental, like that nice Japanese bath you had. Did you replace that?’ Ginny turned, linking her arm through Luna’s, and they started towards the outbuilding. She waved at the building as a whole.

‘No, it’s still there, on the other side towards that corner. We enlarged it actually.’ Ginny’s smile grew, taking in the sliding glass panels that served as both doors and walls. ‘We fell in love with the quaint traditional Japanese houses we saw in Kyoto, when we went there right after I started with the Harpies. The doors are the walls, made to look like their shoji, and Harry charmed them to be light yet strong.’ She wiped her bare feet on the mat before stepping up on the veranda. 'Before I got pregnant with Lily, we both used one desk, in our bedroom, for working at home. When I mentioned to Harry maybe I wouldn’t return to the Harpies, he suggested this. “It will help keep work separate from home,” he said. Then he contacted Mr. Miyagi, the wizard that helped us build the bath house. They worked together to do this.’

Luna paused to slip off her trainers before climbing the short steps to the veranda, leaving them next to Ginny’s. Inside, their bare soles felt warm rugs or cool white oak floor as they entered. Two short bookcases flanked the double desk that partly filled the interior, where Ginny and Harry would sit on opposite sides when both stayed home to work. The sliding walls of either end wall side stood open, allowing a fresh light breeze across the wrap-around veranda to pass through. Luna laughed softly, glancing at James.

‘Of course he couldn’t run to the side, but needed to make a grand entrance to tell you I was here, could he?’ Ginny’s laugh joined hers.

‘I had to tell Mum,’ James said. ‘Dad built this.’

‘It’s strong! Dad said we can’t break it,’ Al added.

‘Yes, that’s why your father charmed them, Al. Now, Aunt Luna and I need to visit a bit, you lot can go back to what you were doing,’ she said, giving Teddy a pointed look, ‘and we’ll join you when we finish.’ Teddy nodded, and gathering the other three together they headed back to the Cottage.

Ginny turned back to Luna. ‘He’s got quite the sense of humor, Mr. Miyagi. For some reason, he started calling Harry “Daniel-San.” Harry would remind him what his name is, and Mr. Miyagi would reply, “Yes, Daniel-San.” Then he would wink at me, and keep doing that.’

‘What did Harry do?’

‘Oh, he gave up after he figured out Mr. Miyagi was taking the mickey. Turns out, Miyagi had seen a stage play in Muggle London about horses, and said the lead male actor reminded him of Harry.’

Ginny loosed her arm from Luna’s, and went to the sideboy cabinet that separated the desks from the small sitting zone. ‘Tea?’

‘Yes, please,’ Luna said, following her into the room. ‘Where is Harry? His reply said you would both be here.’

‘He got a call from the office, and went in for an hour. Of course, that really means at least two, but he should be home soon. Where’s Rolf?’ She busied herself pouring tea and adding milk and honey for her friend.

‘Rolf is presenting in Finland on the relationship between Yeti and Sasquatch. He’ll be here after the conference, in about a week.’ She took the cup from Ginny’s hands, their fingers warm, lingering briefly. Then she looked around the single room.

Ginny matched her gaze. Pointing to a translucent sliding shoji door in the corner, she said, ‘The loo is through there, if you need it, and the Bath is just the other side of that. Actually, you’ll recognize it if you look, we just added this on to that. So how are things going between you two?’

Luna smiled, her face lighting up as bright as her namesake when full. is here. ‘That’s the other part of why we’re here, or will be. We’re getting married, on actual Midsummer Night, at Father’s old house outside Ottery. We want you two to be there. Do you think Harry will want to come?’

‘Of course he will, you’re one of our closest friends, Luna! Why wouldn’t he?’

‘It’s going to be a traditional Midsummer's Night bonding, so we will all be skyclad, and he can be so shy about that.’

Ginny laughed, then quieted. ‘Rolf’s OK with that?’

Luna nodded happily. ‘One of the reasons I love him, he is just as accepting of sexuality as I am.’

Ginny nodded, and took a breath. ‘I’ll convince Harry, don’t worry about that.’ Luna nodded happily as she sat on the settee, her piercing gaze that saw more than others penetrating into Ginny. She patted the settee next to her.

Ginny sat, then closed her eyes and sighed softly at the gentle slide of Luna’s fingers through her hair. It never ceased to amaze her that only two people besides her mother could calm her down so by doing this.

‘It’s not Nargles, you and Harry certainly kept them away last evening,’ said Luna. Ginny chuckled, nodding to acknowledge Luna’s insight. They had never needed to hide anything from each other, Luna’s non-judgmental acceptance smoothing all bumps in the road. ’Nor Wrackspurts either. What is bothering you, Ginny? You look like you did when we were planning to get the Sword of Gryffindor.’

Ginny opened her eyes to Luna’s bright blue ones, their familiar serene gaze reaching into a place she kept private, treasured, a space only one other person ever entered. Once again she heard Harry in her memory. Love is something we do, Gin. And you are so strong, so full of that ability, loving, that’s why I didn’t include those words in our vows. The flow of affection and empathy swirled between them, friends since early childhood, comrades in battle during their teens.

Ginny seized their shared friendship and, as she did during the Carrows year, found her courage. And for the second time in as many days, she recounted her experiences, whatever they were, dream, hallucination, memory. Just like Harry the evening before, Luna asked no questions as the story unrolled, simply held Ginny’s hand in hers. She did start humming, a low, subliminal sound which soothed Ginny’s emotions, allowing her to continue without tears, unlike last night. Silence hung between them when Ginny reached the part, waking up with Harry beside her. Luna took her wand from behind her ear, moving it around Ginny in a pattern she’d not seen before, still humming that melody, occasionally singing out softly, ‘Where’d I go-‘.

The memory cleared, bright as a flashbulb. ‘I’ve heard that song before, in my dream,’ she said, and Luna nodded distractedly as the wand continued moving.

‘It was popular before the start of the first War, ' said Luna. ‘My mother used to sing it to me, she told me a Scottish singer wrote it. Ah. Yes. Ishikhathi odlayo!’

Ginny startled at the odd sound, then grinned impishly. ‘Bless you.’

‘Thank you for your blessing,’ Luna said, then looked puzzled. ‘But why are you blessing me?’

Ginny chuckled. ‘That sounded like a sneeze.’

Luna’s face became an Ah with realization, then she smiled back. ‘No, it’s a magical creature Rolf and I encountered recently. They are native to the Zululand of South Africa. The name means something like Time-eater, which is odd because time can’t be eaten.’

‘But I’m not in South Africa. And I don’t feel eaten!’

Luna’s silvery laugh rang out, a happy tintinnabulation that filled the room and brought a large smile to Ginny’s own face. ‘They’ve spread around the whole world, now.’

‘Oh, OK then, do I still have them?’ Ginny waved her hands around her head and shoulders, her eyes wide and expression mimicking Owen Cauldwell’s from one evening in the Room of Requirement their sixth year, when Luna cleared his head of Wrackspurts. Luna laughed again, then shook her head.

‘No. Once their work is done, they move on to the next witch or wizard that needs them. Some of the Zulu healers think they can also help Muggles.’

‘So I needed their help for something?’ Ginny leaned back against the settee. Harry once again proved correct; whether Luna described something real, or spoke in a parable, her unique worldview often helped those willing to listen. For now, Ginny felt willing to allow these Ishikhathi what-evers an existence. Her brow creased when Luna shook her head slowly, replacing her wand behind her ear.

‘I don’t think it was you, specifically, they were helping. Oh, it was you, but not You,’ she said, as if that explained perfectly. Ginny shook her head, and waved for Luna to continue. ‘The Healers we spoke with say the Ishikhathi odlayo can sense when someone needs to make a change of some sort, but doesn’t know they need to. That they need something like, oh…’

‘A kick in the ass?’ Ginny grinned hugely. ‘Because I can say it sure feels like I got one.’

‘Something like that, yes. When they sense that a witch or wizard needs this experience, then they need to find their corresponding self, and that’s when they do this thing with time. Except it’s not just time, it’s also place. I think all those scenes you saw, between waking in that place’s St. Mungo’s, that was the Ishikhathi odlayo searching for the right Other You.’ Ginny thought about this for a minute.

‘I went to a different universe?’ she asked, tentatively. ‘Luna, jock here, yes I studied Arithmancy and Ancient Runes with you. I took those mostly because I could use Bill’s old notes to help me get by. But I don’t understand what you’re saying.’

Luna nodded. ‘Rolf is quite fascinated with Muggles that study something called Physics. There are more than a few of them that put forth a theory that multiple universes are right next to each other in time and space. How we choose what to do can alter the course of what happens, and since there are many possible choices, there are many possible universes.’

They held each other’s eyes for a moment, Luna’s silver grey brimming with sincerity. Ginny melted a bit in the warmth of her gaze. ‘Lot’s of other Luna’s and Ginny’s and Harry’s?’ she asked. Luna nodded solemnly. ‘There was one where we were together.’

‘Oh yes, when you told me I asked Harry to make you pregnant. He said yes, of course.’

Ginny smirked at her, shaking her head. ‘I also said the last I remember of that place is Harry being surprised by you in a rather spectacular manner.’ Luna laughed, squeezing Ginny’s fingers lightly.

‘He said yes,’ she repeated. ‘Because he loves you. And we all raised our babies together, because we all love each other.’ Ginny nodded slightly, wondering again, after this recent experience, what other things might be different in her life. Or lives, if Luna was right.

‘So, to continue, they picked me up and moved me to this other universe?’

‘Well, part of you moved to another universe, where another you needed to learn something important, something they couldn’t learn there. But I don’t think it was you that needed to learn anything. You’re doing quite well as you are.’ Luna picked up her tea and sipped, watching Ginny with those calm, blue eyes. Ginny sipped her own tea, not feeling quite as certain as her friend that she hadn't needed to learn something.

‘I think… in that world, that Ginny never met Harry. He didn’t go to Hogwarts.’

Luna nodded. ‘That would be an important lesson. You two are halves of an old soul.’ Ginny sipped and thought; Luna had told her that several times since their last year at Hogwarts. As she and Harry spent more time together, she’d felt their connection grow. Gradual at first, while at school and she’d needed to grow out of her childish crush on The Boy Who Lived and discover Harry. Just Harry. She’d thought it was simply them growing to love one another, until her glorious prat of a husband included those words in their marriage vows…

‘But, I was younger. I didn’t… my back wasn’t scarred,’ she whispered.

‘Oh, your body didn’t go there, only You. Not even the Ishikhathi odlayo have that much Quantity Mechanics.’

‘Quantity Mechanics?’

‘It’s another thing Rolf told me about, from Muggle Physics. He thinks it explains how magic users can do what we do.’

‘And Muggles will be able to do things too?’

‘Maybe. We are born with an innate ability to use Quantity Mechanics. Just like the Ishikhathi odlayo.’

‘So these Ishikhathi whatever’s picked me up and moved me to this other universe…’

‘Not your body. That requires too much. But your Self, yes. That’s why you were younger, in a different body. And that Younger Ginny found herself here with Harry. Until she learned what she needed to learn, that no matter which universe, you two are supposed to be together. Then they returned you both to your proper Universes.’

Ginny shook her head, confusion written large across her face, in the set of her shoulders. She set her tea down. ‘But Harry was with me the whole time in St. Mungo’s. He said the Healers were concerned because they couldn’t wake me up. I was just… sleeping… but three days went by!’

‘Exactly,’ Luna replied. ‘Obviously that Younger Ginny needed three days to learn what she needed to know, and then she woke up.’

‘So it was a dream!’ Ginny cried, pulling on her hair. ‘It didn’t really happen. ‘

‘Certainly it happened,’ said Luna. ‘Dreamtime is the one Universe that touches all universes. Why would you say it wasn’t real just because it happened in Dreamtime?’

Harry’s laugh came from the veranda. He leaned against the open door, hands in his pockets. ‘Dumbledore said something like that to me, once.’ Both witches faced him over the back of the settee, Ginny reaching out her hand. He walked over and grasped her fingers gently, lifting them to his lips.

Luna nodded sagely. ‘After a dream?’ Harry shook his head, walking around the settee and settling between them.

‘No. After I faced Riddle in the Forest.’ He turned to Ginny as she snuggled against him, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. She felt his lips on her forehead, his nose in her hair. ‘You feeling better, Gin?’

Ginny chuckled, shaking her head, pressing her face into his shirt. ‘Yes,’ came her muffled voice, ‘even if I’m still confused. At least now I’ve got a framework to hang my confusion on.’ She lifted her head and looked into Luna’s eyes, reaching across Harry with her free hand and pulling her friend closer. Harry settled his other arm around Luna’s shoulders as Luna leaned forward and kissed Ginny lightly on the lips before both of them rested their heads on Harry’s shoulders. ‘Thank you, Luna.’

‘Yes,’ said Harry, turning to his dear friend. ‘Thank you. I knew you could help her. You’ll have to catch me up so I can be just as confused, though.’ He kissed Luna lightly on the top of her head. ‘You’re the best of friends, Luna. Whatever we can do in return.’ Ginny chuckled, watching Luna look up at Harry through her eyelashes, silvery grey eyes glinting.

‘Oh good,’ she replied. ‘Does that mean I will finally get to watch you two shag like bunnies?’

Ginny laughed, hugging both of them as Harry’s face became redder than her hair. ‘I think you broke him, Luna.’

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Chapter 11: Chapter 11

Author's Notes: We started this journey on 28 March, and now we've come to the end of this dream. Thank you for coming on this imaginary journey, I sincerely hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed telling this tale. And my thanks again to Pottermum, for telling the tale that sparked this concept. You should go read that fic, Living a Dream

I also need to say a Profound Thank You to my Francophone Beta's, GinIsBetterThanFirewhiskey and JulieDX, for their help keeping what Fleur says sounding like, you know, Actual French. You two help me realize my HC of someone who is so much more than just a pretty face, and is somewhat neglected in that aspect. Thank you.


Wednesday, 6 July, 2011

A regular, coughing chuff grabbed Ginny’s attention, but when she opened her eyes only clouds of steamy vapor filled her vision, everywhere she looked. A hand touched her shoulder lightly and she turned. Harry stood there, wearing his newest Weasley jumper and jeans. He wrapped warm arms around her, dispelling the initial cold spreading through her at her first sight of this nothingness.

‘Where are we?’ she asked him.

He shrugged, smirking, his bright green eyes glinting. ‘Dunno.’ he said, and she glared at him. ‘It’s your dream. But that regular chuffing noise and this steam reminds me of something.’ She looked around again through thinning mist at familiar passenger carriages lined up alongside them. At the front a polished red and brass locomotive periodically chuffed more clouds of steam which drifted along and about the platform.

‘Platform 9 and ,’ she whispered. ‘What ever are we doing at Kings Cross?’

Harry chuckled, the vibrations from his chest warming her. ‘Again, your dream so I don’t know. But I’m pretty confident it’s not for the same reason I came here when we first met.’ She slapped his shoulder lightly for his cheekiness.

‘Prat,’ she muttered, but the smile on her face felt warm. His eyes lifted from her and looked over her shoulder, a calm grin of recognition warming his eyes.

‘Hello?’ A young voice, tentative, and not very close by called out. Ginny turned and found herself facing … herself. Like looking into a mirror that melted time away. Long red-gold hair, falling in gentle waves around her shoulders, dressed much like they both were in jeans. And another Weasley jumper, with a G on the front.

‘She might know something,’ he said.

Ginny turned back to him, questioning. ‘How much did you hear yesterday?’

He nodded gently, stroking her cheek lightly. ‘Enough to know, you need to go talk to… your younger self.’ His cheeky grin grew larger. ‘Maybe you need to tell her to take the other me down a peg or two again. Now, how often am I going to be able to say that?’ She chuckled back, turned again to watch her younger self approach the train slowly. Harry’s arms fell away from her sides, the sudden absence raising a thrill of doubt. ‘Go on,’ he said, with a gentle push. ‘I’ll wait here.’

She glanced back at his encouraging nod, then walked purposefully forward. The younger woman reached out to touch a carriage, standing on tip-toes to peer inside when Ginny rested a hand lightly on her shoulder. With a startled jump her younger self spun around to face her, and froze.

‘Er, what's happening?” asked the girl. Ginny slipped her arm through the younger’s.

‘Let's take a walk,’ she said, reassuringly, and with a brief nod to Harry, led the younger girl away to a space where they shared some privacy. The silence drew out in an awkward sensation as she thought about her usual talkative self. Then young Ginny spoke. ‘You have a wonderful family.’

She smiled softly. ‘Thank you. I-- missed them, terribly, for a bit there.’

‘I understand. When I woke up, I missed them too.’

‘You were there, in my place,’ she said kindly, and the younger girl nodded.

‘Yes, I… ‘ The younger girl glanced over to where Harry waited, and blushing blurted out, ‘So, is that my future?’ A marriage and three children with Harry?’

Ginny smiled kindly. ‘Your future isn't written,’ she said, gently. ‘Don't be in such a hurry.’ Then impulsively she continued, ‘And who said we're stopping at three? We talked about it, before we married, and while the number three came up, we both agreed, as many as life brings us.’

The steam whistle tooted, and both women looked over to the train.

‘Are you going somewhere?’ young Ginny asked.

Ginny frowned slightly. Again she wondered why they were here, and grinned at Harry’s cheeky reply earlier. Her dream. She could do anything she wanted. ‘Harry likes to take the train,’ she said, ‘Hogwarts sometimes opens for families to visit during the summer.’

‘Well, keep an eye on James.’

Ginny laughed at the seriousness in the younger voice, watching Harry tilt his head. ‘He can be a handful, that one.’ She looked at her younger self as the younger girl lifted a hand and started to chew on a fingernail, then stop self-consciously. Longing filled those brown eyes as they followed someone in the windows of the train, and glancing over Ginny saw James and Al running along the corridor.

‘I envy you.’ The words flew out of the younger girl’s mouth, and Ginny looked at her in surprise. ‘I've been so driven to prove myself, to my family, to Mum, that I didn't spend any time being myself. Just... living, rather than being so wrapped up in becoming the best Quidditch player.’

Ginny contemplated what her younger self said, nodding slowly. ‘Our experiences during the Carrows year were similar, though with a few differences. Those were hard times; we needed to make hard decisions. I think… I believe you threw yourself into Quidditch to get away from how bad those memories can be.’ The younger girl looked at her, eyes wide. ‘And, since you didn’t know Harry yet, he couldn’t help you like he did me.’

They both turned to see Harry standing in the doorway of the train, watching them both, waiting. Ginny glanced at her younger self. A brief flash of an old feeling that hadn’t touched her since Hogwarts hit her at the look in those younger eyes, focused on her Harry. She shook her head, pushing it down. Even if what she now thought happened in the dream this other version of her experienced, it didn’t matter. Or it did, but for good reasons. Recollections of past thoughts of her own, wondering about her relationship, flitted through her head. She nodded. ‘And I envy you, for being at the start of a wonderful journey, for so many firsts to look forward to.’

‘With Harry?’ younger Ginny asked, a blush spreading over her face and down her neck. Older Ginny tilted her head, knowing the reaction younger Ginny displayed meant she remembered intimate moments with Harry, either Ginny’s own, or her younger one.

‘It's fine. I don't blame you one bit, he's quite a man.’ Then she smiled a bit wickedly. ‘Though it does shine an entirely new light on polyamory.’ The younger girl looked at her blankly.

‘What?’

‘Never mind, it really doesn’t matter.’ Ginny regarded her kindly. ‘Knowing Harry, if anything he would feel he took advantage of you.’

The younger girl shook her head vigorously. ‘He didn’t! I should have told him…’

‘And what, have him or someone else think you were insane because all your memories were different?’ She nodded when younger Ginny’s face paled. ‘You’re starting your life. I’ve an unfair advantage there, more experience. And it still took me a lot to ask someone for help with something I didn’t understand. Plus, you’re, well, me. I did my absolute best back then to get Harry to act on his feelings. I’d have done the same as you.’

The younger girl looked deep into Ginny’s eyes, calmness returning, then curiosity filled those brown eyes, gold flecks blazing as she realized the older version of herself spent time in her place. ‘Who were you with?’

‘Bill. And Fleur. It took me several years to realize that our sister-in-law is a wonderful person, and you appear to know that already.’ They nodded to each other, and a quiet second passed. ‘I envy you another way. I didn't get to meet your Harry before I found myself back.’

She smiled shyly, and Ginny felt a resurgence of her joy the day Harry first kissed her. ‘You’re right,’ said younger Ginny. ‘He’s quite a man.’

Then the train whistle tooted again, and Harry’s voice came to them. ‘Ginny! It’s nearly time.’

The younger woman threw her arms around Ginny, holding tight. 'Percy... and Dad.' Her voice cracked, she stopped speaking. Ginny saw the shining eyes brimming with tears her younger self held back, determined not to cry. She'd always been so determined not to cry.

‘Fred, and Sirius. And… many years together, building your lives.’

‘Do you think we’ll visit? Will I see you again?’

Ginny nodded, grinning cheekily. ‘When you look in the mirror in another ten years or so.’ Their eyes locked together, and then they both laughed. ‘I better go.’ She pushed away from her younger self, and took a step towards the train.

‘Wait!” cried younger Ginny, and she paused, turning back. ‘Was it real? Or was I just living a dream?’

‘Even if you just lived a dream, even if I dreamed your life, what makes it any less real?’ Then she turned back to Harry, and he helped her up into the carriage. With a clatter of metallic clanks and squeals the train began to roll slowly, and Harry closed the door. Alongside, younger Ginny walked along to keep up.

‘Goodbye!’ the younger girl called, waving, as the train pulled ahead. Ginny stood watching through the window, Harry's arm around her comfortably, as younger Ginny ran alongside until the platform stopped, then grew smaller with the distance. When the platform disappeared from view as the train curled around a bend, with a smile on her face and a lighter heart, she turned back to Harry, her Harry, and melted into a tight hug.

She pulled back slightly to find his eyes, and melted into them. ‘Did I look like that, running along the train so long ago?’

Harry chuckled. ‘You were a bit smaller.’

She slapped his shoulder.

‘Hey, I like the size you grew into better!’

‘For that I shall forgive your rudeness,’ she quipped, lifting herself on tip-toes to kiss him gently.

‘Lets go catch up with the kids,” he whispered, She nodded to him, but stopped his turn to press her lips softly to his again, a timeless moment, before she too turned, twining the fingers of her hand into his as they walked along the passageway.

‘Do you want more children?’ she asked, and he stopped, his eyes wider when she turned to him.

‘What brings that on?’

She patted his cheek softly. ‘Oh, nothing.’

Harry chuckled, nodding slowly. ‘What?’

‘You did say, however many life brings us.’ She shook her head, scoffing, and pulled him along the corridor.

She woke to a dark room, Harry’s arm around her as he spooned her from behind, his hand cupping her breast while he slept. A proud bit of him pressed against her bum, and she chuckled softly to herself knowing that meant he still dreamed. She wondered briefly if he’d pulled her into one of the loo’s on the carriage for their private interlude. Cheekily she rubbed against him lightly, then settled.

The bed shook slightly from another body leaning into it. Opening her eyes, Al smiled at her, his green eyes filled with concern. She budged the covers up a bit making sure they covered her chest as she slid her arm over and stroked his forearm lightly. It wasn’t that Al hadn’t seen them both nude in the hot tub before; she simply didn’t want to move her husband’s hand yet. ‘What woke you up, Al?’

He shrugged, propping his chin in his hands. ‘Dunno. Was dreaming about a train ride.’ Ginny wondered briefly if all her family took part in her dream, watching her younger son think through something. She rested her hand on his.

‘It’s been a while since you’ve come to me in the night. Something woke you.’

‘Are you really all better?’ he blurted, and her heart skipped a beat at the fear and pain in his voice.

‘Oh, love, yes, I am.’ She took his hand in hers, squeezing gently.

‘But Uncle Percy said you almost died! And it would be my fault because you had to save me.’

‘I didn’t die, though, because my coaches and trainers with the Harpies taught me well, I didn’t even get badly hurt. Yes,’ she added quickly, forestalling his reply when his mouth opened, ‘I could have been. But it isn’t your fault, it couldn’t be. Part of my job as your mum, of your dad’s as well, is to protect you and keep you safe.’

His face relaxed as he thought about that, then a slight grin lifted his lips. ‘Uncle Percy was really upset.’ Ginny nodded.

‘He gets that way sometimes. And like all of us, he feels things very strongly.’

‘After Dad and Grams Tonks took you to hospital, Uncle Percy found the rock that you hit your head on. It wasn’t even very big, but he blasted it until it was sand, yelling the whole time "Not another one, not another one." Aunt Audrey made him stop, told him he was scaring all us kids.’

She continued stroking his arm softly, weighing his words. ‘Did it scare you? And not just Percy blowing up that rock, either.’

He nodded, and when he spoke she wondered again at how much like his father Al was. ‘A little, yeah. I mean, Uncle Percy isn’t, that’s not like him, Mum. He was red in the face, and yelling, and… I could see Uncle George doing that, but…’

‘George would turn the rock into a firework and blow it up that way,’ she said, and Al chuckled, nodding. She felt an insight as a memory flitted through her mind. ‘Do you remember this year, on Victoire’s birthday, when we all remembered your Uncle Fred?’ Al nodded, suddenly solemn as he recalled the day. It always felt such a mixture of joy and sadness to Ginny. ‘Uncle Percy was with Fred when he died. He feels that very strongly, Al. He doesn’t want any of the rest of us to ever go through that again.’

She watched her son mull that over and around, his expressions again so much those of the man snuggled up behind her. Then Al smiled shyly, nodding. ‘Can I stay here for a bit?’

‘Yes, for a bit,’ she replied, patting the bed next to her. He climbed on and lay down next to her over the duvet, the early summer air still warm, and rested his head on her pillow under her chin. ‘But I will wake you up and send you back to your room before your father wakes up,’ she added.

Al chuckled. ‘No worries. I don’t want to see all that early morning snogging you two do. Yuck.’ She smiled to herself, hugging him.

‘Do you really feel it’s yuckie?’

He turned his head enough to see her eyes, and shook his head. ‘I know you and Dad do that because you love each other, all you grown ups do that. Just, Roxy made me kiss her, to see why you do it, and… it only felt like touching.’ Then he shrugged, and settled in closer. She hugged her son, smiling to herself.

‘You’ll understand one day,’ she whispered, wondering if she felt ready for that day to arrive.

All the little things, she thought, though another corner of her mind wondered how little a thing reassuring her son she was all right should prove to be. Still and all, right here, warm between two people she loved so deeply, listening to their sleeping breathing so much alike, her heart swelled full with love. She belonged here. In her place and time.

And if this is only a dream , she thought, don’t ever wake me up.

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