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Taking the Train
By lilyevans_Jan30

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Category: Alternate Universe, Post-HBP, Post-DH/AB
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Death, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Sexual Situations
Story is Complete
Rating: PG-13
Reviews: 154
Summary: While talking with Dumbledore at King's Cross, Harry comes to a different decision about his future, a decision that puts his relationship with Ginny in grave peril. Can he find a way to fix things before it's too late?
Hitcount: Story Total: 50628; Chapter Total: 6302

Author's Notes:
This little chapter is a quick bridge to the main plot of the story. I originally planned to post it along with the much longer and meatier chapter 4, because the two flow together, but I am heading out on a much needed tropical vacation in a couple of days, and chapter 4 won't be finished before then. So enjoy this for what it is! Special thanks to reviewer Lobsters, who gave me a much better way to get Harry off the train than my original plan.


. . . Ahead of him at the end of the corridor, Harry saw with a start, stood the Mirror of Erised again, still reflecting the images of his parents. Harry was confused. He was with his parents now. So why should they still be his heart’s desire? He approached cautiously, watching as his mother turned her back on him to speak, no, to scold, it looked like, someone in the background. It was when she turned back around and faced Harry properly, that he felt his heart fall into his stomach, and his vision blur.

“Oh sweet Merlin, no . . . no . . . it’s wrong . . . I did it wrong . . . oh please, I have to get off . . . I have to get off . . . Someone, please! Stop the train!!!!”

His thoughts flew at him so fast they could not form coherent ideas in his mind. He only knew a desperate need to make Someone understand, to fix what he had unwittingly broken. He began babbling, hardly aware of the words spilling out of his mouth, saying anything he thought might reverse the mess he had made, ”It’s not easy . . . I know it’s not easy. But it’s right. So right . . . to love . . . her . . . and to be loved. To be loved by her. I love her. I love Ginny . . . I LOVE GINNY . . . Oh Merlin, how do I get back?”

Harry gazed with mounting horror at the figures in the mirror in front of him. His heart’s desire, clear as day now. How could he not have seen? True, the mist had obscured some of the reflection at King’s Cross, but Harry knew it was more than that. Upon seeing his father, standing there with a beautiful red-haired woman, his brain had simply filled in the missing details, completed the story that had been true when Harry was eleven years old. But he wasn’t eleven anymore, and the couple gazing back at him was not his parents. It was hard enough to look into his own vivid green eyes on the man that, for the second time in his life, Harry had mistaken for James. Maybe that was an honest mistake. But to have missed Ginny, standing beside him as if it was the most natural thing in the world, as if there was no other possibility for the two of them than to be together — how could he not have seen it? So much had changed for him since first year. He had somehow found his place in a world where he belonged, and despite the fact that prophecies and evildoers and dark lords were trying to undo him, he had been mostly happy. And then he had found the one person who made his life everything it needed to be, and he had been too blind and tunnel-visioned to see it when it stared him in the face.

Looking into the mirror Harry realized that his heart’s desire now was not that different from his first year after all, except for one crucial difference. He still wanted a family. People that looked like him and loved him. A history, stories, memories. But now that included a future to create those things for himself, for themselves. With Ginny. Always with Ginny. “Oh please, help me get her back . . . help me get us back!”

In the split second that it took Harry to realize his mistake and begin screaming for the train to stop, his mind also registered the figures standing in the background of the reflection. Not grandparents and aunts and uncles, long dead, but children . . . children that looked like him . . . no, children that looked like them. A little girl with brown eyes and red hair who held her arms to him, begging to be picked up. A son with a thin face and Harry’s eyes, his messy black hair sticking up in a familiar pattern. An older boy with a mischievous smile, freckles spattered across his nose, who even now was poking the back of his brother’s head with his wand, raising mirror Ginny’s ire. Further back, and again, Harry berated himself for having missed them, stood Ron and Hermione with their own children, and other familiar Weasley faces with their wives and families. This was the possibility he had given up by getting on the train; this is what he stood to lose if he could not get off in time.

His heart in his stomach, Harry continued to scream for help, desperately grabbing at the candies that fluttered through the air, as if they could bring Dumbledore to him, to take him back, to make it better. He turned for a moment back the way he had come, but stopped, knowing in his gut that he should not go back to the compartment. But his screams had alerted them to his turmoil, and his dad and mum poked their heads out and looked curiously at him, standing in the aisle, pounding on the windows, frantically begging an Acid Pop to help him get off the train.

“You can’t get off until we are there,” said his father. “But don’t worry, I think we have almost arrived.”

Even as his father spoke, Harry felt the train’s momentum slow almost imperceptibly, leading him to redouble his frenzied efforts to get off NOW. His parents came out of the compartment and started towards him, concern in their eyes over his behavior.

“NO! Stay Away!” shouted Harry at them hysterically, as if keeping his distance now could reverse the damage he had done. “I can’t be with you! I can’t! It’s all wrong . . . all . . . wrong. I need to be with her . . . with Ginny. I need to be with Ginny! I need to kill Voldemort so I can be with Ginny! Please, can’t you see? I can’t stay here with you . . . I’m not meant to be here!” Much like Ron had done in the dungeon of Malfoy Manor, Harry began trying to Disapparate without a wand, an effort that was no more successful than Ron’s desperate attempts to save Hermione had been. But Dobby had saved them all then. Was there no one to help now, now that Harry knew without a doubt that he was trapped in the middle of the biggest nightmare of his life?

Maybe it was because his thoughts had turned towards that day at Malfoy Manor, but for an instant, Harry could have sworn he again glimpsed a familiar blue eye in the mirror in front of him. It was gone just as quickly . . . but no, there it was again. Eyes, staring at him for a moment and then just as quickly, disappearing. Turning his attention away from the locked window for a second, Harry pounded his fists against the mirror, so hard he thought it might shatter.

“Please!! Please, Dumbledore please!! You knew . . . you must have known . . . fix it! FIX IT! You have to fix it NOW!” In his desperation Harry was yelling at his old professor in a way he never would have dared to when the man was alive. After a second that felt like an eternity, during which Harry became more aware that the train was continuing to slow, he heard Dumbledore’s voice.

“I can’t.”

“You . . . you can’t what?”

“I can’t fix it, Harry. It was your decision. Your choice.”

“It was not my choice!! It was the choice I thought I was supposed to make, but it was not the choice I wanted, not now! I want Ginny!! I want her . . . I need her . . .” Harry’s last words were spoken in a defeated sob as he fell to his knees, tears staining his cheeks. All was lost to him.

After a beat, Dumbledore’s next words broke the stillness. “What about your parents?”

From his position on the ground, Harry choked out, “I don’t need them anymore . . . not the way I used to. I should have seen that right away . . . I . . . .I will always mourn the fact that have not been there to watch me grow, that they will miss out on my life. But they can’t give me my future. Only Ginny can do that . . . only her. And now I have lost her. How could I have done this to her? Oh Dumbledore please, please, Help Me!”

“Harry, I cannot take you back. Only you know if what you feel in your heart is strong enough to take you where you want to go. It is up to you to help yourself. But I can give you a hand in the right direction. ”

With those words, the mirror in front of Harry shimmered for a moment and then turned clear, as if Harry was looking out of a large glass door in the side of the train. Despite the gradual slowing he had been feeling, the mist outside was still rushing by at a good clip, and Harry was able to see dark, hazy shapes in the distance, each gone before he could begin to tell what they were. Harry put his hand up to the door and it swung open away from him with a click. Mist began pouring into the carriage and cold, damp air hit his face. It was obvious what he needed to do, and Harry squared his shoulders, determined not to mess it up again. He put his hands on either side of the doorway and took a deep breath . . .


The voice behind him interrupted his determined stance, and he looked back down the corridor to see his parents, and now Sirius and Lupin, standing by their compartment door.

“I, I can’t stay . . . I have to go . . . . I’m sorry . . .i love you all, but I have to go.” Even knowing what he was about to do and what he was about to leave, Harry was too panicked to take the time to form the right words to say goodbye. He looked at his parents for a moment, begging them with his eyes to understand, and then turned back towards the open door. As he flexed his knees and looked out over the mist, he heard his parents’ voices, but did not turn around again.

“Good luck with Ginny, son. Those redheads get us Potter men every time.”

“We love you, Harry. You know part of us will always be with you.”

Closing his eyes, Harry conjured up her face. Not the hard, blazing look he had once known so well, nor the tormented vision he had just seen as she mourned his death. Instead, he saw Ginny as she had appeared to him in the Mirror, a Ginny who was content and open and his . . . one for whom sunlit days were such a regular occurrence that each individual one blurred comfortingly into the next. The Ginny of his future . . . their future.

With a determination born not out of his Gryffindor courage, but out of panic, desire, and love, Harry pushed himself out the door. Nothing but Ginny filled his heart and his mind, and he fell through the mist he could do nothing but hope against hope that he was not too late.

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