|SIYE Time:2:24 on 18th September 2021|
The Legacy of Regulus Black, the Story Continues
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Category: Pre-OotP, Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Sirius Black
Genres: Action/Adventure, Humor, Romance
Story is Complete
Summary: What happened to Harry and Ginny after their mysterious Portkey journey and how did the legacy of Regulus Black change their lives, up to the defeat of Tom Riddle? Becomes more and more AU during the story.
Sequel to The Legacy of Regulus Black
Hitcount: Story Total: 19676; Chapter Total: 1551
Awards: View Trophy Room
Friday, December 22th, 1995
The sound of the opening door interrupted Ginny’s train of thoughts.
She looked up and saw her mother standing in the doorway. She heard her worried voice. "Ginny, you need to eat something. It won't help Harry if you starve."
"I know, Mum," Ginny said quietly. "But I'm not hungry."
Her mother walked up to her, holding a plate with sandwiches in her hand. "At least try to eat something." She set the plate on the desk at the foot of Harry's bed. "He's going to be alright. Poppy promised it."
Ginny turned her gaze back to the bed where Harry lay motionless. His pale face was barely visible under the enormous head bandage. Suppressing her tears, she sobbed, "Yeah,… I know."
"You were up all night, Ginny. You must go to sleep at some point," her mother continued in an insistent voice.
"I won't leave him alone." Ginny shook her head.
"No," Ginny interjected. "I won't leave him alone, just as he wouldn’t leave me alone."
"Okay, then I'll come back later," her mother said, leaving the room with a worried look.
Ginny wanted to be there when Harry woke up. If she’d be in his place and she woke up, the first thing she would do would be to look for Harry. And she hoped Harry would do the same. No, she wouldn't leave him. She wanted to be there for him when he woke up, in case he needed anything.
Absentmindedly, she got up and walked the room. Harry had been unconscious for more than 20 hours now. Ginny had left the room only to go to the loo, and when Madam Pomfrey insisted that she'd leave the room while she examined Harry. When she noticed that she was staring at the plate for a while now, she reached for a sandwich and took a bite.
Slowly she walked back to her chair and sat down, pondering the events of the last day.
The image of the exploding scar on Harry's forehead was still burned into her brain. The shock, when his blood suddenly sprayed everywhere, and Harry collapsed, still shook her. Screaming, she'd thrown herself on his fallen body and only left his side for a few moments when Madam Pomfrey had arrived.
Ginny had been so distraught that she'd completely forgotten to inform Sirius. Harry's godfather had returned from the island late that night when the Hogwarts matron had already left.
Sirius had joined Ginny's vigil until the early hours of the morning. At some point, when he’d almost fallen off his chair, Ginny had insisted he go to bed.
After he'd left, Ginny had cautiously laid down on the bed next to Harry and slept for a few hours. She had hoped her mother wouldn't notice it and was relieved that she didn't scold her when she and Madam Pomfrey entered the room to check on Harry in the morning. She'd set a plate of sandwiches on the desk and left the room with Ginny to let the Hogwarts matron do her work.
Ginny had just swallowed the last bite of her sandwich when the door opened again. She was about to give her mother an annoyed look when Sirius walked through the door, a worried look on his face. Giving Sirius a silent nod, she stood up.
"How is Harry?" Sirius asked, looking anxiously at his godson.
Ginny glanced past Sirius at Harry's pale face. "Madam Pomfrey was here in the morning. She said he will fully recover, but it will take its time. He is very weak and lost a lot of blood."
Turning to the man, she said hesitantly, "Sirius?"
"I spent all night thinking about what happened," she began. After gathering her thoughts for a moment, she went on, "Isn't it odd that Harry's scar exploded at the same time you summoned the soul pieces?" She paused briefly to ponder her next words. "Is it possible that Harry also was a Horcrux?"
She looked Sirius in the eye. "The more I think about it, the more everything fits together what we know about that Halloween night when Tom killed Harry's parents, and the way Horcruxes are created. This piece of Tom's soul may have caused Harry's scar when it invaded him. But why would Tom choose Harry as one of his Horcruxes." Ginny shook her head. "And why has he been trying to kill him? Why would he want to kill one of his Horcruxes? Somehow, I’ve the feeling I’m missing something. Somehow it doesn't make sense."
Sirius nodded. "I had the same thoughts." He looked contemplatively at Harry's motionless form. "But you made an interesting point. Why would he try to kill one of his Horcruxes? Maybe he didn't know Harry was a Horcrux? But wouldn't this mean he didn't want to create a Horcrux then? Maybe something went wrong with his plan. I'd really want to know what Dumbledore thinks about this, and if he knows more than we do... or at least suspects it."
Ginny gave Sirius a horrified look. "Harry had had a piece of Tom's soul in his head all his life, and you think Dumbledore might have known about it?"
"Ever since I told Dumbledore what my brother had found out, I’ve had the feeling he knows what Horcruxes are. And he always spoke about this mysterious connection between Harry and Voldemort, and that Voldemort could use this connection to spy on the Order. This all sounds very much as if Dumbledore at least suspected that Harry was a Horcrux."
"We should have noticed it as well," Ginny said and sat down on the edge of the desk.
"Yes, we should have," Sirius agreed. "But on the other hand, maybe it’s better we didn’t know."
"How can you…?"
Sirius interrupted her, raising his hands defensively. "Don't get me wrong. I know, it could've gone terribly wrong. What I mean is that we wouldn't have performed the ritual if we had known the risk. But who knows if there would have been any other way to get rid of the damned thing in Harry's head? I haven't seen a single passage in the books about Horcruxes existing in living beings. Maybe, with hindsight, it was good we didn't know."
"We should tell Ron and Hermione what happened," Ginny suggested. "They are worried about Harry, but have no idea what really happened to him."
"You two can tell them as soon as Harry is getting better. If you want, I'll take the blame for the secrecy. After all, I forbade you to talk about the possibility of merging soul pieces with anyone else."
"Mum also deserves to know," Ginny said. "But she would be even more worried, and would certainly try to prevent me from being involved in any of this."
A knock on the door made Ginny look up. To her surprise, she saw Dumbledore stride into the room.
"Good morning, Miss Weasley. Good morning, Sirius," greeted the older man, giving them a friendly nod. "I understand that young Harry is doing well considering the circumstances."
"He's doing well?" Ginny exclaimed, aghast. "He's been unconscious for hours."
"And just what do you know about his circumstances, Albus?" Sirius asked.
"Madam Pomfrey has informed me that Mr Potter will be fine in a few days, but she couldn't tell me anything about the cause of his injury. Apparently, none of the witnesses saw what exactly happened to Mr Potter. I suppose you were there, too, Miss Weasley? How did you experience it?"
"Yes," Ginny said, blushing slightly. "I was there. For no apparent reason, he suddenly started bleeding and collapsed. Ever since Madam Pomfrey came and stopped the bleeding, he's just been resting unconscious in his bed."
"Do you have any ideas what happened to Harry, Albus?" Sirius asked, watching Dumbledore closely.
"A lot of odd things happened last night," the Headmaster replied evasively, with a sidelong glance at Ginny.
"There's no reason to hold back, Albus," Sirius replied. "Ginny knows everything I know, as does Harry. They deserve to know. After all, they discovered the information about the Horcruxes."
"Very well," Dumbledore replied, looking pensively at Ginny. "This morning Arthur returned from his night watch at the Ministry and reported that he'd found an unconscious giant snake in the corridor to the Department of Mysteries. The giant snake was bleeding from a wound between its eyes and had a striking resemblance to Voldemort's pet snake, Nagini. After everything Severus had told me about the snake, I had assumed Nagini to be a Horcrux. Much to my surprise, the unconscious giant snake was not a Horcrux."
Dumbledore went on, "Tonight, I’ve visited the Gaunt shack outside the village of Little Hangleton to look for a ring I also assumed to be a Horcrux. I’ve found the ring, but it, too, was not a Horcrux. Either my presumptions about the Horcruxes were all wrong, or someone has been manipulating the Horcruxes. Summoning them, perhaps? But why would Tom do that? Yet, who else could possibly be interested in manipulating the Horcruxes?"
"Do you think Harry was a Horcrux as well, Albus?" Sirius gave the man an intently look.
"As I said," Dumbledore replied, "a lot of odd things happened last night, and I'm afraid these things still need quite a bit of pondering."
"But you'd tell us if you know what's wrong with Harry?" Sirius asked.
"Of course, I'd tell you if I knew exactly what happened," Dumbledore replied.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Sunday, December 24th, 1995
Ginny was sitting at the desk in Harry's room in front of a plate of sandwiches and a carafe of pumpkin juice her mother had brought for lunch.
She took a sandwich and got up to take her seat on the chair next to Harry's bed. It had been almost three days, but Harry's condition hadn't changed. Madam Pomfrey had visited twice a day to examine him, telling her that Harry needed more time to recover.
Ginny had used the time when Pomfrey was with Harry to freshen up but had otherwise refused to leave the room. At night, when everyone else was asleep, she lay down on the bed next to Harry, pulled a blanket over herself, trying to find a few hours of sleep.
But after the three days, her patience was wearing thin. As much as she wanted company, and that someone's visiting Harry, she once had already thrown both Ron and Hermione out of the room when they started bickering.
She was so engrossed in staring at Harry's pale face that she didn't notice Sirius entering the room until he stood next to Harry's bed.
"Is there any news?" he asked after a while, breaking the silence.
"No, nothing," Ginny replied worriedly. "He barely moves. Pomfrey washed him this morning and put on new pyjamas. I hope she’s also doing something to keep him from starving. After all, he can't eat anything in his condition."
"Everything's going to be fine." Sirius patted her shoulder. "In a few days, the world will look brighter again."
He pulled the chair from the desk closer and sat down next to Ginny. "Did you know there was an Order meeting last night?"
"Is there any news?" Ginny asked, her eyes flashing with interest.
"Oh, yes," Sirius chuckled. "You can say that. Snape attended the Order meeting, and he had some quite interesting things to tell."
"I take it, Tom noticed something?" Ginny could barely hide her excitement.
"He noticed something? I'd say he's pissed off," Sirius declared. "At first he was missing Nagini and couldn't figure out what happened to her. By the way, Dumbledore brought the snake to Hagrid to nurse her back to health and use her to teach the students about giant snakes."
"Is Hagrid back? He was on a mission for the Order," Ginny interjected.
"Hagrid has been back for two days, and he asked me to say hello to you both. He said he's looking forward to teaching again."
"That's great." Ginny beamed, but went on impatiently, "But back to Snape, what else did he say?"
"According to Snape, Voldemort ordered Bellatrix to get something out of her Gringotts vault. He himself left for Little Hangleton with a couple of his Death Eaters. I guess he wanted to look for the ring Dumbledore had found there. When he came back, he was furious." Sirius paused a moment, before he went on, "Actually, I was hoping that Voldemort wouldn't notice so quickly that his Horcruxes were gone. He'll probably be very nervous. I wouldn't be surprised if he’d make new Horcruxes."
"What happened to the Horcruxes?"
Startled, Ginny turned around. Ron and Hermione had entered the room, unnoticed.
"Oh," Ginny began nervously. "There's something we need to tell you."
Hermione looked at Sirius questioningly. "Did you find something new in the books?"
"Ehmm," Sirius began slowly, shaking his head, "not exactly. There was something in the Black Family's Journal we've never told anyone about. But I think it's time to tell you about it."
"But not before Harry awakens," Ginny interrupted. "There are things we only found out two days ago, and Harry doesn't know about it yet. It concerns him directly. That’s why we need to talk to Harry before we talk to anyone else. That’s why you need to wait a bit longer. I'm sorry."
"That's right," Sirius confirmed. "We shouldn't talk about it without Harry, especially because part of it is his story to tell. Even if he doesn’t know it yet."
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Tuesday, December 26th, 1995
Ginny stepped out of the shower. Pulling the towel closer around her chest, she hurried over to the room she was sharing with Hermione. She'd barely been in her room in the last week, only to shower and change clothes.
Ever since Harry had fallen unconscious, she'd been with him. She'd only left his room when Madam Pomfrey examined him early in the morning and in the evening. As always, the Hogwarts Matron had arrived punctually at seven o'clock and woke her. She hadn't made a fuss that Ginny was lying next to Harry on the bed. Apparently, she'd gotten used to the sight in the last days.
Quietly, Ginny had sneaked into her room trying not to wake up Hermione. She was just pulling a new shirt over her head when she heard the other girl’s voice. "How's Harry?"
Ginny looked up and gave Hermione a sad look. "Nothing’s changed. Pomfrey is with him now. You can drop by later if you want. I'll just go and fetch a mug of tea before I'll go back."
Turning to the door, she added, "See you."
Moments later, Ginny pushed open the door to Harry's room, trying not to spill the tea in her mug.
"She'll be right back, Mr Potter," she heard the Matron say. "How are you? Are you still in pain?"
"I'm fine," she heard Harry mumble while trying to sit up in bed. "Uuhu," he suddenly cried, slumping back onto the bed.
"Slow down!" Pomfrey ordered him. "You'll feel dizzy for a while until you've eaten something."
"Harry," Ginny shouted, happy to see him awake.
"Ginny, is that you?"
"Of course, silly," Ginny beamed with tears in her eyes. She quickly put her mug on the desk and hurried over to his bed. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she took his hand in hers, grinning at him. "I've been sitting here all week to be there when you wake up. I'm away for 10 minutes to have a shower, and what do you do? You choose that very moment to sneak back."
She reached for his glasses lying on the night stand and put them on his nose. "Now you can see me properly," she chuckled.
"Ehmm," Madam Pomfrey interrupted the scene. "Miss Weasley, Mr Potter is still very weak. He needs some tea and a broth with bread, but not too much at once. May I assume that you can ensure that Molly doesn't feed him too much at once?"
Ginny chuckled, "I'll try my best."
"See you tonight, Mr Potter." Pomfrey waved her goodbye. Turning back to Ginny, she added, "I'll talk to your mother about Mr Potter's diet, Miss Weasley.”
"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey," Ginny replied, glad she didn't have to leave Harry alone to update her mother.
"So, Harry." Ginny looked at him seriously. "How are you really doing?"
"I'm fine," Harry said softly.
"Harry..." Ginny gave him a stern gaze.
"No, really," Harry continued hoarsely. "It's not that bad. My throat is a bit dry. I could use something to drink. But I'm not hungry." Suddenly he paused, giving her a questioning look. "What happened to me?"
"Good question," Ginny said. "I think you'd better rest a bit before we talk about what happened."
"I only remember that I suddenly became dizzy." His eyes widened in horror. "There was blood everywhere. You were screaming. Ginny, what happened? And why do I have this bandage around my head?"
Taking his hand in hers, she squeezed it. "Do you really want to talk about it right now?"
"Is it that bad?" he asked worriedly.
"To be honest, it was horrible," Ginny admitted, barely stifling her tears when she remembered the moment when blood spurted from Harry's forehead.
Noticing Harry's scared look, she quickly went on, "But it's okay now. Really. Madam Pomfrey said you need to rest for a few days, and everything will be alright."
"So, what...?" Harry started again.
Stroking the back of his hand with her thumb, she said softly, "We think it happened the moment Bill and Sirius performed the soul merging ritual, summoning all of Tom's soul pieces from the Horcruxes."
The noise of the opening door made Ginny pause.
"Poppy said Harry is awake." She heard Sirius voice from the door.
"Yes, he is," Ginny confirmed.
"Hi Harry," Sirius grinned at his godson. "How are you?"
Harry rolled his eyes at the question, but Ginny replied, "He said he's fine. I think Mum will soon bring something to drink and to eat."
"I'm glad you're back among the living." Sirius beamed.
"Yeah, me too," croaked Harry. Turning back to Ginny, he asked, "So, what about the ritual?"
Looking at Sirius, Ginny shrugged her shoulders. "He insists on knowing what happened. Although I think he ought to rest first."
"Okay," Harry interjected. "What has the damn ritual to do with the bandage on my head?"
"Harry, ..." Ginny started again, trying to stay calm, unable to suppress the tears in her eyes. "We think Tom created a Horcrux when he..." Ginny stopped, sobbing.
"...when he killed your parents," Sirius continued for her.
Harry got even paler than he was before. With flickering eyes, he gasped for air.
"Harry, it's fine. It's gone," Ginny cried and threw herself over him.
It seemed to take forever but, when his breathing finally became even, Ginny straightened slightly. Taking his hands in hers, she looked him in the eye.
As Harry turned away, Ginny whispered, "Harry, look at me. Please."
It took a while for Harry to slowly turn his head, and look in Ginny's eyes, horrified. "He was in my head, Ginny. All the time."
"Yes, and so what?" Suppressing a sob, Ginny gave him a challenging look. "I know it was different, but I also had him in my head. The thought isn't pretty. Sometimes it's even nauseating. But never forget Harry, we got rid of the diary, and we got rid of that damned thing in your head. Doesn't this make us stronger than Tom?"
They looked into each other's eyes for what felt like forever when a shy smile slowly spread across Harry's face and Ginny felt him squeezing her hands. "Yeah, we won't let him win."
Sirius cleared his throat. "As much as I hate to interrupt you, but Harry has visitors."
"Ehmm, ... Uh, oh, ..." Ginny stuttered, letting go of Harry. Gathering her thoughts, she turned around. "Good morning, Mum. Hi, Ron, Hermione."
"Good morning, Ginny," her mother replied, placing a tray of tea, bread and a bowl of broth on the desk. Beaming, she looked at Harry and walked to the bed. "Harry, I'm glad you woke up, we’ve been so worried."
"Hi mate." Ron eyed Harry critically.
"Hello Harry, how are you?" Hermione exclaimed excitedly. "I was so worried about you, what happened to you?"
"Let the poor boy breathe," her mother intervened. "Come, Harry dear. I have some tea for you. You must be thirsty. Don't worry, the tea is just lukewarm." She handed the cup to Harry and assisted him in holding it.
After a few sips, Harry slowly raised his head. "Thank you, Mrs Weasley."
"You're welcome, Harry. Poppy said you need to eat some broth and bread. You should eat before it gets cold."
While her mother fed Harry the broth, Ginny told Ron and Hermione how Harry woke up when Madam Pomfrey examined him.
"What happened to Harry that he got so badly injured?" Hermione raised one of her earlier questions.
"We will tell you as soon as Harry's up again, Hermione. I just told him what we think what happened to him. Please, let the news sink in before he talks to you two about it." She paused a moment before she added, "We also need to talk to Dumbledore. But first, Harry needs to rest."
"Was it that bad?" Hermione asked.
"Yes," admitted Ginny. "But he's fine now. Believe me."
When her mother put the empty bowl of broth back on the tray, Ginny turned to Harry. "Are you ready for your Christmas presents?"
Harry's eyes bugged out. "Christmas presents? Are you joking? How long did I sleep?"
"We've been waiting for almost a week for you to wake up, Mate," Ron replied. "Today's Boxing Day."
"Let the poor boy rest," Ginny's mother interjected. "How about we all visit Harry for half an hour at tea time, so you can all unwrap your presents?"
"But we always unwrap our presents in the morning, Mum," Ron said.
"But not this year, Ron. Harry needs his rest." Her mother concluded the discussion, shooing them all out of the room.
"Ginny, please stay," Harry croaked.
"Yes. Of course, I'll stay with you," Ginny said. Turning to her mother, she added, "Someone needs to be here if Harry needs something."
When the door had been shut, she sat back on the edge of the bed, beaming at Harry. "I'm glad you're finally awake. I couldn't stand to wait any longer. So much has happened."
"Then tell me," Harry said.
"Are you sure you're ready?" Ginny gave him an appraising look. "You still look a bit tired."
"I’m fine." With a mischievous grin, he added, "And I love to listen to your voice."
Ginny nudged his arm, smirking. "Seems you're really fine. Okay, then listen."
She moved to the chair and leaned over to rest her head on her hands. "The ritual has triggered some events we didn't expect. The way it affected you was only one of them," Ginny began, giving Harry a summary of the last days, from Nagini, and Gaunt's ring, to Voldemort's rage, when he noticed that something was wrong with his Horcruxes.
"And Sirius agreed to tell Dumbledore about the ritual?" Harry asked after Ginny finished her tale.
"Yes," Ginny affirmed. "As soon as you're strong enough to get up. I've already told Ron and Hermione that we'll explain everything that happened to you. Hermione can't wait."
"Yeah, that's Hermione," Harry sniggered, suppressing a yawn.
"You better sleep a bit now," Ginny said firmly. "I'll go fetch a book and then I’ll stay with you."
"Yes, Ma'am," Harry muttered, closing his eyes.
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Sunday, December 31st, 1995
Ginny stood excitedly in front of Harry's door. Today he was allowed to get up for the first time since he awoke five days ago, and she wanted to pick him up for breakfast.
She knocked on his door, calling, "Harry, are you ready?"
"I'm almost done, but you can come in." She heard Harry's voice through the door.
Ginny opened the door and saw Harry sitting on the bed, putting on his slippers.
"How are you doing this morning?" She beamed at him. "But don't you dare to say, I'm fine."
"But I am fine," he answered with a cheeky smile. "Except that I'm hungry."
Ginny raised her eyebrow. "But you remember that Dumbledore wanted to see you this morning?"
"Yep," Harry replied. "It seems he has changed his mind after shunning me the last term. I take it Hermione is impatiently waiting for us to talk to her and Ron as well."
"You can bet on that," Ginny rolled her eyes. "She’s tried every night to ask me a lot of questions." Ginny had resumed sleeping in the room she was sharing with Hermione, while Ron had moved back into Harry's room.
Harry got up from his bed, grimacing. "Merlin, now that you reminded me, I'd rather stay in bed for a few more days. Let's head down to breakfast."
"Yeah, Mum is surely waiting for you," Ginny agreed and walked down the stairs with Harry. "Do you know that Hermione's parents are back? She'll go home tomorrow morning and spend the rest of the holidays with them."
"That's great. I'm sure she missed her parents," Harry replied.
As they entered the kitchen, Ron and Hermione were already seated.
"Good morning," Ginny greeted everyone with a hearty smile.
"Good morning, Harry, Ginny," her mother called. "Sit down. Your breakfast is ready."
"Where are the others?" Harry asked in surprise, sipping his cup of tea.
"Fred and George went to Lee Jordan’s yesterday," Ginny explained. "They're spending New Year's Eve with his family." She grinned at Harry. "I’d bet they arranged it, so they can try out their new fireworks."
Ginny's mother served them their plates of fried egg, bacon, baked beans and toast, asking, "Do you want some black pudding, Harry?"
"No, thank you, Mrs Weasley," Harry refused politely.
"Where is Mr Weasley? It's Sunday, he won't be at work?" Harry looked at the woman.
"Arthur is away on Order business," Ginny's mother explained. "He said it would take all day."
They were almost finished devouring their breakfast when Sirius walked through the door with Dumbledore in tow. After they had greeted everyone, Sirius pointed to an empty chair. "Have a seat, Albus. Molly, I hope you have another cup of your marvellous tea for us."
"Harry, my boy, how are you?" Dumbledore asked, taking a sip of his tea.
"I'm fine," Harry answered tersely. "I still need to thank you for your help in my trial in August. I know it's a bit late, but unfortunately, I haven't seen you since then, Headmaster."
"I'm sorry Harry, it’s been a busy term." Dumbledore gave Harry a friendly smile. "But today I'm here to catch up with you. I hope you're well enough to answer some of my questions."
"Yes, I'd be happy to be of help," Harry replied. Crossing his arms, he added with a sly smile, "But I also have some questions I’m hoping to get answers for."
Ginny looked apprehensively at her mother. She had a bit of a guilty conscience that her parents didn't know what she was doing. On the other hand, she was afraid her mother would insist that it was too dangerous for her. But it was out of the question that her mother could stop her to help Harry. So far, her mother had been very understanding, but she had the feeling that her understanding would run thin when it came to the Horcruxes. She was relieved when Dumbledore, after a quick glance at her mother, suggested, "Let's continue the conversation in the drawing room when you're done with breakfast."
"That sounds good to me," Harry replied, his gaze wandering around the table. "I wanted to talk to Ron and Hermione anyway."
Dumbledore gave Harry a hesitant look but nodded finally. "Very well. As you wish."
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Following Dumbledore’s suggestion, they had gone to the drawing room and had sat down at the dining table, Ginny next to Harry, Sirius and Dumbledore facing them, and Ron and Hermione beside them at the heads of the table.
Glancing at Harry, Ginny noticed his eyes wandering nervously from one to the other. She nudged his shoulders, whispering, "It'll be alright."
"Thanks," Harry muttered.
Giving Sirius a questioning look, Ginny asked, "Where do we start?"
"Good question," Sirius replied. Looking from Ron to Hermione, he started, "I take it everyone here knows what a Horcrux is?" When they both nodded, he went on, "We, that is Harry, Ginny, and I, have told you that my brother, Regulus, found out that Voldemort made an unknown number of Horcruxes to gain immortality. This information was far too important to neglect. That's why we shared this information with you."
Sirius paused a moment to gather his thoughts. Turning to Dumbledore, he said, "Though I suspected that you knew about it already, Albus."
"I'd rather say that I had a suspicion," Dumbledore answered evasively.
"Very well," Sirius continued. "Harry and Ginny did not only find my brother’s letter and the books about the Horcruxes, they also found the Family Journal of the Black family."
Ginny noticed Dumbledore turning to Sirius, giving him a scrutinising gaze.
Unfazed, Sirius went on, "In the Family Journal, we’ve found some very interesting results of research my ancestors did on Horcruxes." Sirius suddenly snorted. "I don't know if the name Black is the reason, but my ancestors obviously loved everything to do with Dark Magic. I'm surprised it isn't called Black Magic nowadays."
"That would make you the Black Lord then," Harry chuckled.
"Well, back to the research results," Sirius interrupted the snicker, shaking his head. "There was a very interesting topic in the Journal that we weren’t initially sure what to make of it. It seemed to be rather important. That's why we decided to do a little more research on our own before we spoke about it with anyone else. It’s about a ritual that would summon all soul pieces belonging to the same person. The ritual summons the soul pieces from other Horcruxes and merges them into one Horcrux. Of course, you need to have at least one of the Horcruxes to summon the other pieces."
Dumbledore suddenly gave Harry an inquisitorial look. "Does this mean you have a Horcrux?"
"Yes," Sirius grinned, a mischievous glint in his eyes. The grin disappeared when he went on. "Regulus had managed to find a Horcrux, Slytherin’s locket. He paid with his life for it."
"That's interesting indeed," Dumbledore muttered deep in thought.
Ginny glanced over at Hermione, who was obviously trying to put two and two together. She gazed accusatorily back at her as she noticed Ginny's look.
"I guess you performed the ritual last week?" Dumbledore inquired.
"Yes, we did," Sirius admitted.
"And you didn't know...?" asked Dumbledore.
"No, we didn't," Sirius confessed.
Hermione looked horrified at Harry while Ron gave Sirius a confused look. "What didn’t you know?"
Noticing Sirius was looking at Harry, Ginny squeezed his hand.
Harry stared at the table. Slowly he began with a soft voice, "I..." He let his eyes wander from one to the other, took a deep breath, and whispered, "I was one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes."
"You what...?" bellowed Ron.
Hermione grabbed Harry's hand, crying, "Oh Harry...that's...that's terrible."
Ginny got up and wrapped her arms around Harry. "Did you understand? He said he was one of the Horcruxes. He isn’t a Horcrux anymore."
"But you could have killed him," Hermione shrieked.
"We didn't know, Hermione." Ginny gave her friend a stern look.
"But you should have told us. We could have helped you to research it more," Hermione insisted.
Sirius raised his voice. "It was my decision that both, Harry and Ginny, shouldn’t talk about their knowledge from my Family Journal. And I still think that, at that time, it was the right decision. We may have been lucky, but with hindsight, it was the right decision."
"But ..." Hermione began.
"Hermione, think about it," said Ginny. "What would it mean if Harry would still be a Horcrux?"
Hermione's eyes flickered from Ginny to Harry and back when suddenly realization seemed to hit her. "Nobody would be able to defeat Voldemort as long as Harry lives."
Sirius looked at Dumbledore who was silently watching the exchange. "I take it you knew that Harry was a Horcrux, Albus?"
"Well, no..." Dumbledore replied reluctantly. "But I suspected it. Ever since he brought the diary out of the chamber, and I found out it had been a Horcrux.""
Ron gave Ginny a horrified look. "The diary was a Horcrux? Ginny, did you know?"
"Yeah," Ginny admitted.
"Albus, did you ever try to check whether Harry was a Horcrux?" Sirius gave Dumbledore an enquiring look.
"No." The older man shook his head.
"So, it was more than just a suspicion," Sirius stated. "I take it, the Horcrux was the mysterious connection to Voldemort you’ve been talking about? Is there more we should know about?"
Giving Harry a sad look, Dumbledore began, "Actually, there is one more thing I wanted to keep from Harry as long as possible, so it wouldn't be a burden for him."
Ginny felt Harry stiffen. She still had her arm wrapped around his shoulder and pulled him closer.
"What is it?" Harry watched Dumbledore attentively.
"There is a prophecy, Harry," the Headmaster started to explain.
"Is it the prophecy that caused James and Lily to go into hiding?" Sirius interrupted.
"Yes, it is," admitted Dumbledore.
"What is the prophecy about? I need to know what it says." Harry insisted.
Gathering his thoughts, Dumbledore began to recite.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...."
"So, the prophecy is the reason Voldemort is after me." Harry shook his head. "Now everything becomes clear to me. He didn't want to kill my parents, he has always been after me."
"Harry, don't you dare to think that someone blames you for the death of your parents," Ginny chided him.
"But you've heard the prophecy," Harry insisted.
"Of course, I did. But it wasn't you who made the prophecy, nor did you kill your parents. While I don't know who made the prophecy, I'm pretty sure who killed your parents, and it wasn't you."
Harry looked over at Dumbledore. "Does it mean I have to fight against Voldemort? Am I the only one who can defeat him?"
"Harry, my boy," said Dumbledore. "Prophecies are not always easy to understand. Many a prophecy only becomes true because at least one of the involved parties knows about it and acts accordingly. We know that Voldemort only knows the first part the prophecy, and because he believes in prophecies, he acts accordingly. He marked you as his equal. It was a coincidence because it could have been Neville Longbottom as well."
"Neville, how is that?" Harry asked in surprise.
"Neville was born on the day before you, so the phrasing would fit for him as well. But Voldemort had chosen you, and nobody but he himself knows why."
"What does it mean, either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives?" Hermione interjected. "It seems too ... is it still correct?"
"Excellent question," Dumbledore replied. "This passage evidently refers to the Horcrux in Harry, but today we learned that fate has its own ways and does not always adhere to prophecies."
"Does it mean I don’t have to fight against Voldemort?" Harry asked. "I don't think I have a chance against him. He's the second most powerful wizard ever."
A smile crossed Dumbledore's face when he heard Harry's obvious praise. "The future will show the answer, Harry. As long as Voldemort doesn't know the second half of the prophecy, he won't rush things."
*** Ginny & Harry ***
Saturday, January 6th, 1996
Ginny had cuddled in Harry's arm and was cheerfully looking around the common room. It was already late in the evening. The Gryffindors had used the prospect of a free Sunday to party with their friends after the Christmas holidays.
Fred and George sat around a table with the other Seventh Years. Judging by their merriment, their Butterbeer has been spiked. Ron was playing chess with Seamus while Hermione had retired to her room some time ago.
Ginny was glad that Harry had taken the revelation of the prophecy relatively calmly. At least he had said that not much had changed for him, as Voldemort was still after him, just as he had been before he'd heard the prophecy.
"Tired?" Harry asked when she couldn't suppress a yawn.
"Hmmm," Ginny growled. "But the evening is so nice, I don't want to go to bed."
"It's getting late. I need to head up to my dorm soon. Sirius wanted to call me tonight." Harry looked at her. "Do you want to head down to breakfast with me tomorrow morning? Or do you want to sleep in?"
"Sleeping in sounds good to me." Ginny yawned again.
A humming noise in her pocket made Ginny sit up. She gave Harry an astonished look. "It seems Sirius is calling." She pulled the wooden box out of her pocket, took out the mirror and tapped it with her wand.
Sirius' worried face appeared on the mirror. "Hello, Ginny. Do you know where Harry is?"
"He's sitting right next to me. What happened?" Ginny asked, alarmed, turning the mirror so Sirius could see Harry.
"Harry, where have you been?" Sirius asked worriedly. "I've been trying to call you for an hour."
"We're sitting in the common room, and you wanted to call me in twenty minutes," Harry explained in a slightly annoyed voice. "What's the matter?"
"Can we talk undisturbed?" Sirius replied undeterred
Looking around, Ginny said, "I think so, we are alone."
"Okay, listen," Sirius began. "As you already know, Voldemort is furious because of the Horcruxes. Tonight, Snape reported that Voldemort wants you to be brought to him as soon as possible, dead or alive. Dumbledore suspects that Voldemort wants to get hold of the prophecy. Apparently, he’s becoming desperate."
Harry looked thoughtfully at the mirror.
"Harry," Sirius started again. "You know what that means. You need to be cautious. If it were up to me, you would come back to London."
"Forget it." Harry shook his head. "What is Dumbledore going to do?"
"Dumbledore claims that Hogwarts is the safest place for you."
Harry snorted. "I know what he means with being safe. Two years ago, even a wanted murderer was able to sneak up into our dorm."
"Harry, don't laugh about it," his godfather exclaimed angrily. "You need to watch your back. You both better never walk alone anywhere about the castle. He might use Ginny to get to you, Harry."
"Thanks for the news, Sirius," Harry said solemnly.
"I'll call you tomorrow night again. See you later." Sirius gave him a stern look and disappeared when the mirror went dark again.
"Yes," sighed Harry, "see you later." He looked at Ginny. "That was the end of a nice evening. We better go to bed."
"Tomorrow morning at eight in the common room?" Ginny asked.
"I thought you wanted to sleep in?" Harry raised his eyebrows.
"You're not going anywhere alone here, Harry."
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