|SIYE Time:16:52 on 17th September 2021|
A Sovereign Summer
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Characters:Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Other, Ron Weasley
Genres: General, Romance
Summary: Before Harry could treat Ginny like a queen, he had to change.
Hitcount: Story Total: 11090; Chapter Total: 1754
Awards: View Trophy Room
"Harry, what in the name of Merlin's ever-bushy eyebrows are you doing?" the ghost asked.
The look on the ghost's face was one of affectionate exasperation. This look, more than anything else in the experience, served to wake Harry's interest. If Harry had been forced to speculate on what Cedric's face would look like if he were to appear to Harry in a vision, he would have guessed something in the range of anger, hurt, or reproach--some image pulled from the "guilt-inducing" palette. Cedric's look, however, had none of those characteristics. Instead, it seemed as though Cedric were in possession of a great big secret, which he wanted to share, but couldn't do until he'd done some other business which wasn't nearly as much fun.
"Cedric?" Harry weakly gasped. "What are you doing here? I'm so sorry, Cedric--I didn't mean to get you killed! I should never have--"
"Harry!" Cedric interjected. "Stop that right now!"
Cedric's words didn't seem to get through to the sick teen--Harry was caught up in a litany of self-recrimination and apology. Cedric tried again.
"Harry! Will you shut up!?"
Harry still didn't pay any attention. By now he had progressed into apologies for all the other wrongs he imagined he had committed, and promises to try to make up for all his failings.
Cedric thought for a bit, smiled slyly, and said, "Harry, I know who you should marry. . ."
Something in Cedric's quiet, knowing voice sank into Harry's brain. "--and I shouldn't have taken. . . um. . . Ron. . . and. . . What?"
Satisfied that he had finally gotten Harry to calm down, Cedric smiled and said, "What? I didn't say anything."
"Yes, you did--something about my getting married. You said--you said you knew who I should marry. Oh please, not Cho!" Harry just about begged. Then he flinched, realizing that this might not have been the most diplomatic way to approach things. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean--"
"Harry! Stop worrying! I'm not here to punish you! I am here to tell you a few things. And as for Cho, I'm not fussed. I love her, and I know that she loves me. She and you were never really supposed to get together for anything permanent. She needed someone to give her some support while she was mourning me, and you did that."
Harry made as if to interrupt--he hadn't really done anything at all for Cho, just made her upset.
"No! Harry, she never would have been able to get over her loss if she hadn't been able to spend a little bit of time with you. Sure, it didn't necessarily turn out the best it could have. . ." He and Harry shared a wry grin at that, "but it gave her some time to think about me, and that made it so she could move on. I know, it doesn't seem possible, but really, you gave her what she needed at that time, so stop worrying about it."
Harry still wasn't sure he believed that he'd done anything to help, but just nodded. "Well, if it isn't her, then who should I. . . Not Hermione! Ugh! Please, don't say it's her. She's great, and all, but I can't think of her like that."
Cedric, by this time, was laughing. "No, Harry, it's not Hermione. Her role in your life is just what she has been doing. She's your best friend, at least right now, and will support you in anything you need, but by no means is she a romantic match for you. In fact, I suppose I could tell you who she should be with. . ."
Harry thought about this for a moment. It had seemed, for quite some time, that Hermione and Ron were working towards a relationship. In fact, he had three Galleons on "sometime in the summer between sixth and seventh year". But if Cedric had different information, perhaps he should change his bet. . .
"Wait a minute--why would you have any information about our supposed romantic matches? Are you some sort of Cosmic Cupid, or the Angel of Love?"
Cedric blanched. "How do you know what Cho called . . . " Trailing off upon seeing the look of confusion on Harry's face, he quickly changed the subject. "No, it's just that, in the Next Great Adventure, some things are much clearer than others, and one of the things that really stands out is compatibility. You know, who would be the best girl for you to fall in love with. For instance, it's the best-known secret in the afterlife that you should be with--Hold on, I'm not sure I should tell you. Do you want to know who you should be with?"
Harry just about yelled that he did want to know, but then paused for a bit of thought. If he knew who would be best for him, then it would sure cut down on the amount of time he'd have to spend finding her. But then, maybe she wouldn't believe him. And what if they did get together? Would she know it was for the best? Maybe it would be better to just try to find her without guidance.
Cedric just watched as the different sides of Harry's brain argued with each other. Of course he knew whom Harry should end up with, but, as with all seeings of the future, that knowledge could be a curse as much as a blessing.
When Harry finally made his decision, he turned back to Cedric and said, "Don't tell me, please. Just, maybe, could you tell me if I already know her? That would give me something to go on, at least." The hopefulness in his eyes made Cedric almost forgive him for making Cedric lose the betting pool. It's not that he didn't like Lily, but he really hadn't wanted to have to act as her personal servant that week.
"Are you sure you don't want to know the name? It would make things happen a lot more quickly. . ." He held this temptation out in hopes of escaping the sure embarrassment that awaited him.
"No, Cedric, I don't want to jeopardize things. Just, do I know her already?"
Cedric sighed. "Yes, Harry, you do. You've already met the person that you should be together with." When he saw the relief that crossed Harry's face, he had to smile, in spite of the looming prospect of being at Lily’s beck and call.
"But that's not why I came to visit you, Harry. Although it really is fun to discuss people's futures. For instance, I would never have put Parvati with--"
Harry interrupted Cedric, putting his fingers in his ears and yelling, "I'm not listening! I don't want to know! La-di-dah-di-dah!"
Cedric reached over and pulled Harry's hands away from his ears. "Okay!" he yelled. "I won't tell you any more. Just, let me finish my mission, okay?"
Harry cautiously stopped singing and eyed Cedric warily. "Okay, promise? No more future knowledge?"
Cedric grimaced. "Well, see, that's the thing, Harry. I came to tell you a couple of things that you need to know, and some of it really is future knowledge. But, we've discussed it, and we really think these are things that you need to know about now, and accept, or you'll never be able to fulfill the prophecy."
At the mention of the hated prophecy, Harry's face fell and he started to slip back into depression. "Stupid prophecy," he mumbled. "Made Sirius die, and for what? Just so I could get possessed by Voldemort again? I wish I'd never--"
"Don't say that, Harry!" Cedric interrupted. "It was important that things happened the way they did!"
"But, Sirius died! I as good as killed him! How can that be good? He was the only father figure I've ever had!"
"Oh, come on, Harry, you know that's not true!"
Harry looked up at Cedric. "But it is! Uncle Vernon," and his face betrayed the disgust that the portly beast inspired in him, "could never take the place of my father! In fact, I figure I can be a great father by thinking 'what would Uncle Vernon do?' and then doing the exact opposite!"
Cedric couldn't help it; he chuckled aloud at that. "I can just see you with a little bracelet, with WWUVND on it, for 'What Would Uncle Vernon NOT Do?' Harry, if that's the only yardstick you have to decide how to act when you've got your twelve kids, then you'll be a great father!"
Harry's face had gone white. "Twelve kids!!" he squeaked. "Twelve kids?"
Cedric chuckled again. "Just kidding, Harry. Even we don't know how many kids you're going to have." Harry didn't seem to have heard him, as he was still hyperventilating. Cedric sat down beside him on the bed and thumped him soundly on the back. "Breathe, Harry, breathe. In, out, in, out, that's right."
After Harry had finally calmed down, he sat back and stared at his ghostly visitor. "Cedric, why did--wait a minute! Why is it that I can feel you? Sir Nicholas can't touch me; all I feel is a coldness when he tries!" He got a horrified look on his face. "Are you really Cedric? Who are you? Are you here to kill me?" All Harry could think about was that this was some Death Eater, Polyjuiced to look like Cedric. He wished that he were stronger, in case it came down to a fight for his life. He hadn't realized how much he really didn't want to die until the prospect was presented to him in such a straightforward way.
Cedric blinked, then blinked again. "Harry, you have got to be kidding me. Are you hallucinating? First, Polyjuice doesn't work after the person is dead. Secondly, if I were a Death Eater, how would I get inside your house? The blood wards are still effective, you know. And third, if I were a Death Eater, why would I try to make you feel better about my death? But, if you really want me to prove I’m me, I'll tell you that, in the end, in the maze, I told you to take the Cup for yourself, because if you really had been seventeen, you would have been chosen over me in the first place."
Harry thought about this for a bit, then nodded. "Okay, Cedric. It's really you. But then, how can I feel you? Am I dead?"
Cedric grimaced. "Well, Harry, you haven't been taking very good care of yourself. And, while your magic can keep you alive longer than a Muggle can survive, in certain circumstances, you've been really pushing it hard. Now, normally, pushing your magic is a good way to make it stronger, but you've been depending on it to keep you from dying for much longer than you should, and you've come closer to death now than you ever have before. Because you're so close to dying, you can interact more completely with spirits visiting from our realm. But don't be too hard on yourself--it kind of needed to get this bad so that we could visit you."
"What do you mean 'we'? Is there someone else here that I don't know of?"
"No, Harry. What I mean is--well, let me tell you my reason for coming. It has been decided that you are going to have some visitors from the afterlife. Three, to be exact. I was chosen to come and alert you to this fact, so that you could get used to the idea, and not waste too much of their time with the whole apologizing and breast-beating and misery that you tend to engage in. Each of us only has a limited amount of time, and time spent reassuring you about your lack of culpability is time that would be better spent helping you prepare for the future. Understand?"
Harry lay there and thought for a bit. "Yeah, I guess I can see that. Um, can you tell me who is going to visit? Or is it just going to be a surprise?"
"Of course--that would be rather stupid of me--tell you to prepare for visits, without telling you who to prepare for." He shook his head. "Anyway, tomorrow night, Sirius is coming. We all decided that you needed to talk to him first, so you could get some sort of closure in your relationship with him. He's got some good advice to give you, so pay attention--you might want to make sure you have some parchment and a quill handy, as he'll give you some specific directions."
Harry started to tear up, thinking of his dead Godfather, but Cedric continued on, so he shook his head and listened.
"Now, I can tell you who else is going to come, but you have a choice. If I tell you now, it might make it harder for you to pay attention to Sirius. So, you have the option of having Sirius tell you the identity of your next visitor when he's done with his part. Which would you rather it be?"
Harry sat back again, and thought. Cedric patiently gave him the time he needed to reason out the different possibilities and make his own decision. Finally, Harry looked up and said, "If it's that important that I listen carefully to Sirius, then I'd better let him tell me, so I won't be too distracted. Is that okay?"
Cedric nodded. "That's fine, Harry. In fact, I bet that you'd choose that, so at least I'm coming out of this with something." He thought for a bit. "Okay, Harry, I think I've covered everything I need to. Do you have any questions before I go?"
Harry replayed most of their conversation in his head. Doing so, he realized that Cedric had distracted him from something very important. "Cedric, I'm so sorry I got you killed--I shouldn't have made you come with me." He ducked his head in shame at the memory of Voldemort's high, cold voice: "Kill the spare!" and the green flash that signaled the end of Cedric's life.
Cedric shook his head. "Harry, please, look at me. Harry!" Harry looked up, with glistening eyes. "Harry, there was nothing else you could have done. We've looked at all the possible outcomes in that scenario. In every one where I didn't take the cup with you, you end up dead, and I die soon thereafter anyway. Now, I don't say that to make you feel bad--it's not that I had to die to save the Wizarding World. What this really means is that it was my time to die, and by dying at that time, I was able to help save you for what you needed to do."
Harry looked at Cedric with something like hope in his eyes. "Really? You're not just saying that to make me feel better, are you?"
Cedric shook his head. "Nope, I mean it. If you had left me in the maze, then I would have been one of the first ones killed by Barty Crouch Jr. when he was discovered. Most of the possibilities had me dead within thirty minutes. Two of them had me dying a rather more painful death a little later, but in any case, what happened was the best of everything. The Killing Curse is not fun, don't get me wrong, but it's a lot better than the Blood-boiling Curse, which was one of Barty's favorites."
Harry shuddered at the thought. "Well, I can't say I'm glad that you're dead, Cedric, but if it had to happen, I'm glad it wasn't too horrible." He pondered for a bit longer. "Cedric, I'm still not okay with everything, but. . .Thank you for coming and talking to me. I really appreciate it. Um, do you think, maybe, we could talk again some time? I never really got to know you before, and I find that that makes me sad."
This idea seemed to come as quite a surprise to Cedric. His face showed a mixture of startlement and gratification. "Harry, I don't know what to say. Um, I don't know if I can come back, but I'll ask. And I know we didn't really get to know each other really well, but I've. . . well, I've always kind of thought of you as a little brother. So, if you'd like, maybe you can think of me as a big brother? That might give me some leverage with the Powers That Be, and perhaps I'll have a better chance of being able to talk to you again."
Harry was surprised at how much this idea touched him. He'd never had anyone specifically ask to be considered his big brother before. He knew the Weasley boys thought of him as something like a member of the family--well, at least Ron and the Twins did, but here was someone else who liked him well enough to do the same thing. "Cedric, I'd really like that," he answered, and, surprising both of them, forced himself to sit up, then leaned over and hugged the older boy.
Cedric put his arms around Harry and hugged him back, then they both realized what they were doing and let go quickly, clearing their throats and looking around at the room.
"So, um, yeah. . ." Harry said, trying to cover the awkward moment. "Oh, I thought of something else. You said I was wrong when I said that Sirius was the only father figure I'd ever had. Who else were you talking about?"
Cedric, grateful for the change of subject, latched onto the new topic. "Oh, come on, Harry. Can't you think of another father that you know, who's done an excellent job of raising his many children, whom you could go to for anything?"
Harry thought for a bit. No, not Snape, he shuddered at the thought. As far as he knew, Snape didn't have any children, and what a blessing that was! Um, Dumbledore? No, someone with children that I must know. Hermione's father? No, she's an only child.
Cedric was getting slightly frustrated at how obtuse Harry was being. "Um, Harry, you're working too hard, here. Who's come to rescue you from this prison before?"
"Arthur Weasley?" Harry was rather dismayed at how blind he'd been. Of course he was the father figure Cedric was referring to. "You're right, Cedric. He's been perfect, hasn't he?" Harry thought for a bit more. "In fact, he's been more of a father figure than Sirius, hasn't he?" It hurt a bit to admit it, but Sirius was more like a favorite uncle--someone who loved him unconditionally, but occasionally, or, let's face it, more often than not, had been interested more in the trouble they could get into than in helping Harry grow into a responsible young man.
"Fifty points to Gryffindor, Harry! And might I mention, you could do worse than to tell him how you feel? After all, in the future-- Never mind. So, Harry, anything else you want to talk about? I've got about fifteen minutes left."
Harry smiled, finally at ease, and asked, "So, what do you think of our chances in the Quidditch Cup this year? Especially against Hufflepuff. . ." knowing that this would be the perfect topic with which to end the night's visit.
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