FACING FUTURE 3: TIMEPIECE
The party had been a complete success. Ron had been taken entirely by surprise when Harry, who had taken him out for a drink, had handed him a gift that had acted as a Portkey, landing him smack in the middle of the rebuilt Burrow’s living room where everyone had been waiting for him.
The whole clan had turned up; even Fleur, who was due to deliver her and Bill’s baby any day now and Charlie, who had Apparated in all the way from Romania with Tonks in tow and George had somehow finagled a day pass for Gabrielle from the Headmistress and the fourteen-year-old was absolutely glowing with happiness. There had been food and drinks and laughter until well after midnight.
In fact, thought Harry, craning his neck to look at the alarm clock on the bedside table. They were probably still there. Ron was probably soused by now; passed out on the couch or being taken home by Portkey by an understanding Hermione. He’d been pretty well gone when Harry and Ginny had skived off round about 12:30. He and Ginny had left earlier than anyone except for Fleur (who had dragged Bill off, looking exhausted, at eleven) and Fred and Angelina (who had taken the twins back to London by Portkey just before midnight).
Ron hadn’t wanted them to go.
"Harry, mate! Don’t leave!" he’d clapped Harry on the back so forcefully that Harry’d had to grab onto the doorframe to keep from moving. "Party’s jush – shtarting!"
"I keep telling him he’s had enough," said Hermione’s crisp, disapproving voice from behind Ron. "But you know, him and Firewhisky," she rolled her eyes and grinned at Ginny, who had collected their coats and was now trying to chivvy Harry out the door.
"Cramps Gin? Honestly!"
"Hey, it’s always worked before," said Ginny, grinning cheekily at the older girl.
"Like you’re going to go right home and go straight to bed," said Hermione, her eyebrows raised. "Hot water bottle all ready then, Gin?"
"Skip the hot water bottle and you’d have it bang on," laughed Ginny, eyeing her husband with a look that sent shivers of pleasure up Harry’s spine. "Don’t tell me you’d pass up an opportunity like this to get your husband to yourself, especially when he looks as damned sexy as Harry does tonight."
"All right, all right!" laughed Hermione, rolling her eyes and waving them away. "Be gone then before you give me too much information. And don’t worry about Ron. I’ll put him to bed or something, tell him you were called away on personal business." She wrapped an arm around Ron’s waist and guided him back towards the living room.
That had been nearly two hours ago, and Ginny had been as good as her word; straight to bed, the scattering of clothes across the bedroom floor attested to her enthusiasm for upholding her word to Hermione. Not that Harry was complaining.
He grinned down at Ginny where she lay asleep now in the circle of his arm. He’d worn her out, making her beg for everything she got, drawing her climax out until she even had to beg him to stop which, Harry thought with mild satisfaction, was definitely a first.
Sometimes, Harry thought to himself as he watched the slow rise and fall of Ginny’s chest, sometimes he felt as if this was all a dream. As if all of it; Hogwarts, Hagrid, Voldemort, Sirius, Ginny even (his arm tightened protectively around the slim form in his arms) as if they had all been a dream; an intensely vivid, detailed sort of dream; or maybe a fairytale. Yes, that was it. A fairytale, especially since the ending felt entirely too good to be true.
It would make for a very good story, he thought, grinning to himself. He would call it "
The Boy Who Lived. Yes. A good title. Catchy.
Let’s see . . .The story would have to have a hero. A hero with a tragic past. Make him an orphan, yes. Send him to live with Muggles. A wicked Stepmother? No, he’s an orphan. Make it a wicked Aunt and Uncle and he could throw in a selfish pig of a cousin for good measure.
Lets see. . .something dramatic to let him find out he’s actually a wizard. Letters telling him he’s been accepted at a prestigious school for witchcraft and wizardry. Send a giant to collect him. Add a scarlet steam engine and a pile of wizard gold in an underground bank run by Goblins. Then, of course there would have to be a plot.
An evil dark wizard . . . .the same dark wizard who killed his parents. Perfect. The dark wizard is not trying to kill our hero – or kill him again rather, for he wasn’t successful the first time (oh yes, and we can’t forget the distinguishing scar that sets our hero apart from the crowd).
And what about once the hero reaches the fabled school? How about fabulous adventures with mysterious strangers, dragon eggs, hidden chambers, escaped prisoners, Triwizard championships and secret societies. He could have the hero slay a basalisk, save innocent lives, even rescue a distressed damsle (Harry let his hand run the length of Ginny’s body, grinning broadly as she moaned slightly in her sleep), then of course the hero would have to solve complex mysteries that would save the whole wizarding world time and again. He supposed that he could let the hero make a few blunders, just to make him seem more human.
Yes, thought Harry, smiling as his eyes grew heavy. It would all make for a very nice story, but it still felt like a dream. He turned over, burying his face in Ginny’s hair; inhaling the scent of her, letting it fill his head and his love for her fill his heart.
If it is a dream, he thought hazily as he drifted off, I hope I never wake up.
* * *
Tap – tap – tap.
It was the sound of an owl’s talon on the bedroom window.
"Mail’s here, Gin," Harry mumbled sleepily. Bit early for mail. Probably from Bill saying Fleur’d had the baby last night.
Tap – tap – tap.
Harry pulled the pillow over his head, groaning. Ginny was probably still asleep, he’d have to get up and get the damned thing himself.
"Don want to get up," he muttered.
A sudden clattering of what sounded like pots and pans in the next room made him cringe. What the devil were Matthias and Shalinda playing at, making all that racket at this hour of the morning!
"Can’t a man get any rest in his own house!" Harry grumbled Harry into his pillow.
"Stop muttering nonsense and get up – now!" said a perfect imitation of his Aunt Petunia’s shrill voice.
That was a new one, thought Harry, grinning into his pillow. He’d heard Ginny do McGonagall and Umbridge and an eerie likeness of her mother, but he’d never heard her do his Aunt Petunia before.
"Not funny love," growled Harry. "How’d you learn to do her voice, anyway?" he asked, cracking an eye open.
Harry sat up so fast he cracked his head on the underside of the stairs.
"Fuck and damnation!" he moaned, clutching his head. But his response was only partly the result of the pain in his head. Most of it came from the shock of recognition. He was back in his cupboard under the stairs at number four Privet Drive.
"What did you say?" came his Aunt’s snappish voice from the other side of the door.
"Nothing!" said Harry quickly.
What the hell was going on? It had to be a dream, there was no other explanation. Well, unless it was some sort of elaborate joke – or maybe something new that Fred and George were testing for their shop. Harry wracked his brain, trying to remember. Had he eaten any food offered to him by one of the twins at the party? But even so, even if it was some sort of mind game, the detail work was amazing!
That nail, the one protruding from the fourth step up? That was the one on which he had always hung yesterday’s T-shirt. The scuffmarks on the inside of the cupboard door were picked out in perfect detail; even the crack in the plaster of the wall was exact. Come to think of it, now that he realized it, the crack looked exactly like the outline of a bowtruckle.
But I shouldn’t know what a bowtruckle is, thought Harry wildly, tracing the crack with his forefinger. Not if this is real – and it certainly felt real! If I really am in my cupboard at number four Privet Drive, then I don’t even know about magic yet. I’d have no clue that I’m a wizard. So either I’m dreaming, or someone’s gone to a lot of trouble to make me think I’m a kid agaiin.
"Are you up yet?" snapped his aunt.
"Nearly," said Harry automatically.
He swung his legs over the side of the cot, realizing with a start that whoever had pulled this off had done a through job; they’d even given him what appeared to be his skinny, pre-Hogwarts body.
"This is just too weird," Harry murmured, looking down at his pallid, skinny legs and then began rummaging about under his bed for some not-too-grubby clothes.
He pulled on a pair of socks (grinning at what Ron’s reaction would be if he could see the size of the spider he’d just pulled of the one) and then stopped dead. It couldn’t be real; not if he knew who Ron was. He hadn’t even met Ron yet, or Hermione or-
"Ginny!" Harry groaned and sank back onto his bed, wincing as his bony shoulders came in contact with the wall behind him. That certainly felt real.
But if he was still only ten years old, how could he possibly have made love to Ginny last night? He hadn’t even understood the concept of sex – apart from the basic textbook explanation of reproduction – let alone understood the beauty of making love to someone you belonged to body, mind and soul . . .like Ginny.
Harry closed his eyes. He could still feel her skin beneath his hands . . .smell the heady mixture of citrus and sandalwood that always seemed to drive all rational thought out of Harry’s head. He could still hear her voice, all sultry and sexy as she writhed beneath him, calling out his name.
"Oh god, Ginny!" he moaned. What if he’d lost her? What if . . .
He called out to her, fully expecting to feel her in his mind, in his heart, just like always, but there was no answer.
"This can’t be happening," murmured Harry. "This can’t be real."
If it’s not real, then why can’t you feel her? Asked a small, pitiless voice in his head. Events had bound him and Ginny together in such a way that they were one mind in two bodies. Soulmates joined by the power of love. Not even a powerful dark spell had ever been able to break his bond with Ginny. She’d saved him then, housed his consciousness when everyone had thought him dead.
Only once had he been cut off from having her inside him, and that had been because she had gone Underhill, and even then . . .even then, while he had not been able to share her current thoughts with him, she had been there – the essence of her - in his heart, the entire time.
He searched his mind, reaching deeper, and deeper . . .she had to be here! She just had to be!
O h god, please, please let it be a dream!
"Harry James Potter, you come out of that cupboard this instant or I’ll see to it that you stay in there for the rest of your natural life!"
I’ll play along until I figure out what’s going on, thought Harry. That was the only way, but so help him, if anyone’s messed with Ginny . . .His fists clenched of their own accord. Taking a deep breath, he opened his cupboard door.
* * *
"My Lord, if I may speak freely?"
"Of course Lucius, you know that I value your judgement." The high cold voice sounded amused.
Keeping his eyes respectfully lowered Lucius Malfoy took a deep, shuddering breath and began to talk.
"My Lord, you know of course that I support your decisions one hundred percent."
"Of course Lucius."
"I’ve risked my life, my family, my reputation."
"Speak freely Lucius, I am not about to punish you if you disagree with my judgement."
Lucius Malfoy’s eyes flicked upwards. His master stood, watching him with something very like amusement glinting in his blood-red eyes.
"I – I can’t help but be concerned at your use of the Immemorium spell on the boy."
"it was you who went forward and retrieved Mr. Potter’s memories, was it not?" asked Voldemort coolly.
"On your orders, my Lord."
"Of course. The Immemorium is a simple enough spell. It is used to retrieve memories in order that they may be placed in a container for later perusal."
"But going back in time and putting them in the boy Potter’s mind? Forgive me, my Lord, but haven’t we just defeated our own cause? Wouldn’t it have been simpler to have just killed him?"
The skeletally thin form of Lord Voldemort threw back its flat, snake-like face and laughed a high, cold, mirthless laugh.
Lucius Malfoy blinked.
"Oh, Lucius, I wouldn’t dream of harming you! You amuse me in the best possible way!"
"I – I amuse you, my Lord?"
"Oh yes. But to answer your first question, no, we have not defeated our cause."
Lucius Malfoy continued to stare, not bothering now to keep his eyes lowered.
"But – but my Lord! He knows! He knows everything! Who we are, where we meet," he gulped and swallowed, "what we plan to do even how, and when! We’ve given him, we’ve given the Order the perfect weapon with which to destroy us – to destroy you!"
"How did it feel, Lucius," said Voldemort’s voice, now icily calm, "to go forward to a time where you were no longer alive?"
Malfoy swallowed, hard.
"To go forward to a time when your wife has renounced you and married another."
Malfoy closed his eyes, trying not to think remember the rage he’d felt when he’d seen Narcissa kissing her new husband.
"To a time when your son has been corrupted by Potter and his do-good followers."
Lucius kept his eyes closed, trying not to remember, trying not to think . . .
"To a time when the pureblood Malfoy line has been fouled by his marriage with that Mudblood whore and their half-blood son that now carries the Malfoy name!"
A grandfather . . .he was a grandfather! He’d seen the baby, a baby who looked just like Draco had as a child. It had been all he could do not to drop his glamour and take the child in his arms.
He tried to suppress the shudder that that went through him as he recalled seeing his son and Potter actually talking, not so much as if they were friends exactly, but allies nonetheless, and at the very least on speaking terms.
"To a time," Voldemort’s voice was low now, soft and dangerous, "when I am no longer alive."
"My Lord," began Lucius, his voice breaking.
"What I have done, Lucius, I have done for both of us, for all of us!"
Malfoy looked up, blinking back tears.
"By putting the grown Potter’s memories in the boy Potter’s mind you have ensured our success!" insisted Voldemort.
"My Lord, I – I don’t understand!"
"Tell me, Lucius, what is it that finally allows Potter to overcome me?" said Voldemort silkily.
"His – his ties to the Weasley girl, my Lord. She – she brought him back when everyone thought he was dead – twice!"
"Through their bond, yes? The bond which was forged when he rescued her form the Chamber of Secrets?"
Malfoy nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He’d seen them together, Potter and the Weasley girl. He’d seen the way that they were able to finish each other’s sentences, preempt each other’s thoughts. Somehow though, somehow he suspected that there was more to it than just the life debt that had been created down in the Chamber when Potter had rescued her life. The two acted more as if they were – Soulmates.
Lucius buried that last thought quickly and deeply. Not entirely certain why he did not volunteer the information at once to the man standing before him, he spoke quickly to cover his lapse.
"But master, how is it that the boy Potter’s knowing about what is to happen, how will that keep it from happening?""
"The man Potter has become, who he is now, is because of his experiences, Lucius. If we change those experiences . . ." his voice faded away delicately.
"You – you mean he’ll try to keep the ones he cares about from getting hurt?"
"Oh yes. He’ll do anything for those he loves, Lucius, he’s proven that over and over again, just in this last year, and from the information you brought back in your reconnaissance . . .oh yes. He’ll do anything, even if it means changing the future . . .if he can keep them safe."
"May I –may I ask one more question?"
"Why not just go forward – or backward – and kill Potter?"
"And alert the Ministry as to our little secret?" said Voldemort, sounding incredulous.
"Well . . ."
"If I were to go back it would alert the Ministry immediately, seeing as that before last summer I did not have a body. Right now, the Ministry is being helpful enough to refuse to believe that I have come back. And, if your information is correct, by this summer both Potter and the Weasley girl will be aware of the situation between them, and thus able to thwart even this sort of plan. No, Lucius, it has to be now, while we have the upper hand."
"But my Lord, why not at Hogwarts, kill him there, it should be easy, now that Dumbledore has fled."
"He hasn’t left!" hissed Voldemort. "He’s blocked off his office, but he is still in residence. If he hadn’t been I would have been able breach the wards.
"You tried . . .?"
"Of course I tried! Do you take me for a fool, Lucius? The wards remain in place, as strong as ever."
"Then at his Aunt’s house, perhaps before he and the Weasley girl can compare notes."
"I can not touch him there, Lucius, you of all people should know that! Besides . . ." the vertically slitted eyes were sparkling now with a malicious sort of amusement. "I shall enjoy watching him destroy himself. It will be quite – satisfying."
Lucius Malfoy recoiled slightly at the look of glee on his master’s face. His eyes fell on the tiny hourglass suspended from the gold chain, the one he still clutched in his hand. It had been brought to them, just days ago, by Bellatrix, a rather rumpled Bellatrix from the future, who had gasped out the story of what was to happen in the Ministry of Magic at the end of the year while lying at her master’s feet.
The Dark Lord had sent her back, groveling and sniveling, with surprisingly kind words and assurances via Lucius himself (so that he could ensure that the time turner was returned) to those who survived the Order’s attack that they must be patient, that he would take care of everything, that there was nothing to be concerned about.
The Dark Lord had been very quiet for the last two days, thinking no doubt, planning what to do, how to avoid this latest humility at the hands of the one he so desired to kill. And then, this morning, he had called Lucius to him, told him of his plan, and sent him off to carry it out.
It had sounded so simple, and everything had gone exactly as it was supposed to, until Lucius had seen his grandson.
His eyes were drawn once again to the time turner. This one was slightly larger than most, able to be adjusted not just four hours, but for days, months, or even years.
Would it be so very bad, he thought involuntarily, to skip all the middle part and go live in the world that his son and his son’s (he swallowed hard) friends had created for themselves? A world without Voldemort?
Lucius Malfoy had served the Dark Lord faithfully for over twenty years and he was tired; tired of watching every word he spoke; tired of unswerving allegiance to a man who was only interested in his own self-preservation. He would give anything to be free!
The thought brought him back to the present with a snap. There was no such thing as freedom. A death Eater’s retirement plan was simple. You died in the Dark Lord’s service, or he killed you when you no longer served his purpose.
He’d seen the future. Potter won. And even if Voldemort were correct in saying that Potter would change the future by trying to keep those he loved safe, he, Lucius Malfoy, was dead anyway. He would have long since served his purpose.
His eyes rose to meet his master’s and he froze at the look of sudden comprehension that he saw there.
"Well done, Lucius," came the high-pitched voice, dripping cold icicles down his spine. "Now give me the time-turner for safe keeping."
Lucius’s hand tightened around the tiny hourglass.
"Amazing invention," he heard himself saying, and was amazed that his voice sounded so cool, given that he’d already decided on what he was about to do.
"Yes," agreed his master, his hand still outstretched. "The Ministry I believe, holds some sort of noble position regarding the use of such items."
"I can see why," said Malfoy dryly, "given that all it takes is one turn-"
He flipped the hourglass over and watched in satisfaction as the room dissolved in a blur of color and light.
* * *
Harry wrinkled his nose in distaste at the smell coming from the large metal tub in the kitchen sink.
"What’s this?" he managed, knowing very well what the answer would be.
"Your new school uniform," replied his Aunt Petunia.
Harry stared at the bits of gray rags floating in the dirty-looking water which he knew must be some sort of dye. If this was real, if he really had somehow become stuck in his ten-year-old body, then today was the day he would receive his first letter from Hogwarts. Sure enough, there was the flop of letters on the hall carpet.
"Get the mail, Dudley," his Uncle’s voice was muffled slightly from being buried behind his newspaper.
"Make Harry get it," whined Dudley.
"Get the mail, Harry."
Harry didn’t bother to reply. Keeping a wary eye on Dudley’s Smelting’s Stick, he slipped down the hall and collected the letters from the floor. And there it was . . .
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard Under the Stairs
#4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey
His first impulse was to open it right here and now.
"That’s not how it happened though," Harry muttered to himself. "I have to play along." He shuffled back to the kitchen and began to open his letter; watched as it was snatched away from him; resisting the urge to summon it from his Uncle Vernon’s fat hand.
He could do it too. He was quite good at wandless magic.
When Uncle Vernon threw both himself and Dudley out of the kitchen, Harry didn’t even bother to listen in to their conversation, but wen out to the garden and sat down on the wall.
For whatever reason, it looked as if he would have to live through the last eight years all over again. But for some reason, this time, he knew in advance exactly what was going to happen. The implications of this ht him between heartbeats and, for a moment, everything froze.
He knew what was going to happen! He knew what was going to happen, where it was going to happen and to whom it would be happening, even when and how!
"A journalist’s dream come true!" Harry laughed, then clapped his hand over his mouth.
But where would he start? Quirrell! He could warn Dumbledore about Quirrell’s being possessed by Voldemort. He could prevent the entire incident with the Sorcerer’s stone!
No. If he did that, if Quirrell never brought in the troll, he, Ron and Hermione would never have become such good friends, and their friendship wouldn’t have been cemented by the events that had happened as they’d gone to find the stone, take it one step farther and he couldn’t guarantee that Ron and Hermione would ever have gotten together. No, they’d have to go through that again, as painful as it had been.
Ginny then! He could intercept Tom’s diary! No use in her going through all of that again – except for the fact that his saving Ginny in the Chamber had been the trigger that had activated their bond. Harry sighed. He wouldn’t be able to change that either.
Peter then, he could keep Peter from escaping. He’d kill him if he had to. Then Sirius could have been cleared and Voldemort would never have been returned to power, his servant would never have returned!
But no, if he did not save Peter, if Peter did not go back to his master and Voldemort did not rise to power once again, Harry was looking at a world where Charlie and Tonks would never have gotten together, where Remus and his Aunt were still living lives of quiet desperation, where he and Malfoy were still arch enemies and where Malfoy and Cho had not had the opportunity to find their heart’s desires.
If he changed things – he could save lives! Cedric and Sirius, Moody and Dumbledore! He could save them all, but he’d also be killing any hope of George and Gabrielle having gotten together, Bill and Fleur might never have met and their child might never have been born, and he was nearly certain that Draco’s chance to fall in love with Cho would not have come about if he were still as dead set against Muggle-borns as he had been when he and Harry had first met.
God, how was he supposed to do this? How was he supposed to sit back and let it all happen exactly as it had the first time? Could he do it? Could he stand there and let the people he loved get hurt or killed so that things would turn out exactly as they had the first time around?
What choice did he have?
* * *
Draco Malfoy awoke instantly, his wand in his hand before he’d even fully opened his eyes.
"Lumos," he whispered.
The wand tip ignited with a flame of whit light.
"That was stupid, boy," came a familiar sneering voice.
"Not as stupid as you think, I charm my eyes before I go to bed to adjust for the glare."
"Expecting to be attacked in your bed then?" An oh-so-familiar figure stepped into the circle of his wand light. Beside him Cho stirred and turned over, her long black hair contrasting sharply against the white of the sheets.
"You’re dead," said Draco flatly, not taking his eyes of the advancing figure. "Mum watched him kill you."
"Yes. I suppose she did."
"Then you’re a ghost?"
"Don’t be stupid, boy, do I look like a ghost to you?"
Draco shook his head, not trusting himself to speak.
"I am assuming," said his father coolly, "that I have my master to blame for my untimely demise?"
"He-he said that you had served him well, but that it was time for the next generation to serve."
Draco nodded again.
"Yes," said Lucius thoughtfully. "He made me promise that you would serve him as faithfully as I had."
"You dared to speak for me?" said Draco, anger now tinting his voice.
"You do not understand his power, boy. You do not refuse the Dark Lord anything he demands."
"That is why he seemed so certain," whispered Draco.
"You – you had already sworn allegiance to Dumbledore I suppose," said Lucius Malfoy bitterly.
"No," spat Draco. "I swear allegiance to no one. What I did was to follow my heart! I’d fallen in love with a common Mudblood – yes, be appalled, I was too at first, but it could not be helped. I’d fallen in love with her and I did not care to see her fall victim to the Dark Lord’s purges!"
"Noble sentiments, however undeserved."
"Don’t you talk that way about my wife!"
"Pansy was your forsworn wife."
"By your arrangement! No one ever asked us if that’s what we wanted, did they? You bound us as infants for heaven’s sakes!"
"For your own good!"
"My own good? How could you possibly know what was for my own good?"
"Draco, please," Malfoy put up a conciliatory hand. "Don’t get upset, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to yell. What’s done is done. I’ve seen your wife, and your son."
"Which reminds me," said Draco, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. "How did you get in here and what do you want?"
"Do you honestly think that I can’t break my own wards?" said Lucius Malfoy chuckling. "As to what I want . . ." he paused then, pulling his cloak about him, he sat gingerly on the edge of the bed.
"I’ve come to make certain that you get to keep all of this," he gestured to the slim form lying in the bed beside Draco. "He’s found a way you see, a way of making certain that Potter doesn’t win."
"He’s sent you back," said Draco shrewdly. "Back in time, to kill him? Then why are you here, now? Why hasn’t everything changed?"
"Forward and then back," admitted his father. "Forward to now, well, two days from now. Then I use the Immemorium charm on Potter. I carry his memories back into the past and put them in the boy Potter’s head.
"And that is supposed to do what, exactly?" asked Draco, a sneer firmly in place on his pale, pointed face.
"What is Potter’s one weakness?" asked his father conversationally.
"His loyalty to his friends," said Draco without hesitating.
Lucius waited for Draco to make the connection.
"So, if he knows how everything is going to turn out, he’ll try to keep his friends and their families from getting hurt."
"Exactly." Lucius Malfoy smiled, proud beyond measure at the quickness with which his son was catching the import of what he was saying.
"But – oh!" said Draco as comprehension dawned across his face. "If he changes the past, he’ll change the future." Draco paused, considering. "And if he’s acting of his own free will, it can’t be blamed on Voldemort.
Lucius Malfoy looked sharply at his son. "You said his name."
"I’m not afraid of a memory. But how did you travel back in time – or forward I mean?"
Lucius Malfoy reached down the neck of his robes. Draco tensed, wand still pointing straight at his father’s heart. He relaxed when he saw that instead of a wand his father had produced a tiny hourglass on a long gold chain.
"Is that a-"
"A time turner, yes," said his father, smirking. "Bellatrix liberated it from the Ministry the night Potter and his friends went to rescue his godfather. She brought it back in time to us, warned us of what was to come."
"So what do you want me to do?"
"If you want to keep this world you’ve made for yourself, I suggest that you warn Potter, see to it that he remains on his guard for the next few days."
"Why don’t you just go back in time and stop yourself?"
"Because," said Malfoy slowly, his eyes fixed on his son’s. "Because before I came here – before I come here – two days from now – before I saw my grandson – before I saw how happy you are, there is nothing I would have done to interfere with his plans. Do you understand me? Nothing!"
"And what-" Draco swallowed. "What happens to you now. I take it you can’t go back."
"No. He saw me leave. I disobeyed a direct order. I’d be dead."
"You’re already dead."
"Yes, but not yet, at least in my personal timeline."
"And you can’t stay here," said Draco. "It’s too close to then, too many people still remember you, who you were, what you did."
"I guess I’ll go on," said his father simply. "Surely there is some place, some time where I can belong."
"I wish it could be here," said Draco in a barely audible voice. "I wish it could be now."
"No, you don’t," said Lucius, his smirk firmly in place. "This is your place, Draco, your time." He reached his hand up, adjusted the time turner, the turned to speak once more to his son. "Make me proud." An instant later he was gone as if he had never been.
* * *
Ron’s surprise party went off without a hitch. There was food, drinks and Weasley’s everywhere. Harry and Ginny however skived off earlier than anyone except those with small children.
"Don’t let your mum get to you like that. Eighteen is far too young to be thinking about having children," Harry told a pouting Ginny two hours later.
"Tell that to mum. She’s got their names picked out and everything," grumbled Ginny, resting her head comfortably on Harry’s bare chest.
They were snuggled together in the king-sized four poster that dominated the master bedroom at the Potter Estate. The fire, which crackled merrily in the grate was not (Harry had to remind himself) connected to the Floo network.
"He didn’t Floo in," Ginny said, intuiting his thought. "He didn’t even Apparate. Draco said he used a time turner."
A log popped in the fireplace and Harry jumped.
"Nervous are we, Potter?" asked Ginny sounding amused.
"If Lucius gets through to us before he can think over his position – Gin, this could all change," Harry snapped his fingers under her nose. "In a heartbeat! Hell, I could wake up to find myself back on Privet Drive and you -"
"What, married to Draco?" said Ginny grinning broadly.
"Well, not at the age of ten, I suppose now. Still, it could all change!"
"You know that won’t happen Harry," said Ginny coolly, he raised his eyebrows at her. "It won’t!" she insisted. "Shaklebolt himself couldn’t get past the wards you put up," she reminded him.
"Will they work on a time turner though?"
"Shalinda and Matthias are both personally protecting this room tonight, Harry, and nothing, I repeat, nothing gets past a house-elf on watch."
"He got in before!" said Harry, glowering at the fire.
"Without the elves," she reminded him. "And with only a fraction of the wards in place. Besides that, you’ve instructed your Elementals."
"But what if-"
‘It’s not going to happen, Harry." Ginny twisted around until she could look him in the eye. "So stop being an idiot and kiss me before I’m forced to do something desperate."
"You mean something more desperate than skiving off your own brother’s birthday party to shag the boy who lived?" chuckled Harry.
"You’re right, using cramps as an excuse was pretty lame."
"I don’t think they believed you."
"Well, it always worked when I lived at home," said Ginny shrugging and bringing her body in closer contact with his, Harry shivered.
"Don’t get me wrong," said Harry, rolling over so that he was looking down at her. "I just don’t think they believed you, not with the outrageous way you were flirting with me all evening."
"Since when does a girl have to have permission to flirt with her husband?"
"If they don’t like it they can sod off then," said Ginny with a sexy sort of growl as she wrapped her arms sinuously around his neck. "Where would you rather be, Potter, watching Ron pass out on the sofa and listening to mum lecture George about taking it slow with Gabrielle or here," she rubbed herself against him, causing Harry to catch his breath.
"Jesus, you have to ask?"
"I just did,"
"It’s irrelevant Gin, cause I’m here."
"Yes, you certainly are, aren’t you."
She reached up to kiss him and, as usual, every rational thought went clean out of his head.
* * *
Tap – tap – tap.
"Goway!" Harry muttered into his pillow. "Stoo early for mail. Stupid owl." He pulled the pillow over his head, trying to catch the essence of the dream that was quickly fading away.
It had been a good dream. He’d dreamt that he’d been accepted at a school for wizards where they learned magic and where he played a game sort of like basketball, but on broomsticks, up in the air. But there had been a bad bit, about an evil dark wizard, but there’d also been a girl . . .Harry grinned into his pillow . . .a girl named Ginny.
"Are you up yet?" came his Aunt Petunia’s shrill voice. It was she who had been tapping.
"Nearly," said Harry sleepily. Now why had he thought it was an owl? Harry fumbled for his glasses and began the search for a pair of socks.
The smell coming from the large metal tub in the kitchen sink was nasty. Harry wrinkled up his nose as he finally emerged from his cupboard.
"I suppose that’s my new school uniform," he said dully, looking at the gray rags floating in the water. He shook his head slightly. How in heaven’s name had he known that?
"They’ll look just like everyone else’s when I’ve finished with them," said His Aunt Petunia with a curt nod.
Too bad he couldn’t wear robes, Harry thought, a broad grin spreading across his face, robes like the students in his dream had worn.
"What are you smiling about, boy?" snarled his Uncle Vernon.
"Nothing," lied Harry quickly.
Too bad dreams couldn’t really come true, he thought wistfully. What he wouldn’t give to get out of this place, away from his Aunt and Uncle, to have a friend; a red-haired friend, one who had a little sister named Ginny.
The click of the mail slot snapped him out of his reverie.
"Ill get it!" he said, springing to his feet and rushing down the hall. You never knew after all. Wasn’t that how the whole bit had started in his dream? With a letter?
Author& #8217;s Note:
Thank you to all who have read the stories of the S.S. Potter series! It has been a pleasure writing these stories. And keep an eye out, while this marks the end of the planned S.S. Potter series, there may be another story or two lurking.
For those of you who would like more, may I recommend THE DARK AND WINDING PATH, a year seven story based picking up at the end of HBP.
For those of you interested, the order of the S.S. Potter stories goes as follows:
- Summer of the Serpent
- The Forgotten Girl
- Life Is But A Dream
- Towards Tomorrow
- Today The Tempest
- Facing Future 1: The Revenge of the Lime-Green Bowler Hat
- Facing Future 2: Underhill
- Facing Future 3: Timepiece