Chapter 30 : A Future Revealed
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Over the past week, Harry had developed a brand new understanding of how dim and lonely Grimmauld Place could be without his friends around. The house was deathly silent, save for the occasional muted mumblings courtesy of Mrs. Black’s portrait. He had left the house the day previous, desperate find anything that would occupy his time. To his amusing surprise, even Diagon Alley seemed to be tedious after a while, the magic seemingly sucked out of the place after only an hour or so. So much had happened that night that started with their break-in to Azkaban that Harry was still trying to comprehend and understand everything. He blamed these unresolved issues for his depressed-like state of mind, doing his very best to shake the cloud of negativity that seemed to swallow Harry up whole.
The Order meeting that had occurred on the night after Harry’s retrieval of the Eye started his week off on the wrong note. He had been blasted for not being entirely truthful with the other members, being lectured at length about what it meant to be a member of the Order. Regrettably, Harry had lost his temper. Standing up out of his seat during the meeting, Harry gave a lecture of his own, angrily chastising the Order for not listening to him about Flamel and the Eye in the first place.
‘If anything, I think it’s all of you who are the untrusting ones here!’ Harry had said loudly. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley looked at the other Order members expectedly after Harry had finished, little to no response coming from anyone else at the table.
Nevertheless, the meeting ended on good terms. The Order had agreed upon the notion that they focus all of their efforts on getting back the Philosopher’s Stone from the Death Eaters. Still, Harry was still hot over the fact that he had been accused of being untrustworthy and therefore, not fit to be an Order member. Adding to his anger and mood was the fact that Aberforth’s regular spot at the table was occupied now by Frank and Alice Longbottom; it served as yet another reminder of what Aberforth had done and how he would never be able to join them for another meeting again. Though he could have been imagining it, Harry sensed that there was an undertone of guilt being thrown his way, as if everyone at the table was silently blaming Harry for Aberforth’s situation. Deep down, Harry knew they were right, no matter how many times he told himself that it was not.
Looking up at the clock, Harry was beginning to think something had gone wrong. Before he could begin to worry about it, the front door opened, Harry hearing his friends’ voices in mid-conversation as they entered. Not bothering to move, Harry waited for his friends to enter the kitchen. He looked down at the table for perhaps the hundredth time during his long, solitary stay in his seat.
‘Harry? Harry – are you here?’
‘Oi! There you are? What are you doing in here?’ asked Ron as he entered the kitchen with a smile, instantly opening the cupboard in search of a snack.
‘Nothing, really,’ said Harry drearily. ‘How was your day?’ Ron snorted, glancing back at Hermione with a grin as she entered the kitchen.
‘You’re not missing much – well apart from Fudge marching his band of Unbreakables around the Atrium twelve times a day. We get the point...’ answered Ron, setting down a box of crackers on the table and taking a seat. ‘Other than finally moving the captured Death Eaters back to Azkaban today, the Auror Department is as boring as one of Professor Binns’ finest History of Magic lessons.’
‘Still... I’d rather be there than here all day,’ muttered Harry.
‘Yeah,’ uttered Ron quietly, not looking Harry in the eye, ‘...sorry about that, mate. Your suspension will be over in a couple weeks.’
‘It’ll be over before you know it,’ piped up Hermione brightly. She had a bubbly glow about her which elicited a sly smile from Ron as she energetically sat down.
‘Do I want to know?’ muttered Harry sarcastically as he observed his friend. Hermione frowned playfully as Ron shrugged.
‘I’ve got news that is much more interesting than anything Ron could say about the Auror Department, that’s for sure,’ she said rapidly as she stole a cracker from Ron.
‘Wait ‘til you hear this, Harry. Hey! There’s a whole box right there!’
‘Well... go on then,’ prompted Harry, adjusting in his seat as his curiosity heightened.
‘You ready?’ began Hermione as Harry nodded interestingly. ‘I quit my job!’
‘Yeah, I know! Told them this morning! Ah, it feels so good to be out of there, Harry! You have no idea!’
‘Oh, I think I have an idea,’ exclaimed Harry. ‘Hermione – that’s brilliant! But er... that kind of just lets Umbridge win... doesn’t it?’
‘I guess you could look at it that way, but I don’t care,’ Hermione replied, turning to Harry in her chair. ‘I think I can still do many of the things that I’ve dreamt of without holding that position. Who’s to say I wouldn’t go back there one day once that toad is gone, right?’
‘Tell him the best part, Hermione!’ said Ron impatiently.
‘Oh right! Anyway, so I got a letter from Hogwarts a week ago – this is really what solidified my decision to quit too. They offered me a job position! Madam Pince is retiring – McGonagall wants me to be the new Hogwarts librarian! An endless amount of books at my disposal – imagine that!’
‘You’ll definitely enjoy that more than you’ve enjoyed this past year, that’s for sure,’ agreed Harry. ‘But...’
‘Oh it’s not going to be my career, Harry,’ interjected Hermione, reading Harry’s face. ‘I thought that I could use the income to fund S.P.E.W. and other related initiatives that I feel passionate about.’
‘The Ministry will be begging you to come back. You watch, Harry. One day they will. Plus, McGonagall is going to let her use that Snitch portkey that Kingsley set up! She can come and go from Hogwarts whenever she pleases!’
‘That’s good for you Hermione. Congratulations.’
Hermione’s smile faded as she watched Harry’s response. He meant well, but Harry could tell that the tone of his response gave away his own true feelings that he had tried his best to repress during Hermione’s moment of joy.
‘Look. I’m sorry Hermione. I really am happy for you. I’m so glad you got out of there. It’s just –’
‘We know Harry,’ finished Hermione comfortingly.
In a matter of seconds Hermione had transitioned from being hysterically happy to looking incredibly sad at Harry’s unhappiness. Harry felt bad that he was ruining Hermione’s happy moment but he could not help it.
‘You know... you can go talk to her,’ added Hermione with a caring smile.
‘She doesn’t want to see me,’ whispered Harry.
‘Oh don’t be so thick! Just because you and Ginny had an argument doesn’t mean she wants nothing to do with you! You should pay her a visit – I’m sure everything would be fine if you two just talked about it.’
Even though he did not respond, Harry knew that his friend was right. He put her advice in the back of his mind and shifted topics.
‘It’s not just that... Aberforth... he’s being transferred to Azkaban... and he doesn’t deserve to be there. If everyone just knew the truth then –’
‘But you know that telling the truth will jeopardize... well, everything mate,’ interrupted Ron. ‘If the entire world knew about the Eye could you imagine how many would be trying to take its powers for themselves?’
‘Aberforth knows that the situation at hand is much bigger than just himself, Harry. And you do too,’ said Hermione knowledgably.
‘I know all that,’ responded Harry dejectedly. ‘It’s just... he doesn’t deserve to be there. All he did for us. For all he did with Mosteban – risking his life and all. It’s not right.’
None of the trio spoke for a few minutes, each consumed with their own thoughts and gratitude to what Aberforth had done for them. Silently, Hermione got up from her seat, waved her wand and began prepping the evening’s tea that had become a staple of their evenings over the past week.
‘Where is the Eye anyway, Harry?’ asked Hermione quietly as Harry’s tea was magically splashed with a dose of milk.
‘I’m keeping it in my bedside table – until I know what to do with it properly. And that reminds me – I’ve been meaning to tell you something... something about what I saw... in the Eye.’
Hermione and Ron edged their seats closer, their eyebrows crossed as Harry began telling them what the Eye had shown him. His friends responded with confused looks, not exactly sure of what to make of Harry’s non-linear, obscured vision.
‘It all flashed by my eyes so fast that I barely had time to understand what I was seeing... What do you think it means?’ asked Harry.
‘I think... I think you might have been seeing the future, Harry,’ answered Hermione gently. ‘I mean... the images you spoke of... it’s not like they had happened before. And seeing Dumbledore proves that it’s impossible that they could be happening in the present. So that must mean... what you saw... was the future.’
The logic that Hermione had presented ended in the same conclusion that Harry himself had come to. This was not something that Harry had been looking forward to. He had hoped that Hermione’s brilliance would offer something that he had not seen; something that would override his own conclusions. Harry had hoped for this because of the only image that he had left out of his retelling; the bone-chilling image of Ron lying dead on the ground...
‘Are you alright, Harry? You seem to be in a... trance or something,’ muttered Ron, smiling crookedly. Harry was so focused on these disturbing thoughts that he had apparently not paid any attention to his friends.
‘Fine,’ he managed in a coarse whisper.
As Ron looked away with his eyebrows amusingly raised, the image of him lying dead flashed by Harry’s eyes. Shaking his head, Harry rubbed his eyes in the hope that he could somehow erase the image’s imprint from his brain.
‘I... I think I’m going to lie down until supper...’ Harry said, his chair screeching against the wood floor as he stood up abruptly. ‘If that’s alright...’
Neither Ron nor Hermione said anything as Harry left the kitchen without another word. It only took a few seconds for Harry to feel dizzy, having to pause as he began to ascend the long staircase. All of a sudden, he felt the awkward sense that his mind was a projector, playing images for him that he had no control over. The white room – the very one that he had seen consistently for the last two years and the same one that Harry had seen inside the Eye – entered his mind as his scar began to prickle. The flashes of Dumbledore and Voldemort standing side by side exited his mind’s eye as quickly as they entered. He held on to the banister, the images dissipating in strength as he fought through them, focused only on the next stair.
He kicked the door to his bedroom open hard, collapsing on the bed as he sweated profusely. The vision had finally left his mind, leaving him in a cold sweat. Covering himself with his summer sheets, he warmed in minutes, having no idea how long these visions would persist for or why they were doing so. The warmth of the sunny, summer day made Harry’s eyes heavy; as he curled up with his blankets, he slowly fell to sleep.
As Harry drifted off to a place somewhere between dreaming and being awake, he subconsciously replayed recent events in his mind, a habit that proved to be both useful and effective but also frustrating and tiring at the same time. He thought of Trelawney’s eerie prophecy, his apparent sight in to future events through the Eye of the Posterus and the troubling realities they brought and of Aberforth, deteriorating alone in his cell, cold and alone. The image of Ginny’s flaming red hair flapping in the wind as she ran towards him overrode all the pessimism. The sheer weight of her absence from his life enlightened Harry to how much he truly was beginning to miss her.
‘Wake up sleepy head,’ came Ron’s voice booming from above him.
Harry opened his eyes, curiously noticing how Ron was in his pajamas, his hair a mess.
‘Didn’t feel right to wake you so we let you sleep all through the night. If you tell me you’re still tired... then I think there’s something seriously wrong with you,’ he continued smarmily, tossing one of his bed pillows on to Harry’s torso.
‘No... No I’m good now,’ replied Harry groggily. It did not feel as if he had slept for as long as he did, but he felt refreshed all the same.
‘We’re going over to Mum and Dad’s after breakfast – going to spend the day there I reckon. Bill and Fleur are finally back. Brought their daughter too.’
‘D-Daughter?’ Harry said through a yawn.
It took him a second to remember that Fleur had given birth not too long ago and how it was at her request that they stay in France as she adjusted to motherhood.
‘Oh yeah, right. We better get there soon so you can start your influence on her. Shall we get her a Cannons’ jumper then? Or have you already picked it up?’ Ron snorted.
‘The way I see it is this; she’s going to have her prissy, proper side covered by Uncle Percy. And she’s going to have her troublemaking, mischievous area influenced by Uncle George... so I think Uncle Ron needs to be the one who is just... always there for her, you know? The cool one. Might be a bit boring for the first years, but I think I’ll grow in to it eventually. Just... help her with whatever her interests are.’
‘So for right now at least, that means dirty diapers and naps. You have fun with that Ron,’ joked Harry even though he was touched by Ron’s thoughtfulness.
Ron threw his other pillow at Harry’s head whose laugh was muffled as it connected. The two got out of bed, dressed and tore down the stairs and in to the kitchen where Hermione was already eating her breakfast prepared by Kreacher. Harry wolfed down his plate, feeling rejuvenated by his long slumber and in no time at all, he found himself out the door, heading towards the Burrow. It did not even strike him that Ginny would be there until he heard the door close. Butterflies began flapping their wings in his stomach as he crossed the street.
‘Let’s go say hello to your niece Ron!’ cried Hermione in excitement as the trio appeared in the Burrow’s front yard. Hermione placed her arm over Ron’s shoulders, but her face went sour as she seemed to realize something. ‘Er... what’s her name anyway?’
Ron turned to Harry dumbstruck. Mrs. Weasley had not mentioned what her granddaughter’s name was in her owl that she had sent to Ron. He merely shrugged his shoulders as they continued to march towards the Burrow.
‘As long as it’s not anything... French. Or at least not something that I can’t even say properly,’ Ron corrected himself after Hermione shot him a threatening look. As Hermione walked ahead of them, Ron muttered, ‘...I’m not bloody kidding Harry.’ Harry laughed out loud.
When he was feet from the Burrow, Harry noticed that a small band of witches and wizards who he had never seen before were huddled together, curiously pointing up at the Weasley home’s architecture. Flashes of cameras snapping pictures of its exterior disoriented Harry, Ron and Hermione from their walk.
‘What are they doing here?’ Ron said to Hermione, not taking his eyes off the group.
‘No idea. They look like... reporters or something. But why would they want to come here? It’s not like Bill and Fleur are celebrities by any means...’ Harry trailed off, stepping behind Ron and Hermione to shield himself from the reporters’ sight line.
‘Too late, mate,’ whispered Ron.
A short, plump witch moved towards Harry with deceiving speed, her tall, lanky camera man struggling to catch up to her. The rest of the reporters followed suit, each of them yelling out their own indistinguishable questions at Harry, trying their best to be heard over the others.
‘Buttermole and Pratt here Mr. Potter! Could you comment on your recent suspension from the Auror Department?!’ Harry heard Buttermole cry from somewhere within the mob.
‘Is it true that you and Miss Weasley are on the outs? Is that why she has arranged this press conference here today?’ barked another reporter.
‘Come on Harry, let’s go,’ said Hermione forcefully, tugging at Harry’s shirt and pulling him inside the Burrow’s front door that she had propped open with her foot.
Ron slammed the door in their questioning faces. The door drowned out their incoherent babbling questions and reverted them to a mere muffle.
‘Bloody hell!’ said Ron exasperatingly. ‘What were they on about? What press conference?’
‘They caught you too, didn’t they?’ came the voice of Mrs. Weasley. She peered out the window at the mob of reporters who were attempting to look in, but with a swift wave of her wand, Mrs. Weasley pulled the curtain down. ‘I would say that’s an invasion of privacy, but when your own daughter arranges for a press conference at your home... well... you can’t do much about it, can you?’
‘What’s it for, Mrs. Weasley,’ asked Harry curiously.
‘I don’t know, Harry dear,’ she replied kindly. ‘I guess we’ll find out soon enough. In the meantime, why don’t the three of you come and meet the new member of the family!’
‘Who’s here, Mum?’ asked Ron as they followed Mrs. Weasley through the living room.
‘Everyone has been here so far – Percy had to leave for the Ministry, but he said he’d be coming back for supper this evening.’
‘Tonight as well.’ Mrs. Weasley began climbing the stairs, lowering her voice to a low whisper. ‘I dare say I was not too keen on Bill and Fleur keeping the baby in France for the first month – she’s part of our family too you know! Your father rightly said we needed to respect their wishes, no matter how much we disagree with them. But all of those hard feelings seemed to wash away the moment I laid eyes on her. I’m just glad they are here now. Just in Percy’s old room here. Didn’t want to put them too high up – stairs can be quite the inconvenience when taking care of a newborn. I should know,’ she said with a small laugh.
Mrs. Weasley knocked on the door lightly. A small ‘Come in’ could be heard from inside Percy’s room which prompted Mrs. Weasley – smiling all the way – to slowly open the door for Harry, Ron and Hermione.
‘Hey, Ron!’ came the soft voice of Bill. ‘Harry, Hermione! Come meet your niece!’
Bill was crouched down beside Fleur who sat in a rocking chair that seemed as old as the Burrow itself. Though Harry could tell she was tired, Fleur looked beautiful in the summer light that leaked in through the open window, illuminating her face, blond hair and blue dress. She smiled up at the trio, George nodding at Harry as he walked past Percy’s old bed.
‘She’s so... small,’ muttered Ron as he crouched down beside his brother to examine the tiny baby wrapped up in a pinkish blanket that Harry could tell was hand-knitted by Mrs. Weasley.
‘What’s her name?’ asked Hermione delicately and politely as she too crouched behind Ron.
‘Well,’ began Fleur as she looked lovingly at Bill, ‘she waz born ‘zis past May. May ze second to be exact.’
‘And as you may know,’ continued Bill, ‘that was the day... of the Battle of Hogwarts two years ago. So, naturally... we named her something to reflect that... memorable day. Her name is... Victoire.’
Harry could not help but smile as Victoire’s big blue eyes opened and looked up at all the new faces that had come to see her. Her tiny little hand rose out of the blankets as if she was trying to touch Harry and the rest, but it fell back down disjointedly. The choice of name for Bill and Fleur’s daughter touched Harry in an unexpected way; to honor those who had given their lives to the magical world’s freedom was something that Harry thought was noble, seeing as how her birthday would fall on the anniversary of that fateful day forever more.
‘Those her presents then?’ Ron mentioned as he stood up, glancing over at a modest pile of assorted items in the corner of the room.
‘Yeah. Bet you can’t guess which one is Percy’s,’ said George, touching a set of stationery and different coloured quills.
‘Your gift is no harder to pick out,’ said Ron through a laugh, pointing at a cracker that was all too familiar to Harry.
‘George has assured me that the fireworks in those crackers are safe for youngsters – right George?’ asked Bill playfully as he rubbed the side of his scarred face.
‘I’ve given them a concentrated dose. Merlin knows that little Victoire is going to need a little spectacle and fun after she’s done playing with her stationery set.’
Everyone laughed at George as Mr. Weasley entered the room and sat beside Bill, clapping him on the back and smiling from ear to ear.
‘So I wonder who’s going to be next?’ said Mr. Weasley, looking throughout the room.
‘First they need to get married, Arthur,’ said Mrs. Weasley sternly.
‘Oh of course, Molly... of course. But it’s wide open. You never know... it could be you, George.’ Ron gave a short laugh while George snorted.
‘Well Dad, I suppose you could be right. With the gold I’m rolling in right now through my endeavors at the Auror Department, I suspect there will be line-ups of women just clamoring for the chance to meet me. You never know, I guess.’ Mrs. Weasley folded her arms and raised her eyebrows. George always knew how to push his mother’s buttons.
‘I think you could be right, Mr. Weasley,’ said Hermione with a wry smile. ‘George – what’s this I heard that you were seen snogging Angelina Johnson at Madam Puddifoot’s tea shop last weekend?’ George turned a shade of pink as all eyes turned to him.
‘Wh-What are on you on about Granger?’ he asked questioningly, trying to hide his amusement by crossing his arms.
‘Oh, I always liked her George! Rekindling that romance with your fellow Gryffindor?’
‘No Mum. Nothing like that...’
‘That’s not what Lee said,’ mentioned Ron. ‘Hermione and I ran in to him in Primpernelle Square when we went to see the stage production of ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’ the other day.’
‘You’re all mad.’
George could not help but crack a smile as he strode out of the room and up the stairs to his room. Everyone in the room laughed at George’s embarrassment, making sure to take advantage of the rare occurrence when they would have the last laugh over the Weasley family jokester.
Just as the sound of George’s ascending footsteps began to disperse, another set of footsteps grew louder and louder. Appearing in the open door frame was none other than Ginny; she grabbed on to the frame of the door, pausing her sprint down the steps. She looked in to the room, brushed her hair behind her ear and smiled at Bill and Fleur. Harry felt his heart skip a beat when for one small moment, he locked eyes with Ginny; she quickly jerked her head in another direction to avoid him.
‘Ron – do you want to hold her?’ asked Bill.
Since holding a newborn was a new experience for Ron, he carefully took hold of Victoire from Bill who delicately handed her over, Ron cradling her head as he stood still. Mrs. Weasley flashed Ginny a look before looking in Harry’s direction. Harry could feel Hermione’s eyes on him as the room went quiet. Mr. Weasley took it upon himself to break the silence.
‘Is it time for your press conference Ginny?’ he asked, his words sounding much louder than what they actually were.
‘Yeah, I’m going out there now,’ she said quietly.
‘Oh good! The sooner those reporters can leave this place the better. I won’t have them here during the feast tonight!’
Ginny nodded at her mother’s words before continuing down the steps. Harry looked back at Ron who seemed to have built the necessary level of comfort to walk around with Victoire, albeit slowly and carefully. Harry saw Hermione mouthing some words he could not make out. When he squinted at her and shook his head, she exhaled loudly, waving her hand and pointing out the door. Harry did not need any more encouragement.
Silently, he slipped out the door, quietly walking down the steps before bursting in to a jog by the time he reached the kitchen. Through one of the opened windows he could hear the press’ questions. His heart pounding in his chest, Harry burst out of the door, standing adjacent to where Ginny was in front of the swarm of reporters, a warm wind blowing his hair gently.
‘If you’ll all just quiet down I could answer your questions!’ said Ginny, overriding the reporters. ‘But first – the reason I’ve called this press conference today...’
The reporters became silent almost immediately. As Ginny cleared her throat to speak, Harry noticed that Davis McCoy was standing by himself, off to the left behind the reporters. Ginny seemed to notice him too, bowing her head as she began to speak.
‘During my time with the Holyhead Harpies, I’ve learned a lot about Quidditch, teamwork and the difficulties that playing professional Quidditch can have on your entire life. I’ve enjoyed playing with my teammates and working with the coaches, but today, it is my intention to leave the Holyhead Harpies. I thank Holyhead for giving me the opportunity to play in my first matches – it is an opportunity that I will not soon forget.’
The reporters ruptured in to a deafening tornado of questions. Ginny seemed to pick one reporter out – Buttermole, the reporter who Harry had a great dislike for due to his frequent slander of him in the Prophet.
‘Miss Weasley – why have you decided to leave the Harpies?! Their squad is young and prime for another run at the League next year and with you as Seeker... the future would look bright for years to come!’
‘It’s just not a proper fit for me right now,’ she said simply. Another reporter asked a question.
‘Are the rumors of your transfer true? Or are you retiring from Quidditch altogether?’
‘No, I want to play. If a team wants me to play for them, I’d gladly accept. As for that rumor, I don’t think it is the right time to –’
‘You can answer the question, Miss Weasley,’ came the voice of Davis as he stepped forward through the swarm of reporters. There was no sign of his brilliant, perfect smile that Harry had grown to dislike so much over the past months. ‘With your resignation becoming official as of last night, you are not contractually bound by the Harpies any longer. You’re free to speak about your professional endeavors.’
‘That’s contrary to the information I was told last night when I signed my resignation – I thought it was yours and Holyhead’s intention to file a grievance against me which would prevent me from playing Quidditch for any other team for the next two years. That was what was left on the contract I signed, right?’ Harry could tell that Ginny was doing her best to repress her loathing for her former Quidditch coach, but it was still shining through her stoic disposition.
‘Correct. We are... willing to forego that little snag,’ Davis said smarmily. His eye was still a nasty shade of purple from where Harry had hit him. ‘Here’s the official document giving you your release. Go on then. Tell the people what they want to hear!’
Davis’ tone could not have been more different than before. Instead of the charismatic charm that he seemed to bathe in, he spoke in a rough, demeaning fashion that Harry was already tired of. He absent-mindedly walked towards Ginny, wanting to get a better view of the proceedings.
‘It looks fine,’ Ginny muttered as she perused the document that Davis had levitated over to her. ‘In that case... Yes – I have reached a verbal agreement to sign on with the Chudley Cannons for next season, pending confirmation. Up until now, I thought that the deal would be blocked by Mr. McCoy and the Harpies. It seems as if I will be playing next year.’
A mixture of surprise, questioning responses and laughter engulfed the reporters, Davis smiling a particularly nasty smile as he reveled in the response to Ginny’s questionable decision.
‘Miss Weasley – you do know that the Cannons have been a dismal team for quite some time now! They haven’t won the League in decades, they have no legitimate stars and their future looks even bleaker than their past! Why else do you think no players of note never sign there?!’ came the deep voice of a bald reporter.
‘Well – I intend to change that. If I’m not going to be happy playing Quidditch then there really is no point, is there? I’ll be much happier with the Cannons. I look forward to the challenge. Chudley fans deserve to have a winning side.’
‘Are you insinuating that Holyhead as an organization is not a quote ‘happy’ place to play?’
‘I’ll let you come up with the headlines. Are we done here? I have a family celebration to go to if you don’t mind. Thank you.’
With a quick nod, Ginny turned her back on the reporters and left. She began walking back to the Burrow, but the voice of Davis stopped her in her tracks.
‘Yeah you go off to Chudley next year, Ginny!’ he yelled as the reporters began to disperse. ‘And go off to Potter as well! Soon enough, you’ll find everything in your life is second rate! From your Quidditch team, to your boyfriend! Second!’ The reporters turned around, their interest renewed at the mention of Harry. ‘I gave you everything and you still choose the famous, dim-witted Potter over me! You’re mad, Weasley! MAD! Have fun in your second rate life!’
Ginny turned around so quickly that Harry was taken off guard. Before he knew it, Davis was on the ground, bat-bogeys erupting from his nostrils. Harry looked to Ginny and saw her tucking her wand back in to her pocket, observing the downed Davis with a look of satisfaction.
‘I hope you enjoy your second dose of bat-bogeys, Davis. You deserve them.’
The reporters were laughing to each other as they took pictures of Davis struggling to get to his feet. Taking advantage of their preoccupied state, Ginny spoke her question quietly.
‘Does anyone have anything else to say?’
Ginny jumped slightly at Harry’s answer. She whirled around to face him, her eyes looking wide and wet as the wind blew her hair to the side. Harry smiled meekly as he slowly walked towards Ginny from distance. Oddly, he did not feel the slightest bit of hesitation as he did so; his genuine love for her overrode any of the possible negative reactions or resentment that Ginny could give him. And somehow, in some place in Harry’s heart, he knew that there would not be. All that Harry knew was that he wanted her back; he had missed her to the point where it was beginning to hurt. He took in a deep breath as he stopped a few feet away from her, smiling softly at her beauty.
‘So... traded to Chudley. Ron will be happy with that.’
‘At least now... he won’t have any conflict over who he should be supporting... Chudley or Holyhead...’
‘How come you did that?’ asked Harry.
‘I... I think you know the answer to that Harry.’
A soft breeze rolled in between the two as Harry nodded. The brief pause was the product of Harry being unsure of what to say next. Just as he was about to speak, Ginny broke the silence.
‘I’m... I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything Harry. I –’
‘No. You don’t need to be, Gin,’ interrupted Harry as he drew closer. ‘I’m the one who should be sorry. Not you.’ Harry’s mind strangely drifted to Aberforth for a moment, remembering a conversation he had with him many months ago. ‘In life... Sometimes... you make the right decision. And sometimes... you have to make your decision right. And I’ll be spending the rest of my life making the right decisions with you, if you’ll have me. I... I should of trusted you. I should have been more open with... with everything! If you’ll take me back, I promise that I’ll –’
‘Take you back?!’ exclaimed Ginny, a single tear sliding down her cheek. She shook her head in disbelief. ‘Harry – I never left. I just... I was being stupid... Running away from your problems will solve nothing. I should have stayed. Sorted out our disagreements. I don’t blame you for feeling the way you did about Davis.’
‘But that should never cause me to hide things from you,’ replied Harry as he moved closer. ‘I just got jealous about Davis – nothing more. Jealous that he was spending so much time with you while I wasn’t.’
‘Well, that’s not everything. You were right about Davis the entire time. He was only nice to me because he wanted to be with me and break us apart. I just... never saw it like that and I should have seen it from your point of view.’ Harry looked down at his feet before looking up again.
‘But that’s alright. It doesn’t change the fact that I need to be more open with you. And I want to and all it’s just...’
‘Just – what?’ asked Ginny as Harry paused.
‘It’s just that when I’m with you... I can finally just be free of all the tragedy and hardships and death... away from being consumed by the Death Eaters and Voldemort and the rest. So I guess I just... don’t want to tell you anything about that sort of thing because then, I’ve got no outlet from it all. I don’t have to think, talk or feel like an Auror when we’re together. I feel... normal. When I’m with you, I’m happy.’
‘But Harry – I want to be a part of your entire life. I want to be there for all of it, not just the good parts! Life is not always rosy so there’s no use for us pretending that it is. Being together makes up for any hardship we will ever have to endure. If we’re together, those dark times don’t need to be quite so dark. We can both be stronger – together. I love you Harry.’ Harry felt his eyes getting hot, feeling tremendously grateful as Ginny was inches away from him, pouring out her heart to him.
‘I know. Me too,’ he whispered. ‘You’re right. From now on, that is how we’ll be. I promise, Gin.’
He reached in and gave Ginny a soft kiss on her lips. It felt new yet familiar to him all at the same time. When he relinquished the kiss, he saw Ginny’s features relax as she smiled up at him; it was at that moment when Harry promised himself that would never let her go again.
‘Maybe... Maybe you should do something else. Other than being an Auror, I mean. You’ve given the world so much, Harry. Your whole life has been devoted to ridding the world of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. You’re always... saving someone. Being the hero. Maybe it’s time to stop being that hero for the world and let the rest of your life have its day! Maybe it’s time you live for you. For us. For your family.’
‘One day,’ answered Harry as he took Ginny in a hug. ‘I can’t stop now though, Gin. We’re so close to getting rid of them – I owe it to myself and to everyone to finish the job. I’m in too deep to pull out now.’
Ginny smiled meekly, resting her head on Harry’s shoulder as they walked slowly over to the picnic table in the middle of the front yard. As they sat down, something sprung to Harry in his mind, the wealth of warm feelings dissipating slightly as he watched Ginny sit down from across him.
‘Hey, Gin. That day – the day that I was under the Invisibility Cloak.’ Ginny nodded, remembering the day when Harry had spied on her and Davis. ‘Davis asked you if you were happy. And you... didn’t say anything. Were you really that unhappy?’ Ginny’s smile faded as she eyed Harry seriously.
‘Oh – it was nothing to do with you or anything. I mean, sure I was missing you and we weren’t winning and everything but I wasn’t unhappy with... life. It’s been this pounding headache. Every time I feel it I feel as if... I’m not myself or something. It hurts so much that I can feel it in my bones. Makes me just... unhappy. And I can’t explain it! I’m sorry...’
‘Don’t be sorry! I’m just relieved – well, not relieved. I mean... I’m just glad it had nothing to do with me or something else. But we should get you looked at. I’ll take you to St. Mungo’s tomorrow.’
‘It’s been going away lately,’ said Ginny hopefully. ‘I haven’t felt it in a while. But you’re right, it’s probably best to get it looked at. Hopefully it’s not too serious.’
For a few minutes, Harry held Ginny’s hand from across the table, admiring the warm summer sun and each other’s company. There was something about this moment that told Harry that his life as he knew it would be changing forever more. Ginny was as much a part of his life as anyone ever could be. It was time to act on that conclusion.
‘Ginny – I want to tell you something. Well actually, it’s a lot of things.’
‘OK, Harry. What is it?’
Over the next hour, Harry told Ginny everything. From his conversations with Aberforth, to his suspicion of Mosteban to the revelation that the Head Auror had worked with Aberforth in secret. He told her of their Azkaban infiltration, of Nicolas Flamel and about the Eye and the connection it has with the Philosopher’s and Resurrection stones. He summarized the memories and secret messages that he had been sent over the course of the year. Ginny listened through Harry’s retelling of Trelawney’s prophecy that she spoke of just before she died, of Draco and of the troubling scenes he had seen in the Eye of the Posterus – including her own apparent capture and the image of Ron laying dead in the dark.
Though Ginny was shocked, scared and horrified throughout, she kept her composure the whole way through, never questioning Harry’s actions like anybody else would. When Harry finished, he felt as if a giant weight had been taken off of his back. He felt more relaxed, smiling as Ginny leaned over the table to embrace him, thankful for his transparency.
‘That’s a lot to digest,’ she said after a moment of reflection. ‘What are we going to do now?’
Harry opened his mouth to launch in to his own thought process – thoughts that he hadn’t even discussed with Ron or Hermione yet – but was interrupted by the sound of the Burrow’s door opening. Glancing over Ginny’s shoulder, Harry saw Ron and Hermione skeptically walk forward towards the picnic table.
‘Come on over, you two,’ waved Ginny happily.
Harry could tell that something was up by their tentativeness. Ron appeared to be holding something behind his back.
‘Harry – can we er... talk to you for a second?’ asked Ron, looking to Hermione for conversational guidance.
‘Yeah – come join us,’ Harry replied. Ron looked at Hermione worriedly.
‘Er, right. But er... it’s kind of about...’ Ron cleared his throat. ‘...those... letters you’ve been sent.’
‘Oh you mean those secret messages with the memories of Harry’s parents that gave you guys information on the Eye of the Posterus? Why Ron, what’s going on with those?’ piped up Ginny which caused Ron to look at Harry in wonder. Hermione giggled at Ron’s expression.
‘You told her?’
‘Everything. I think we need another mind to help us figure this all out,’ Harry said enthusiastically, placing his hands behind his head and leaning backwards.
‘R-Right,’ said Ron awkwardly as he and Hermione sat down. Looking around, Ron noticed that the reporters had all gone. ‘Hold on a minute – what was that press conference for?’
Ron’s reaction to his own sister being traded to his favourite Quidditch team was nothing short of uncontrollable joy. All of his awkwardness with the situation melted away with minutes of Ron’s enthusiastic, shocking commentary on Ginny’s transfer to Chudley. Finally, Harry was able to calm his best friend down, inquiring at what Ron was holding in his hand.
‘Right! This was just sent by owl – to our kitchen window right over there!’
Ron slammed down his hand on the table, uncovering a folded letter marked by the same handwriting as the other messages.
‘Doesn’t look like we’ll need any Swelling Solution this time, does it?’ said Harry as he turned the note to look at it. The print was clearly legible.
I am glad to learn of your successful retrieval of the Eye. Keep it safe. You know now what I have spoken of all year – I could not risk putting that information in writing. Though Flamel may be persuaded to do so, I am in no way confident that he would be willing or even able to go through the risky procedure of destroying it. That is why I must ask you to come see me. We must meet in person. You can find me at the place my father died.
Thank you for your efforts. Your parents would be very proud of you. I look forward to meeting you in person – our last visit was all too short and under very trying circumstances.
‘Are we not drawn onward to new era?’
‘Look! More letters are highlighted!’
‘I’ve got the parchment here, Ron,’ said Harry as he fumbled for it in his pockets, taking it out and laying the secret message out on the table.
‘Is that it?’ asked Ginny as she looked at what they had filled in over the course of the year.
_O_G RE_AER_ E_ T RO_
‘Yeah – that’s the brilliant message we’ve got from this genius,’ said Ron.
Hermione tapped her wand on the letters with the runes beside them. As always, they seemed to spring off the page, arranging themselves at the bottom. A corresponding number appeared directly beside each letter.
‘Makes it easier that we don’t have to use that Swelling Solution this time. Why couldn’t they have just done it this way the whole time?’ asked Harry. ‘Those pieces of parchment were enormous after we used the potion.’
‘Guess they found a way to send the message to us in a safer way. Harry – write these down!’ pointed Hermione as she read off the letters. Harry copied them down, filing in the rest of the message. ‘One – ‘D’. Three – ‘O’. Seven – ‘T’. Eleven – ‘G’. Thirteen – ‘H’. And finally... ‘Seventeen – ‘F’.’
Harry finished filling in the letters on the scrap piece of parchment he had used throughout the year. He read it over to himself four times in rapid succession. Feeling frustrated, he spun the parchment around for Ron, Hermione and Ginny to see.
DOOG RETAERG EHT ROF
‘Bloody hell,’ muttered Ron as he looked away.
‘Is it – in another language or something Hermione?’ asked Harry, desperate for an answer.
‘I-I don’t know...’
‘How are we ever going to meet this person if we don’t even know what their message is!’ said Harry loudly.
‘Wait a minute...’ whispered Ginny who was inches away from Hermione as they inspected it. ‘Let me see those other messages! Now!’
Ron dove in to Hermione’s beaded bag, taking out the messages that had been blown up by the Swelling Solution. Quickly, Ginny perused them, nodding her head with greater enthusiasm after reading each one.
‘I... I think I’ve got it. Yes... Yes look! Here,’ she pointed to the bottom of the most recent message. ‘What’s that say?’
‘Are we not drawn onward to new era. You know contrary to what you believe little sister, I can read you know,’ answered Ron.
‘Yet you’re still too thick to see the bigger picture. Read it backwards.’
Harry arched his head to see the message properly as Ginny backed away.
‘Do you see?’
‘Era... new... to... onward...’
‘No,’ Harry replied flatly, speaking at the same time as Ron’s reading.
‘Don’t read each individual word backwards. Read it by the letters.’ Hermione seemed to understand Ginny before Harry or Ron did.
‘Oh my god! It’s a palindrome! They all are! How did I miss that?!’
‘Because you look at things logically – much more brilliant than me. This here defies logic,’ answered Ginny.
‘Excuse me, but what in the world is a bloody palindrome.’
‘A palindrome, Ronald, is a word or phrase that can be read both backwards and forwards and be exactly the same. They’re quite rare. Flee to me, remote elf. Some men interpret nine memos. Never odd or even. Are we not drawn onward to new era. They are all the same backwards as they are forwards! They have no hidden meaning within them, they are merely put at the bottom of each message to symbolize something!’
‘Brilliant! So what?’ asked Harry, unsure of where this was going.
‘Whoever sent this is telling us something,’ began Hermione, trying her best to keep her composure. ‘They are telling us that... that backwards is forwards. Look. Read the secret message backwards.’
‘Tell you what – I’ll make it even easier for you,’ said Ginny.
With a wave of her wand, Ginny drew out the letters in mid-air. One by one, the letters of the secret message rearranged themselves, the last letter on the right becoming the first letter on the left underneath. Harry’s jaw fell open at the phrase that hung in mid-air before him.
FOR THE GREATER GOOD
‘Gideon Grindelwald – he’s alive!’
‘But how, Harry!’ asked Ron. We saw him die last year. Mosteban and the others killed him when they thought he was the leader of the Apollyon Soceity!’
‘Not so fast – remember that caravan that was hit this past summer. The caravan holding deceased bodies – including Gideon’s? Maybe someone broke him out. Or he broke out himself! He’s a powerful wizard! He could have faked his death!’
‘He must have!’ added Harry, his mind spinning. ‘It’s not like we used the Killing Curse on him. But... how did he get my parents’ memories from Snape?’
‘I don’t know Harry. All I do know is that we have a great voyage ahead of us,’ laughed Hermione. ‘We can find him at the place his father died. That’s Nurmengard, Harry. Gellert Grindelwald was killed by Voldemort in Nurmengard.’
‘You know – I’ve had my fix of magical prisons for one summer. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to break in to another one.’
‘We won’t have to Ron. If he was a prisoner he wouldn’t be able to get his letters out, let alone the memories along with them!’
‘Better not. That ruddy slogan is carved over the entrance to Nurmengard after all... If he’s there I don’t know what I’d do.’
‘Ron – I’m surprised that you remember that,’ muttered Hermione, genuinely taken aback by Ron’s acute memory.
‘Anyone up for a little vacation to Germany then?’ asked Harry brightly.
‘We are,’ said Hermione enthusiastically as Ron nodded his head.
‘Gin? You coming?’
Ginny looked genuinely touched at her inclusion as she nodded her head ever so slightly. She had already begun to distance herself from the table when Harry had called to her, his invitation bringing her back in full. Both Hermione and Ron were smiling from ear to ear, knowing what this moment meant for their friendship.
In a world that kept him humble, in that one fleeting moment, Harry felt indestructible. Even as they rehashed Trelawney’s prophecy that warned Harry about a traitor being the key to an unknown goal, the feeling of invincibility never left his soul. He looked around at the faces that he loved more than anyone else and knew that in his heart, no matter what happened in the future, he would always have this fond moment to look back on. The moment when his trio became a quartet.
As the sun began to set, Harry broke off with Ginny, leaving Ron and Hermione at the picnic table to converse alone. He looked back at his friends with a wink; the two of them let out an uncontrollable laugh as he did so, drunk with a potent happiness that they all shared. Even when Harry began discussing serious, worrisome matters with Ginny, his happiness instilled in him the strength and bravery needed to get through such situations.
‘I wanted to tell him Gin. I promise I did – I do. And I will. I just... need to find the right time, is all,’ muttered Harry as he viewed the beautiful sunset.
‘I know. I don’t blame you. But he has to know Harry,’ replied Ginny softly as their walk came to a pause. ‘If you saw him die inside the Eye... he needs to know about it eventually before it has the chance to become the future. It just has to be done.’
‘You’re right. I’ll tell him.’
‘We will,’ corrected Ginny. ‘You don’t need to face the burdens of the world alone Harry. We’ll do it together.’
He could hear Mrs. Weasley cooking in the kitchen, the smell of a fine roast awakening his nostrils to the delicious meal that lay ahead for all of them. It was in moments like these where a nice meal and the presence of his family and friends could temporarily lift even the most loftiest of weights from Harry’s shoulders. As he looked down upon Ginny, her face illuminated in the golden sun, a fierce passion pumped through his veins; he could not express the gratefulness to Ginny that he felt at that exact moment in words alone. Telling Ron of what he saw in the Eye would not be easy nor would any of the other hardships that lay on the horizon. The long path to ridding the world of the Death Eaters and preventing Lord Voldemort from ever returning was coming to an end. One way or another, it was nearing its conclusion. The ending was in sight, but Harry knew that the most complicated part was still to come. Though he knew the answers and ends to all of his life’s most difficult questions would not come easily, Harry was just glad that Ginny, Ron and Hermione would be there with him when they did.