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Chapter 1 : Harry Potter and the Deathly Revisionists
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She rolled on her side and opened her eyes so she could watch Ron. She loved watching the steady rise and fall of his chest, and the calm, contented expression on his face as he slept. In the early hours of the morning, before she met the challenges of the day, it reassured her, made her believe that all would be well with the world and that she was protected.
Something was wrong. Ron’s face was pale and had a slight sheen, almost a shimmer. His breathing, though regular, was shallow, his brow cool to Hermione’s touch.
“Ron, are you awake?” He didn’t respond to her question, nor to her gentle push. Worried now, she rocked him back and forth with increasing strength. He didn’t stir, his pulse was weak.
“You have to get up!’ she shouted, shaking him vigorously, feeling the beginning of panic. She took a deep breath, threw on the clothes she had discarded last night and apparated with Ron to St Mungo’s.
In the early hours of Saturday morning the reception area at St Mungo’s was quiet. The Friday night revellers who had enjoyed too much fire whiskey had been treated and sent home, and the Saturday sports injuries were yet to arrive. Hermione had plenty of room as she collapsed on the floor, pulled down by Ron’s heavy body.
Despite Hermione’s ungainly position, it took the Welcome Witch only a few seconds to recognise her. She was, after all, more than a little famous and, unfortunately, not an infrequent visitor to the hospital.
“What’s the matter, Mrs Weasley,” asked the Welcome Witch, whose name was Rhonda, as she rushed to the prone couple.
“I can’t wake my husband. He is cold, his breathing is all wrong and his pulse slow.”
Rhonda had a quick look at Ron, then with a rapid shake of her wand set alarms off throughout the hospital. Mediwizards and Healers came running, they levitated Ron and then bustled him to a room on the second floor. Hermione followed closely behind but was barred from entering the room.
“Please, Mrs Weasley,” said one of the Healers, “you must let us do our work. We will tell you as soon as we know anything.” He then entered the room and closed the door, leaving Hermione frightened and fuming.
Hermione paced furiously outside the room and accosted each staff member as they came and went from the room, but they told her nothing. She deliberately calmed herself and started thinking. She realised she ought to let Harry and the Weasleys know what had happened. She took out her wand and was about to send a patronus to Harry when she saw Harry rushing towards her. How had he known? But Harry wasn’t alone. He was following a scrum of Healers who disappeared into another room. Hermione was shocked to see they were carrying Ginny. Harry was arguing with a Healer who was barring him from entering. Hermione arrived at Harry’s side just as the healer closed the door firmly in Harry’s face.
“Hermione, what are you doing here?” asked a startled Harry. She explained what had happened to Ron. The same had happened to Ginny.
“We’re in the magical infections ward,” said Hermione. “They must both have the same bug. Ron must have picked it up from Ginny when he had dinner with you on Thursday night. Or maybe the other way around.”
“It’s probably not serious,” she added a few moments later, biting her lip. Harry said nothing.
They both sat on the cold, hard floor, their backs to the wall, Harry with his head between his knees. After a while, Harry looked up, his face distraught. “The baby”. Ginny was six months pregnant with her first child. Hermione did not reply, she simply placed her hand on Harry’s knee.
In time, they were approached by Vanessa Grantham, a specialist Healer in magical infections. Hermione, knew her reasonably well through Hermione’s work with the Muggle Born Repatriation Foundation. Vanessa was the wife of its founder, Oliver Grantham.
“Hermione, Mr Potter, neither Ron or Ginny are in any immediate danger, their condition is stable.” Vanessa spoke with the reassuring, caring though somewhat detached tone that was the hallmark of the professional Healer. “They are still unconscious, though, and we are not sure yet of the cause. There are displaying some signs of a magical infection, which is why we have them in isolation wards at the moment. Unfortunately we cannot identify the infection as yet, we are still trying to isolate it. It is also possible that they are victims of a curse and we are investigating that as well.”
“I can’t see how that is possible. The only time they have been together recently was in my home last Thursday. I’d think I’d have noticed if someone hit my wife and my best friend with a curse inside my own house.”
“Be that as may, Mr Potter, we don’t want to rule anything out at this stage.”
“Are they going to be alright,” asked Hermione, her eyes pleading, even though she knew the Healer had no answer. Vanessa simply rested her hand on Hermione’s shoulder.
“Ginny’s baby?” asked Harry.
“The baby is doing fine, we are watching that closely.”
Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
The Healer said a few more reassuring words and then left.
“Hermione, could you let the Weasleys know what’s happened. I’m going to alert the Auror Office. If there’s any chance a curse or dark magic is involved I want to get an investigation going straight away. If we can find the cause we can find a cure.” He turned on the spot, leaving Hermione totally alone.
Harry arrived at the Auror Office apparition point and marched briskly to the operations centre. Herbert Savage was the Senior Auror on duty. Although at thirty eight he was still young, Savage was one of the most experienced aurors in the Office. No auror had a more extensive knowledge of Dark Magic than Savage, and he had an exemplary record of sniffing out its practitioners.
Unfortunately, Savage had never completely gotten over his resentment that Harry and his young friends had been made aurors without the lengthy apprenticeship that he and the older aurors had had to endure and that they had advanced so rapidly. Their fame, status and the senior positions that some of them held outside of the Auror Office didn’t help.
“What is it Potter?” asked Savage, with a smirk. “I’d have thought you already had enough brownie points without coming in on the weekend all the time.”
“I am reporting a possible attack on my wife and on Auror Weasley.”
The smirk disappeared from his face, his body jerked into a rigid stance. An attack on an auror or an auror’s family, was a serious matter requiring a full emergency response. “Tell me what happened,” he demanded.
Harry gave him a full explanation.
“So we could just be dealing with a 24 hour bug,” said Savage.
“We can’t take that chance.”
“I agree,” replied Savage, his wand appearing instantly in his hand. He initiated the emergency protocol that would summon all aurors that could be spared from other duties.
Twenty minutes later fifteen aurors were assembled in the briefing room. Adam Gristlewaite, a veteran auror, called out of retirement to head up the decimated Auror Office after Voldemort’s defeat, strode to the rostrum and gave them a rundown of the situation. Anger and determination filled the room. Many of the aurors present, Neville, Seamus, Cho Chang and Terry Boot were close friends of Ron and Ginny and the others had got to know them well over the last few years. The Aurors were a close knit community that looked after their own.
“OK, here’s what we are going to do. Longbottom, I want you to take over Harry’s team. I want yours and Porfey’s teams out there shaking down every connection we’ve got, looking under every dark rock. If anything is going down in any of the neo-death-eater groups or any of the other shadowy groups of malcontents I want to know about it. Boot, you’re in charge of intelligence analysis. I want you to put all your other projects on hold to work on this. Savage, I want you to investigate the dark magic aspect. Liaise with St Mungo’s and examine the crime scenes. Any questions.”
“What am I supposed to be doing,” asked Harry, shaken to hear his home described as a crime scene, “I’m not going stand on the sidelines while my wife and best friend are under attack.”
“Harry, you know the rules,” replied Gristlewaite, “You can’t be directly involved in an investigation that affects your family. I know you aren’t going to be able to do that Harry, so I’m happy if you liaise with all the teams and keep abreast of the operation, give it your input, but under no circumstances do I want you out in the field. Is that understood, Harry?”
“Understood,” Harry replied reluctantly.
“Harry, you need to be with your wife, OK, and I daresay that Ron’s wife is going to need all the support she can get. Merlin knows what that woman would do without Ron.”
Robert Granger was standing behind his daughter, his arms draped over her shoulders, holding her close. George had brought Hermione’s parents along with him and they had joined the large mob of Weasleys clogging the corridor in the magical infections ward. Hermione’s wide, puffy eyes were staring ahead blankly, seeing nothing. She was startled by the pop as Harry came out of apparition and then she ran to him, hugged him and finally let her tears flow as she felt his arms tighten around her, gathering her in, giving her comfort. Just then there was a flash of light, and a cameraman broke free of clutching hands and apparated away.
Distracted, Hermione momentarily looked toward the scuffle, and then she put it out of her mind and turned back to Harry. “They’re both getting worse. They only let me see Ron for a little while and then they pushed me out. Oh God, Harry, he’s so pale, and he has this sheen around him, like an invisibility field. He’s fading away and they don’t know what’s wrong.” She burst into tears again and Harry hugged her briefly but then held her by the shoulders.
“Have you seen Ginny? How is she?”
Hermione shook her head. “Molly and Arthur have. She’s the same Harry.”
“I’ve got to see her,” said Harry and he dashed away to the room where Ginny was being treated, closely followed by Herbert Savage. Hermione chased after them.
“I’m sorry Mr Potter,” said the mediwizard on door, “they’re running some tests at the moment, you can’t go in.”
“This is now an Auror Office matter. You are impeding an official investigation. Auror Savage here is our finest expert in Dark Magic and he needs to see the patient now.”
Hermione noticed for the first time that Harry had donned his auror robes before returning to the Hospital. The intimidated mediwizard opened the door and Hermione took the opportunity to enter along with Harry and Savage.
A healer stood over Ginny, waving her wand in intricate patterns, casting diagnostic spells.
“You shouldn’t be here at the moment Mr Potter,” she said.
Harry introduced Savage and explained why he was there. He never took his eyes off Ginny and his speech became more disconnected with each word he spoke.
“We are already investigating Dark Magic, Auror Savage.”
“Two heads are better than one,” he replied.
The healer shrugged then nodded her head. “Aradia Liland at your service.”
Harry had stopped listening to Savage and the healer. He moved to Ginny’s side and kissed her gently on the forehead. He took her cold hand in his, rubbing it, fighting tears, whispering “Wake up my love, it’s time to wake up.”
“There’s bad magic at work here,” said Savage, “I can smell it.”
“Yes,” replied Aradia, “we’ve ruled out a magical infection and there’s definitely a spell involved. We’ll be moving them to the Spell Damage ward soon, but it’s not Dark Magic, the tell-tale signs are missing. Frankly we’re baffled. They are slowly just draining away.”
Hermione felt her face tighten, she was on the verge of tears again. Aradia noticed and she put a comforting hand on Hermione’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Mrs Weasley, I didn’t mean to alarm you, we haven’t exhausted all avenues of investigation, there are many tests we are yet to do.”
Hermione brushed Aradia’s hand of her shoulder. “I need you to tell me right now what theories you have discarded, what tests you have done, what you have learnt for sure, and what tests you plan on doing.” She spoke with such force of command, such certainty, that the healer felt compelled to comply. Aradia gave a detailed briefing, with Savage interrupting frequently, adding his own observations while running his own tests and Hermione asking probing questions.
Aradia summed up the discussion; “it is most likely that we are dealing with a modified concealment charm; It only partially conceals its target, that’s the sheen around them, but it also slowly dissipates them. Ginny and Ron now only weigh 80% of their normal weight, though they are still taking up the same space. It’s as if part of them is now in another place. We don’t understand, yet, how that could have been done or how to counter it.”
When the discussion was concluded, Hermione turned to Harry, who had only half listened to the discussion. He had instead spent the time gazing at Ginny’s placid face, holding her hand and brushing out her long red hair so it fanned out across the bed, adding at least some colour to her pallid appearance.
“Harry, if you need to find me I’ll be in the library here at St Mungo’s or in the Department of Mysteries. Let me know if anything changes.” Hermione then turned to Savage. “Herbert, if you need to get into my apartment to investigate, my brother in law, George, can let you in. Thanks for your help.” With that she turned on the spot, leaving Harry to explain to Hermione’s parents where she had gone.
Ron woke up feeling woolly headed. He didn’t remember drinking that much the previous night, indeed his memories were quite hazy all around. He sat up and opened his eyes. A little while later it occurred to him to wonder why he wasn’t panicking. “I should be panicking,” he thought, but he wasn’t. He was perfectly calm, just enormously sad.
He once again examined his surroundings, not that there was much to see, just a roiling whiteness with a vague hint of something more substantial behind it that never came closer as you moved towards it. He was distracted by a flash of colour to his left and moved towards it.
“Ginny, is that you?”
“Ron? Where are we, Ron?”
“I have no idea. It reminds me a bit of how Harry described his visit to Kings Cross Station when he was hit by Voldemort’s killing curse.”
“Are we dead then? How?” asked Ginny beginning at last to experience some fear.
“I don’t know, to both your questions, but if you see Fred walking towards us, it’s probably time to panic.”
They were silent for some time, then Ron spoke. “It’s not the same as Harry described it. He said he felt no pain or sadness, just an enormous sense of peace. I don’t know about you Ginny, but I feel dreadfully sad. It’s like this vital part of me has been ripped out. Merlin I feel miserable.”
“Me too. It’s like I felt when Fred died, this great gnawing emptiness right here.” She went to pat her stomach only to encounter her baby bump. She looked down, wide eyed.
Molly found Hermione in the Department of Mysteries library. The place unnerved Molly; unnatural creatures and objects that had no right to exist, even in a magical world, were mounted in displays lining the walls. In a tank, a large fish was devouring itself by the tail, growing at the same rate as it fed, never stopping. Molly shuddered.
Hermione was hunched over a battered old table, dozens of fat books opened at odd pages strewn across the tabletop, sheets of closely written parchment piled in front of her. Her hair was frazzled, a rarity these days, and her eyes bleary from reading in the poor light and from frequent tears. Her movements were jerky and she jumped when Molly sat down beside her.
“Have you found anything?” Molly asked. Hermione just shook her head.
“You have to leave it, Hermione. Ron needs you beside him, not here.”
“What if I find something that will save him, Molly? I have to try.”
“You have tried, Dear, and Merlin knows this is your sharpest weapon, how you best fight,” said Molly waving at the books and the parchment, “ but Hermione, the best brains in St Mungo’s are working on an answer and so is the Auror Office. You though Hermione, are what Ron loves more than anything else in the world, even more than his own life. I’m convinced you’ll do him more good being with him than being in this unnatural place.”
Hermione nodded. She looked into Molly’s eyes. “I’m so afraid Molly.”
“Me too, me too,” said Molly, hugging the daughter-in-law she had long loved as a daughter.
Hermione allowed Molly to lead her away and apparate her side-along back to St Mungo’s.
Ron and Ginny had been moved into a single room in the Spell Damage ward large enough to accommodate five visitors at a time as well as medical staff. It was barely enough. As news spread that Ron and Ginny were in a dangerous condition, friends and family flocked to St Mungo’s. So did the press. The Weasleys were, these days, among the most famous and influential families in wizarding Britain. Security had been set up so that only close friends of the Weasleys could gain access to the ward.
By evening, some people, mainly Harpies fans, had set up vigil outside the hospital. Ginny was the rising star of the Hollyhead Harpies and some of her growing band of fans had begun to dub her the Queen of Quidditch, something the press had taken up, much to Ginny’s embarrassment. “There are at least 4 or 5 female players in the league as good as or better than me,’ she had said. “Besides Gwenog Jones will always be the Queen of Quidditch as far as I’m concerned,”
Hermione and Molly popped out of apparition in the crowded corridor outside Ron and Ginny’s room. Hermione almost tripped over little Victoire, who was on the floor, prodding a toy duck with a play-wand. Fleur grabbed her daughter and smiled apologetically at Hermione who barely acknowledged her before hurrying into the room.
Hermione took a good long look at Ginny, becoming distressed by what she saw. Harry wasn’t there but Arthur and Bill were sitting beside Ginny, watching over her. Hermione sat down beside Ron and was shocked at how much he had deteriorated since she last checked in on him an hour and a half ago. His apparent weight was now down to 65% of normal, the level that Healer Aradia Liland had described as critical. His flesh no longer looked solid and his cheeks had sunken, making his face look hollow. Molly was right. She wasn’t going to leave Ron again.
A little while later, Harry arrived and went to Ginny, taking her hand in his, closing his eyes and bowing his head. He looked up and noticed Hermione.
“Did you find out anything useful?” he asked her.
Hermione shook her head. “Everything I looked at lead nowhere.”
“You need to get back Hermione. You need to keep looking. Ginny and Ron are depending on you.”
“I tried Harry, and Ron needs me here.”
“You didn’t try hard enough. You have to go back.”
“Stop it, Harry,” Arthur said firmly. “Hermione needs to be here, and so do you. Ginny needs you here not gallivanting around the countryside playing auror. You’re not the only auror, but you are Ginny’s only husband. You’re needed here.”
Harry glared at Arthur but then his face fell. He slumped in his chair and held his head with his hands, fighting to keep a grip on his emotions. “Sorry Hermione,” he said at last.
“Any news from the Aurors,” asked Hermione gently.
“Yeah, we have a suspect, a dark wizard wannabe called Abner Skoog. He was sacked from a janitor’s job in the ministry for over enthusiastic support for Voldemort’s regime, mainly wanton cruelty to the muggle-born awaiting trial before the Muggle Born Registration Commission. Anyhow, he has been hanging around underground groups for some years now vowing vengeance.”
“That’s pretty thin,” said Bill. “What makes you suspect him?”
“He disappeared about nine months ago. We recently got intelligence he was training with a German group of dark wizards calling themselves the Knights of Wolfenstein. They’re bad news and they know their stuff. They’ve been implicated in a number of grizzly and baffling murders in Germany and Poland. We now find out Skoog has returned to Britain and has been boasting he is going to bring down the Weasleys.”
Harry took out an indistinct photo of a gaunt wizard, perhaps about thirty. The only clear feature was his long blond hair. There was silence in the room as the photo was passed around.
“Do you know where he is?” asked Bill at last.
“No, but we’re chasing down a number of leads. Everyone is working around the clock. They know time is critical.” Everyone went quiet at this reminder. They had been told that Ron and Ginny wouldn’t survive if their apparent weight dropped much below 60% and even at 65% they could not last forever. Time was ebbing away.
“Of course you’re pregnant,” said Ron, laughing for the first time since had had woken in this strange place, “and whining about it just about every day of the last six months.”
“I never thought I’d have to explain the facts of life to you, Ginny, even when you were a kid but after you’ve been married for three years and are six months pregnant?”
“Are you telling me you have not only forgotten being pregnant, you have also forgotten being married?”
“Who am I married to then?” asked Ginny, beginning to panic again.
“I’ll give you one guess Mrs Ginevra Molly Potter.”
“Harry? I’m married to Harry Potter? That’s ridiculous. I haven’t seen Harry since your wedding.”
“Oh come now Ron, you’re not going to tell me you have forgotten you’re married to Hermione?”
“I’d think I’d remember if I was married to Hermione. I’ve only wanted to be with her since I was fourteen. You’re just trying to get payback.” Ron was becoming more and more agitated and not a little frightened.
“Ron, where do you live?”
“I’ve got a little apartment in Oxford.”
“And are the walls covered with bookshelves?”
“Yes, you know that, you’ve been there often enough.”
“So tell me why are you living in Oxford and why have all those bookshelves when you only own about 20 books?”
Ron opened his mouth but could find nothing to say.
“You are living at Oxford, dear brother, because your wife, Hermione Weasley, is doing a degree at Oxford University reading muggle history and politics.”
Ron slumped to the floor, unable to speak. Ginny joined him gingerly.
“What’s happening to us, Ginny?” he said at last.
It was 2:00 am on Sunday Morning. St Mungo’s had found beds for Arthur and Molly and they were trying to get some sleep. The rest of the Weasleys had returned to their homes to get some sleep, promising to come in again early in the morning. Only Harry and Hermione were still with Ginny and Ron. Their condition had stabilised but was still critical.
It was quiet in the room. Occasionally a mediwitch would come in, run some tests with a swish of her wand then quietly disappear. From time to time either Harry or Hermione would drop off to sleep only to wake a little while later.
Harry chuckled to himself.
“What’s funny, Harry?” asked Hermione.
“I was thinking about that article in Revelio.” He had been incensed about it earlier. Revelio was a daily gossip sheet of the worst kind. They had published the picture taken yesterday morning of Harry hugging Hermione in the hospital ward. The accompanying article more than hinted that they were having an affair even while their spouses lay stricken.
“What’s funny about that?”
“I was thinking of how many times over the years the papers have tried to marry us off or suggest we were lovers. They never seem to tire of it.”
“Rita Skeeter was the first, wasn’t she, back when we were in fourth year at Hogwarts?”
“Can you imagine what it would have been like if we actually did get married?”
Hermione laughed. “We’d both be neurotic wrecks by now. We’re both too driven and too focused. We would have become obsessed with some narrow cause and burnt ourselves out. Ron keeps me grounded and gives me a sense of proportion. Ginny does the same for you.”
“You and Ron still argue a fair bit.”
“Nowhere near as much as we did before we came to our senses and got together. The thing is, Harry, most of the time if Ron and I argue, it’s because he thinks I’m doing something that will hurt me or I think he’s doing something that will be bad for him. We are fighting for each other, not against each other.”
“Well, at least the sex would have been good if we got married,” said Harry jokingly.
Hermione laughed. “You don’t half have tickets on yourself, do you Mr Potter. I’m not as easily pleased as Ginny. I need a warm funny man with strong arms and gorgeous flaming red hair. Besides, sex with my brother, Yuk.”
“Only when you get out of the bath. Face it Harry, you’re like me. We’re either hot or cold. We don’t do warm.”
Harry gave a half laugh. “Well, I can agree about the red hair. It is a bit of a turn on. We really got lucky, you know, Hermione. We’re like two lonely and uptight kids who got absorbed into the messiest and most loving family in England.”
The two friends smiled, momentarily happy, but then they remembered where they were and sadness and fear returned.
A bright light appeared, hovering in the air near the foot of Ginny’s bed and rapidly grew into the form of a shimmery mongoose. Neville’s patronus had the habit of standing erect on its hind legs and looking straight at you when he spoke through it, giving the unnerving impression of a talking animal. This time Harry didn’t care.
“We’ve located Abner Skoog. He’s staying at a house in Clapham Common. We’re planning to raid the house in half an hour. Assembly point corner of Hill and Stormont.” Neville’s patronus faded away.
Harry looked apologetically at Hermione.
“Go Harry, go and catch the monster. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”
Harry reached out and gently brushed Hermione’s cheek and then disapparated.
It took Harry’s eyes several seconds to adjust to the semi darkness. The nearest streetlight was out and the moon, though three quarters full, was behind clouds. The scene that emerged was of quiet, determined activity. Ten aurors were methodically, though briskly, preparing to assault a house that was around the corner from their current position, careful not to make any unnecessary noise or cause any stray flashes of light.
“Auror Potter, I thought I made it clear you were not to be in the field,” said Adam Gristlewaite who now, somehow, was standing right in front of Harry.
“Ginny may not last out the day if we don’t get this bastard. Where else should I be?”
Gristlewaite grimaced, he looked tired. “You are not to take part in the arrest. If you must stay, make yourself useful and grab one of those brooms. You can act as perimeter guard.”
“Perimeter guard? But---“
“It’s that or go, Harry.” Gristlewaite turned on his heels and walked away.
It was standard arrest procedure, especially in urban environments, for one auror to ride high on a broom above the scene for the unlikely event that the target had prepared some means of escape, perhaps a tunnel, that would enable them to evade the enclosing ring of aurors. The aurors always laid down an anti-disapparition field, closing off that means of escape. The job of perimeter guard was regarded as a doddle, a sideshow. Harry was chaffing to get his hands on the culprit. He wanted to extract all the information he could and then wring the bastard’s neck. Muttering to himself, he grabbed a broom from the supply pile and shot into the air. At least he would have a good view.
Harry watched the aurors move into position. The target house was one of seven, all of identical design, jammed together in a row. Stealthily, an auror entered each of the two adjoining houses while another two moved into position at the rear of the target house, which opened onto a small lane. A dim red flash appeared above the building, the go signal. Immediately two aurors flew through the front upper window which moments before had shattered in a spray of glass. Four aurors rushed through the front door.
Harry could see the house slowly light up, but could hear nothing. Harry was distracted by the sound of an electric motor further down the road. A garage door had partially opened and Harry caught a glimpse of a figure with long blond hair fly through the narrow opening and shoot skyward.
Harry had no time to waste. If Skoog got out of range of the anti-disapparition field he could escape anywhere. He had to get within 200 meters of Skoog so that the field surrounding his broom could stop the dark wizard disapparating. Fortunately he had an initial altitude advantage and Harry used that to close the distance. Skoog hadn’t noticed him yet and was flying straight. Harry was gaining on him but he wanted to get a little closer before trying to hit him with a spell.
Suddenly, Skoog jerked left and shot higher. The manoeuvre cost him ground, but he now knew Harry was there. He fired a stunning spell at Harry and commenced a series of random zigzags. The spell went way wide, buy Skoog’s irregular flying meant Harry couldn’t hit him in return. He concentrated on closing the gap.
Skoog wasn’t interested in letting Harry get closer. He went into a sharp spiral dive and Harry followed. He was gaining on Skoog but not as quickly as the ground was rushing towards them. It seemed they would both crash but Harry wasn’t going to let Skoog out of his sight, not when Ginny’s life was at stake. At the last possible second Skoog pulled out of the dive and shot back into the air. He got so low that the straws of his broom brushed the street surface. Harry didn’t have time to admire the move, he was too busy avoiding a collision with a parked London bus. He almost cleared it but his foot hit the side at high speed, sending a jolt of pain through his body. He put the pain out of mind and concentrated on gaining altitude. He was frantically searching for Skoog and soon spotted him diving toward Harry, firing spell after spell. Harry executed a rapid series of sidestepping manoeuvres but it wasn’t enough. A stunning spell glanced his shoulder paralysing his left arm.
Skoog had converted the momentum of his dive into horizontal speed and was now trying to make his escape. Harry chased after him. He was gaining, but far too slowly. The paralysis was spreading through his body and very soon he would be unable to use his wand. He would tumble from his broom to his death. If only he had Ginny’s Firebolt Supreme he’d make short work of the chase, but he didn’t and he was going to lose Skoog and Ginny. Without allowing himself to think how crazy it was, he turned off the anti-disapparition field surrounding his broom and apparated to a point in mid-air, a hundred metres in front of Skoog. By the time he had twisted around Skoog was right on top of him and Harry hit him point blank with a full body binding curse.
They were both tumbling through the air, the ground once again rushing towards them. He summoned his broom using an Accio spell and managed to climb onto it one handed. He dived towards Skoog who was now only meters from the ground. He flashed his wand shouting mollis superficio. It was the cushioning spell that Hermione had used to save them at Gringotts six years earlier. Skoog landed softly still in a full body bind.
Harry landed but couldn’t stand. He fell beside Skoog. With his last remaining strength he sent his patronus to Gristlewaite. Then he blanked out.
“Maybe we are dead, maybe this is what happens when you die; you just slowly lose your memories until you just fade away,” said Ginny.
“That’s just too depressing to be true. In any case wouldn’t you lose your least important memories first, holding onto the strongest ones till the very end?”
“Who knows, I’ve never been dead before. I don’t feel dead, though, I feel very much alive.”
They sat quietly for a while. Finally Ginny spoke. “You know, those walls, the ones that we can’t get close to, they remind me a bit of St Mungo’s”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” replied Ron. “You know that sorta makes sense.”
“I think we’ve been attacked, some kind of spell that attacks memories. We’d be in St Mungo’s wouldn’t we, maybe unconscious. This is some sort of dream world where our spirits can communicate,”
“Any crazier than this,” replied Ron waving at their surroundings. “Any crazier than forgetting your pregnant and married to the most famous wizard in England.”
“If we’ve been attacked we have to fight back.”
“I agree, but how?” replied Ron.
Ginny was thoughtful. “You know, if you’re right, they made a mistake attacking us together.”
“Well I can fill you in on a lot of things that you have forgotten and you can do the same for me. That’s how we can fight back.”
Ron was suddenly animated. “Good idea,” he said, then he burst out laughing.
“What’s so funny?”
“Well, little sister, you used to have to hide your love life from me because I got all bolshy and protective. It’s going to feel funny telling you all about it instead.” Ginny stared at him then, she too, started laughing.
Brother and sister started fighting back.
Harry woke in the emergency clinic at Auror HQ. Madame Metrodora was standing over him.
“Well, Mr Potter, another lucky escape. That was no ordinary stunning spell you were hit with. Another five minutes it would have spread to your heart, stopping it forever.”
“Did they get the Skoog? Have they gotten anything from him?” Harry tried to sit up but Madame Metrodora pushed him back down. You have to rest, Harry, at least for another hour, otherwise that curse will reactivate and you will die.”
“How can I rest here while my wife and best friend lie dying?”
“There in good hands. The prisoner is being interrogated and anything useful we learn will be rushed to St Mungo’s. The best thing you can do for everyone is rest.”
“Could you at least transfer me to St Mungo’s so I can be in the same room as Ginny?”
Five minutes later the door to Ginny and Ron’s room opened and Harry, in a wheelchair, was pushed in. Hermione rushed to him.
“I’m fine, Hermione, I’m just not allowed to stand up for the next hour. How are Ginny and Ron?” said Harry, forestalling any questions from Hermione.
“They’ve stabilised in the last hour, thank God. I think Ron’s cheeks have filled out a little too, but maybe that’s wishful thinking. Their apparent body mass is still hovering around 65%”
“Push me over closer to Ginny will you Hermione,” said Harry. He then explained to Hermione and to Molly and Arthur, who had returned to the room, what that had happened, leaving out the detail of his mid-air leap.
“Thank Merlin you are safe, Harry”, said Arthur. Molly gave him a hug and then returned her attention to her stricken children.
Silence settled over the room, interrupted sometime later by a knock on the door.
“Who knocks in a hospital?” asked Harry.
“And at 5:00am?” added Hermione as she rose to open the door.
“Luna, what are you doing here? I thought you were in Scandinavia,” said Hermione.
“I got this sudden urge two days ago to return to England. I arrived a couple of hours ago only to find out that Ron and Ginny were very ill. I also learnt that you and Harry had become lovers again which is a little strange given the circumstances, don’t you think, Hermione?”
“Yes Luna, it would be very strange if it were true, but it isn’t.”
“That’s good to know.” Luna smiled at Hermione. She walked towards Ginny’s bed and promptly collapsed. She recovered, pulled herself into an empty chair and pushed back a little from Ginny’s bed. She was as pale as a fresh sheet of white parchment.
“Are you OK, Luna?” asked Harry.
“There’s a dreadful force at work here. It’s sucking them away.”
Hermione gasped. “Stop it Luna, I’m frightened enough as it is”
“They’ve been hit with a nasty spell,” said Harry. “We’ve caught the wizard who did it. We should find out soon what he did and how to fix it”.
Luna shook her head. “He’s not responsible, Harry. This thing is not of this world, it’s coming from another plane.”
“That ridiculous, Luna, there are no ‘other planes’,” said Hermione.
“Of course there are Hermione, everyone knows, for example that tree sprites live half in this plane and half in the monadic plane. They can only live in special types of trees such as oak that can act as a portal between the two planes. If the tree dies the sprite is split in two and dies as well.”
“That just a myth,” said Hermione.
Luna looked at Hermione with sad eyes. “Someone who has hunted the Hallows and ridden on dragon back should know better,” she said gently.
Hermione said nothing.
Luna took out her wand and held it by the tip. She closed her eyes and swayed slowly from side to side, her lips framing a silent spell. Her long blond hair took on an ethereal glow that bathed her soft face and then her arms and then her whole body, eliminating all imperfections and for one brief moment she was the very idea of beauty. Then the glow faded and Luna opened her eyes.
“I think maybe there has been a disturbance in the Numenosphere.”
“The Numenosphere?” queried Harry.
“Yes, some people call it the creative plane, but that isn’t quite right. I wrote an article on it for the Quibbler two years back at Father’s suggestion. The ancient wizards first described it over two thousand years ago. Every object and every being in our plane, the plane of reality, starts out as an idea in the Numenosphere. Once it manifests in our plane, in other words when it becomes real, it takes on a life of its own, but remains connected to the original idea.”
“What’s this got to do with Ginny and Ron?” asked Molly, frowning.
“Each person starts as an idea in the Numenosphere also. There’s the idea of Luna, there’s the idea of Ron, and of Ginny. Once we are alive in this plane we grow and make connections and add layers of experience and even change a little. We take on a life of our own, but what we become must still be consistent with the original idea. I couldn’t become a boy, or a muggle or even be devious. It’s just not consistent the idea of Luna.”
“I still don’t see what this has got to do with Ginny and Ron,” said Molly shuffling in her chair.
“I sense that some force in the Numenosphere has altered the idea of Ron and the idea of Ginny. It’s like they are characters in a book and the author has re written them as something essentially different.”
“We are not characters in a book!” said Hermione leaping to her feet and glaring at Luna, her nostrils flaring.
“Of course not, Hermione. It’s just an analogy. The point is something has changed the idea of Ron, of Ginny at a fundamental level and everything that is incompatible with the new idea is being sucked out of them, including all the associated life experiences. I can’t see how they can survive that.”
Hermione was staring wide-eyed at Luna, shaking her head, “You have to be wrong, Luna, you have to be.”
“I don’t think so, Hermione, but I wish I were. It won’t stop with Ron and Ginny either. We are all connected. We have all shared so many experiences together. I think you and Harry will be next. Then it will spread. We might survive, but we won’t be us anymore. It is very sad.”
Harry, too, was shaking his head. “I still think we are dealing with a curse and we will find out its nature very soon, but, Luna, if what you are saying is true, what do we do?”
“I don’t think there is anything we can do, Harry. We can’t effect the Numenosphere.”
“I can’t accept that.”
“Things are true whether you accept them or not, Harry.”
It was at that moment that Neville entered the room. He looked like he was only still standing by an act of will.
“What news, Neville? What spell did he use?” asked Harry.
“I’m sorry Harry, he didn’t do it. We interrogated him using Veritaserum, he’s not responsible.”
“Maybe his immune to Veritaserum.”
“No Harry, he told us all sorts of things he would never want us to know. It’s as a damn good thing we got him too. He’s a real bad piece of work. He was planning to kidnap Bill and Fleur’s little Victoire and use her as bait to lure the Weasleys into a lethal trap. It was a good plan too and well advanced, it could easily have worked, but Harry he isn’t responsible for what has happened to Ginny and Ron, I’m sorry.”
Harry stared hard at Neville, then stood up and left the room. When he returned ten minutes later it was with Healer Aradia Liland. She checked both patients
“Well, they are both better than they were half an hour ago. Their weight is now back to 70%,” she reported with a half-smile, but then she added “I don’t want to give false hope; their condition is still critical. It’s not unusual for patients to show signs of recovery only to, well…”
“But they are getting better, aren’t they though, Aradia?” asked Hermione.
“I’m sorry, Mrs Weasley, but if we can’t get them back over 85% I cannot see them lasting out the day. We still don’t know what we are dealing with. I’m sorry.”
“Luna, tell Healer Liland your theory about the Numenosphere,” said Harry.
After Luna had repeated her explanation, Aradia responded, “It’s an old theory, not completely discarded, but not given much credence these days. During the middle ages, healers used to blame ‘disturbances in the Numenosphere’ for all sorts of maladies for which we now know the real cause. They even used the idea to explain people who had simply gone missing.”
“Do you think there’s anything to it?” asked Harry, pushing for an answer.
“I don’t know, this is more in the realm of metaphysics than magic or medicine. I do know one thing, the Ancient Healers did believe you could influence the Numenosphere. They thought you could fight disturbances in the Numenosphere’ by emphasising the patient as ‘manifest in the real world’.”
“Basically they recommended the patient’s loved ones talk to them and keep on talking to them, reminding them who they are, reminding them of their ties to this world, trying to pull them back to it, asserting the dominance of reality over the abstract idea. Frankly, that wouldn’t be a bad plan of action. No matter what we are dealing with, it couldn’t hurt and it just might help. If you can reach their unconscious you just might give them the strength and the will to fight whatever it is that has attacked them.”
And that is what they did. Throughout the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon the family took turns talking to Ron and Ginny.
“Ron, do you think those walls are getting a little closer?” asked Ginny.
“I don’t know, yeah, maybe. Maybe the walls will let us approach a little closer if we try.”
“I can hear voices, Ron.”
“Yeah, so can I.”
They had been at it for hours.
George talked to Ginny about when they were young and the pranks they used to play on Ron. When Harry wasn’t in earshot, he laughed about the big ‘surprise’ that they had hatched together for Harry’s next birthday. He talked to Ron about the shop and how Ron was wasting his talents on the Aurors and how he should come back to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes. He talked to Ron about Fred and he shared how much all the support Ron had given him at the time of Fred’s death meant to him.
In the end it became too much for George. He became agitated and raised his voice. “You have no business leaving us little brother, none whatsoever you hear, and taking our little sister with you, that’s just wrong, damn you, just wrong.”
Arthur put his arm around his son, calmed him down and then, gently, took over talking to Ron.
They all had a go. Fleur talked to Ginny about Victoire and little Dominique and the joys of motherhood. Robert Granger talked to Ron about their first chess game and chided Ron for getting him interested in such a bunch of losers as the Chudley Canons. Then he talked about Hermione. “We both love the same woman, Ron. She’s wonderful, isn’t she? Well she’s always been that, but she hasn’t always been happy. You’ve made her happy, very happy and I’ll always be grateful for that. Thing is, son, you have to stick around. Hermione isn’t going to be happy if you go, well that’s an understatement. You’re a fighter, Ron, and you have always fought for Hermione. That’s what you have to do now, fight. Fight!”
At first they were encouraged. After the first two hours both Ginny and Ron had visibly improved. Ginny’s face had regained some colour and Ron’s had lost some of that hollow look. Their apparent weight had risen to 75%. But then, as hour followed hour, there was no further improvement. In the last hour, first Ginny and then Ron had begun to deteriorate. They could see in the eyes of the healers that they thought the end was fast approaching, but they didn’t give up. The Weasleys had seen dark times before and they didn’t give up. They weren’t going to give up now.
“I’m so tired, Ron, so very tired,” said Ginny. “I need to lie down for a bit.”
“I think if we lie down, Ginny, we’ll never get up again, if we sleep, we will never wake.”
Ginny looked searchingly into her brother’s eyes and then she nodded.
They pressed on.
Hermione was exhausted. She’d only had three fitful hours of sleep in the last day and a half, her emotions churning all that time. She couldn’t stop and rest, though, Ron was depending on her. She started talking to Ron once again.
“Hi Ron, it’s your wife Hermione here. I don’t know where you are, or what’s happening to you or if you can even hear me but if you can hear me then I need you to listen to me, I need you to come home to me.”
“Do you remember when we were at school, in third year, and a large black dog dragged you into a tunnel under the whomping willow. I followed you down the hole to rescue you. I’d follow you down this hole too, my love, if I could. I’d rescue you if I could, but I can’t so I need you to come to me.”
“I need you to come back to me, Ron, like you did in my darkest hour, when I needed you the most, when Harry and I both needed you the most. You followed my voice then Ron, follow it again, follow it back to me, follow it back to the woman who loves you more than life.”
“You promised me you would never abandon me again, Ron. Do you remember that? You better remember it and you better fulfil that promise because I’m going to get very angry if you don’t, and you know what I’m like when I’m angry, so you better come back to me. I’m holding you to your vows, Ron, all of them”
Hermione slumped in her chair, trying again to control her emotions, to regain the composure she needed to carry on.
“Did I ever tell you about my most cherished treasure, Ron? I think I did, I remember telling you after we had a big fight many years ago. Well it’s no secret. My most cherished treasure is the knowledge that you love me – me. I take it into my daily battles, I carry it in my heart and I can say to my foes ‘you can’t hurt me, I am loved’. I can say ‘you can’t put me down, I am loved’. I can say ‘you cannot make me feel small, I am loved and cherished’.”
“I am loved by a man whose is warm and courageous and funny and strong and loyal and who isn’t afraid to challenge me when he thinks I’m wrong or to support me when the world thinks I’m wrong and who I can love with all my heart and who cherishes my love. I love you Ron, I love you with everything I am. Please, please come back to me.”
Hermione couldn’t continue. She rested her head on Ron’s chest. She had no more tears left to cry, but her whole upper body shook. She felt a hand rest gently on her back, giving her comfort and then she heard the croaky words, “is that you Hermione, is that really you?”
She jerked up her head and found herself looking straight into Ron’s open eyes. His smile grew wide and he just got out the words “it really is you,” before Hermione closed his mouth with her kisses.
“You’ve come back to me Ron, you’ve come back.”
“I always do, my love.” He pulled Hermione into a hug, though his arms were yet weak. He held her for a long time. He then looked across the room and saw Ginny sitting up in bed, talking animatedly with Harry. Ginny turned to him and her smile got even larger. She nodded to him, her eyes twinkling, and then she turned back to Harry.
It was two days later. Hermione woke to see Ron, lying at her side, smiling at her
“Are you really, truly my wife Hermione?” asked Ron
She looked at him curiously and then answered, “Off course, silly, what else could I ever be?”
I hope you enjoyed the story. I'd be very interested to know what you thought it.
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