Title: The Well of Shadows
Author name: Ruskbyte
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Once more onto the breach, yes? I'm aiming to keep this story as light-hearted and exciting as The Order of the Phoenix but with slightly more serious overtones cropping up every once in a while. Oh yes, there will also be plenty of cliffhangers.
~ The Last Days of Summer ~
There were many things about Harry Potter that made him something of an unusual boy. His eyes were a remarkable and bright green, inherited from his mother, capable of wide ranges and depths of emotion. His raven black hair was so wild and unruly that even magic could not tame it. Literally, since Harry was also a wizard and an exceptional one at that.
But perhaps the most unusual thing about Harry right now was the fact that, if you ignored his uncle's attempt to kill him, Harry was actually enjoying his summer holiday.
And this, where Harry was concerned, was unusual.
Normally Harry hated his summers with a passion and dreaded their coming. The reasons for this were many and varied, changing over the years. Most recently Harry's dislike of the summer months stemmed from his separation from his friends and the people he considered family. When it came to his real 'family' --his uncle Vernon, aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley-- Harry actually preferred to be separated from them, hopefully by a great distance.
The reasons for Harry's unusual enjoyment of this summer, the one between his fifth and sixth-years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was twofold.
Firstly, he was not spending his holiday in the terrible presence of the Dursleys, but was rather safely ensconced in the comforting and loving environment of the Burrow and surrounded by the people he considered to be his true family, the Weasleys.
The second reason that Harry was enjoying his summer, was currently lying beside him in the bed with her head gently resting on his chest and one arm thrown over his waist.
Harry smiled serenely as his fingers traced abstract patterns on the warm skin of Ginny's bare shoulder. The sun had begun to rise into the morning sky and rays of soft sunshine beamed through the windows, suffusing the bedroom with a golden glow. Continuing to stroke his hand up and down Ginny's arm Harry thought back over the summer, undoubtedly the best summer of his life, and how he came to be sharing a bed with such a lovely young woman.
To say the circumstances were unusual would be an understatement.
If nothing else they were at the very least interesting.
Harry's smile took on a wry aspect as he recalled how his summer had literally started off with a loud bang. Three of them, actually, and all very loud. His fingers paused in their feather-light caress of Ginny's arm as he remembered the sharp pain when Uncle Vernon had shot him in the chest.
Harry had had his brushes with death before, enough so that he and the Grim Reaper were almost on a first name basis, but this time it had been a particularly close call. If it had not been for Ginny, who now slumbered peacefully in his arms, Harry would likely have not survived the experience.
Still, several good things had come from it, not least of which was Harry finally being able to complete his Animagus transformation. The complete and utter destruction of Privet Drive was a bonus as well, not to mention that Harry got to spend the remainder of the summer at the Burrow with the Weasleys.
After waking up from his ordeal, lying underneath a very underdressed Ginny, things had almost returned for what passed as normal in the Weasley household. Granted it had taken a great deal of explaining on both Harry and Ginny's part to convince Mrs Weasley that Ginny had to be naked in order to establish the mental connection that was instrumental in Harry's revival.
They were still trying to find a way to get revenge on Loki and Osiris for that little prank, but there was not much they could do to disembodied memories.
That night Harry and Ginny had gone to sleep in their respective beds; Ginny in her room on the third landing, Harry in Ron's room on the top floor. Their sleep could not be called restful as they had both shared one of Harry's customary visions surrounding Voldemort's actions for the future.
After jerking awake they had met downstairs, out in the back garden on the small grassy knoll that soon become their special meeting place. That was where the rest of the Weasley family had found them the following morning, sitting on the ground and watching the sunrise in each other's embrace.
The next four nights had been an almost perfect repeat of the first, with the sole exception being that the two teenagers were woken by nightmares, rather than a vision. They would both wake at the same time, having shared their slumbered horrors, and would be unable to return to sleep for the remainder of the night.
Away from Hogwarts, and the tender ministrations of Madam Pomfrey, Harry and Ginny had no access to any dreamless sleep potion. Outside of registered medical facilities the potion was notoriously difficult to get hold of. Thus the pair were soon showing the strain of far too little sleep during the nights. The drawn and taut look did not, from what everyone had told him, suit Harry and most certainly did not suit Ginny's fine features.
At which point, on the fifth night, they had discovered a substitute. Surprisingly enough it actually worked and without any of the problematic side-effects that commonly occurred from frequent use of dreamless sleep potion.
Of course, Mrs Weasley was concerned about an entirely different set of side-effects when she found out.
It had started just as it always did. The nightmare, this time one of Ginny's --a distorted memory of Tom Riddle's emerging from his diary inside the Chamber of Secrets-- had caused Harry to jerk awake. His breath had been ragged and he could feel the sweat soaking his tee-shirt. After taking a few minutes to regain his composure and steady his wildly beating heart, Harry had got ready to step out of bed and go downstairs to join Ginny.
He had just managed to throw the bedspread aside, checking to make sure he did not disturb Ron during his departure, when the door to Ron's room opened with a low creak. Even without the faint silver glow of the moon, proving just enough illumination for him to make out the features of her face, Harry had known it was Ginny.
Without a word spoken, or a thought made, Ginny had crossed over to Harry's bed. He had immediately divined Ginny's intentions and shifted in the bed to make space for her. Once she had lain down beside him Harry pulled the covers over them both as she snuggled up close against him.
Unlike before, when they would sit together in silence and wait for the coming dawn, the pair had quickly drifted back to sleep.
"Holy crap!! Ginny, what are you doing?!"
That had been the rather startled exclamation that had jolted Harry and Ginny into semi-wakefulness the next morning. Having finally managed to return to sleep after their nightmare, the two teenagers had been naturally reluctant to wake up at what would normally be a decent hour, opting rather to seize the opportunity and sleep in. Thus it was that Ron, whose room they were in, had woken up before they did.
After his customary moaning and groaning in protest, Ron had pulled himself to his feet, only to discover that he was not alone. Ron had become accustomed, over the past week, to waking up to find Harry's bed empty and Harry himself already downstairs. Naturally he'd been somewhat surprised to note, if belatedly, that the room's second bed was still occupied.
A moment later he'd realized that it was doubly occupied.
A moment after that he recognised who it was that had joined Harry.
Unfortunately he'd chosen to voice his shock rather loudly. Not surprisingly, Harry and Ginny had had a somewhat extreme reaction to being roused from their peaceful slumber. Ron, however, had had to be revived by Mr Weasley before either of the two could begin their profuse, if confused, apologies.
Harry, having been sharing the room with Ron, had had his wand close at hand and had quickly snapped it up as he woke, swinging it towards Ron in a blur. It had been sheer luck that Ginny had moved at the same time and jerked her right arm in Ron's general direction.
This action had probably saved Ron's life as Ginny's arm collided with Harry's and diverted his aim upwards towards the ceiling, thus sparing Ron from being on the receiving end of a curse that had blown a foot-wide hole in the roof and almost killed the ghoul in the attic. The poor creature was so traumatised by the near miss that it was nearly a month before it had recovered enough to resume clanking its chains.
Unfortunately Ginny's aim had not been deflected and her wandlessly cast Stunning Spell had managed to knock Ron off his feet and across the room, to slump, unconscious, against the far wall.
Doubtless to say, Mrs Weasley had ranted and raved for nearly an hour before calming down enough to let Harry and Ginny try to explain what had happened. Eventually she had relented that perhaps it was not that bad a thing if it allowed the two of them a decent amount of sleep, although she would have preferred some advanced warning about it. Even so Molly had insisted that Ginny return to her own bed that night.
And so she had.
The following morning, upon noticing that neither Harry nor Ginny were down yet, Molly had sent Percy upstairs to check on them. She'd felt that Percy was the most responsible of her children and thus a perfect choice to confirm her suspicions that Ginny had once again sneaked out of her room to join Harry.
Everybody had been highly surprised when Percy had barged into Ron's room only to find it occupied by only his younger sibling and with Harry nowhere in evidence. Being the studious and logical person that he was, Percy had quickly deduced that this probably meant Harry had ventured into Ginny's room instead.
Nobody had been highly surprised, except Percy, when a barrage of curses and hexes greeted him upon barging into his only sister's room. This time it had been Ginny who had grabbed her wand, blowing an even larger hole in the wall next to her door than Harry had the ceiling.
Fred and George were still teasing her about the fact that she had unwittingly created a new window for her room, although they were puzzled as to why she had made it looking inside the Burrow instead of outside. They continued to bring this up long after Bill had repaired the damage, that same day.
Percy, for his part, had been unfortunate enough to cross paths with Harry's runaway wandless magic, which had resulted in something that young Weatherby (which the twins still teased him about) would never be able to live down.
Ron had said it was the best thing he had seen since Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret, had graced Hogwarts' halls. Fred and George had been inspired to create a thin-bottomed trick cauldron that produced the same results. Ginny had thought it was both a hilarious and appropriate punishment for barging in without knocking.
Harry had spent the next week apologising for the mishap.
Mr Weasley had had to work together with Harry and Bill for nearly three hours to restore Percy. The problem had lain in the fact that Harry had been very bleary-eyed at the time and his magic unfocused. All things considered it was an accomplishment that Percy's transfiguration had been properly completed.
Percival Weasley, the amazing flapping secretary bird.
Harry shook his head and wondered if the young Minister-in-the-making would ever forgive him for the experience. It had taken a great deal to convince Percy that it had truly been an accident and not a malicious attempt on his life.
It was perhaps fortunate for both Harry and Ginny that everyone, well nearly, had been too busy worrying about Percy to berate them for sneaking about again. Molly had eventually recovered from her mild panic attack and, with an air of resignation, sat Harry and Ginny down at the kitchen table before lunch.
"You're going to do this again," she had said, stating it as a fact, not a question.
"Yes," Harry and Ginny had replied in unison.
Molly had frowned, her eyes darting about as she cleared tried to consider the situation from every possible angle. After several minutes of silent deliberation she had looked up at the two waiting teenagers and asked, "Why?"
They had turned to look at each other, conversing with their thoughts about how to respond. To Molly it must have seemed as if they were engaging in the elusive silent communication that come couples are able to achieve. Harry and Ginny, who had known this is what it looked like, had decided to play along since they were, for the time being, unwilling to admit to anyone the special connection that had formed between them.
~Well? Go ahead and tell her.~
Me? You should be the one to tell her; she's your mother.
~What's that have to do with it?~
She knows you better; you're her only daughter.
~Yes, and you're the famous Boy-Who-Lived.~
How exactly does that make me the ideal candidate?
~D'you remember that little incident during my first-year?~
Kind of hard not to forget something like that.
~Well, after that nobody in my family considers me able to make responsible decisions. You on the other hand…~
Responsible? I deliberately stepped in front of a Killing Curse!
~Of course you did. You're a hero and heroes do stupid things like that. Besides, Mum adores you.~
Yeah, but you're her daughter. She won't kill you for this…
Harry and Ginny's conversation had continued along this vein for quite a few minutes, alternating between arguments and counter-arguments regarding which of them should explain the situation. For some reason, probably the fact that Molly was known for her ability to change into a sabre-toothed tiger without needing to be an Animagus, they were a tad reluctant to have this discussion with her.
"It feels right," Ginny had finally told her mother. "It feels... warm. And when we're together I don't feel afraid anymore."
"Ginny, this is happening very quickly and what you're talking about is a very big step," Molly had observed, watching the two of them closely with what looked like a worried eye.
Harry had easily understood her reservations about Ginny and him beginning the physical aspect of their relationship. After all, Ginny was her daughter. She naturally had to know for certain that they both knew the possible consequences of such a decision before she could let the issue rest. Harry would not have expected any less from the kind and caring person that was Molly Weasley.
After shifting her gaze from one anxious teenager to the other, Molly had ventured, "Perhaps it would be better if the two of you took a little time to make sure that this is truly what you want."
"It is what we want, Mrs Weasley," Harry had answered.
"It's what we need, Mum," Ginny had immediately reinforced Harry's words. She looked at her mother with a pleading gleam in her bright brown eyes.
Harry had reached out to place a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I honestly can't say if what we have is right or wrong for us Mrs Weasley. Only the future will be able to show us that, but I do know that our destinies have become entwined and staying separated is simply no longer an option for us."
Ginny then picked up where Harry left off. "We're not blindly rushing into this, Mum. It's just that we're stronger together than when we are alone. We have bond with each other, one that can't be ignored."
"It keeps the nightmares away," explained Ginny, managing to avoid any elaboration. "Last night was the most peaceful sleep I've had since the Chamber of Secrets."
"Does being together make you both happy?" Molly had asked softly.
Ginny's answer had been a simple, yet heartfelt, "Yes."
That had pretty much settled the matter. Molly had voiced a few half-hearted protests about the idea, but eventually she had acquiesced after hearing Harry and her daughter explain the positive reactions they felt when they were together. After that the three of them had continued to discuss the Burrow's new sleeping arrangements and the implications thereof for nearly two hours.
Eventually Molly had decided that fixing lunch and feeding her brood was more important than having her repeatedly warn Harry and Ginny not to get up to anything inappropriate.
"Understand that I trust the two of you to be responsible about this," she had told them sternly, waving her wand at some crisp lettuce. "While I have no objections to the idea of becoming a grandmother, I'd prefer to be blessed with my first grandchildren from my eldest child instead of my youngest."
The announcement that Harry would be transferring to Ginny's room had been made over dinner that evening, earning a wide range of reactions from everyone present.
Arthur had greeted the news by taking it in stride and gracing the two blushing teenagers with a benevolent smile. Apparently, he had confided with Harry later that night, he had been expecting something like that. From what he had said he had seen the way Harry and Ginny looked at each other and had recognised it as the same look that he still gave his wife.
Fred and George had immediately begun whooping and whistling and catcalling. Their plan to start a betting pool on exactly when Harry and Ginny would make them uncles had resulted in Molly almost literally throwing them out of the kitchen and assigning them degnoming duty in the back garden for the remainder of the summer.
Bill and Charlie had been somewhat flummoxed, but were otherwise agreeable with the concept as long as Harry behaved himself in an appropriate manner. Their attempt to come across as threatening big brothers was so overstated that it was more amusing than intimidating. Other than that, they willingly offered their support and managed to make both Harry and Ginny blush a fetching shade of red when Bill winked suggestively at them.
Percy, who had still been recovering from his time as a secretary bird, had not really been paying attention. He had remained reasonably quiet throughout the meal and simply stated that he had a great deal of office reports to finish writing up and would they kindly keep the noise down.
Ron, surprisingly enough, had not raised a single objection to the idea. Of course, this might have been attributed to the fact that he had fallen out of his chair and was sitting on the kitchen floor, staring at Harry, Ginny and his mother in dumbstruck disbelief. Suffice to say that owl traffic between Ron and Hermione increased dramatically after that as Ron did his best to convince Hermione to try and talk (or write) some sense into the two new roommates.
Not surprisingly Hermione's only response had been a letter to the couple that contained little more than a repeat of Molly's own cautions not to do anything unwise. She had, however, included some notations on a very useful Contraceptive Charm she had read about; just in case they let their hormones get the better of them. Harry and Ginny wisely decided not to ask the bushy haired girl why she knew such a charm.
Since then Harry and Ginny had shared Ginny's room, and her bed, in what could almost be called a platonic manner if one ignored the frequent kisses and heavy petting. It had taken a good deal of resolve, and they'd had one or two close calls, but Harry and Ginny had mutually decided that it would be better to wait for when they both felt it was the right time. Until then there was still a wide variety of other activities for them to experiment with.
Of course this did not stop Fred and George from implying that something untoward was going on in Ginny's room every breakfast for the first couple of weeks. They'd only desisted after Ginny transfigured all the knives and forks on the kitchen table one morning into pixie-sized flying valkyries that sang Wagner as they chased the twins around the Burrow with some of Molly's knitting needles.
Even Percy had found that amusing and whenever the two pranksters tried to tease him about his time as a secretary bird, he would begin whistling Ride of the Valkyries as a counter offensive.
A gentle rap on the door to Ginny's room brought Harry out of his musings. He looked up and, after making sure he and his sleeping girlfriend were both presentable, called out, "Come in."
The doorknob, slowly and cautiously, turned and then the door was pushed open. Harry immediately began to smile and count to ten, waiting for their morning visitor to step inside. This was one of the consequences of Percy's intrusion into Ginny's room and his subsequent transfiguration.
He would now always knock on any door and wait for permission before entering. Even then he always waited for a count of ten before stepping inside - just in case. Harry had asked about it and learned from Arthur that Percy was even doing it at work in the Ministry. Apparently he had developed something of a phobia about walking through doors.
…eight… nine… ten.
As Harry finished counting, Percy stuck his head in and peered at the two teenagers through his horn rimmed glasses.
"Mum wants you to know that breakfast is ready," he said, frowning slightly as he noticed that neither of them were up and about yet.
"We'll be down in a few minutes, Percy. Thanks," Harry replied.
After nodding sharply Percy quietly pulled the door shut. Harry could hear his footsteps receding down the stairs. Chuckling and shaking his head, Harry turned his attention back to the slumbering Ginny and gently shook her by the shoulder.
Wake up, Gin. Come on, love, it's time to get up.
With the utmost care he rolled Ginny off his chest and onto her back. With his one arm still wrapped around her shoulders, Harry leaned across to kiss Ginny's cheek as her eyes fluttered open. Blinking she smiled sleepily and mumbled, "Morning..."
"Good morning, sleepyhead," he teased gently, shifting his arm so that he could playfully ruffle her hair with his hand.
"Twit," retorted Ginny, stifling a yawn. She turned to him, rubbing her eyes, "Normal witches and wizards don't get up at the crack of dawn like you do, Harry."
Harry grinned and kissed her again before rolling away and pushing off the bed. As he made his way to the dresser that had been added to hold his own clothes, he could hear Ginny stretching lazily in the bed behind him. Pulling off his wrinkled tee-shirt and draping it over the back of a nearby chair, he turned to look at her.
"We have to go down for breakfast," he told her as she lounged there, half under the bedcovers. "We're going to Diagon Alley today, remember?"
"I remember," Ginny admitted, sitting up. Her fiery hair cascaded down past her shoulders as she moved. It framed her face and contrasted against the pastel cream of her nightshirt, which had slipped down to bare both shoulders in an innocent yet tantalizing manner.
Deciding to concentrate on getting dressed rather than staring, Harry turned back to the dresser and began searching for a fresh tee-shirt and boxers to put on after he showered. He had just pulled out the glaring orange Chudley Cannons tee-shirt Ron had got him for his birthday this year, at Harry's very first birthday party, when Ginny's arms snaked around his waist.
As she sidled up behind him Ginny asked, "You aren't seriously thinking about wearing that to Diagon Alley."
"Maybe," smirked Harry, "but I promise to put something over it."
"It's going to be a little hot for your trenchrobe, don't you think?"
Harry shrugged. "The heat doesn't bother me. Besides, the trenchrobe's charmed to always keep a comfortable temperature. Or maybe I'll just wear one of my other shirts over it."
Ginny gave him a squeeze then reached around him to finger the disassembled pair of Omninoculars lying on the dresser's top. "How's this coming along? It's been a couple of weeks."
"Pretty well," he acknowledged, motioning at the three pairs of Muggle sunglasses that were scattered around the Omninoculars. Thick piles of parchment, covered in his handwriting, lay beneath the sunglasses, indicators of Harry's hard work on this little side project that he was planning on surprising Fred and George with.
"I think everything should be ready by Christmas," he continued, straightening his notes. "Your father was a great help in sorting out the charms I need to use."
"If these actually work, you and the twins will make a killing," mused Ginny, leaving the Omninoculars be so that she could pick one of the sunglasses up. She held the stylish, yet inexpensive, frames up for inspection and muttered, "These certainly are easier to carry around."
Harry laughed. "I'm sure your mum will approve of them more than she does Fred and George's fake wands and trick sweets."
Ginny nodded her agreement and set the sunglasses down on top of a short stack of notes. "Are you ever going to tell her that you're the mysterious benefactor that funded Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes?"
This time Harry laughed even louder and shook his head, "No way! Not after the twins slipped her some of my Chewing Clown Gum during my birthday party. If she ever found out I was responsible for that, not even the Order could save me."
*Still, if you tell her that you're trying to set them up for a more respectable business than a simple joke shop, she might forgive you...*
"Oh, joy," sighed Ginny, resting her head on Harry's shoulder, "the peanut gallery is awake."