Here begins book II of the Children of the Flame Saga
As always, it all belongs to JKR. I own nothing.
Children of the Flame Saga
Book II: Blessed Summer of Horrors
Um, About That
In one instant Albus Dumbledore's horrified eyes fell on the mangled bodies of two of his students. In the next he watched their bodies float into the air with Fawkes above. In a third all three were gone from sight. In the fourth Harry and Ginny rose from a pile of ash and rushed to comfort Hermione and Molly as they sobbed incoherently over their … deaths? It took a further two instants for him to do something he'd sworn he would never try again; apparate with people he wasn't in physical contact with.
So it was that he, along with Harry and Ginny, all her brothers save for Percy, her parents, Hermione and her parents, as well as Remus, Tonks, and Fleur Delacour all landed in a dazed heap on the front lawn of The Burrow. The resulting apparation blew out the back windows of the Weasley home, imploded the kitchen door and quite thoroughly destroyed the chicken coop. Though he really didn't think anyone was going to mind.
They were safe.
And somehow, despite the impossible truth of what he'd witnessed, Harry and Ginny were there in front of him. It was with that thought and the soft lilting sound of phoenix song in the air that he passed out from exhaustion.
He woke again a short time later, a dull throb in the back of his head being held at bay by the continued sound of phoenix song in the air. He groaned and levered himself up. Sometime in the ensuing while he'd been moved from the front lawn to a couch in the Weasley family's parlour. A supporting hand grasped his shoulder when he weaved unsteadily. "Easy," a soft voice spoke.
Albus blinked and forced his eyes to focus on his minder. "Ms. Delacour," he rasped with a smile. She returned his smile but the haunted look in her eyes held something back from its normal mesmerizing effect.
"Would you like some tea?" she asked.
He nodded and instantly regretted it. "Yes please." She stood to fetch it but he caught her hand. "They are alive, yes?"
Even as a tear slipped down her cheek she smiled and nodded. "Yes."
"And have they relayed how that is yet?"
"Zey wished to wait for everyone so zey would only 'ave to tell zee story once."
"And how long have I been out?"
"Only an 'our or so. I 'ave given Molly and 'Ermione sleeping potions wiz a calming draught so it will be some 'ours yet before zey wake."
Albus nodded and grimaced. "Perhaps I could trouble you for a headache potion?"
"Oui, 'Eadmaster." She hurried away and before he really knew it was back with a steaming cup of tea and a phial of headache potion for him.
He took the offered phial and downed it in one go, sighing blissfully as the pounding in his head retreated further. "Thank you, my dear."
She sat down across from him as he reached for the mug and cradled it under his nose. "Most everyone is sleeping. William and Charles are checking the wards again. Zough I fail to see why."
Dumbledore gave a soft chuckle. "William is a Curse and Ward Breaker. His greatest dream would be to defeat the Fidelius and therefore does not trust in its infallibility."
She scowled slightly. "I would 'ope for somezing else to be 'is greatest dream."
Albus smiled indulgently at her. "Perhaps it is only his greatest professional dream."
She smiled back, this time with a trace more of her veela nature imbued in it. "Zat would be acceptable." They fell silent for a time, each lost in their own thoughts before he began to sag into the couch.
When Albus woke again, it was to the smell of breakfast cooking and quiet conversation coming from the direction of the kitchen and his first thought was that Fleur must have put a sleeping draught in his tea. He pushed himself up, and with a charm or three to make himself a bit more presentable made his way to the kitchen.
"Morning, Albus," Bill greeted him. He slid a cup of tea onto the table for him. "Don't worry it's not laced with anything this time."
Albus sat down next to Charlie. A glance around the table revealed everyone but Harry, Ginny and Molly to be present. Even Sirius had joined them. He briefly pondered where everyone might have stayed but then caught sight of the top of a tent out the window and surmised that Hermione and her parents had spent the night there. He'd have to make certain it was up to snuff. As, after yesterday, it seemed a good idea for them to be somewhere more protected than their home. "Good morning to you all," he said. He received responses of sir and Albus and Headmaster from the lot. Bill set a plate filled with eggs, bacon, and hash browns in front of him.
"Something tells me you'll be hungry, old man."
Albus chuckled. As he and Bill had worked to locate and retrieve Voldemort's Horcruxes over the last months they'd fallen into a close student/mentor relationship where this sort of chiding one another had become common. He eyed the plate speculatively; it was rare that he ate like this anymore, but after yesterday's expenditure of magical energy he was rather famished. "It is possible I might have done something to work up the need for all of this. Thank you, William," he said and tucked in with relish.
It was just as he was finishing that Molly rushed into the kitchen. She took one look around and demanded, "Where are they?"
Everyone stilled. "I thought they were sleeping," Bill said.
"Ginny was in her room when I came down this morning," Arthur said at the same time.
Before anyone else could say anything the back door opened and Harry walked in carrying Ginny on his back. Molly hit them like a ton of bricks. "Where were you?" she demanded.
"Urgulch," Harry managed.
"Mum," Ginny gasped, "Can't … breathe."
Molly let them go only to grab Harry by the shoulders and shake him. "What were you thinking, going out by yourselves?"
"Really, mum, we just went for a walk," Ginny answered.
"A walk!" she shrieked.
Arthur put his hand on his wife's shoulder. "Molly."
"Don't, Molly, me," she turned on him. "They shouldn't be out alone and you know it!"
He tugged her insistently back. "I know you're upset, but the property is under the Fidelius, Dear. It is perfectly safe for them to go for a walk."
"Nothing is safe!" she retorted. "What happened to Harry's parents is proof of that." A dead silence fell on the room before she suddenly turned and enveloped Harry in another, albeit more gentle, hug. "Oh, I'm sorry, Harry. I'm just so frightened and I love you both so much and I'm not thinking clearly after yesterday."
It was then that Harry shocked everyone; even Ginny. "I love you too, mum," he answered softly while returning her embrace.
Molly gasped and pushed him back. "Harry?"
"My mum thought I should, " he ventured timidly, "if you don't mind?"
"Your m–mum?" she queried.
"I talked to her yesterday. She rather likes you." The next sound to come from him was another strangled, "Urgulch," as both Molly and Ginny crushed him between them.
"I swear, Potter if you don't stop making me cry," Ginny berated him.
"Silly boy," Molly soothed at the same time. "I've wanted you to call me, mum from the first moment I laid eyes on you."
"Bugger all," Fred muttered.
"Her too," George grumbled.
"There goes any chance," Fred said.
"Of ever being the favorite son," George finished.
"Please," Charlie retorted. "You two are barely tolerated."
"Maybe if we dyed our hair black," George mused.
"Might be worth a shot." Fred took his wand out and trained it on his twin.
"FRED!" Molly cried. "You're underage!"
Fred rolled his eyes. "Like that's ever stopped us."
"Doesn't even know our birthday," George complained.
"Calls herself our mother," Fred continued.
"Exactly how is it that you two never managed to get a warning from the Ministry?" Hermione demanded.
George shrugged. "Not really sure."
"But we think the Burrow's under an exemption," Fred said.
"Yeah, most of the pure-blood family homes are under wards of some kind," George said.
"So they're protected from Muggles seeing them," Fred said.
"And the families file for exemptions so their children can practice spell work at home."
Hermione stared at them for a few moments. "Don't get me wrong," she said, "I'm very glad to have found out the truth about all the strange things that happened around me. But it might have been nice to have been told the truth about the rampant discrimination against half-bloods and Muggle-borns."
"It might have been nice to have our daughter tell us the truth about what was happening in her life too," Mr. Granger growled.
Hermione ducked her head. "I'm sorry, Daddy."
"Daddy, isn't going to work this time, little girl," he reprimanded. "You are in some serious trouble and your mother and I are going to have to hear some pretty good reasoning as to why we shouldn't put an end to all this."
Hermione's head snapped up. "You can't take me out of school," she said, aghast.
"You can't take her out of school," Harry said at the same time.
Mr. Granger glowered at Hermione for a moment before turning on Harry. "And why can't I?"
Harry didn't back down under his hard gaze. "Because you'll kill her." There was more than one sharp breath taken around the table and a heavy silence hung as the two held each other's eyes.
"It's too late?" Mr. Granger asked, though it wasn't really a question.
Harry nodded. "Yes."
Mr. Granger's cheek twitched before he turned to his wife. She gave a slight nod. He turned back to Harry. "Then I think the two of you should sit down and eat and then we'll all go in the parlour and get some answers, don't you?"
Harry took Ginny's hand and steered Molly to the table with his other. "I think that's probably the best course of action," he agreed. He sat down next to Hermione and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. "Alright, sis?
She nodded shakily. "Yes."
Harry kissed the top of her head. "We'll get some time alone later," he whispered.
She turned into him, breaking down into tears. "Just don't die on me."
Harry stood, scooping her into his arms. Without a word he disappeared out the door with her leaving the kitchen in a subdued silence.
"Maybe you should go as well," Fleur ventured.
Ginny considered her for a second. "If it had been you and Bill, would Gabrielle need you both, or just you?"
Fleur nodded slightly. "Tres bien," she said before looking down.
Ginny reached across the table and put her hand on Fleur's. "If you need some time with him you can." The older woman looked up sharply. "I'd rather like to mean as much as Harry does to my brother's eventual wife too," Ginny said. Bill spurted coffee across the table, drenching Ron.
"OI!" Ron bellowed as the twins broke into peals of laughter.
"Brilliant," George cackled.
"Beautiful," Fred added. Ron took his glass and poured it over both of them.
Charlie fell off his chair from laughter. "You're faces," he gasped, pointing at all four of his brothers.
Sirius raised his glass to Ginny. "You're magnificent, Red."
Fleur squeezed Ginny's hand. "I would like zat very much, Ginevra." Ginny cocked her head, her brow furrowing slightly. "What?" Fleur asked.
Ginny smiled. "Nothing," she said. She shot each of her brothers a pointed look. "Don't any of you lot go getting ideas. She's allowed, you're not." She stood from the table, took the juice pitcher and poured it on Charlie and Bill. "There, now you all match," she said and darted out the door.
"MUM!" Bill and Charlie wailed
"Honestly," Molly sighed.
"I really love that girl," Sirius chortled.
Later that morning, with Ginny on one side and Hermione the other, Harry tried to read the mood of the room. Everyone simply stared between he and Ginny in various states of shock. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
Ginny turned on him. "Don't you dare, Harry James Potter."
Harry cringed. "Sorry," he said meekly.
Ginny stood up. "Before any of you says anything at all, you need to remember Harry had nothing to do with this.
"He didn't ask for me to do what I did. He didn't even know I was being given the chance to bring him back. I accepted Death's bargain completely on my own. If you want to be angry, fine. But it better be at me because I'll not look kindly on anyone who blames Harry for any of this."
A look of anguished wonder on her face Molly held her arms out to Ginny. Ginny accepted the invitation and moved into the embrace. "I only wish it had been me who could have paid the price, Ginny-girl," she whispered.
Arthur moved in front of Harry, squatting down so they were eye level he put his hands on his shoulders. "I want you to understand something, Harry James Potter," he said. "So I want you to listen to me and listen well."
Harry swallowed and managed a strangled, "Sir."
"I know circumstances have made it so you find it difficult to accept that people care about you as much as my daughter so obviously does. But the fact is, we do; every one of us. I'll freely admit, what Ginny did for you is astonishing. But given just a few seconds to think about it, I'm not surprised at all that she chose the way she did. And frankly, I'm fairly certain, everyone in this room would have done the same thing if the choice had been theirs to make. As much as I wish none of this had ever happened, know that none of us, least of all Molly and myself, will ever blame you. Black hair, green eyes, a different surname, none of that matters to either of us. You have been a son to us from the first moment you set foot in this house and you are not to blame for any of what has happened … Am I understood?"
Years of abuse by the Dursleys, that tears would only make his plight worse, had conditioned Harry against crying, but Arthur's speech threatened even Harry's hardened walls and he found himself blinking back the tears threatening to fall as he chocked out a strangled, "Yes, sir."
Arthur pulled him tight, patting his back gently. "Dad, son. If Molly is mum, then I'm dad." And with that, Harry lost it completely. "Easy son," he soothed. It took a bit but Harry managed to compose himself a short while later and Arthur pushed him back, holding him by the shoulders again. "No matter what the future holds for you and Ginny, you will always be part of this family."
"Um, about that," Ginny said.
Arthur turned to her. "About what, Ginny-girl?"
Ginny slipped out of her mother's arms and moved to Harry, taking his hand in hers. Mine and Harry's future," she said.
"What about it?" Molly asked.
Ginny passed her hand over Harry's face and then her own, removing the glamour that had been hiding their changed eyes. "We're Soul-bonded," she said, pausing before continuing. "Which, I'm pretty sure, means we're legally married too."
Arthur sat down heavily in the middle of the floor as this latest bombshell settled on him. It was so astounding neither he nor any of the rest even took note of Ginny's casual performance of wandless magic. Eventually he managed to gather his wits enough to focus on the two. "Please tell me that's all," he said. Ginny grimaced. "What?" he asked.
Ginny glanced at Harry. "You want to show them or should I?" she asked.
"I'm not sure either of us can without burning the place down."
"Still gonna be starkers when we change back."
Ginny tugged him towards the stairs. "Everyone in the garden, Harry and I will meet you there in a minute." They were gone up the stairs before anyone could ask why.
A few minutes later Harry and Ginny joined everyone else in the garden. They set their bundles of spare clothing on the ground and moved well away from them. Turning to look on the crowd they considered how far was far enough. "Maybe back up just a bit further," Ginny said. "We're not sure how far the unsafe zone extends just yet."
"Don't either one of you do anything dangerous," Molly quickly interjected.
"It's not us we're worried about, mum," Ginny said.
"Trust us," Harry said. "It's impossible for either of us to hurt each other doing this." Molly eyed them dubiously.
"I promise, mum," Ginny said. "Harry and I can't hurt each other doing this."
"But you might hurt us?"
"Until we learn to control it, yes."
"Perhaps a ward to protect the rest of us?" Dumbledore offered. "If you would just tell me what to ward against."
"Fire," Harry and Ginny said together.
Dumbledore waved his wand. For a brief moment a shimmering wall appeared between Harry and Ginny and their assembled audience before it faded away again. "There," he said. "That should suffice."
"Thank you, Headmaster," Ginny said. She turned to Harry. "Me first or you?"
"You go," Harry said. He gave her a quick kiss and stepped through to the safe side of the ward.
"I thought you said she couldn't hurt you," Charlie said.
"Me yes," Harry said. "My clothes, not so much."
Molly, Hermione and Mrs. Granger shrieked.
"Mother of Merlin," Bill gasped.
"Bloody Hell!" Fred, George, Charlie and Ron cried.
"Mon dieu!" Fleur hissed.
"Bugger me," Tonks muttered.
"Oh –" Arthur said.
"– My –" Dumbledore said.
"– Goodness," Remus finished.
"Bloody brilliant!" Sirius exclaimed. He pushed Harry through the barrier. "Go on. Let's see pup."
Ginny floated up onto Harry's shoulder and nuzzled her head against his cheek. "I can't." Harry said. "Not while she's already in phoenix form."
"What do you mean?" Dumbledore asked.
Harry focused on him. "Ginny was born mortal, but her true form is that of the phoenix. She always had the potential to find her phoenix form and claim eternity. I didn't. I only gained the form when Ginny agreed to have our separate Strands rewoven into one. That allowed me, Time, but Death still had to be paid. Fawkes, wishing to rejoin his mate, gave his life so that I could live the Time Ginny shared with me. But Death was only paid for a mortal life. So, while both Ginny and I can be human, mortal, together; only one of us at a time can take the immortal form of the phoenix. We were told that if we're both in mortal form and one of us dies, the other will die within minutes. But if one of us dies while in phoenix form we'll be reborn as such; never to take human form again and we'll be separated from each other for at least four thousand years."
Ginny trilled a long mournful note and rose from Harry's shoulder. He stepped back to the safe side of the ward. "Would you all mind closing your eyes so she can change back?" he asked.
"Why do we need to close our eyes?" Fred asked.
"Clothes," Harry reminded him. "Neither of us knows how to control the heat in the flames yet and she burnt her clothes to ash when she transformed into a phoenix."
Fred blinked. "You mean she's starkers right now?"
"No, she's covered in feathers right now. She'll be starkers when she changes back."
Fred's mouth formed a silent, "O."
"Would you mind?" Harry prodded the group. "It was the thought of one day without each other that got us into this mess, neither of us likes risking being apart for at least four millennia."
"Right, sorry," the twins said and shut their eyes. Harry glanced at the others who all quickly closed their eyes as well.
"Harry," Molly said cautiously.
"You're my husband!" Ginny shouted in Harry's mind.
"I'm aware," Harry soothed. "But I think we've given her enough heart attacks for one day. And that says nothing about still needing to tell them the prophecies and Horcruxes mess."
Ginny subsided. "Yes, you're right."
"I'll close my eyes too, mum," Harry said.
"Go on then," Molly said.
Harry took one last look at the group and closed his eyes. "Just your mum," he said.
A minute or so later Ginny said, "Ok, I'm dressed." She stepped through the ward into Harry's arms. "Would you like to see Harry transform as well?" she asked.
After a few moments' hesitation, Dumbledore said, "I, for one, would appreciate doing so."
Ginny gave Harry a quick peck before pushing him gently forward. "Go on, Love," she said. She'd barely spoken when Harry was engulfed in flame as he assumed his phoenix form.
"Whoa," Charlie breathed.
Harry settled in Ginny's arms. She cradled him close, tiny flames dancing between her fingers as she softly stroked along his back. Harry trilled softly under her ministrations. "He's beautiful, isn't he," she whispered.
Conclusion: A bit of a lull. Question is, for how long can it last? And yes I know Ginny, taking to Fleur well is out of character for her in JKR's world. Its AU, I wanted to change that relationship up a bit from what nearly everyone else does. Hopefully, this is a fair start to part 2 of the trilogy.
As always, thank you to all my readers. And a special thank you to those who have reviewed. I do appreciate hearing from you.